From defense to deterrence, then détente and cooperation, analysts have tracked the evolution of NATO through the second half of the 20th century. Now in the aftermath of the Balkan crises, the international community is confronted with the inevitability—and perhaps necessity—of further modification to the structure and responsibilities of NATO. These uncertainties are explored by an experienced and clear-headed analyst assessing the possibilities for the state of NATO in 2010.
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According to van Heuven, there are six issues that will shape the future of NATO: new security threats, the future of Russia, the state of the European Pillar, American involvement in NATO, the state of the global economy, and potential cataclysmic events. NATO in 2010 will be forced to adapt and respond to the technological innovations of the 21st century, including advanced weaponry, terrorism, and subsequent security threats. Additionally, U.S. leadership will continue to be an essential requirement for the maintenance of stability and prosperity of Europe. Yet, this ongoing responsibility will ensure relentless debate over the extent of U.S. obligations and those of our European allies. Van Heuven suggests that the proverbial glue of the future NATO will be cooperation based on common values, the same incentive that initiated the creation of the alliance post-WWII—although in absence of the Cold War threat, cohesion of the alliance will be more difficult to achieve.
The year 2010 might be seen as beyond the horizon of those engaged in operation planning, but short of the point where assumptions become sheer speculation. While Marten van Heuven does not presume to predict the future, he can and does illuminate the need for solidarity, organization, and leadership in the NATO of the 21st century.