The NATO summit held recently in Chicago came at a time when the alliance’s new role and mission and the eagerness of the 28 member countries to contribute to this new role were being discussed.
This is not a novel debate. NATO has been searching for a new identity since the end of the Cold War. Since its raison d’être has changed, this powerful organization has been faced with the need to adapt itself to the requirements of the new era. NATO’s responsibilities and role have changed not only in North America and Europe, where the original members were based, but also in areas previously not under their focus. Now, the alliance’s activities extend to Asia and Africa. Likewise, in its 63rd year, the alliance’s threat perceptions have altered as well. During the Cold War, the threat (military aggression) and aggressor (the Soviet Union) were known, but these have changed significantly. The new threats now include terrorism, crimes against humanity, piracy, natural disasters, etc., which is also the reason why NATO is currently active in many areas, including Afghanistan, Kosovo, Somalia and Libya.