What Is NATO's Job?

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Should NATO keep expanding membership? Should NATO troops fight ISIS in Iraq or Syria? Does NATO have a responsibility to intervene in crises in Africa? Those are the questions today as President Obama and NATO leaders meet in Wales.

NATO was formed as a bulwark against the threat posed by communist Soviet Union, but the alliance has struggled to find a role in the post-Cold War world.

Retired U.S. Admiral James Stavridis argues that to remain relevant, NATO needs to return to its military roots. His remarks echo criticism of NATO by former U.S. secretaries of defense Leon Panetta and Robert Gates. In 2011, Gates warned that the alliance was on its way to "military irrelevance."

In the run up to this summit, the U.S. has been asking alliance member states to live up to the requirements on defense spending, and the summit is expected to approve a new "rapid-reaction" force to respond to military threats.

Nicholas Burns, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, discusses the questions facing the alliance with Here & Now's Robin Young.


  • R. Nicholas Burns, professor of international relations at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the U.S. ambassador to NATO and and served on the National Security Council under Presidents Bush and Clinton. He tweets @RNicholasBurns.

This segment aired on September 4, 2014.


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