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NATOs Relevance to United States Enduring National Interests Time to Remove the Training Wheels but Continue to Hold the Handle Bars

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Technical Report,27 Jul 2015,10 Jun 2016

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From its inception in December 1950, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO has been the bedrock of European security and a strategic foundation of the United States foreign policy to the European region. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War many were quick to argue that NATO had become obsolete. Additionally, these same pundits contend that NATO is out of date with current U.S. foreign policy. However, this thesis asserts that NATO continues to afford the United States the ability to protect its vital national interests and project influence globally. A strong role in NATO provides the United States a conduit and connective structure to some of the worlds most stable governments, serves as the main policy mechanism by which it can influence Europe, and provides a venue for legitimacy and freedom of global action. The United States is no longer bound to provide security to NATO members by forward basing hundreds of thousands of military forces along the Eastern European front. NATO members are developing with the assistance of the United States the capability to provide sufficient security with a decreased role for United States forces. Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR is utilized as a case study to demonstrate that while the United States is still the largest power in NATO, possessing the ability to lead and conduct full spectrum operations, there are times when leading from behind can not only benefit the alliance but also allow America 10 focus its assets globally in the pursuit of its national interests. Now a full quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, the idea of NATO losing its relevancy should be set aside as uninformed. NATO continues to be of vital importance to United Stales enduring national security interests and remains central to its national strategies. It is essential that the United States continues its leadership role in the strongest alliance the world has ever known.

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