It is no exaggeration to suggest that NATO is the most successful military alliance in human history. The Alliance has been the bulwark of international peace and security for 70 years. With a foundation of shared democratic values, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has brought peace, stability, and prosperity to the people and territory of its members. Through the continued unity of its members and commitment to collective defense, it will continue to do so in the future.
While the threats we face have evolved, our commitment to address those challenges have remained the same. Whether the risks stem from conventional attack, cyber attacks, or hybrid threats, NATO will continue to protect its members.
NATO membership remains an integral component of U.S. security and is central to our own national defense. The United States has consistently affirmed its support for NATO, including the principle of collective defense enshrined in Article 5 of NATO’s founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty. The President, Vice President, Secretaries of State and Defense, and other senior U.S. officials have all underscored this. The United States is better able to address -- militarily and politically -- global threats to our interests because of NATO. During the last 70 years, the only instance when the Alliance invoked Article 5 action has been in support of the United States following the 9/11 attacks. The Alliance remains the cornerstone of U.S. national security. It remains fundamental to U.S. military operations in the transatlantic region and in strategically critical regions like the Middle East and South Asia.
In order for NATO to remain effective, its members must invest sufficiently in their own national defense. This ensures NATO collectively has the capabilities for an effective defense and credible deterrence to meet current and emerging threats. The geo-strategic landscape has changed and new and more investment is necessary for NATO to meet these new challenges. Deterrence is not an end to itself, but rather a continual and ongoing security posture that requires reinvestment and long-term commitment. Proper defense investment enables Allies to build their capabilities, increase readiness, improve military mobility, and address emerging threats like cyber and hybrid that put our democratic institutions, our shared values, and economies at risk. The American public needs to see an equal commitment from Allied nations. I hope that all members of the NATO Alliance will honor the commitments they made to one another in 2014 on the two percent/20 percent GDP spending level on defense.
It is no accident that the economies protected by the NATO security umbrella have thrived. NATO allows democratic institutions to grow and populations to prosper. We must not take this stability for granted, all member states owe it to themselves to remain vigilant. I have no doubt that NATO will remain the bulwark against all forms of external aggression. I look forward to another 70 years of shared values and increasing prosperity.
About the Author: Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison serves as Permanent Representative of the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).