During the twenty years following the end of the Cold War the military alliance whose founding signalled the advent of an armed East-West confrontation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has transformed itself into history’s first international military formation.
In the process the bloc has progressively substituted itself for and attempted to supplant the 56-nation Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Eurasia and the United Nations globally.
Over six years ago the current U.S. permanent representative to NATO, Ivo Daalder, co-authored an opinion piece in the Washington Post that was titled "Global NATO." The theme of the article was encapsulated in one sentence: "With little fanfare –” and even less notice –” the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has gone global.” 
During the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania in April of 2008 then chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Canadian General Raymond Henault, offered this contrast between the North Atlantic military bloc shortly after the end of the Cold War and what it had become by 2008:
"Less than 20 years ago, NATO consisted of 16 members, counted none as partners, and had conducted no operations or exercises outside its member state borders….Today, NATO counts 26 members and 38 other countries in four Partnership arrangements….Importantly, the non-Russian former Warsaw Pact states have successfully integrated into NATO….In a few short years, NATO has conducted 8 operations on 4 continents." 
At the time Henault, who would step down from his position later in the year to be succeeded by Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola. reminisced on his three-year tenure: "I have had the great fortune of being able to regularly visit many of our theatres of operation, all 26 NATO nations, 14 Partner countries –” including Japan, Australia, and those aspiring to join –” plus our important ally Pakistan." 
By 2009 the self-defined "military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America" had expanded from 16 to 28 full members, all of the new additions in Eastern Europe, with operations on four of six inhabited continents and military partners on five.
The person who preceded the Netherlands-born Ivo Daalder as U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, anticipated Renault’s account of the breathtaking expansion of the world’s only military bloc by two years.
Ahead of the 2006 NATO summit in Riga, the capital of Latvia, itself only brought into the Alliance two years earlier – a NATO summit in the former Soviet Union yet – Volker celebrated the ultimate Western victory in the Cold War: The extension of the military alliance founded and dominated by the U.S. throughout almost all of Europe and its elaboration of networks worldwide.
Volker began his foreign policy career as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1986, from which post he became first secretary of the American mission to NATO in 1998 and the following year Deputy Director of NATO Secretary-General George Robertson’s private office in the year of the bloc’s air war against Yugoslavia. In 2001 he was appointed acting director for European and Eurasian Affairs in the George W. Bush administration’s National Security Council.
In the last-named capacity he was in charge of his nation’s preparations for the NATO summits in the Czech Republic in 2002 and in Turkey in 2004. The Istanbul summit effected the largest expansion in NATO’s history – seven new Eastern European members – and created the eponymous Istanbul Cooperation Initiative to upgrade partnerships with NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue members – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – and create an analogous program for the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 
Before the 2006 summit, by which time Volker had been appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, he delivered an address at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, in which he said:
“Recognizing the demands that will be placed on NATO now and in the future, we want to see NATO deepen its capabilities for current and future operations, build new partnerships, and prepare for future enlargement.” 
His immediate objectives were to "ensure that NATO succeeds in Afghanistan as it prepares to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the south and thereafter to the east,” in the process broadening its military presence throughout the entire nation; to expand NATO’s role in and around Darfur in western Sudan; to increase the bloc’s training mission in Iraq, whose commander the previous year had been General David Petraeus, now head of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as chief of U.S. Central Command, and further develop “partnerships in training and education” in the Middle East and Africa; to cultivate NATO’s "relationship with global security partners, such as Australia or Japan”; and "to ensure that the NRF [global rapidly deployable NATO Response Force] is strengthened, trained, and funded…to make sure that it is usable.” 
A month earlier Volker gave a speech at Howard University’s Model NATO Conference in which he boasted that "NATO is in the process of enormous transformation. The NATO of the Cold War – the NATO that was a static collective defense alliance – that never engaged in a single military operation is gone. That NATO was successful. That’s not the NATO that we look at today.
"If you think about 1994, NATO had never conducted a military operation, had done a lot of exercises. It was an alliance of 16 countries at that time. If you look at the NATO of 2005, just ending last year, it was an organization that was running eight military operations simultaneously, that had 26 members, had partnership relationships with another 30 countries in Eurasia and another 22 countries in the broader Middle East, and looking at other relationships." 
As though moving a pointer over a map of most of the non-Euro-Atlantic world, he continued: "Now NATO is operating…in Afghanistan, in Pakistan –” we just closed that operation – in Iraq, in Darfur. Operating a much greater geographic distance. I think this is a trend that’s only going to continue….[A]s NATO is active in places like Afghanistan or Iraq or Darfur, we are working together with countries that share NATO’s values and that are capable of contributing to security, such as Australia or New Zealand or South Korea or Japan, and we would like to find ways to cooperate with these countries, as well, because our expectation is if over the last ten years alliance leaders have given NATO four, five, six, seven, eight operational tasks to take on, this is going to continue." 
For the past decade American (and not a few European) political commentators have bemoaned the imminent demise of NATO. An article to that effect is always handy on a slow news day when an empty column space is staring back at a bemused editor.
That NATO’s Defense Planning Committee invoked the bloc’s Article 4 ("The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened") to deploy Patriot interceptor missiles and AWACS radar aircraft to Turkey a month before the invasion of Iraq was not a sufficient commitment by the Alliance. That two months after the invasion NATO’s North Atlantic Council unanimously agreed to assist new member Poland’s occupation zone in the country, situated between the American and British ones, wasn’t an adequate response either.
That in 2004 the NATO Training Mission – Iraq was established in Baghdad and is likely to outlast U.S. military presence in the country wasn’t enough for the advocates of the "NATO is dead" school of thought either.
The military bloc’s involvement in the almost nine-year Operation Active Endeavor naval mission throughout the Mediterranean Sea, in Central Africa, in the Horn of Africa, in establishing the Trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-NATO Military Commission and in creating Contact Country military partnerships with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea is not counted as a significant development as well. 
That NATO has now recruited and deployed troops from nations as diverse as Singapore and Colombia, the United Arab Republics and Mongolia, Montenegro and Sweden for the war in Afghanistan is given scant attention. 
165 Western troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, including at least seven soldiers from Germany, which had not suffered combat deaths since the Second World War before now.
In less than four months there will be 150,000 troops serving under the joint commander of the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force operations, General Stanley McChrystal, almost all of them under NATO command.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has indeed "gone global," and as Ivo Daalder pointed out six years, several military operations and tens of thousands of troops deployed earlier, with little fanfare and hardly more notice.
A survey of the Alliance’s activities last week – on all six populated continents – will provide an updated view of how truly global the "military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America" has grown to become.
The Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy Bradley Roberts announced on April 15 that "U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems will cover all of Europe by 2018." Specifically, "Full coverage of NATO territory in Europe would be achieved around 2018" when "a second land-based site is to be established in northern Europe for updated Raytheon Co (RTN.N) Standard Missile-3 missile interceptors."
"The Pentagon dubs this Phase 3 of its new ‘adaptive’ missile-defense plans, a continued bone of contention with Russia." 
On April 12 NATO launched four large-scale war games in northern Europe.
The eleven-day Brilliant Ardent 2010 NATO Response Force live air force exercises started in Germany with the participation of military aircraft from the U.S., the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Turkey. "Participation by U.S. Air Forces in Europe units directly aligns with the command key mission areas of providing forces for global operations and building partnership." 
The major war games include "Sixty aircraft ranging from fighters, attack aircraft, helicopters, tanker and airborne early warning aircraft…operating from air bases located in Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Poland, and UK," which will also test theater missile defense and ground-based air defense components.
Occurring during the same eleven days, April 12-22, the NATO Response Force is also drilling its maritime forces in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea with 31 warships, four submarines and 28 aircraft.
The Brilliant Mariner maneuvers also include 6,500 troops from the United States, Britain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Spain. "A large fleet of warships, submarines and auxiliary vessels from NATO’s Response Force (NRF) sailed from ports across Europe on 12 April to take part….The ships and submarines will take part in integration training that will enable them to respond to operations or crisis situations anywhere in the world if required." 
Also on April 12 NATO began the Joint Warrior 10-1 "multiwarfare exercise designed to improve interoperability between allied navies and prepare participating crews to conduct combined operations during deployment." 
Held off the coast of Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, the biennial Joint Warrior is "Europe’s largest military exercise,"  and this month twenty-one warships, five submarines and fifty warplanes are involved. On the British side, "The exercise will involve 16 Air Assault Brigade and the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group headed by HMS Ark Royal."  The other participating nations are the U.S., with seven ships, and Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and NATO Contact County and Afghan war partner New Zealand.
The fourth military exercise begun on April 12 is Frisian Flag 2010 in the Netherlands with warplanes from the U.S., Britain and several other NATO allies, including U.S. F-15C Eagle, Dutch F-16 Fighting Falcon, Swedish JAS-39 Gripen, Finnish F-18 Hornet, Norwegian F-16 Fighting Falcon, German F-4 and Polish F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighters. 
"The multi-nation exercise will last until April 22 and is meant to train pilots on offensive and defensive roles through realistic scenarios…." 
The four exercises all began on April 12 and will end on either April 22 or 23. None of them are tailored for the sort of asymmetric warfare NATO is conducting in either Afghanistan or the Somali basin currently. Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin has mentioned that the aerial exercises being held in Germany are based on a scenario that resembles a new war in the South Caucasus between Georgia and Russian forces based in South Ossetia.
The war games could also be in preparation for future attacks against Iran.
Last week the chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, and commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples U.S. Admiral Mark Fitzgerald announced plans to visit Kosovo to "watch a training of the Kosovo Security Forces,"  an embryonic army founded, armed and trained by NATO in the first pseudo-state formed by the Western military bloc, an aberration not recognized by almost two-thirds of world governments.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense announced the latest deployment of its nation’s soldiers to serve under NATO command in Afghanistan on April 15. In the words of Chief of Defense Major General Arvydas Pocius, "Troops of the Lithuanian Armed Forces are going to enforce NATO’s principles. The ‘one for all’ principle must be observed. That is why the Lithuanian sky is daily protected by NATO’s fighter-jets, NATO’s warships come to our seaport, and our partners are ready to arrive in case our nation is in need of help." 
Nature may have accomplished what no government or major political party in Europe will dare venture: Challenging NATO. The air force facet of Joint Warrior has been suspended, the NATO delegation visit to Kosovo postponed and participation in the impending 56-nation NATO foreign ministers meeting in Estonia is problematic because of drifting ash from a volcano in Iceland.
The foreign ministers meeting in Estonia scheduled for April 22-23 is to focus on the war in Afghanistan, the bloc’s new Strategic Concept, NATO’s nuclear weapons policy in light of the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, "missile defence as a building block for the Lisbon Summit"  in November, and further expansion into Eastern Europe.
The Western war in Afghanistan that will be nine-years-old on October 7 is to be intensified to its deadliest level yet when "NATO forces…launch a major offensive in the Afghanistan city of Kandahar in June…." 
In the past weeks an estimated 120 Afghan civilians have been killed and over 100 injured as a result of the conflict, NATO’s first war in Asia and first ground war.
A major American newspaper reported last week that "Deaths of Afghan civilians by NATO troops have more than doubled this year, NATO statistics show…." 
NATO partner Finland, which had not lost troops in combat operations since World War Two until recently in Afghanistan, is currently involved in its "largest joint operation" to date in the north of Afghanistan with troops from Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Hungary.  Sweden has registered its first combat losses in almost 200 years.
NATO troop deployments "will peak at 150,000 in August." 
U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe, visited New Zealand on April 11-12 and met with the country’s minister of defence, secretary of defence force and chief of defence force.
"We wanted to come to one of the most important ISAF partners we have which is contributing across the spectrum of operations in Afghanistan,” NATO’s top military commander said. 
On April 13 Stavridis "continued his official visit to the South Pacific with a trip to Australia’s capital city, Canberra," where he met with the secretary of defence, the air chief and chief of defence forces. "While in Canberra, Adm Stavridis spoke before 900 officer cadets at the Australia Defence Force Academy regarding International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and leadership."  Australia has 1,550 troops serving under NATO In Afghanistan and has lost its first troops in combat operations – eleven – since the war in Vietnam.
The commander of NATO Training Mission – Iraq [NTM-I], Major General Giuseppe Spinelli, delivered a speech last week at the Ar-Rustamiyah Joint Staff and Command College in Baghdad on the occasion of sixteen officers graduating from Brigade Command and Battalion Command courses conducted by personnel from the Western military bloc. The Italian commander said, "The NATO advisor teams very much enjoy working alongside our Iraqi partners. I wish to assure you of the future support of the NATO Training Mission as you prepare for the next courses." The next round of courses begins in June. 
At the same time Spinelli’s countryman Maurizio Melani, Italian ambassador to Iraq, presented a lecture on the NATO training mission at the Iraqi National Defence University. He spoke to students of the Iraqi National Defence College (NDC) on the topic of “The European Union as a factor of peace and stability; the role of Italy.”
The speech "inaugurated a cycle of conferences that will be held by Ambassadors of NATO nations, in the framework of the NTM-I initiative to support the Iraqi NDC.
"The aim of this project is to provide a selected audience from the NDC and other prestigious Iraqi military educational institutions with a political perspective from a range of NATO countries, focusing on different approaches to Iraq and the future of the Gulf region, and a general overview about the NATO organization and its current roles.
"The NDC is the lead cross departmental Institute for the delivery of high level courses, both for military and civilian high-ranking officials, focusing on Grand Strategic and Military Strategic issues." 
Last week Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and Africa and of NATO’s Allied Joint Task Force Command Naples, advocated the arming of civilian vessels in the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, stating, "We could put a World War II fleet of ships out there and we still wouldn’t be able to cover the whole ocean." 
NATO’s naval deployment in the area, Operation Ocean Shield, consists of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) with its five warships. Last week an SNMG2 press release disclosed that "The five ships of NATO’s Task Force conducting counter piracy operations have been at the centre of the fight against piracy in the waters off Somalia in recent days."
"Operating deep in the Indian Ocean, the Greek warship HS LIMNOS saw action against 3 pirate groups in as many days. Working closely with Swedish and Luxemburg maritime patrol aircraft operating from the Seychelles, the frigate destroyed 6 pirate attack boats together with all of their weapons and other piracy equipment between 7 and 9 April."
Last autumn U.S. Africa Command deployed lethal Reaper drones, military aircraft and over 100 troops to the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles for action in the Horn and on the Somali mainland.
The commander of the NATO naval contingent, Commodore Steve Chick of the British Royal Navy, was quoted as saying, "This has been a busy period for the NATO Task Force and we have seen significant successes against the pirates….[W]e have been able to deny the pirates the use of mother ships from which they can base their attacks at significant ranges from the shore." 
On April 15 NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT), established after the 2002 summit in Prague and located in Norfolk, Virginia, hosted nearly 100 Latin American students from the Washington, DC-based Inter-American Defense College (IADC).
Chief of Staff at NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, British Royal Navy Vice Admiral Robert Cooling, while addressing the attendees said, "This is an exciting time for Allied Command Transformation because this is the first time that we have welcomed your course here.”
The ACT website added that the Inter-American Defense College course is "a graduate-level study for senior military and government officials and provides an opportunity to study global security issues. Students develop these competencies through the study of political, economic, social and military factors. Visits such as this help the students further understand the role of ACT and the NATO Alliance." 
Late last year the president of the United States, Barack Obama, acknowledged and embraced the status of commander-in-chief of the world’s sole military superpower. Few in the world appeared to be alarmed, offended or even distressed by this unprecedented claim to international preeminence based on the superiority of armed might. Nor has there been an outcry at home or abroad over the Pentagon’s World War II-level $708 billion budget for next year.
Neither is there any concern, much less outrage, that the U.S.-led NATO military bloc has fanned out from the North Atlantic Ocean region to all compass points and has staked out the entire planet as its area of responsibility.
The world has deferred if not fully subscribed to NATO’s grandiose and aggressive global strategy: That a Western military bloc whose officials are not elected by or accountable to any nation or people is empowered to intervene anywhere in the world with deadly force at its own discretion.
When this year’s NATO summit convenes in Lisbon, Portugal in November to formalize the Alliance’s new 21st century world military doctrine, to enclose the European continent under a U.S. interceptor missile canopy, and to continue what is already the largest and longest war in the world in South Asia, the protesters confronting the political and military leaders of NATO will be a – very small – fraction of the number of people who would attend a Britney Spears concert in the same city.
Most all of the world has reconciled and submitted itself to the domination of one global military superpower and its equally global military alliance with barely a murmur. An unparalleled political and moral capitulation.
Notes:. Washington Post, May 23, 2004 . Nine O’Clock News (Romania), April 3, 2008 . Ibid
. NATO In Persian Gulf: From Third World War To Istanbul, Stop NATO, February 6, 2009
. Global Military Bloc: NATO’s Drive Into Asia, Stop NATO, January 24, 2009
. Afghan War: NATO Builds History’s First Global Army, Stop NATO, August 9, 2009