THE FUTURE of NATO has been a subject of intense debate, including in the two most recent issues of The National Interest. In the Winter 2003/04 issue, E. Wayne Merry unveiled a picture of an Atlantic Alliance that is casting about in search of a mission, having outlived its usefulness with the demise of its original adversary. Indeed, he argued that NATO continues to keep Europe in a state of dependence, frustrating the rise of a European Union that can act as an equal partner to the United States. Yet even some of NATO's defenders--such as John Hulsman, writing in the Spring 2004 issue--view NATO primarily as a useful toolbox from which the United States can draw as it undertakes military adventures far from Europe's shores, cherry-picking allies on a case-by-case basis.1
Yet these visions of the alliance are at odds with the view of those who work on transatlantic security policy on a daily basis. The reality is that NATO is not a Cold War institution in search of a mission to keep itself alive, but remains an indispensable tool for the democracies of the Euro-Atlantic region to ensure their security against common threats.