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NATO at 75: What’s Its Future?

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Just past its 75th anniversary, what does the future hold for the alliance?

Adults in a Room” is a series in collaboration with The Stimson Center’s Reimagining US Grand Strategy program. The series stems from the group’s monthly networking events that call on analysts to gather virtually and hash out a salient topic. It aims to give you a peek into their Zoom room and a deep understanding of the issue at hand in less than the time it takes to sip your morning coffee without the jargon, acronyms, and stuffiness that often come with expertise. 

Established in 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has seen numerous iterations of its purpose, role, and effectiveness as a multinational defense alliance. Now, over three-quarters of a century since its founding, NATO has amassed large swathes of both champions and critics — claiming that the treaty alliance has had a range of effects, from preventing large-scale war across Europe to wasting countless funds to ultimately aggravate an increasingly threatened Russia. 

With this history as a backdrop, the Reimagining US Grand Strategy program’s May 2024 roundtable brought experts together to discuss the future of NATO. The conversation focused on NATO’s shifting role and whether or not it is poised to continue serving in that role moving forward. Many also discussed the perceptions and buy-in of European member states, positing that there may be a future for NATO that, unlike its current iteration, depends less on the United States. 

Below, six of these experts weigh in on the topic of NATO and its potentially tenuous path forward.

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