A "North Atlantic" area which includes both Point Barrow, far above the Arctic Circle, and Mount Ararat, deep in the Turkish Caucasus, is, indeed, an anomaly. The term "North Atlantic area" appears several times in the text of the treaty but is nowhere defined explicitly. However, the treaty does contain a definition of the area within which an armed attack from without will bring its guarantees into operation.( James Kurth, 36) These guarantees extend to the territories of all member states in Europe and North America, to the Mediterranean and North Sea, and to the Atlantic Ocean north of the Tropic of Cancer. They also cover the Algerian Departments of France as well as all of Turkey's territories in Asia, plus two segments of Africa and Asia, and all of North America north of the Rio Grande, together with the seas and ocean lying between them.The success of the NATO Alliance over the past four decades has been extraordinary. The mere survival of the Alliance for forty years is noteworthy; that those forty years have been unbroken by war among the major powers is unprecedented in the modern era. To be sure, factors other than NATO have contributed to the absence of war in Europe-the most important being the advent of the "nuclear revolution" in warfare. Nonetheless, NATO has made an important contribution to the maintenance of peace among the major powers. ...
nt on the nature of the threats to the fundamental interests of the Alliance members; the evolution of a collective response to those threats that meets the political, economic, and military requirements of the allies; and the absence of any politically acceptable alternatives to the current structure of the Alliance. The central question facing NATO forty years after its creation, however, is whether the Alliance, as currently structured, equipped, and funded, will continue to play an effective role in meeting the vital security needs of its members. Despite the attention given to disputes among Alliance members, it is unlikely that NATO will collapse with a bang sparked by internal friction, but it could fade with a whimper of irrelevance in the face of shifting economic, political, technological, and military realities. NATO will almost certainly be alive on the eve of the twenty-first century to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. However, unless the Alliance has the resilience to respond to emerging challenges, by the turn of the century it may be less relevant to the central security concerns of its members.
Our Alliance has come far on its way to transformation. Its relevance today does not derive from its original and immediate purpose but from what it has become over time. It has evolved into a community of values and destiny, and a forum of political consultation on vital issues of foreign policy and security. It has evolved into an agent of change. It will become the core security organization of a future Euro-Atlantic architecture in which all states, irrespective of their size or geographical location, must enjoy the same freedom, cooperation and security. We must not be satisfied with having won the Cold War. We have to win the future.
- NATO Secretary