In other news...Mr. Pook, in your quote...
...Mr. Friedman wasn't doing badly until he said...
To quote from a source (yes, NATO itself): http://www.nato.int/nato-welcome/index.html#basic
So formal! I must of screwed up again.
Can I make the following suggestion - NATO has gone through phases.
Phase 1 - Defensive NATO - 1949: US, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, BeNeLux, Italy, Portugal, France
Treaty of Paris - 1951
Phase 2 - Containment NATO - 1952: Greece, Turkey, W.Germany (1955)
Treaty of Rome - 1957
EFTA Treaty - 1960
Merger Treaty - 1965
French Withdrawal From NATO Military Structure - 1966
EEC Expansion - 1973:
Spain Joins NATO - 1982
Schengen Agreement - 1985
Single European Act - 1986
Demise of the Warsaw Pact - 1991
Maastricht Treaty - 1992
Amsterdam Treaty - 1997
Phase 3 - Political NATO 1 - 1999: Czechia, Hungary, Poland
Sept 11 - 2001
Phase 3 - Political NATO 2 - 2004: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia
Lisbon Treaty - 2007
Russo-Georgian War - 2008
Phase 3 - Political NATO 3 - 2009: Albania,Croatia, France
Arguably, based on intent, as opposed to vocabulary, NATO in 1949 was a political alliance, in that it was an alliance of sovereign nation-states but it had an express military function: Mutual Defence with the threat being Russia.
By 1952 I would argue that NATO adopted a more aggressive strategy focused on the containment of Russia. NATO maintained that posture up until 1991 at which point, effectively, the threat disappeared. NATO lost its focus.
Concurrently, during the 1949-1991 period Western Europe had been knocking down internal borders and expanding the role and scope of what would become the EU. That was a decidedly political project - a project with a very decided French element to it. NATO was explicitly NOT a French project - especially between 1966 and 2009.
So by 1991 Europe had two competing alliances fighting over turf and roles - one backed by the US and the UK (a decidedly nationalist alliance) and the other backed by France, the Vatican and the Socialist International (a decidedly internationalist alliance). One of those - NATO - lost its rationale with the loss of the Russian threat. The other - the EU - gained momentum for exactly the same reason.
In 2001 NATO was given a new lease on life. And that was reflected in Lord Robertson's 2002 speech:http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2002/s020218a.htm
And that is where, in my belief, NATO transformed from an obsolescent alliance of nations coming together for mutual defence into a political project that tried to find justification in doing good works of a military kind.
The problem is that the earlier alliance was easily managed because everybody could see tanks behind the barbed wire and had an incentive (enlightened self-interest if you will) to keep the tanks on the other side of the wire. The modern construct is more contentious.
From 1991 to 2008 the tanks and the wire disappeared. And alliances changed. And countries that hadn't asked for Soviet protection, and that had been trapped and impoverished by the Soviet system, came rushing westward to grab on to western coat tails and shelter under western umbrellas - but - we run into the irreducible problem of Eurasia: there is too much of it and there are no natural borders east of the Iron Gates between Serbia and Romania.
All this is old news to you, I know. I'm just explaining my view's rationale.
You will be familiar with the concept of fire containment: There are two ways to contain fires. One is to put physical barriers in the way - you can either use pre-existing ones, including natural barriers, or you can build them. The other is just to put distance between fires and trust that one fire will not jump to an adjacent zone.
In the Eurasian case, east of the Iron Gates, and North of the Carpathians, the reliance in the past has been on zones. But that has been an imperfect solution as the Turks demonstrate every couple of hundred years or so. The only alternative has been to build barriers - but that is an unfriendly act. Good fences make good neighbours but only if the neighbours agree on the fence - and if the kids don't start sneaking across the fence at night.
So where am I going with this meandering - what I am trying to say is that 1949 NATO was created for a world that doesn't exist any more. It has done its own meandering from 1989 to the present day as it tries to adjust to a changed situation. In that period it has become a competitor to the pan-european project and so has gathered internal enemies trying to bring it down.
The good news for NATO, as an institution, is that everything old is new again and Eurasia is seeing the rise of man-made barriers. Concurrently, the competing pan-european project is under its own internal stresses largely because those folks that were trapped by the Soviets want to be rich, and they want protection, but they don't want to be subservient to anybody.