U.S. Leadership and NATO

The ideological and material leadership of the United States is, undoubtedly, the critical factor in determining the success of international organizations such as NATO. Nevertheless, the leadership of the United States is not welcomed by many countries believing that Americans have no right to intervene in the domestic affairs of other countries. Moreover, the increasing number of people treats the involvement of the United States in all conflicts as a tool to pursue national interests rather than to establish global peace and security.

According to the mission statement of the Atlantic Council, it promotes “constructive U.S. leadership in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting the challenges of the 21st century” (2008, p.1). The United States is the most developed country in the world with a stable economy and democratic government. The United States promotes global peace through the establishment of democracy. Global leadership is a guiding principle for American foreign policy. However, “global leadership and military leadership are inadequate, even dangerous, as a basis for policy” (Conry, 1997, p.1). The United States uses military leadership to maintain security, however, military intervention violates the right to sovereignty of other countries.

There are several scenarios of NATO’s future and the role of the United States in it. Looking at the major events of the 20th century (the fall of the Berlin War, the emergence of global terrorism, the collapse of the Soviet Union), the security challenges cannot be addressed without the active involvement of the United States. The United States will likely remain “the dominant political actor in the international arena and fully assume a leadership role within NATO” (Spiegeleire & Korteweg, 2006, p.1). The United States has already proved its ability to combat terrorism (War in Iraq) and has successfully resolved several conflicts throughout the world. The economic and political strength of the United States empowers the American leaders to have significant influence over the major events in history.

Nevertheless, the United States should share NATO’s responsibilities and tasks with Europeans. The United States should not act as the leader of NATO or the only source of equipment and funds (Duignan, 2001, p.1). The peace can be best serviced by cooperation with fair sharing of expenses and lesser leadership in Europe for the United States. Moreover, Europeans are capable of meeting threats inside Europe while the United States has limited expertise on European affairs. The global responsibilities assumed by Americans have required the United States to limit its commitment to NATO. However, the shift in responsibilities from the Americans to the Europeans will not weaken NATO. In particular, the United States should be focused more on its national defense while the European Union with an advanced economy can afford to spend more on its security.

In conclusion, the leadership of the United States in NATO is no longer critical to successful operations. Even though the United States is a powerful country able to shape the economic and political landscape of the world, the European Union is strong enough to take care of the problems in Europe. The United States should still intervene abroad when vital national interests are directly threatened, however, the influence over European affairs should be kept to a minimal level. Even though ideological and material leadership of the United States is an important factor in NATO operations, the Americans should be willing to share tasks and responsibilities with other strong countries.


Conry, B 1997, ‘U.S. Global Leadership: A Euphemism for World Policeman’, Cato Policy Analysis, no. 267, Web.

Duignan, P 2001, ‘NATO Ten Years from Now’, Hoover Digest, no. 2, Web.

Spiegeleire, S & Korteweg, R 2006, ‘Military Matters: Future NATOs’, NATO Review, Web.

The Atlantic Council of the United States, 2008, Web.

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