Now that the Warsaw Pact has officially dissolved as a military organization, the dithering over the future of NATO must come to a halt. The Persian Gulf war demonstrated that while West Europeans are incapable of coherent collective action in a crisis outside their own continent, the NATO roster also produced a number of allies -- Britain foremost.
This says little, however, about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the post-Cold War world. The U.S. was able to deploy 90,000 of its 300,000 NATO-based troops to the gulf war theater, thus achieving a measure of mobility that would have been denied if all U.S. forces had to be moved from the American mainland.
This asset was mainly a function of geography. It was not NATO power but U.S. power that threw Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. As American forces gradually withdraw from the gulf, those who were assigned to Germany will return there, some for only a short time. Barring a change of plans because of Soviet chaos or recalcitrance, there will be a drawdown of some 40,000 U.S. troops from Europe by Sept. 30. By mid-decade, the force may be down to one-half or one-third of present strength.