Relentless Global Drive: NATO On Six Continents In Seven Days
During the twenty years following the end of the Cold War the military alliance whose founding signalled the advent of an armed East-West confrontation in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has transformed itself into history's first international military formation.
In the process the bloc has progressively substituted itself for and attempted to supplant the 56-nation Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Eurasia and the United Nations globally.
Over six years ago the current U.S. permanent representative to NATO, Ivo Daalder, co-authored an opinion piece in the Washington Post that was titled "Global NATO." The theme of the article was encapsulated in one sentence: "With little fanfare and even less notice the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has gone global." 
During the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania in April of 2008 then chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Canadian General Raymond Henault, offered this contrast between the North Atlantic military bloc shortly after the end of the Cold War and what it had become by 2008:
"Less than 20 years ago, NATO consisted of 16 members, counted none as partners, and had conducted no operations or exercises outside its member state borders....Today, NATO counts 26 members and 38 other countries in four Partnership arrangements....Importantly, the non-Russian former Warsaw Pact states have successfully integrated into NATO....In a few short years, NATO has conducted 8 operations on 4 continents." 
At the time Henault, who would step down from his position later in the year to be succeeded by Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola. reminisced on his three-year tenure: "I have had the great fortune of being able to regularly visit many of our theatres of operation, all 26 NATO nations, 14 Partner countries including Japan, Australia, and those aspiring to join plus our important ally Pakistan." 
By 2009 the self-defined "military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America" had expanded from 16 to 28 full members, all of the new additions in Eastern Europe, with operations on four of six inhabited continents and military partners on five.
The person who preceded the Netherlands-born Ivo Daalder as U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, anticipated Henault's account of the breathtaking expansion of the world's only military bloc by two years.
Ahead of the 2006 NATO summit in Riga, the capital of Latvia, itself only brought into the Alliance two years earlier - a NATO summit in the former Soviet Union yet - Volker celebrated the ultimate Western victory in the Cold War: The extension of the military alliance founded and dominated by the U.S. throughout almost all of Europe and its elaboration of networks worldwide.
Volker began his foreign policy career as an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1986, from which post he became first secretary of the American mission to NATO in 1998 and the following year Deputy Director of NATO Secretary-General George Robertson's private office in the year of the bloc's air war against Yugoslavia. In 2001 he was appointed acting director for European and Eurasian Affairs in the George W. Bush administration's National Security Council.
In the last-named capacity he was in charge of his nation's preparations for the NATO summits in the Czech Republic in 2002 and in Turkey in 2004. The Istanbul summit effected the largest expansion in NATO's history - seven new Eastern European members - and created the eponymous Istanbul Cooperation Initiative to upgrade partnerships with NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue members - Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia - and create an analogous program for the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 
Before the 2006 summit, by which time Volker had been appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, he delivered an address at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, in which he said:
"Recognizing the demands that will be placed on NATO now and in the future, we want to see NATO deepen its capabilities for current and future operations, build new partnerships, and prepare for future enlargement." 
His immediate objectives were to "ensure that NATO succeeds in Afghanistan as it prepares to expand the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the south and thereafter to the east," in the process broadening its military presence throughout the entire nation; to expand NATO's role in and around Darfur in western Sudan; to increase the bloc's training mission in Iraq, whose commander the previous year had been General David Petraeus, now head of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as chief of U.S. Central Command, and further develop "partnerships in training and education" in the Middle East and Africa; to cultivate NATO's "relationship with global security partners, such as Australia or Japan"; and "to ensure that the NRF [global rapidly deployable NATO Response Force] is strengthened, trained, and funded...to make sure that it is usable." 
A month earlier Volker gave a speech at Howard University's Model NATO Conference in which he boasted that "NATO is in the process of enormous transformation. The NATO of the Cold War - the NATO that was a static
collective defense alliance - that never engaged in a single military operation is gone. That NATO was successful. That's not the NATO that we look at today.