Gates's criticism are not untrue, but they are kind of beside the point, since nowadays NATO has 3 real reasons for being:
1) Not to assist the U.S. militarily, but to provide a fig leaf of international approval and support for U.S. military aims abroad;
2) To give Euro-pacifists with miniscule military budgets a seat at the big kids table, which is bought and paid for by the U.S.;
3) To provide a pretext -- in the name of alliance cooperation, or thwarting Iranian missiles -- for building up U.S. forces on Russia's western flank.
NATO is a once admirable institution which has outlived its usefulness; since the fall of the USSR it has failed to adapt and find a new mission. Time to dispense with it.
June 10, 2011 | Huffington Post