Barry Pavel and James Joyner insist that changes within NATO are urgently needed:

Third, while the Lisbon declaration stressed the need for building partnerships with non-NATO members to increase alliance capabilities – and Libya highlighted the effectiveness and necessity of that approach – progress on this process has been moving at a glacial pace, constrained by bureaucratic routine.

But this is no time for routine. The atrocities in Syria are ongoing. Unrest continues to bubble across the Middle East and North Africa. And the threat of an Iran crisis looms, which from its outset would directly involve NATO members in the neighborhood (Turkey) or with forces in the region (United States, Britain).

None of the crises mentioned here has anything to do with NATO. Increasing alliance capabilities to interfere in conflicts that have no connection to allied security doesn’t make sense. If individual members of NATO are involved in an Iran crisis, it will be because of geographical proximity (Turkey) or unrelated policy choices that the individual members have made (United States, Britain). The alliance isn’t going to be involved in an Iran crisis in any way, so it doesn’t make sense to justify internal NATO reforms by invoking Iran. Likewise, NATO has nothing at stake in the uprisings in Arab countries, and the alliance has already publicly ruled out its involvement in Syria. A few weeks ago, James correctly ridiculed Turkish PM Erdogan for trivializing the alliance’s Article V commitment by invoking it in response to a cross-border shooting incident connected to the Syrian civil war. Why does it makes sense to bring up even more remote crises in the context of discussing the agenda for the NATO summit?

There will be thirteen non-members attending the Chicago summit because of their past and ongoing contributions to NATO missions, including such military heavyweights as Georgia and Qatar. Many of these contributors will be attending not because they add that much to “alliance capabilities” (they don’t add much at all), but because the alliance wants to acknowledge their participation in “out of area” operations that also don’t have anything to do with Euro-Atlantic security. It is yet another confirmation that NATO has long since outlived its original purpose and its usefulness.

The authors also list a number of things that they believe the alliance “must” address next week, which is in keeping with the theme of expanding NATO’s ties all over the world for no particular purpose:

In light of all this, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in particular are practically begging NATO to deepen its outside relationships. (NATO also needs to formalize partnerships with Australia and other key Asian players [bold mine-DL].) At a minimum, NATO must initiate greater outreach regarding air, missile defense, and maritime operations with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and other Gulf countries who are interested in operational links to NATO.

Why does NATO need to formalize partnerships with Australia and “key Asian players”? Why must NATO initiate greater outreach to Gulf monarchies? What possible reason does an alliance dedicated to the defense of Europe and North America have to do any of these things? Pavel and Joyner never tell us. It is something that simply “must” happen.