In an effort to reach out to a younger audience and shed some of its bastion-of-the-cold-war image, NATO has launched a new web effort in advance of the organization's summit on the French-German border this week.

60 Years of Peace and Security hosts three videos touting NATO's contributions to global security since World War II, all starting off a bit scary and ending on an uplifting note. The effect is a bit cloying, but it works. Students of conflict and international accords can proceed to three quizzes on NATO Operations; History and General Information; and Enlargement and Partnerships to test their trivia knowledge of the organization.

It's a smart move to warmify NATO in advance of their Strasbourg entente. Students, philosophers and journalists will convene tomorrow at a forum on the contemporary security environment before government defense ministers and heads of state from all NATO countries gather on Friday to welcomes Croatia and Albania into the organization and debate the relevance of NATO in ongoing engagements in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Press Officer Robert Pszcael commented from NATO's Brussels headquarters that 60 years is "part of a broader effort to go with the times." He then added, "not everyone reads the New York Times or watches CNN, you know."

On the impact of NATO's new web footprint, Pszcael said "We consider ourselves a pretty dynamic organization. This a way to reach out, but we're not expecting to change public consciousness."
Whether they are trying to rally public support or not, it seems change has been afoot recently in the NATO PR department. A campaign in Washington's Metro launched March 23 billing NATO's missions over the decades. Asked about the heavy dose of melodrama in the videos, Pszcael conceded, "it's essentially operatic."

Further reading:

An editorial endorsing the continuation of NATO Afghanistan mission

A realist in an ideological age, Stephen Walt blogging about NATO's potential demise