NATO has outlived its founding purpose. Its participation in Afghanistan is the clumsy attempt of an obsolete organization to stay alive. The next time NATO is needed will be when a major military power, not a terrorist organization, threatens Europe.
In the aftermath of the French revolution, "the West" tired of political theory. The age of ideology, which applied to social movements, was over, replaced by the age of Realpolitik -- a way for nation-states to deal with one another the primary tool for which was military force or the threat of it. Even when Communism arose in the East, the West dealt with it basically as a military problem, NATO being key. In the end, however, Communism was never defeated militarily. It died from its internal faults and failings and its inability to compete with the economic strength of the West.
Today the West, like the man who has a hammer but lacks the screwdriver he needs, misuses military force -- pitting it not really against nation-states, they being just collateral damage that gets in the way, but against political Islamic terror. NATO is deployed only because it is the hammer that the West has.
The result, I say, has been a great victory for Osama bin Laden. He has tricked the West into sending hundreds of thousands of its citizens, civilians as well as military, to be endlessly slaughtered on his home ground instead of having to cope with the difficulties of attacking them in their home countries where they are more effectively, and MUCH less expensively, defended.
Political leaders, like most of the public, refuse to develop a proper understanding of the politics of international Islamic terror, probably because it would be too unsettling to various parochial biases and prejudices as well as against the Realpolitik style of thinking they have been schooled in. It is likely, therefore, that blood and treasure will continue to we wasted on ineffective to counterproductive military exercises until Islamic terror dies from its own poisonous malice.