The alliance finished its work on November 9, 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. Soon the Warsaw Pact dissolved and the Soviet Union disappeared.
There then ensued a desperate attempt to find a new role for the alliance. Some officials suggested that NATO could fight the illicit drug trade, promote the environment, or even aid student exchanges. Alliance advocates settled on engaging in 'out-of-area' activities. That is, NATO abandoned its traditional role of defending its members and switched to pursuing social engineering around the globe, as well as acting as a tool to socialize former communist states.