The U.S. military involvement in Libya should prompt lawmakers to rethink U.S. involvement in NATO, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Tuesday.

Frank, a longtime critic of military spending, said that NATO no longer serves its original purpose and that it serves as more of an excuse for European nations to involve the U.S. military in problems that European governments might not be able to solve themselves.

"I think the time has come to reexamine NATO," Frank said on MSNBC. "NATO has become an excuse for other people to get America to do things."

Frank said that NATO's original purposes were to prop up devastated western European nations following World War II and to serve as a counterweight to the Soviet Union. Absent those threats, the veteran Massachusetts Democrat said it made little sense to stay involved in the organization.

NATO has taken the lead in military operations against Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. The U.S. handed off its lead role to NATO, but critics say that the U.S. involvement in NATO means that little has changed.

"I think we should make it clear that NATO is a shell of what it used to be, and we shouldn't pretend that NATO is this entity that's going to help us," Frank said.