Wednesday, 2 April 2008

What Future for NATO? - 2

Julianne Smith of CSIS in Washington DC, a former colleague of mine at BASIC, has written a piece on the future of NATO seen through the lens of Afghanistan. This in conjunction with Michael Williams of RUSI. I find some of their conclusions compelling:

The Alliance has attempted to rewrite its mission over the last nearly two decades. The 1991 and 1999 Strategic Concepts attempted to get the Alliance in shape to respond to the new international environment. But these changes were not substantive enough and are now outdated. At its heart, the Alliance is still very much a Cold War organization. This is problematic, as the last ten years have illustrated that the primary security concerns that face the transatlantic area are far removed from the challenges of the Cold War. Yet the Alliance has not changed. ... NATO will undoubtedly attempt to redefine its involvement in Afghanistan at the Bucharest summit. One should expect a communiqué that indirectly outlines a new approach to avoid failing in Afghanistan, while providing the Alliance with a way out. But this will not fix the inherent problems within the Alliance; it will only paper over the cracks. In the coming year the allies need to have an open and honest discussion about NATO, its missions and mandate, to pave the way forward towards real change at the 60th anniversary summit.

This is exactly the message that Acronym included in its submission to the House of Commons Defence Committee for its report on the future of NATO. It is an accurate summary of the issues that NATO leaders will struggle with at this Summit.

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