Tuesday, 28 April 2009

France Will Take Top Planning Post

The Nouvel Observateur reports that France has landed a top job at SHAPE. The French had, unofficially, been angling to have a one of the Deputy SACEUR jobs allocated to them. However, neither the UK or Germany were willing to cede their place.

Instead, a French officer will succeed his British counterpart at the head of the J-5 operational planning cell when the time for rotation comes.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Analysis: Cooperation with NATO in Russian Interest

The Daily Telegraph carried an interesting analysis piece on April 24, concerning NATO-Russia relations. It is written by Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs, an interesting website and journal.

Lukyanov makes the point that, since the 1990s, NATO's cohesion and thus influence has been declining. He adds that grandiose dreams of a global structure linking NATO with security structures across the Pacific are unlikely to happen, not least because NATO members can't agree on what their Alliance is for. He concludes that Russia should cooperate with NATO, for example, in creating supply routes to Afghanistan, because it is in the Russian interest to do so.

There is much in the article that is persuasive, especially when he talks about the confusion or profusion of new roles that Alliance is being asked to take on:

But can one organisation effectively embrace the roles of global emergency team, the FBI, a rapid response task force and a peacekeeping headquarters while still remaining a closed club within a rigid ideological framework?

This is especially true since NATO has been so weakened since 1999. The Kosovo War first showed how the political interference in military missions at the lowest tactical level reduces Alliance inefficiency (something SACEUR General Craddock has railed against); the Bush administration chose to go into Afghanistan with a 'coalition of the willing', despite an invocation of the Article V mutual defence guarantee, precisely because the Americans did not want to hampered by NATO bureaucracy; the subsequent ISAF mission has shown the political divisions inside the Alliance, and its inability to act together decisively when not under threat itself; and finally, the wide enlargement this decade has divided Europe in two, the old members who value stability and the new members, who look to NATO as a bulwark against Russia, even if it means the recreation of the Cold War in some form.

As Lukyanov writes, these divisions mean that NATO is not the all-encompassing global threat that some in Russia perceive, but neither is it about to fade away. Positive engagement on both sides will be the most beneficial course in the long run.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Summit Wrap-Up

I have written a full Summit Wrap-Up, which can be read at the Acronym Institute Website.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Obama on NATO and Afghanistan

President Obama spoke at some length about the NATO endorsement of his plan for Afghanistan during his press conference following the President spoke at length about his new plan for Afghanistan announced a week ago and the agreements reached in the meeting:

We start from a simple premise: For years, our efforts in Afghanistan have lacked the resources needed to achieve our goals. And that's why the United States has recommitted itself to a clear and focused goal -- to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.

This effort cannot be America's alone. All of NATO understands that al Qaeda is a threat to all of us, and that this collective security effort must achieve its goals. And as a signal of that commitment, I am pleased that our NATO allies pledged their strong and unanimous support for our new strategy. Keep in mind it was only just a week ago that we announced this new approach. But already with Secretary Clinton's work at The Hague and with the success at today's summit we've started to match real resources to achieve our goals.

We're leaving Strasbourg and Kehl with concrete commitments on NATO support. Our allies and partners have already agreed to provide approximately 5,000 troops and trainers to advance our new strategy, as well as increased civilian assistance. To support critical elections for August 20th, NATO will fully resource our election support force to maximize security. And our allies have committed additional funds to an Afghan elections trust fund that will provide the necessary resources for free and fair elections.

To accelerate and enhance our training of Afghan security forces, a new NATO mission, a new NATO training mission, will focus on high-level support for Afghan army, and training and mentoring for the Afghan police. And many of our allies and partners have also pledged support for a new trust fund to sustain Afghan national armies going forward.

And to strengthen Afghan institutions and advance opportunity for the Afghan people, we are working with our NATO allies and partners to achieve substantial increases in non-military assistance and to provide the kind of doctors, engineers, educators and agricultural specialists that are needed to make a difference on the ground.

NATO has agreed the plan, but it is far from clear that the resources will be made available to carry it through. If Europe doesn't come through then the US will act increasingly on its own, and NATO will be weakened. There is also a risk that the plan will not work, and NATO will be weakened. Obama is forcing the pace, and Europe will have to follow.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Analysis of the Declaration on Alliance Security

The NATO Summit today adopted the Declaration on Alliance Security. This is intended to be a kind of negotiating blueprint for the full-scale review of the Alliance Strategic Concept that is now underway. NATO will adopt the Concept at its next Summit, which will be held in Portugal, probably in late 2010 or early 2011. There are a number of points of interest in the Declaration.

The Importance of NATO as an Institution

In an early paragraph the Declaration states: NATO continues to be the essential transatlantic forum for security consultations among Allies. During the Cold War, and into the 1990s this was true. But NATO has been bypassed in some fairly important security discussions since then. For example, trans-Atlantic coordination on Iran's nuclear programme is a bilateral US-EU affair. Even though Iran presents a legitimate security concern for Turkey, a NATO member; and even though NATO as a whole is in a position to give the Iranian government the kind of security guarantees they require to negotiate with confidence; NATO is not involved. Twenty years ago that would have been inconceivable. After 9/11, although NATO invoked Article V, the US under President Bush was deeply reluctant to accept any assistance. Partly because the US did not need help, and partly because Bush did not want to have to work with the North Atlantic Council in making decisions on war or peace. Only later did he invite NATO into Afghanistan. Perhaps, under President Obama this can change. Or perhaps NATO is rebalancing, particularly with France reentering the integrated military command. Perhaps the US and the EU will do far more security cooperation in the future.

Nuclear Weapons

Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy. This is a standard expression of the role of nuclear and conventional forces in Alliance policy, and suggests that the new Strategic Concept will not abandon nuclear deterrence. However, it may be significant to note the absence of the normal formulation (or some variant of it) that: Nuclear forces based in Europe and committed to NATO provide an essential political and military link between the European and the North American members of the Alliance. The Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe. Will the new Concept give less salience to nuclear weapons? Will it allow for the withdrawal of the few remaining free fall bombs from Europe? It is interesting that the juxtaposition of nuclear deterrence with action on arms control in this statement mirrors the national policy expressed by the Obama administration in its joint statement with Russia. This may well allow NATO to downgrade and reduce nuclear forces, perhaps only relying on Trident, while negotiating away some potential external threats.


Enlargement is slow-tracked by this declaration. The Alliance maintains its open doors policy, but new members must: contribute to common security and stability. It is very hard to see how The Ukraine and Georgia could fulfil that criterion for the foreseeable future, although Macedonia would have an easier time if it can strike a deal with Greece over its name. The Bush policy of pushing NATO quickly to the southern border of Russia is gone.

Power Projection

The Declaration states that: We will improve our ability to meet the security challenges we face that impact directly on Alliance territory, emerge at strategic distance or closer to home. Allies must share risks and responsibilities equitably. It seems clear that power projection, as in Afghanistan or off Somalia will continue. It is equally clear, as President Obama has made abundantly obvious this weekend, that European NATO members will be expected to do their bit in any missions that NATO agrees to take on. This is the 21st Century version of the old burdensharing argument from the Cold War, and will probably never be completely resolved. However, it will be incumbent on Europe to do more, more efficiently, with the money it spends on defence.


In another change of tone from recent years, multilateral cooperation is given a prominent part in the Declaration: We aim to strengthen our cooperation with other international actors, including the United Nations, European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and African Union...

NATO and the EU

France and the United States are together in their desire to see the EU play a greater role in European defence policy and practice. The Declaration reflects this.We are determined to ensure that the NATO-EU relationship is a truly functioning strategic partnership ... Can the EU step up into this role? Will the Conservative government that is likely to be elected in the UK go along? The UK is such a major defence player in the EU that its agreement will be essential. Tony Blair tried to move this way at the St Malo Summit with France in 1998, only to fail because France remained semi-detached from NATO. NATO-EU relations have been fraught with difficulty for years, but supporters of deeper European unity will be pleased to try to make this work, and Obama still has enough credit in Europe that it just may.


And finally, relations with Russia are deemed extremely important to European stability and security, as they should be. A strong, cooperative partnership between NATO and Russia, based on respect for all the principles of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act and the 2002 Rome Declaration, best serves security in the Euro-Atlantic area. While difficult discussions over Georgia lay ahead, and undoubtedly there will be other areas where Russian and NATO interests do not align, this weekend has already been a positive restart. Obama has done enough in the short term to defuse Russian anger at the way NATO has pressured them (as they see it) over the years. Backing the good words with action will be harder, although new and deep cuts in nuclear weapons will help, as will the back-tracking on missile defence. A desire for true cooperation through the NATO-Russia Council will be vital.


There is enough of the 1999 Strategic Concept in this declaration that, if things go badly, nothing much will change. However, there is enough that is new and positive that, if things go well, NATO could be substantially reformed.

There are immense problems to be overcome. The Afghan mission is far from a guaranteed success. The scission in views of Russia between old and new NATO is very deep. The reluctance to even discuss the role of nuclear weapons in Alliance strategy has enormous inertia that makes change very hard. These are only some of the difficulties. But in Strasbourg President Obama proved adept at negotiating the shoals of the Alliance, and this will serve NATO well over the coming year or more of negotiating a new Strategic Concept.

Full Text of the Declaration on Alliance Security

Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Strasbourg / Kehl on 4 April 2009

We, the Heads of State and Government of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, met today in Strasbourg and Kehl to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our Alliance. We have reaffirmed the values, objectives and obligations of the Washington Treaty which unite Europe with the United States and Canada, and have provided our transatlantic community with an unprecedented era of peace and stability. We have also reaffirmed our adherence to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

NATO continues to be the essential transatlantic forum for security consultations among Allies. Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and collective defence, based on the indivisibility of Allied security, are, and will remain, the cornerstone of our Alliance. Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy. NATO will continue to play its part in reinforcing arms control and promoting nuclear and conventional disarmament in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as non-proliferation efforts.

NATO’s enlargement has been an historic success in bringing us closer to our vision of a Europe whole and free. NATO’s door will remain open to all European democracies which share the values of our Alliance, which are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, and whose inclusion can contribute to common security and stability.

Today, our nations and the world are facing new, increasingly global threats, such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and cyber attacks. Other challenges such as energy security, climate change, as well as instability emanating from fragile and failed states, may also have a negative impact on Allied and international security. Our security is increasingly tied to that of other regions.

We will improve our ability to meet the security challenges we face that impact directly on Alliance territory, emerge at strategic distance or closer to home. Allies must share risks and responsibilities equitably. We must make our capabilities more flexible and deployable so we can respond quickly and effectively, wherever needed, as new crises emerge. We must also reform the NATO structures to create a leaner and more cost-effective organization. We will strengthen NATO’s capacity to play an important role in crisis management and conflict resolution where our interests are involved.

We aim to strengthen our cooperation with other international actors, including the United Nations, European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and African Union, in order to improve our ability to deliver a comprehensive approach to meeting these new challenges, combining civilian and military capabilities more effectively. In our operations today in Afghanistan and the Western Balkans, our armed forces are working alongside many other nations and organisations. In Afghanistan, our key priority, we are committed to helping the Afghan Government and its people to build a democratic, secure and stable country that will never again harbour terrorists who threaten Afghan and international security.

NATO recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defence and welcomes the European Union’s efforts to strengthen its capabilities and its capacity to address common security challenges. Non-EU Allies make a significant contribution to these efforts in which their fullest involvement possible is important, as agreed. We are determined to ensure that the NATO-EU relationship is a truly functioning strategic partnership as agreed by NATO and by the EU. Our efforts should be mutually reinforcing and complementary.

We will develop our relationships with all our partners, both in our neighbourhood and beyond, with whom we have a joint commitment to cooperative security. Our partners are key in enabling us to implement our vision of a community of shared values and responsibilities. We value the support that many of our partners bring to our operations and missions.

A strong, cooperative partnership between NATO and Russia, based on respect for all the principles of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act and the 2002 Rome Declaration, best serves security in the Euro-Atlantic area. We stand ready to work with Russia to address the common challenges we face.

We are committed to renovating our Alliance to better address today’s threats and to anticipate tomorrow’s risks. United by this common vision of our future, we task the Secretary General to convene and lead a broad-based group of qualified experts, who in close consultation with all Allies will lay the ground for the Secretary General to develop a new Strategic Concept and submit proposals for its implementation for approval at our next summit. The Secretary General will keep the Council in permanent session involved throughout the process.

The Guardian Calls for US Nukes Out of Europe

The Guardian editorialised this morning in favour of removing US free fall nuclear bombs from Europe.
Nuclear disarmament: Bombs away

On his return home, Dmitry Medvedev hailed Barack Obama as "my new comrade". The Russian president said he was not seeking the end of Nato by proposing a new security pact for Europe, and his Nato ambassador, Dmitry Rogozin, a hardwired nationalist, said he would not rule out joining the transatlantic alliance one day. And this from the land which greeted Mr Obama's election with the announcement that it would deploy short-range missiles in Kaliningrad if America installed a missile defence battery over the border in Poland. What a difference a 70-minute meeting in London makes. Meanwhile, comrade Obama will outline in Prague tomorrow an agenda for a world without nuclear weapons. Yesterday world prosperity. Today world peace. Not a bad week's work.

Nothing of substance has changed - the core differences between Nato and Russia remain. But the tone of the dialogue has changed and that does matter. Instead of winding each other up, the two most important nuclear powers are finding ways to talk about each other in less belligerent ways. Getting to zero, or getting to the point of eliminating nuclear weapons, has been around as an idea almost as long as the weapons themselves have been. It has bipartisan support in America, with backers including George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry and Sam Nunn. Recently, however, the zero option has received fresh impetus. One of Mr Obama's first acts was to end development work on a "reliable replacement warhead" which critics said was a cover for designing new weapons. Reaffirming Britain's decision to replace Trident, Gordon Brown said Britain would reduce the number of missile tubes on each submarine from 16 to 12. Nothing new there, but he added an intriguing rider. He said that if it was possible to reduce the number of UK warheads further, "consistent with the progress of multilateral discussions", Britain would be ready to do so. These are straws in the wind.

It is not known what progress Mr Obama and Mr Medvedev made on the numbers of warheads that would be negotiated in a replacement for the Start treaty, which expires at the end of the year. Under a different treaty which governs warheads that are "operationally deployed", Russia has an arsenal of 2,700 warheads which would be reduced to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012. The US has already met that requirement, but both countries are still thought to hold thousands of additional warheads which are not deployed. The scope for deep cuts in the nuclear arsenal is huge.

Other measures could lower the temperature further. One legacy of the cold war is the forward deployment of between 200 and 350 US nuclear bombs in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey. Nato's nuclear umbrella was designed as a deterrent against Soviet conventional invasion. But the boot is now on the other foot. Russia's conventional forces have been so weakened in relation to Nato's that they will be more resistant to the zero option than the US will be. Getting rid of an obsolete stockpile of freefall bombs in Nato countries would be an important first step. It would also put Nato in a stronger position to demand stronger non-proliferation mechanisms.

Nato has other problems, like how to defeat a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. The question of burden-sharing between Europe and America will be of greater and more immediate consequence in Afghanistan - now that American troops will be double the size of the force from other Nato members - than it will be on the issue of nuclear stockpiles. Nato could use Russia's help in the transit of non-lethal military supplies, as convoys through Pakistan are coming under attack. But the bigger picture of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation does affect the smaller one. Together it creates a world where security is shared. This is a vision worth fighting for.

Turkish Conditions for Accepting Rasmussen

According to the Anatolian News Agency, during the meeting today between President Obama and President Gul, Turkey won several concessions in return for its reluctant support for the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the next NATO Secretary General.

These conditions included a promise that one of Rasmussen's deputies would be a Turk; that there would be additional posts within the NATO command structure for Turkish officers; that Kurdish station Roj TV would be banned; and that certain unspecified conditions about Afghanistan will be met.

The full report is here.

Summit Communique on Arms Control and Disarmament

Communiqué language on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation is somewhat disappointing. There had been hopes that, with the Obama administration publicly committed to ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, that would be mentioned in the communiqué. Also, with the US and Russia issuing a joint declaration on strategic arms control this week, it would have been better had some greater detail on those issues emerged from Strasbourg.

During the Bush years, NATO’s commitment to arms control and disarmament has dwindled, as the consensus rule for NATO decision-making meant that nothing opposed by the Bush administration (more or less all arms control) could be mentioned. However, the strong language on the NPT, and the promise to work constructively for the success of the 2010 NPT Review Conference gives some hope for future NATO activities in this field.

Similarly it is to be hoped that the new atmosphere of cooperation with Russia can lead to progress on restoring the CFE Treaty to full operation.

Summit Communique on Arms Control and Disarmament

55. In Bucharest we reaffirmed that arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation will continue to make an important contribution to peace, security, and stability. In response to our tasking to the Council in Permanent Session to keep these issues under active review, we note its report on raising NATO’s profile in this field. The report displays a broad range of activities being undertaken, including continuing efforts in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and destruction of excess small arms and light weapons and surplus munitions. The Allies continue to seek to enhance security and stability at the lowest possible level of forces consistent with the Alliance’s ability to provide for collective defence and to fulfil the full range of its missions. NATO and Allies should continue contributing to international efforts in the area of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. We aim at achieving a higher level of public awareness of NATO’s contribution in these fields. We task the Council in Permanent Session to continue to keep these issues under active review, as part of NATO’s broad response to security challenges.

56. NATO Allies reaffirm that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with its three mutually reinforcing pillars, remains important and Allies will contribute constructively with a view to achieving a successful outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Alliance nations have dramatically reduced nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and remain committed to all objectives enshrined in the Treaty. We call for universal compliance with the NPT and universal adherence to the Additional Protocol to the International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguard Agreement and full compliance with UNSCR 1540. We will intensify our efforts to prevent state and non-state actors from accessing WMD and their means of delivery. In this regard, we endorse NATO’s comprehensive strategic-level policy for preventing the proliferation of WMD and defending against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear threats. We remain deeply concerned about the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and related proliferation risks and call on Iran to comply with relevant UNSCRs. We are also deeply concerned by the programmes and proliferation activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and call on it to fully comply with relevant UNSCRs.

57. We place the highest value on the CFE Treaty regime with all its elements. We underscore the strategic importance of the CFE Treaty, including its flank regime, as a cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security. We reiterate our endorsement at the Bucharest Summit of the statement of the North Atlantic Council of 28 March 2008 and fully support the December 2008 statement of our Foreign Ministers. We reaffirm the Alliance’s commitment to the CFE Treaty regime, as expressed in the Alliance’s position contained in paragraph 42 of the 2006 Riga Summit Declaration, the final statement by Allies at the CFE Extraordinary Conference in Vienna, and Alliance statements reflecting subsequent developments. We are deeply concerned that, since 12 December 2007, Russia has continued its unilateral “suspension” of its legal obligations under the CFE Treaty. Furthermore, Russia’s actions in Georgia have called into question its commitment to the fundamental OSCE principles on which stability and security in Europe are based: principles which underpin the CFE Treaty. These actions run counter to our common objective of preserving the long-term viability of the CFE regime and we call upon Russia to resume its implementation without further delay. Because of our commitment to cooperative security and fulfilment of international agreements as well as the importance we attach to the confidence that results from military transparency and predictability, we have continued fully to implement the Treaty despite Russia’s “suspension”. However, the current situation, where NATO CFE Allies implement the Treaty while Russia does not, cannot last indefinitely. We offered a set of constructive and forward-looking proposals for parallel actions on key issues, including steps by NATO Allies on ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty and by Russia on outstanding commitments related to Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. We continue to believe that these proposals address all of Russia’s stated concerns. We continue to urge Russia to work cooperatively with us and other concerned CFE States Parties to reach agreement on the basis of the parallel actions package so that together we can preserve the benefits of this landmark regime.

NATO and Missile Defence

The Summit Communique has several paragraphs on missile defence. The language on the controversial proposed US mid-course ballistic missile defence deployment to Poland and the Czech Republic has softened considerably since last year.

Under President Bush, the communique in Bucharest read:

We therefore recognise the substantial contribution to the protection of Allies from long-range ballistic missiles to be provided by the planned deployment of European-based United States missile defence assets. We are exploring ways to link this capability with current NATO missile defence efforts as a way to ensure that it would be an integral part of any future NATO-wide missile defence architecture.

By contrast, the Strasbourg-Kehl communique reads:

In response to our tasking at the Bucharest Summit to develop options for a comprehensive missile defence architecture to extend coverage to all European Allied territory and populations, several technical architecture options were developed and subsequently assessed from a politico-military perspective. We recognise that additional work is still required. In this context, a future United States’ contribution of important architectural elements could enhance NATO elaboration of this Alliance effort.

This is clearly a much less supportive wording, which reflects the doubts of the Obama administration about the value of deploying unproven and ineffective missile defences, doing little beyond irritating Russia. This is not least because, saying that missile defences are part of the response to missile threats places it squarely in an arms control context, and positions missile defences as something of a last resort.

This new communique is also strong on involving Russia:

We support increased missile defence cooperation between Russia and NATO, including maximum transparency and reciprocal confidence-building measures to allay any concerns.

This is something that has, up to now, been vetoed by the Czech Republic and Poland.

In short, NATO will not be endorsing a political decision to go ahead with missile defences any time soon. Those NATO members who pursued a ‘delay and hope’ strategy last year before the US elections have been vindicated. They pushed off a political decision until this year, hoping that President Obama would be elected, and that they would thereby be saved the need to go ahead with major BMD deployment and the confrontation with Russia that seemed inevitable.

Summit Text on Missile Defences

50. Ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to Allies’ forces, territory, and populations. Missile defence forms part of a broader response to counter this threat. We therefore reaffirm the conclusions of the Bucharest Summit about missile defence.

51. In response to our tasking at the Bucharest Summit to develop options for a comprehensive missile defence architecture to extend coverage to all European Allied territory and populations, several technical architecture options were developed and subsequently assessed from a politico-military perspective. We recognise that additional work is still required. In this context, a future United States’ contribution of important architectural elements could enhance NATO elaboration of this Alliance effort.

52. Based on the technical and political military analysis of these options, we judge that missile threats should be addressed in a prioritised manner that includes consideration of the level of imminence of the threat and the level of acceptable risk. We received a comprehensive analysis of the technical architecture options and agree to its overall assessment that, even though some of these options do not meet the Bucharest tasking, each of them has its strengths and shortcomings.

53. Bearing in mind the principle of the indivisibility of Allied security as well as NATO solidarity, we task the Council in Permanent Session, taking into account the Bucharest Summit tasking, to present recommendations comprising architecture alternatives, drawing from the architectural elements already studied, for consideration at our next Summit. To inform any future political decision on missile defence, we also task the Council in Permanent Session to identify and undertake the policy, military and technical work related to a possible expanded role of the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme beyond the protection of NATO deployed forces to include territorial missile defence.

54. We support increased missile defence cooperation between Russia and NATO, including maximum transparency and reciprocal confidence-building measures to allay any concerns. We reaffirm our readiness to explore the potential for linking United States, NATO and Russian missile defence systems at an appropriate time and we
encourage the Russian Federation to take advantage of United States’ missile defence cooperation proposals.

Initial Notes From Final Press Conference

There was a belated and short final press conference. It began with the introduction of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the next Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance. I will post a more considered reaction to the various communiques later.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen

Today is truly historic, not just because a Dane has the job of NATO Secretary General for the first time, but because we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the most successful peace movement the world has ever seen....

Then Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer made a few remarks, joined by President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel.

De Hoop Scheffer

Albania and Croatia have joined our Alliance. France has joined the military command to our great advantage and to that of the European Union.

The Summit has engaged in substantive work, notably in Afghanistan. The NATO Training Mission Afghanistan has been established. We will manage a trust fund to sustain the enlarged Afghan army. There is apolitical and strategic agreement to carry work forward.

We also discussed NATO’s relations with Russia. We share common security interests. We want to use the NRC for the fullest possible cooperation. We will also air our differences, as on Georgia and the CFE Treaty.

Heads of State and Government have agreed to launch a review process to update the Strategic Concept. This will be agreed at the next Summit.

President Sarkozy

Is very pleased that Prime Minister Rasmussen has been named to the Secretary Generalship. Pleased to work with President Obama. Europe will have a larger place in the Euro-Atlantic institutions.

Chancellor Merkel

Welcomed the new Secretary General, and reiterated all that had previously been said.

There was a very short question and answer session.


All three speakers denied, as one would expect, that there is a breach between the US and Europe on contributions to ISAF in Afghanistan. All three try to protest that European allies are making large contributions, although when measured against the enormous US troop surge, the European contribution is small.

One journalist raised questions about the ability of Anders Fogh Rasmussen to overcome all the difficulties that Turkey has raised about him, and whether he can represent NATO well. All speakers brushed off this question.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen has the Job

After more than an hour of delay, the final NATO press conference has now begun. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been appointed as NATO Secretary General.

Now it remains to be seen what price Turkey has extracted for this climbdown.

Toronto Star Editorial Calls for Denuclearised NATO

President Obama has called for a nuclear weapon free world, but there hasn't otherwise been much discussion of nuclear weapons at the NATO Summit. Now the Toronto Star is carrying an excellent editorial calling for NATO to modernise itself by denuclearising, a NATO's nukes are now a hindrance to building global security.

Quite Right!

NATO's dated nukes

The 60th anniversary this weekend of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was supposed to be a well-orchestrated and tame affair. The Americans arrived in Strasbourg hoping to get Canada and the 26 other NATO allies to pony up a few more military trainers for Afghanistan, and more aid. Fractious relations with Russia were to be patched up. And NATO was to launch a strategic rethink.

But with his push to reduce nuclear arsenals and restrict the spread of weapons, U.S. President Barack Obama has challenged the alliance to update its strategic thinking. Obama wants to lower the American and Russian strategic stockpiles to about 1,500 warheads each, a 40 per cent cut. He has a longer-term vision of "a world without nuclear weapons." That is ambitious, given the 23,000 warheads that still exist, a tempting target for terrorists. And tomorrow in Prague he plans to unveil a new non-proliferation strategy.

This is a healthy course correction from George W. Bush's recklessness. He favoured greater U.S. reliance on nukes. He quit the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. And he pushed to deploy missile defences.

During the Bush era, Canadian policy-makers went largely silent on nuclear issues. With Washington under new management, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has an opportunity to make Canada's voice count again, as a member of NATO's non-nuclear caucus. Ottawa was once an active advocate for disarmament. It can be again.

Obama wants existing weapons taken off hair-trigger alert. He's not keen on developing new weapons. He favours ratifying the treaty banning nuclear tests. He's prepared to negotiate a global ban on producing fissile materials. And he's skeptical of missile defence.

Suddenly, NATO's insistence that nuclear weapons "continue to fulfill an essential role," as its 1999 "strategic concept" dictates, seems debatable, and dated. The International Court of Justice back in 1996 described nuclear weapons as "the ultimate evil."

While there's no likelihood the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India or Pakistan will dismantle their arsenals any time soon, Obama says a world rid of bombs "is profoundly in America's interest." Certainly, a world in which countries such as North Korea and Iran scramble to build nuclear weapons is profoundly not in America's best interest. Yet the U.S. and other nuclear powers look hypocritical in demanding that others forswear The Bomb.

Given all this, why should Canada and the 24 other non-nuclear NATO allies continue to play cheerleader for a nuclear doctrine that hasn't made a lot of sense since the Cold War ended 20 years ago? NATO's large non-nuclear bloc should question the premise that nuclear weapons are "the supreme guarantee of the security of the allies," as if the alliance's massive conventional forces count for naught.

At 60, NATO should have the maturity to acknowledge the fact that far from being "essential," nuclear weapons are not even desirable. Fewer is better, as the Americans and Russians now agree. None at all would be best.

Final Press Conference Late

The final press conference for the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit will be delayed by around an hour, at a minimum. No official reason has been given, but speculation is that a last ditch attempt to have Turkey agree to the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the new Secretary General of the Alliance is behind this delay.

Incidentally, the website of the Turkish Weekly has just posted a strong denouncement of Rasmussen by Prime Minister Erdogan:

.. we do not want NATO to lose power. The media organ of the terrorist organization in my country broadcasts from Denmark. We submitted documents four years ago, but he still could not or did not stop them. We had a cartoon crisis as well. We asked them how to overcome the situation, but they still did not approach positively. Indeed, I take a dim view of his candidacy.

They also say that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened to delay any consideration by the EU of the long-standing Turkish membership bid if the crisis is not resolved by Rasmussen's appointment today.

Another rumour, carried by the Associated Press, has for the first time in several weeks named former UK Defence Secretary Des Browne as a candidate. this is probably unlikely as a second British labour Defence Minister (Lord Robertson held the post before de Hoop Scheffer) taking the post in a decade would be unlikely to find favour with many other countries.

How many of these circulating rumours are true is open to question. However, it is obvious that this issue has caused divisions within the Alliance and problems at this meeting. It might have been sensible for Heads of State and Government to have focused on this problem earlier and, in the event Turkey was clearly unpersuadable, chosen someone else in advance.

Obama, Gul Meet With Rasmussen

The NATO Secretary General appointment saga continues. It has emerged that President Obama and Turkish President Abdullah Gul spent an hour discussing the issue, and that for at least part of the meeting they were joined by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Clearly, while the US has publicly said that there is "no urgency" to the issue, President Obama wants it solved in Strasbourg if at all possible.

Italian media have also been reporting that when Prime Minister Sivio Berlusconi snubbed his colleagues during their symbolic link-up on a bridge across the Rhine, he was in fact talking to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his cellphone about Rasmussen.

Obama Wants Stronger European Defence

Speaking at a press conference with French President Sarkozy, President Obama called for Europeans to do more to strengthen their defence capabilities yesterday. This is a long-term US aim, and a message that has long been unwelcome. However, with France re-entering the NATO integrated military command, there is now a possibility of much greater NATO-EU cooperation and the enhancement of defence cooperation within the EU itself. President Obama said:

NATO is the most successful alliance in modern history. And the basic premise of NATO was that Europe's security was the United States' security, and vice versa. That's its central tenet that is a pillar of American foreign policy that has been unchanging over the last 60 years. It is something that I am here to affirm. And with France's reintegration into the highest command structures of NATO, that principle will continue to be upheld.

I want to echo what President Sarkozy just said. We want strong allies. We would like to see Europe have much more robust defense capabilities. That's not something we discourage. We're not looking to be the patron of Europe. We're looking to be partners with Europe. And the more capable they are defensively, the more we can act in concert on the shared challenges that we face.

And so, you know, one of my messages to our NATO allies is going to be the more capability we see here in Europe, the happier the United States will be, the more effective we will be in coordinating our activities.

Combined, EU nations spend about two-thirds of what the United States spends on defence, and get much less for it, since that spending is fragmented across many nations. Deeper EU cooperation could achieve better results for less spending, while strengthening the EU's Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

Better coordination by Europe in defence and foreign policy needs a common strategic outlook, and common risk and threat assessment. This will be hard to achieve in the EU, but not impossible. In the long run, it could allow Europe to match US influence in Europe's near abroad, as well as reducing the risk that defence policy would ever be renationalised in Europe. Those are goals worth striving for.

Rumour: Liberation says Obama Could Announce Withdrawal of US Nukes From Europe

On Sunday morning in Prague, President Obama will deliver a major speech on disarmament and non-proliferation. The French news paper Liberation is reporting that he may announce the withdrawal of the 200 or so US nuclear bombs left in Europe.

La «défense collective» a été longtemps assurée par la présence d’armes nucléaires américaines sur le sol européen. Dimanche, en visite à Prague, le président Obama pourrait annoncer le retrait des quelques 200 dernières bombes, basées dans cinq pays [Allemagne, Belgique, Italie, Pays-Bas et Turquie). Une décision essentiellement symbolique qui devrait toutefois être apprécié par Moscou: ce sont de armes anciennes, dont la sécurité fait l’objet de critiques au sein même du Pentagone.

NATO Monitor will be watching and listening with keen interest.

Turkey Still Opposes Rasmussen

Turkish website TurkNet is reporting that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to oppose the candidacy of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for the job of NATO Secretary General.

Erdogan said that he expressed his opinion regarding Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's candidacy for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secretary-general during his talks with the leaders.

"I told them that I would assess the issue with President Abdullah Gul again and I also said that they would have the chance to discuss this matter with Mr. Gul during the (NATO) summit," he said.
Upon a question on his opinion regarding Rasmussen's candidacy for NATO secretary-general, Erdogan said Turkey had no personal problems with Rasmussen or Denmark.

"Our only goal is to protect NATO from being harmed. NATO has a role aiming to establish peace in the world, we do not want such role to be harmed," he said.

Erdogan also said that terrorist organization PKK's broadcasts from Denmark were annoying for Turkey and the cartoon crisis in the past caused uneasiness in the Islam world.

"So why are we stuck at only one candidate. Don't we have any other alternatives? Let us discuss them and find a more appropriate person," he said.

At the same time, Reuters reports that the US is backing away from Rasmussen, saying that there is "no urgency" to resolve the issue at this Summit. Germany has briefed reporters that 27 nations support Rasmussen and that discussions with Turkey continue.

NATO Spokesman's Briefing, With Commentary

Late last night NATO Spokesman James Appathurai gave a short briefing to the media. He said that three issues had been discussed during the Heads of State Working Dinner.

On the Strategic Concept Review – Appathurai said that all who had spoken were in favour of a review. There is a perceived need to update the current Concept to allow for new missions, like cyber-defence, the anti-piracy effort off East Africa and the Afghan mission, none of which are reflected in the 1999 Strategic Concept. He added that NATO leaders also want to reflect possible future missions of the alliance in the Concept. Theory needs to accord with practice, he said. There must be a balance between collective defence and the responsibility to protect the Euro-Atlantic area by projecting force. Appathurai also said that all reiterated the core principle - collective defence must be indivisible.

There is a notable point here. First, the ‘responsibility to protect’ concept has been used by the UN to mean the responsibility of the international community to protect the lives and human rights of those who are threat from genocide, civil war and other threats; and who are actually at threat from their own government. Stretching that principle to allow for Western power projection to defend interests beyond the NATO area will be extremely controversial.

Appathurai continued that the next major issue discussed was Russia. All shared view that Russia is a great power and a partner with whom NATO wants to cooperate, and must cooperate with. This is mutually beneficial. There was also general agreement that NATO and Russia must continue discussion through good times and bad, that the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) must not just be a fair weather organization. That said, there will always be some issues where NATO and Russia do not see things the same way, said Appathurai. NATO will not compromise on core principles – that there can be no spheres of influence, and that the territorial integrity of Georgia must be respected.

This is a clear change of position from the Bush years. The Bush administration pushed for strong action by NATO against Russia during the war with Georgia, and achieved the suspension of the NRC. There is an implicit criticism of the Bush policy in the decision that the NRC must not be a ‘fair weather body’. Also, Russians will chuckle at the idea that the territorial integrity of Georgia is sacrosanct, and point to Kosovo where NATO’s war in 1999, and subsequent political and peacekeeping involvement, has facilitated the break-up of Serbia and the creation of a new republic that not even all NATO members recognize and support. And further back, the German recognition of Croatia (later supported by NATO) that precipitated the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Somehow, territorial integrity is always a core NATO principle. Perhaps it should be, and the Kosovo question should be subject to international mediation, as should the status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Finally, Appathurai said that leaders had discussed the appointment of a new Secretary General. He said the discussion would continue on Saturday, and that no decisions had been made or were, indeed, yet necessary (which is a common NATO spokesman’s code for ‘we can’t agree’).

Appathurai did not brief on the seperate discussions at working dinners of the Foreign and Defence ministers.

Scheffer Denies NATO Role in Iran Crisis, Misses Opportunity

Yesterday at the NATO Youth Forum NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was asked about Iran.

Question: My question was, what could NATO do to aid in talks with Iran? Not just with regards to its nuclear program, but also in helping the country reintegrate into the international community, having been isolated so long?

His answer was disappointing in some ways. He did allow that NATO and Iran, who recently had their first official contact in 30 years, could work together to stabilise Afghanistan. But beyond that he said NATO doesn’t have a role: NATO is not involved and should not be involved in the Iranian nuclear dispute.

This is deeply disappointing. NATO is supposedly a body for coordinating political-military policy across the Atlantic. And yet it is ignoring a problem where it could have a fundamentally positive effect.

If Iran is seeking, and eventually obtains, nuclear weapons, then NATO will be called upon to deter and counter Iran. NATO member Turkey borders Iran, they would want Article V guarantees against a nuclear-armed Iran. So this is a security situation in which all NATO members have a profound interest.

If NATO were to make a declaration that it wishes peace with Iran, and enter into talks on confidence and security building measures, it could have a positive effect on Iran's engagement with the West. If NATO issued assurances that no non-nuclear state would ever be the subject of attack by NATO nuclear forces, then this could help move Iran down a more positive path. eventually, NATO could remove the small amount of forward-based tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, and its nuclear posture would become much less threatening to states in Europe's periphery, like Iran. This could only contribute to a more positive atmosphere. Let there be no mistake. If we are to achieve safety and security through a WMD Free Middle East, including Israel and Iran, NATO has a role to play.

Of course, any final agreement with Iran will require a bilateral deal with the US. The US must promise not to overthrow the government of Iran, and to deal with it in mutual respect. President Obama has made a start on this with his Nowruz message to Iran. But as a coordinating body for western strategic defence policy, NATO should have a role to play. That it doesn't shows how much it has declined as a forum for discussions of security issues since the end of the Cold War.

De Hoop Scheffer's Full Answer

De Hoop Scheffer:

Anyway, NATO is not involved. Let me start with the negative answer I have to. NATO is not involved and should not be involved in the Iranian nuclear dispute. We have other organizations for that, as you know, the IAA, the UN, the EU is playing a role. My friend and colleague Javier Solana is very active in this regard.

But—here comes the but—also with Iran, and I think your president is proof of this, also with Iran, and that's one of the things I've learned in a long, long career in foreign policy, it is always better to talk than not to talk.

Coming back to this Iron Curtain and the Cold War, we always talk to the Soviet Union before the Berlin Wall disappeared and the Iron Curtain fell. We always talked to the Soviet Union, despite huge differences. So that is the reason that, I think, President Obama set on the very right course by trying to reach out to Iran. And Iran was represented, as you know, at the meeting in The Hague I referred to in my speech. And I hope these contacts might intensify.

No misunderstanding, Iran should stop and make transparent a nuclear program, but NATO
doesn't play a role there. Where is Iran relevant for NATO? Iran is an important neighbour of Afghanistan. And stability in Afghanistan is dependent, to a large extent, on stability in the region. First of all, stability in Pakistan, but also in the region in a more wider sense.
So in that regard Iran is relevant for NATO and that's the reason that only a few weeks ago, for the very first time, there was a very informal discussion between one of the Assistant Secretaries General of NATO, for Political Affairs, and the Iranian ambassador in Brussels. That was not a formal conversation. It was just to talk to each other. But let us keep things in the box, and that box is called Afghanistan. And that box is not called nuclear or any other element in the discussions and debates going on with Iran. But talking is always better than not talking.

Obama Calls for European Support, is disappointed by NATO Response

It has been a consistent and (at least in Europe) largely overlooked part of President Obama's plans to fight the war in Afghanistan that Europe should do more. Even as the adulatory crowds cheered him in Berlin last Summer, it was clear that he was going to ask European leaders for help that would not be popular with their publics. And in Strasbourg Obama took that message to a Town Hall-style meeting.

The President explained that Afghanistan matters to the US because of the 9/11 attacks, and that Europe has just a s much interest as the US in ensuring that Afghanistan cannot be the base for such attacks again. And then, in a blunt statement, he said that Europe should not simply expect the United States to shoulder that burden alone. We should not because this is a joint problem and it requires joint effort. Then he added that the closure of Guantanamo, and an end to torture by the US, in turn, will allow the Europeans, I think, to feel good about our joint efforts, and also not to have excuses not to participate in those joint efforts.

This is the most direct appeal for support and additional troops for ISAF that the President has made, but it fell largely on deaf ears. Spain has said it will add a small number of troops for training purposes. Belgium will add two F-16 aircraft and a handful of soldiers. The UK will add a few hundred troops in the run-up to this summer's elections. (Even that was less than the MOD had planned for, they were expecting to send 2,000) France refused to add to its contingent of forces, and a number of other countries (Germany, Italy, Poland, Canada and Denmark)are considering their options. In truth, the President and his team have given up on getting more European troops for the present. There is a an underlying mood of frustration in Obama's team on this, but they don't want the Summit ruined over the question.

In the short term the cracks will be papered over. The controversy over the new Afghan law limiting women's rights and legalising rape in marriage has provided an excuse for Europeans to say they can't commit troops to defending a government that supports such a blatant abuse of human rights. But in the longer term, American scepticism about NATO is being reinforced and the Alliance weakened by Europe's actions.

Obama's Remarks on Afghanistan in Full

And as we restore our common prosperity, we must stand up for our common security. As we meet here today, NATO has still embarked on its first mission overseas in Afghanistan, and my administration has just completed a review of our policy in that region.

Now, I understand that this war has been long. Our allies have already contributed greatly to this endeavor. You've sent your sons and daughters to fight alongside ours, and we honor and respect their service and sacrifice.

And I also know that there's some who have asked questions about why are we still in Afghanistan? What does this mean? What's its purpose? Understand we would not deploy our own troops if this mission was not indispensable to our common security. As President, I can tell you there's no decision more difficult, there's no duty more painful, than signing a letter to the family of somebody who has died in war.

So I understand that there is doubt about this war in Europe. There's doubt at times even in the United States. But know this: The United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. We were attacked by an al Qaeda network that killed thousands on American soil, including French and Germans. Along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, those terrorists are still plotting today. And they're -- if there is another al Qaeda attack, it is just as likely, if not more, that it will be here in Europe in a European city.

So I've made a commitment to Afghanistan, and I've asked our NATO partners for more civilian and military support and assistance. We do this with a clear purpose: to root out the terrorists who threaten all of us, to train the Afghan people to sustain their own security and to help them advance their own opportunity, and to quicken the day when our troops come home.

We have no interest in occupying Afghanistan. We have more than enough to do in rebuilding America. (Applause.) But this is a mission that tests whether nations can come together in common purpose on behalf of our common security. That's what we did together in the 20th century. And now we need an alliance that is even stronger than when it brought down a mighty wall in Berlin.

And then in answer to a follow-up question from the audience he made his major point.

So here's the bottom line. The United States has reviewed and redesigned its approach to Afghanistan. We believe that we cannot just win militarily. We have to win through development aid. We have to win through increasing the capacity of the Afghan government to provide basic services to its people and to uphold rule of law. We have to work with the Pakistani government so that they are more trusted by their population and have more control so that they can then go -- help us go after these terrorists. We have to encourage diplomacy in the region.

So it can't just be a military strategy and we will be in partnership with Europe on the development side and on the diplomatic side. But there will be a military component to it, and Europe should not simply expect the United States to shoulder that burden alone. We should not because this is a joint problem and it requires joint effort.

So we are going to conduct our operations in a way that reflect our best selves and make sure that we are proud. And that, in turn, will allow the Europeans, I think, to feel good about our joint efforts, and also not to have excuses not to participate in those joint efforts. All right?

Friday, 3 April 2009

Romanian Summit Objectives

Romanian media are reporting a speech by Romanian President Traian Basescu. His main objectives for the Summit are listed as:
  • The final statement of the summit must include a message of opening towards Serbia's accession to the NATO structures;
  • The statement must mention the Black Sea area as a region of interest and a strategic security element within NATO's security policy;
  • Maintaining the commitments the Alliance made on full coverage of the NATO territory by the anti-missile shield;
  • Maintaining the commitment to protect the energy infrastructure;- Romania supports the re-launching to the NATO - Russia cooperation;
  • The final document must encourage Montenegro and Bosnia in their intention to join NATO.
It is notable that these objectives identify Romania as a consumer of, not a contributor to, NATO security. all the objectives are regional. There is no sign that Romania has seriously engaged in the major issues affecting NATO as a whole.

Pre-Summit Briefing Analysis III - NATO Reform

One interesting point in the briefing was on NATO reform. Appathurai said:

They will be asked to endorse a reform package for NATO Headquarters. The Secretary General, after five and a half years as Secretary General is convinced that we could do things better in the Headquarters in terms of the flexibility in funding our various activities, flexibility in terms of how we use the staff in the Headquarters. Better coherence between the military and the civilian sides. Internal reform. But hopefully something that will be signed up to by the allies.

There have been a number of issues debated over the past year that fall into this category. In October last year NATO Monitor reported on a speech given by SACEUR, General Craddock, on transforming the Alliance. In particular, at the time, we noted that:

One proposal that General Craddock advanced would see a radical shift in the way that operations are funded and organized. He suggested that in future, rather than each troop providing nation paying the cost of their operations, NATO should at least explore the possibility of:.. the use of common funding. With a system of common funding – deployment costs can be shared – thereby reducing the strain on national defence budgets.He also proposed a major shift in NATO’s decision-making. One where political decision would continue to be taken by consensus, but operational decisions would not:More flexible and rapid decision-making processes are needed if we are to address the challenges we face today and tomorrow. Our alliance has long operated under the system of consensus – and at the political level – this system has proven powerful in garnering international support and legitimacy. But do we really need to achieve consensus at every level of committee within the NATO structure? In my judgement this policy stands squarely in the path of agile decision-making.

These proposals do make sense. NATO currently operates with a system that was designed for 16 members and the conditions of the Cold War. Fundamental reform of the control of operations, and of the incredibly laborious procedures of the HQ (which de Hoop Scheffer wants to change) will make the Alliance more effective. It will be much better equipped for today's missions, like the nation building in Afghanistan or peace support as in Kosovo.

We'll look for the reform programme that emerges from the Summit. NATO monitor will be particularly interested to see whether good rhetoric on arms control can be a basis for action. Will NATO work with neighbours to build common security, including through an end to NATO forward basing of nuclear forces? That would be a reform worth seeing.

Pre-Summit Briefing Analysis II - Afghanistan

Appathurai's briefing also covered the question of Afghnaistan in some detail. This is central to the success of the Summit, and is now key to NATO's future credibility as an alliance. In addition, President Obama has made it a key part of his Presidency, adopting the 'good war' as is own, while doing everything he can to distance himself from the Iraq War.

However, even before leaders meet, Obama has given up on the idea that Europe will match his surge in troops for Afghanistan. The Americans have also accepted that Germany and other nations will not be lifting the caveats on the use of the troops they have deployed to ISAF.

All of this has caused some discontent in Washington DC. However, NATO is now focusing on training and equiping the Afghan army with the likely creation of a NATO Afghan Training Mission for that purpose. They are also focused on getting the elections held this Summer.

The Hague meeting on Afghanistan this week, where a NATO official had a first meeting with an Iranian representative for 30 years, made a good start in 'regionalising' the security situation. But it didn't answer the big questions. Can NATO do enough to pacify the south of the country? Can it even secure Kabul, where the situation has been deteriorating for some months?

From the briefing journalists were given, it seems that this Summit will work around the edges of the problem, with the real work happening in Washington DC and in ad-hoc meetings, such as the Hague.

We have a strategy in NATO, a comprehensive political military plan, they will endorse, that has been constantly revised. It will always be revised. It is a living document. They will endorse it. But they will also wish to have a discussion, of course, of President Obama's strategy, the initiatives that he has announced and how those fit in with the overall NATO approach, how the overall NATO approach should take account of the U.S. strategy, and the different investments that the United States is making.

That broad strategic discussion will take place with a separate but much more practical discussion and that is how do we meet the immediate requirements that we as an Alliance have to meet our commitments with regard to Afghanistan. What does that mean? The Secretary General would like to see NATO meet its requirements for election support. We need, in essence, four battalions of extra forces, above and beyond what the United States is providing, for the election period, in the run-up to the elections, through a potential run-off, which might take place after Ramadan, if that's necessary, so in October.

So election support forces - we need them, the Secretary General would like to see them.
OMLTs, embedded training teams, as the United States calls them, though NATO's are slightly different. Small training teams that are embedded with Afghan battalions. We are short 13. We have 52. we're short 13 OMLTs, Mentoring and Liaison Teams. We would like to see those also provided by allies by the Summit.

Third, police training. This will be a theme of the year, I am quite sure. All of the allies believe, and I think the United Nations believe, the Afghan authorities also believe, that we need to invest much more in police training. That has to include gendarmerie training, paramilitary training and that it should be done in a coherent way.

The Secretary General has said he wishes to see the creation by the Summit of a... or an agreement to create by the allies, a NATO Training Mission Afghanistan similar to what we have in Iraq. We have a NATO training mission in Iraq. Which would bring together the various training initiatives for the various different security bodies, Afghan security bodies in Afghanistan, to ensure that there is a coherent and effective approach.

This, of course, would have, I believe will have a very strong European element. I don't know what exactly the modalities will be, but he would like to see a NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, which as I say, would bring together the relevant training efforts, if not all, then most of the relevant training efforts in Afghanistan - army and police.

Finally, he would like to see, and this is not necessarily by the time of the Summit, but certainly in the coming weeks if there will be other international bodies, such as the European Union, the OSCE or others, the UN, who might be deploying observers for the election, that NATO would find a way to provide the necessary support to them.

Though I'm not sure that this will necessarily be a Summit deliverable, not least because the other bodies have not yet firmed up exactly what it is that they will do and how they will do it. But certainly that is a desire of his.

There will be a Summit declaration on Afghanistan. There will be a communiqué, which goes through all the various issues. All of these are being drafted now, so you will have a declaration on Alliance security, which will, we believe, we hope, launch a strategic concept process. There will be a stand-alone statement on Afghanistan and there will be a third document, that is the communiqué, which obviously doesn't repeat what's in the other two.

Pre-Summit Press Briefing Analysis I

NATO Spokesman James Appathurai has briefed journalists on the upcoming Summit. (The full briefing is available online.) The first order of business will be at a series of working dinners, for Heads of State and Government; for Foreign Ministers and one for Defence Ministers. Appathurai said that:

The main two topics will be the Alliance's future and its approach to meeting new security challenges. That's topic one. Topic two will be NATO's relations with Russia. On the Alliance's future, you will recall that in Bucharest Heads of State and Government requested the Council to prepare a declaration on Alliance security for adoption at this Summit. That is what they are working on now.

Ministers of Foreign Affairs may give the final tweaks or not, depending on whether it's necessary at the Summit, but in essence it will reiterate NATO's fundamentals, collective defence. It will also set out a vision of NATO's partnerships, its future missions, and it should also give the green light to start work on revising the Strategic Concept, to have a new adapted Strategic Concept to be adopted at the next Summit, the one following this one.

The NATO review will happen in tandem with two US reviews. The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which is due to report in early 2010, and the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) due in 2011. The NPR could have a strong bearing on NATO's own nuclear deterrent posture. US nuclear weapons have been significantly reduced in Europe during the Bush Presidency, and it will be important for other fora (including the 2010 Non-Proliferation treaty Review Conference) that the US and NATO make progress in reducing and eliminating forward based tactical nuclear weapons. There is also room for a reduction in the importance of deterrence in NATO defence strategy. The QDR, which shapes the strategy and military forces of the US, will also be key to shaping NATO's own strategy, as the Alliance will (as always) take a lead form its largest member. Is the anti-insurgency fourth generation warfare paradigm to prevail, or will the old pattern of preparing for massive regional wars be maintained. How exactly will NATO have to adapt. These are big questions, and a year is not much time to answer them.

This discussion, the Strategic Concept discussion, will, of course, range across all the issues relating to what NATO should do and what NATO should be in the 21st Century. And that will, of course, not just affect NATO, but NATO's relations with other international organizations, other countries. And the discussion on the Friday night will start that reflection.
President Obama was very clear to the Secretary General when the Secretary General visited him last week and that is that he wishes to have a substantive discussion about the future of NATO on Friday evening.

Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer is getting some of what he wanted here. he has been pressing a strategic concept review since at least 2006, and finally that will happen. The Declaration of Alliance Security will not meet his exact goals. he had asked leaders to issue a new Atlantic Charter, but they rejected that request at Bucharest last year. (The original Atlantic Charter was issued by Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt in 1941, and presaged the creation of the United Nations, NATO and the world's financial institutions.) NATO's leaders will do nothing so far-sighted or grand this week.

Appathurai continued:

The second topic of discussion will be the nature and substance of NATO's relations with Russia. Following the December and March foreign ministerial decisions on political re-engagement with Russia what the Heads of State and Government will do will be to examine the political and practical steps that need to be taken.

Where can our core cooperation be strengthened? Are there new areas of additional cooperation that can be sought? How can the NRC be made better use of to address differences, to work on issues of common interest? And clearly there are issues of common interest, on Afghanistan where we share the interest in stability, on fighting terrorism, perhaps on the fight against piracy.

And I should be clear that in looking for strengthening cooperation NATO is in no way moving off of its disapproval of what has happened in Georgia, both in terms of the conduct of the conflict in August, but in particular, or also the recognition of the two Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent and the building of Russian infrastructure on those... or in those republics and on Georgian territory against the will of the Georgian government.

This is a promising area at present. The Obama-Medvedev statement on arms control at the G20, following all the 'push the reset button' rhetoric, appears to have had a very positive effect. NATO Monitor reported on this yesterday. While there are numerous problems to be resolved, and the future of Georgia is a major one, at least Russia and NATO are talking again and are beginning to cooperate in other vital areas. Both sides have stepped back from the confrontation that was developing last year, and this has to be welcome.

In addition: there will be two other dinners: Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Defence will be meeting to discuss different issues. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs will discuss, alongside the Declaration on Alliance Security, if that's necessary, the situation in the Western Balkans and including Kosovo.

The Spanish through a wrench into the Kosovo picture a while ago, when their Defence Minister Carmen Chacon visited the province and told the troops that their mission was over, all without consultation with NATO. While some NATO nations have recognised Kosovo's independence, others have not; and for the foreseeable future the NATO mission will continue as the only means to ensure stability.

Defence Ministers will have the opportunity to discuss defence transformation. In other words, how do we ensure that we have the forces that we need to do the things that we have to do.

It will be interesting to see whether the UK proposal for a reaction force to operate within NATO boundaries, something that emerged from Eastern European concerns over territorial defence during the Georgia crisis last Summer, will be taken up at the Summit.

All in all, this is a substantive agenda, but with the hard decisions left until the next Summit which is likely to come in late 2010 or early 2011.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Diplomacy Works

There are a couple of signs emerging that the Obama administration's reset button is working. Russia appears to be responding to American diplomatic overtures with a softening of their own line in a couple of areas.

Ria Novosti are reporting that: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday there is a good chance Russia will not have to place Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Region in response to the U.S. missile shield in Europe. "We had a talk on this issue with the U.S. president. At a minimum I can say that today the U.S. has a desire to listen to our argument. They are not trying to cut off [talks] and say that the decision has already been made."

President Obama and his team have been backing away from the Bush line on missile defences in Europe for some time, and now that approach appears to be earning some reciprocation from Russia. The last thing NATO or anyone wants is a new nuclear dividing line in Eastern Europe. And this statement makes that less likely.

And a second positive signal has come over Afghanistan. The US has been seeking northern supply routes into the country for military supplies. While Russia has allowed non-lethal supplies to transit its territory, it has also been pressuring its neighbours to cut off US and NATO supply routes - hence the announced closure of by Kyrgyz authorities of the Manas air base, a key part of US logisitics infrastructure in the region.

Now, Russia has offered to discuss the transit of military supplies through their airspace. As the BBC says:

Russia has agreed to discuss the transit of American military supplies to Afghanistan across its territory. The foreign ministry in Moscow said Russia was ready to co-operate if asked by the US. Last month, Russia began allowing the movement of non-lethal supplies to US and Nato forces in Afghanistan. The new offer of discussions comes a day after Russia and the US agreed to resume negotiations on reducing their nuclear arsenals.

All this makes for a good start to the Obama-Medvedev relationship. Hopefully, the positive signals will carry through the Summit and into a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in May.

Secretary General Update

Is US support for Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the next Secretary General of the Alliance faltering? Berlingske Tidende from Denmark reports that the US does not want to offend Turkey, which opposes Rasmussen's nomination.

However, with President Obama due to travel to Turkey for an official visit just after the NATO Summit, Ankara doesn't want to push things too far, so that a crisis or controversy would hang over Obama's visit.

There's still plenty of time to work this out, and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan held talks with other NATO leaders on the topic during the G20 meeting today.

Watch this space.

NATO Tone on Russia Softens From Last Year

The Russian Interfax news agency has an interview with NATO spokesman, James Appathurai. It is revealing to review some of his answers as they highlight major differences between NATO in Bucharest a year ago, and NATO in Strasbourg in 2009.

Noting that NATO-Russia relations are extremely important to the Alliance, Appathurai is asked about the prospects for Georgia and The Ukraine joining the Alliance, and he answers It could come up. But it is not very likely to be the main topic. .. There is neither controversy nor urgency within NATO with regard to this.

Compare this with statements from last year, when the Bush administration was pressuring Allies to accept the two into NATO. At that time Appathurai was quoted as saying that, when NATO leaders met for the pre-Summit dinner, Enlargement will be at the top of the agenda. (See NATO Monitor for details)

The whole tone of the interview is conciliatory to Russia, emphasising the need for NATO-Russia partnership - for example, in the use of an air corridor to resupply NATO ISAF forces in Afghanistan. A year ago, on the question of enlargement, the NATO Secretary General was telling journalists that:

NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer later said the Russian leader's talks with alliance leaders were "frank and open" and ended on a good note, although there were no major breakthroughs. "It would be wrong to describe it as a clash of views," de Hoop Scheffer said. But he conceded: "It is true that NATO enlargement is a contentious issue. The minds do not exactly meet, to put it mildly."

What a difference a year (and an American election) can make.

Take the NATO Test

The Summit Special Edition of NATO Review is online, and it has a 20-question test to determine whether or not you are a NATO expert.

NATO Monitor scored 18/20 and is declared an official NATO expert!

Take the test.

Canada - Out of Step With its Allies?

Some interesting reading in the Toronto Star, in the form of an analysis of Canada's role with the Atlantic Alliance. The Star says that:

It's not quite NATO's rogue state, but Canada is increasingly out of step with allies who are touting a new path to Afghan peace that leans heavily on regional powerhouses Russia and Iran. .. Defence Minister Peter MacKay's branding of Moscow as an Arctic provocateur and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to characterize the Iranian regime as "evil" in recent weeks is glaringly out of line with the efforts of U.S. President Barack Obama and other member countries in the Western military alliance who seek to draw in the sometimes-renegade states.

Of course, the current Canadian government is deeply conservative, and was ideologically far more in step with the Bush administration and its Manichean world view than it is with the more cooperative, less stark outlook of President Obama.

And at least for Canadian Defence Minister Peter Mackay, this matters. He has hopes, even now, that he might be the next NATO Secretary General. But with such a strong political divergence between Ottawa and Washington, not to mention Ottawa and Brussels, his chances look slimmer by the day.

New York Times on NATO and Dysfunction

Judy Dempsey has a thoughtful piece in the New York Times on NATO's current situation. Looking at the discussions on the appointment of the next NATO Secretary General she writes:

Contentious issues, in any case, have rarely been discussed at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Member states’ ambassadors have not broached the issue of the next secretary general. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the outgoing Dutch NATO chief, did not place it on the agenda of the weekly meeting, knowing full well that some of the big countries, Britain, Germany, France and the United States, would not be pleased. “The job of a secretary general is to cajole, placate, convince and broker,” said Tomas Valasek, a defense expert at the Center for European Reform in London.

Interestingly, it is the first time an acting prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, is seeking the job that in the past was given to bureaucrats or, at most, former foreign ministers. What a surprise then that in the days leading up to summit meeting, it is not clear that Rasmussen would win the race.

Turkey, which is a leading member of NATO, is opposing Mr. Rasmussen’s candidature. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Muslim countries had asked him to block Mr. Rasmussen’s appointment because of his refusal to apologize for Danish newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked riots in several Muslim states in 2006. “Whether Erdogan is opposing Rasmussen’s appointment for domestic reasons is not clear,” said Karl-Heinz Kamp, director of Research at the NATO College in Rome. “But the more Erdogan talks publicly about it, the more it will be difficult for him to climb down.”

Turkey’s public objections have punctured NATO consensus. But by focusing on Mr. Rasmussen’s past, the Turks have lost a great opportunity to look toward the future and ask what kind of secretary general Mr. Rasmussen would make. ..

But the main reason why NATO is not prepared to have an open discussion about who should lead and modernize the alliance is that it is afraid: afraid of having its divisions exposed; afraid of the future; afraid of the possibility of failure in Afghanistan.

She is right in many ways. The consensus about NATO's role began to fracture with the end of the Cold War. Then, as NATO has expanded, it has brought in many players with differing opinions about what NATO is, and what its role should be in contributing to European security. And the more members there are, the harder it is to have the difficult discussions and take tough decisions. As a case in point, the debate on a new Strategic Concept would probably have begun in Riga in 2006, if only NATO member states had not so feared the outcome of opening up long-cherished principles to discussion.

Even today, NATO sources have often told the NATO Monitor that when the Strategic Concept is discussed, the nuclear paragraphs may remain untouched. Not because people think they are a true reflection of current needs, but because there is no consensus about what those needs are. So NATO may avoid a debate on the role of nuclear deterrence and whether it is still necessary for Alliance defence just because the debate will be difficult.

Whatever else NATO leaders decide in Strasbourg and Kehl, if the Alliance is to continue to operate into the long term, they need to end the dysfunction.

Items on the Summit Agenda

NATO has let journalists know the list of topics that will be debated by Heads of State and Government in Strasbourg and Kehl.

Croatia and Albania, which formally joined the Alliance today, will be welcomed as new members.

The leaders will debate the common and strategic challenges for NATO, and NATO's role in the Euro-Atlantic security context and issuing a Declaration on Alliance Security. NATO sources have told journalists that the Declaration on Alliance Security will enunciate reasons for NATO to continue in existence, provide political guidelines for the new strategic concept and show the orientation or the way forward for its development. It is hoped that the Strategic Concept will be ready for adoption at the next Summit.

Other significant topics will include: NATO strategy in Afghanistan and US new government’s strategy on ISAF; the NATO KFOR mission and the situation in Kosovo; the alliance’s missile defense system and transformation of mechanisms of arms control; relations with Russia and the NATO-Russia Council; French re-entry to the NATO integrated military command, and NATO-EU relations.

Finally, according to NATO sources there is still a 50-50 chance that a new Secretary General will be named to replace the retiring Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Let the Strategic Concept Debate Begin

There have been some thought-provoking comments recently on the need for a new Strategic Concept debate within NATO. Notably, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking to the Bundestag on March 26, made some good points.

Chancellor Merkel said that as the new concept is developed NATO should try "as much prevention as possible, so that we don't reach the point where only military assistance helps.” She also said that NATO’s decade-old strategy needs rewriting to reflect the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the expansion of the alliance’s mission beyond its historic role of defending Europe during the Cold War. Merkel added that the work should be finished inside a year.

NATO sources have indicated that if NATO heads of State and Government do order a Strategic Concept revision, that it will probably be finished in time for the next Summit, currently projected for late 2010 or early 2011.

Importantly, with many people talking about NATO as a ‘global security provider’, Merkel said that "I don't see a global NATO." This reflects German reluctance to engage fully in Afghanistan, where their troops have been relegated to a non-combat role in relatively peaceful areas of the country.

NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, echoed this call for a new Strategic Concept during his recent trip to Washington DC, saying that:

NATO's future will be discussed, as well. The question: Is NATO going to have a new strategic concept, which brings to the surface a number of questions President Obama already spoke about - NATO's expeditionary capabilities, never forgetting NATO's core function, the integrity of the NATO territory, NATO's relations with Russia. We have many things on which we disagree, but NATO needs Russia and Russia needs NATO, so let's work on the things we agree on, and let's not hide our disagreements and let us realize that also this relationship can and in my opinion should be - should be strengthened.

De Hoop Scheffer and Merkel’s views on relations with Russia are, however, anathema to new NATO members. For example, Poland has a much harder line on their Eastern neighbours, and a much more traditional view of NATO’s raison d’être. Witold Waszczykowski, deputy head of Poland's National Security Bureau, recently told Reuters:

There is a discussion about the possibility of NATO dealing with climate change, but not about real problems. In Western Europe, a number of countries prefer to discuss the attacks in Mumbai and have a tendency to forget about other issues, for example Russia and Georgia.

This attitude is common in the East. Many of the newer NATO members joined the old NATO of common defence, not the new NATO of power projection and humanitarian intervention.

Still, it is clear now that the debate will be joined. As British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the House of Commons on March 31. Answering Mike Gapes MP, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he told the Commons:

The summit on Friday and Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the foundation of NATO, and it is an important chance to look forward. One of the foundations of NATO's future, whatever the debates about how it should combine the defence of its members with operations beyond its borders, is that it must embody the transatlantic alliance that has served Europe and North America so well over the past 60 years. I hope that the meeting on Friday and Saturday can be more than a "celebration". First, it needs to be a chance to chart the future in respect of Afghanistan, the biggest and most important NATO mission currently under way. It should also start the debate about how NATO can look forward, in the next 10 or 20 years, to working in a very different context from that in which it was created.

Now we await the formal decision of the Summit to begin the Strategic Concept review.

Downgrading Missile Defence

Aviation Week carries an article entitled Europe Warms to Missile Defense as US Cools. Based on interviews with primarily European industry people, it is somewhat pessimistic about the prospects for further developments of continent-wide missile defences.

.. for European missile defense efforts, the summit had been regarded as a key venue in which to urge members to embrace the concept of continental defense. The Pentagon’s push for a European site for the ground-based midcourse system—with a radar in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland—would be the centerpiece. But the Obama administration has yet to articulate a clear path forward on the third site, which Russia has strenuously opposed. As a result, the Czech government this month decided not to seek parliamentary endorsement for the radar construction. In addition, it was hoped that working groups would be asked to study architectures for expanding the alliance’s current emphasis on theater missile defense into a network covering all of Europe, and to begin cooperatively developing key new components such as early warning systems and interceptors.

Both Congress and the Obama administration are, at best, now sceptical about the need for or value of the deployment of the mid-course BMD system to Europe. Indeed, last year Congress passed legislation prohibiting spending on the European sites until the Missile Defense Agency could prove that the system worked under operationally realistic conditions, and would provide value for money.

Eastern Europeans in particular are now discovering that it is not enough, when dealing with the US, to know the position of the administration. The wishes of Congress must also be taken into account. And, it isn't wise to make deals on controversial programmes with administrations in the final months before they leave office. The Obama administration now has to make sure that its slowing of the BMD deployments do not antagonise European allies too much, and that means making sure that they understand their security is being provided for in other ways. An emphasis on non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament (the direction the administration anyhow wishes to take) is more sensible than spending billions on a last-ditch defence that probably wouldn't work anyway.

And of course, what the Eastern Europeans are really nervous about is Russia. Slowing or stopping the BMD deployment will improve relations with Russia in the short term. In the longer term, it has to be about building trust. and that is the best kind of security to have.