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NATO's Future Depends on Europe

On July 7th, NATO officially kicked off the process of drafting a new strategic concept. This process is an opportunity for Europe to recommit to the Alliance and stop the slow but steady process of "decoupling," which Jan Techau describes as the biggest threat to NATO. The director of the Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Studies at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin argues on Atlantic-Community.org that European governments need to do two things:

First, they need to muster all their creativity to provide policy-relevant input for the upcoming drafting procedure and the ratification process that will follow. Only then will there be the chance that the new strategic concept is going to be a politically meaningful, intellectually strong and strategically far-sighted document. Only then will it be able to unfold the self-binding power that is needed to counter the decoupling tendencies. And only then will the signal be clear enough that Europeans are still serious about what it means to be partners in an alliance.

Secondly, European governments must finally get straight with their populations on what's ahead. Yes, the world is an increasingly insecure place. No, the US won't be prepared to carry the burden alone any longer. Yes, that means more and smarter spending on unpopular stuff, more engagement, and most certainly more casualties. No, this isn't war-mongering, this is the 21st century. Say it publicly. Say it now.

What are the chances that European governments will come up with enough resolve to do those two things?

Before you answer, please take the recent "mixed developments" in account, which Spiegel International writes about:

Behind closed doors, the German government is slowly but surely changing the rules for combat on Afghanistan, allowing its forces to take a more offensive approach. At the same time, German popular support for the "war" that no one wants to call a war continues to decline.

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Pat Patterson on :

I'm not sure I would take anything of face value in regards to a change of ROE in Afghanistan by the Germans other than a recognition that the current rules can mean casualties. Much of this is due to the success that Pakistan is having in its North-West Frontier Province, the Taliban continued failure to interdict the ISAF supply route and the increasing pressure they are facing in the south from the Marines. The Taliban are going to target easy and politically sensitive members of the alliance and that means the Germans. Recognizing the changing rules on the ground in regards to combat activities is not the same as adopting any new tactical changes or an even a hoped for strategic goal beyond being in Afghanistan only because the US expects them to be there.

Pamela on :

*snort* If the U.S. keeps on its current trajectory, NATO will be a moot point. "Europe Should Hope Obama Fails" The great irony here is that the European model American leftists envy couldn't survive without its despised cowboy counterparty. If the U.S. economy weakens because of increased regulation, heavy-handed unionization, and higher taxes and debt to support an expensive social agenda -- all policies Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are pushing hard -- it will hurt Europe. The market for Europe's exports will shrink, and the U.S. will be less able to defend Europe. Europe is also facing a demographic cataclysm in the near future because of low birth rates (under 1.3 children per woman in the EU, well below the 2.1 necessary to maintain the population). Thus Europe will be increasingly unable to sustain its current welfare state, the very model that the left in the United States adores. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124726554113225437.html

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