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.