Friday, January 25. 2008
A group of European and American military leaders co-authored a report that was released last week, titled Toward a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World, Renewing Transatlantic Partnership (PDF version available from CSIS). The top brass – all with NATO experience – argue that the Alliance remains critical to both Europe and the US:
We are convinced that there is no security for Europe without the US, but we also dare to submit that there is no hope for the US to sustain its role as the world’s sole superpower without the Europeans as allies.The manifesto begins by arguing that many current and future threats – such as terrorism, international crime, demographic shifts, energy security, climate change, etc. – cannot effectively be addressed by any single country on its own. Instead, NATO provides the best opportunity for western countries to address new threats because it "links together a group of countries that share the most important values and convictions and that took a decision to defend those values and convictions collectively."
The new report frequents terms like 'democratic space,' 'community of democracies,' and 'alliance of democracies' – strongly reminiscent of the language used by French politician Edouard Balladur in his recent call for a Union of Democracy. Balladur argued democracies should unite in order to protect shared western values, such as human rights protection and the rule of law, against the imminent rise of non-democratic powers such as China and Russia, an argument very similiar to this new report on NATO.
* Where will expansion end? Perhaps the whole world will join, creating a perfect Kantian Peace where everybody lives happily ever after... or so the authors hint:
Eventually, if so desired by the nation or nations involved, countries that are of some concern [now] could thus mature and even become members of international organizations such as NATO, the EU or some new forms of effective multilateralism.While the authors argue the transatlantic alliance remains relevant, others are concerned it simply will not pull together. Joerg recently commented on an AR post, "I think this year is crucial for NATO. If 2008 is like 2007, then NATO won't have much of a future." Rick Moran of the PoliGazette shares these sentiments:
NATO has had many crisis in the past but perhaps none that threatened the organization in such an existential way. NATO is struggling to find a reason to exist. And unless its member states can overcome their reluctance to commit to the idea of collective western security, it is possible that NATO will pass into history as just one more alliance that unravelled due to its own internal contradictions.There is little doubt the Afghanistan mission faces trouble, particularly due to the lack of commitment from some countries in Europe. Most of NATO’s post-Cold War missions - such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan - have lacked smooth cooperation and efficient operations command structure. I wonder if the problems NATO has outside of Europe-proper are merely symptomatic of NATO’s need to reform its archaic Cold War infrastructure and capabilities, or if they are instead prescriptive that the Alliance is waning and transatlantic drift is inevitable?
Update – The new report generated some headlines due to its emphasis on the continued need for a first use of nuclear weapons policy. “The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.” Andy Grotto’s post about this on the über-popular Arms Control Wonk generated some interesting discussion from his readers. Andy asks the question:
How could a renewed emphasis on the preemptive use of nuclear weapons possibly promote NATO unity?!
Defined tags for this entry: Afghanistan, Alliance, Defense, Democracy, European Union, Free Trade, Human Rights, Merkel, Military, NATO, Nukes, Rule of Law, Solidarity, Strategy
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Zyme - #1 - 2008-01-24 20:47 -
Anonymous - #1.1 - 2008-01-24 21:47 -
Zyme - #1.1.1 - 2008-01-25 00:23 -
My point was not about ecological policies. I am no expert on that one, I lack the ideological gullibility ;) I was talking about common energy security - which is impossible between two continents as long as transcontinental pipelines are the cheapest way of transporting energy ressources. America will never ever become so dependent on russian supplies like Europe has become simply for geographical regions. Since Russia is our most important supplier, a common supply policy might as well be coordinated with them. It makes a lot more sense to cooperate with our main source than with our main competition.
Don S - #220.127.116.11 - 2008-01-25 13:17 -
"I was talking about common energy security - which is impossible between two continents as long as transcontinental pipelines are the cheapest way of transporting energy ressources. America will never ever become so dependent on russian supplies like Europe has become simply for geographical regions." That seems sensisble. On the other hand, oil is a fungible commodity which can be readily shipped anywhere at little additional cost. This means that any given producing nation (Venezuela, Iran, Russia, etc) cannot be readily frozen out of the international market no matter how objectionable or bizarre their conduct may be. Other energy sources are not as fungible. It's expensive or impossible to ship or transfer energy sources like natural gas, nuclear power, or wind/solar/geothermal. But... The international oil market is pretty fungible as a whole. When China doubles or triples it's useage the impact is global, so Europe and the US may eventually find rasons to make common cause.
Zyme - #18.104.22.168.1 - 2008-01-25 13:46 -
Don S - #22.214.171.124.1.1 - 2008-01-25 20:08 -
quo vadis - #1.2.1 - 2008-01-25 16:40 -
Don S - #126.96.36.199 - 2008-01-25 20:02 -
> "We are convinced that there is no security for Europe without the US,..." "the converse is certainly not true. You demand a relationship of equals with the US, but when it comes security, Europe has very little to offer the US and much to gain." I agree with you, quo except perhaps for the last half of the final sentence. "much to gain" From the POV of many Europeans the US has less to offer Europe since the collapse of the USSR. It's interesting to see the reasoning process of some Europeans. They take the relationship (NATO) for granted but believe that their position within NATO must be much stronger because their need has diminished. Therefore 'Europe' is in a position to demand equality (or even superiority) within NATO but does not feel any necessity to increase their tangible committments to the alliance. NATO is to go on as before but with Europe making the policy and issuing the orders. The US role is to contribute troops, blood, and pay for it, Europe will make the policy. Nice work if you can get it, but this vision leaves out a critical factor - what's in it for the US?!!!
Kyle Atwell - #1.3 - 2008-01-28 10:22 -
Badboy Recovered - #2 - 2008-01-24 20:58 -
the problem with NATO is that its too dependent on The states. Therefor when out of Europe its basically an American action. Not that the European countries don't help, but its not a whole lot. Heck even in Europe they don't help much when all hell breaks loose. I don't know... I'm sure their are good sides to the alliance but it looks like its over. Its just a matter of dying on the vine. However I still hold to my feelings that the end of NATO may help more than hinder. I just realized this I'd the first time I posted on a blog from my iPhone :)
John in Michigan, USA - #3 - 2008-01-24 22:04 -
The devil is always in the details, still, I like the idea of a US-EU-NATO alliance of democracies, or something similar. To form such an alliance with all the different vectors of cooperation discussed in the post, members would have to come to terms with the central conflict of our time, the war on Islamism. Until there is a deep consensus that that war needs to be fought and won, any such alliance will inevitably "[unravel] due to its own internal contradictions"
David - #3.1 - 2008-01-24 22:21 -
"central conflict of our time, the war on Islamism" Are we at war with the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world? I think you need to rephrase this as a "Islamic Extremism".
John in Michigan, USA - #3.1.1 - 2008-01-24 23:59 -
Of course not. Islamism Islam.
John in Michigan, USA - #3.1.2 - 2008-01-25 00:39 -
Well that was supposed to say Islamism does not equal Islam but I forgot I can't use the less-than, greater-than symbols in this comment system.
Kyle Atwell - #3.2 - 2008-01-28 10:33 -
Pat Patterson - #3.2.1 - 2008-01-28 12:17 -
I agree that the popular image of NATO was to have to respond to a massed attack by some 60 Soviet divisions but wouldn't it also be fair to ask, and I'll admit I don't know, how NATO reponded to the inflitration of European institutions by the Soviets? Either through the threat of violence, the creation of legitimate Communist political parties and unions and the subversion of European society as a whole. I'll admit to being just a child and teenager during part of the cold War but that claim of NATO only have to respond to "...the monolithic, slow moving and predicatable Soviet Union" leaves much to be desired vs. the reality of NATO facing a nation that developed its own nuclear weapons (supposedly on its own), stationed them in Cuba, patrolled of the coast of the US with long range bombers, sent a man into space, reinvaded Hungary and Czechoslovakia, almost took over Italy through the ballot box, actively supported dissident groups and its own legal arm in the US and Europe, and invaded Afghanistan. Even as yong as I was there were no popular predictions that were made these future events other than somewhat hysterical claims that the "Reds" were coming if not here already. I would ask if anyone is aware of any collective vs. individual national efforts to counter Soviet attempts to subvert the West? That might give us a better idea of what NATO is still capable of acheiving.
John in Michigan, USA - #3.2.2 - 2008-01-29 03:49 -
Kyle Atwell - #188.8.131.52 - 2008-01-29 09:42 -
John: "It seems to me more than just a disagreement over methods. Your use of the word deterred is telling. My goal is to roll back Islamism, while others might be content (or resigned) to deter it. Thus, no consensus." We may just be confusing semantics. First to address is the definition of Islamism. I took this to mean "Islamist", which I guess is a debateable interpretation in itself since Islamists clearly espouse the use of violence, where Islamism is more focused on the concept of the caliphate and Sharia law. Either way though, I would still argue that the west is unified in its opposition to Islamism and its manifestation in the form of Sharia law across the board. You make a good point by bringing up inconsistent domestic approaches to Islamism... I would still maintain that both Britain and France are opposed to radical Islamism (and especially to Islamists) regardless of their domestic judicial processes. Regrading deter vs. roll back, I suppose deterrence could be seen as preventative, while roll back means you take a more proactive stance against current Islamists. If this is what you mean, then I would change my phrasing to include both deter and roll back... anybody who agrees Islamism should be deterred (in the prevetative sense), fundamentally is opposed to Islamism and should thereby agree Islamism should be stopped overall (including rolling back current Islamism). I again suggest that it is not a disagreement on whether radical Islamism is undesireable among western countries, but rather how it should be addressed. I agree there may need to be a "consensus on Islam", but I may give this phrase a different meaning: a) a consensus is needed on how the Alliance should address the underlying causes of Islamism (for example, should NATO intervene abroad to disrupt radical groups?) b) the consensus on Islam does not need to dictate how states conduct their own homeland security or judicial systems for the ALLIANCE to work... the problems NATO is having today comes from a failure to demonstrate value in fields mostly unrelated to domestic affairs, namely: 1 - intelligence sharing, and 2 - cooperation in joint missions like ISAF. NATO's future success is independent of whether France and Britain allow girls to wear headscarves.
nomad/franchie - #4 - 2008-01-26 17:22 -
this is alredy a transatlantical union, as far as financial and economical goals are concerned, for the rest it's the same as inside the EU, different sensibilities on the goals... :lol:
franchie - #5 - 2008-02-01 22:13 -
Kyle Atwell - #5.1 - 2008-02-01 22:35 -
franchie: I was not arguing that France and Britain have the same headscarf laws, but rather the point that there need not be harmony in domestic regulations that address social issues or relations with Islam - such as if headscarfs are allowed - for the NATO allies to cooperate on military affairs. That is, Britain and France do not need the same laws regarding Islam for them to be able to work together to combat radical Islamism in Afghanistan. I was responding to this statement by John: "Domestically, some countries, like France, see Islamism as a threat to the secular state, and are willing to fight it. Other countries, like the UK, are willing to strike a bargain based on hudna or "temporary" cease-fire, or are willing to permit Sharia courts as an alternative to British courts. Thus I argue there is no consensus on how to fight Islamism."
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