As US President Joe Biden continues his European tour, seeking to rally the leading democracies, a looming question is the future role of NATO. As the alliance contemplates the conclusion of its 20-year operation in Afghanistan, it faces serious questions about its roles and relevance from the political camps on both sides of the Atlantic.
The starting point for the Alliance must be to realize that it is leaving Afghanistan in a world completely transformed since its entry. NATO began its operations in Afghanistan at the height of American polarity, at the height of Western domination of the international system. It departs at a time when the West is constrained internally and externally confronted, including by authoritarian forces with increasing capabilities – and perhaps increased coordination.
In order to chart its future role in this world, NATO needs to start by addressing the fundamental question of its geographic scope.
You must start in Europe. NATO was born as a tool to protect Europe and the democratic West from the threat of Moscow. Its first task in 2021 and beyond should be to protect Europe and the democratic West from the threat from Moscow. This threat was nowhere near as dangerous as it was during the Cold War and is of an entirely different character, but nonetheless a complex threat, involving gray processes such as Skripal attackPolitical interference and nuclear clamor. It would be ironic if NATO failed to respond adequately to Russia in its quest to respond to China or other new challenges. Not all tools to respond to Russia are in the hands of NATO; Many of them reside in the European Union. But this is a bureaucratic and institutional distinction that can be overcome. The broader point is that Europe working with the United States must regain a sense of collective defense against Moscow’s efforts to weaken the West. NATO has a vital role in this.
Coordination on Russian policy has been very difficult during the Trump administration; It should now be central to the dialogues between the US, Germany, the US, the UK, the US and EU/NATO. This includes the controversial issue of Ukraine’s future from Euro-Atlantic integration.
But the geopolitical challenge of the democratic West does not end in Europe. The second biome is Asia. This is, of course, a China issue, and this in turn is an economic, technological, value and military issue. Whether or not NATO has an institutional role in Asia remains to be determined, although Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has an institutional role. argue The new strategic concept of NATO must address the challenge that Russia and China pose to the rules-based order. As key NATO members such as Britain and France increase their naval presence in the Indo-Pacific, this is a pivotal question for the alliance’s future. Put this starkly: if the United States regards China as its primary strategic challenge and NATO is its most important alliance, what happens to NATO if these two alliances do not match? NATO has to find a way to add value, whether by contributing to US-led crisis management planning in Asia, or by focusing on technological and economic resilience – ideally, both. This includes focusing – in close coordination with the European Union – on Chinese economic statecraft and political influence in Europe itself.
Third, NATO will have to address whether it has an ongoing role in Central Asia or the Middle East. While the rise of NATO to the level Article 5 Defense of the United States After the September 11 attacks it was very important مهمة Politician Indeed, NATO’s operational performance in the greater Middle East has been mixed. This is due in large part to NATO’s lack of a dynamic and effective political mechanism through which to command its internal engagements; It is military-led, not multidimensional. (There were, of course, challenges at the operational level.) The broader history of civil war management and counterterrorism response tells us that What is needed is a closely integrated political, military and development strategy. These are not NATO’s strengths.
The fourth region that should be on NATO’s agenda is the North Pole. We are now past the point where the Arctic is primarily a matter of climate change, trade, and scientific cooperation. All of these continue, but the Arctic is now also a region of military concentration and tension. While Russia is strengthening its air and sea presence in Murmansk and beyond China is beginning to foray into a broader “dual-use” presence, NATO has useful assets and important geography to use, especially those countries on the northern side of NATO, such as Norway, Canada, and the United Kingdom (plus, of course, the United States).
When addressing the issues of those geographies, NATO also needs to address cohesion and capacity challenges. Two decades of focus on counterterrorism and stabilization efforts in Afghanistan have not left NATO well-equipped, well-trained, or well-positioned to confront the new dynamics of great-power competition. NATO needs to reorient itself and retool.
First, regarding technology. NATO has become the most advanced international mechanism for responding to cyberattacks. This is important and must continue, but to meet future challenges, the alliance must delve deeper into matters of artificial intelligence (AI) and its application in the military field. Not all NATO members will bring much to this table; But a core group of countries—including smaller members with specialized capabilities—could work with the United States to develop a critical deterrent capacity infused with AI.
The second is interoperability. NATO has developed important ways of dealing with it Non-NATO members in AfghanistanEspecially Australia, the Arab Gulf states, Singapore and South Korea. It also has some limited experience in interoperability with countries like India in Shared Awareness and Conflict Resolution (SHADE) Anti-piracy Operations off the Somali coast. But whether it can contain a file Continuous The mechanism of interoperability with non-NATO members, especially Asian powers, in the absence of significant operational work such as Afghanistan is a challenge, which is fundamental to their future.
Third, what’s on the horizon internal Question – ie Turkey and Hungary. These cases are primarily portrayed in terms of the erosion of democracy, and this is a real question to be sure. But NATO had undemocratic regimes or weak democracies in its ranks before. Weak democracy is one thing, buying Russian weapons systems or supporting Russian — or Chinese — strategy is another. NATO needs to be firm that behavior that strengthens Russia’s hand in Europe (or elsewhere) will come at a heavy cost – like French President Emmanuel Macron recently glimpsed.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, NATO members will eventually have to deal with the question of European strategic autonomy. When asked in reverse, they have to address the question of US credibility. Here, it is worth emphasizing that NATO came through Trump’s experience far less scarred than many other multilateral arrangements; The alliance has deep support in the US defense establishment and in Congress. However, the issue loomed over the question of NATO’s future.
In my view, this is the wrong way to ask the question. The right way is: If we start to see real cooperation between China and Russia to challenge the West, will NATO be able to respond? Can NATO conduct two strategic operations at the same time, as a response to an acute crisis between the United States and China in the Western Pacific and a simultaneous Russian action on part of the Baltic states? The first may be led by the United States, but is advantageously supported by European naval and economic assets, and the second may be led by Europe, but it is reassured and supported by the United States, including in terms of the nuclear position. This is neither the current concept nor the premise of command and control arrangements, but it is within the ability of NATO members to reach such an arrangement.
A NATO that is able to respond on these terms will be the appropriate NATO to meet the strategic challenge before us.