A group of 12 top NATO diplomats led by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright on Monday set forth their ideas on how the alliance should reform itself to deal with the new security threats of the coming 10—20 years.
NATO is currently drawing up a new strategic doctrine designed to make it more flexible and better able to deal with modern threats such as terrorism, cyber warfare and piracy. NATO leaders are set to finalize the “strategic concept” at a November summit in Lisbon.
The Albright group was asked to come up with initial suggestions which could then fuel the national leaders’ debate.
“The expert group’s report is not our new strategic concept ... But it places the emphasis on the essential points, identifies the most urgent challenges, and makes clear proposals for change,”NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
The debate is likely to be heated, as it impacts on key concerns such as national sovereignty, the use of nuclear weapons, NATO’s role outside Europe and its relations with Russia.
“Although the alliance neither poses a military threat to Russia, nor considers Russia a military threat to the alliance, doubts persist on both sides about the intentions and policies of the other,” the report said.
NATO should therefore “pursue a policy of engagement” with Russia by “focusing on opportunities for pragmatic collaboration” such as missile defence, arms control and the fight against terrorism, drugs and piracy, the report said.
Military planning and equipment in many NATO states, especially in Europe, are still dominated by the legacy of the Cold War, with large arsenals of heavy equipment designed to fight a land war against an equally heavy Soviet force in Europe.
But since the terrorist attacks on New York on September 11, 2001, NATO has been forced to deal with “asymmetric” threats, such as terrorism, which cannot be defeated with massive military force.
The strategic concept is therefore supposed to give NATO states an indication of how they should aim to tackle those challenges, including by modernizing their arsenals.
“There is a continuing need to transform NATO forces from the powerful but static posture of the Cold War into a posture which is more flexible, mobile, and versatile,” the report stressed. However, the strategy should also draw clear “red lines” so that NATO does not face pressure to serve as a global trouble—shooter.
“NATO is a regional, not a global organization... It has no desire to take on missions that other institutions and countries can handle successfully,” the report stressed.