Presentation at the Icelandic North Atlantic Association at Reykjavik on 13 September 2010
It is a pleasure to be with you and I thank the Icelandic North Atlantic Association very warmly for asking me to come to Iceland and to address you on a truly important issue, the future of NATO.
I would like to do this by, first, discussing the future of NATO as such, and then by having a closer look at the Nordic security landscape.
NATO was and is rightly and often called the most successful alliance in mankind’s history and there is some truth in this claim since most alliances withered away once victory had been achieved. NATO survived the demise of the Warsaw Pact and it is today despite many deficiencies the world’s one and only functioning security organization. But as so often in its more than sixty years the alliance is at a critical juncture since it is struggling with a truly difficult situation in Afghanistan and its members are to some extent divided over the many open issues which have to answered by the new Strategic Concept which the Heads of States and Governments will agree at their Lisbon Summit later this year. At the centre of these debates will be the question whether an alliance such as NATO can be the proper answer to the challenges of the 21st century.
The Future of NATO
To answer this question one should begin with a sober assessment of the world as it is, of the likely developments in the foreseeable future and of the risks and challenges the NATO nations will have to cope with. Such an assessment would be the solid background for the decision on the future roles and missions of NATO, which I see as remaining the indispensable instrument for providing security for both Europe and the North American democracies. However, I worry that such a realism based approach will not be taken since too many of the leaders of NATO’s nations will look inward as they are still struggling to cope with the impact of the as yet unresolved financial and economic crisis. Moreover, the developments in Afghanistan will influence the debate although they must not dominate the deliberations on the future of NATO. However, should the risk of failure loom some of our leaders might say: never again, let us return to the traditional role of defending the NATO Treaty Area and nothing else.
I will in my talk take the realistic approach and thus I will begin with an assessment of the situation.
Turning to the situation I should begin by stating that we live in a tumultuous transition period in which for the time being but one truly global power exists, the U.S. But the U.S. is a global power which is stretched to its limits since it is fighting the global war against global terrorism, which is heavily engaged in two regional armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and which begins to understand that consumption at the expenses of future generations and being financed by foreign powers which might become at least regional rivals could eventually pose a risk to American national security. Moreover, the American society has not yet fully digested how much more change will be necessary, particularly in the American economy and industry, if the U.S. wants to maintain its leading position as the world’s undisputed number one. Being under such pressures the U.S. recognises that it needs partners and allies in order to preserve the global role of the U.S. This is the key message of the recently published National Security Strategy of the U.S.
The partner of choice in such a situation is for the Americans Europe. They hope that Europe which after all is the only partner which shares with the US the same values and convictions plus quite a few common interests will be at their side in the common task of shaping a multipolar world order in which China, India, Japan, Brazil, Russia and Europe might be the most important players although none of these will probably be capable of playing a truly global role during the next two or three decades. Let me underline this point since it is the key issue which will determine the future of NATO but it is a point which is not too well understood by quite a few European leaders: Alliances must be a benefit for all its members, hence NATO must offer advantages to the US which no one else can offer otherwise NATO will fade away. This means that the Europeans have to be on the side of the Americans there where either common interest are at stake or when the U.S. came under attack as they expect the Americans to be on their side should there be dangers for Europe. The days in which NATO flourished based on the import of security provided by the US are gone. Europe must become the indispensable partner of the US and Europe must be prepared to export security contributions to North America.
Returning to my mid to long term assessment of the situation I leave for the moment aside the burning issues of our days, the Middle East, Afghanistan and in particular the crisis over Iran which could escalate at any moment and which holds the potential of becoming a truly global issue should the international community not succeed in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Should this happen, and I add that I do not have the slightest doubt that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program which might enable the Iranian regime of disposing of a crude nuclear device by the end of this year at the earliest, then we will be on the slippery slope at the end of which we will see a world in which quite a few nuclear weapon states will exist and in which one could no longer rule out that one day such a weapon will be used. But NATO’s future strategy cannot be driven by the crises at hand; it has to take into account the long-term developments.
The Long Term Perspective
Obviously, nobody can predict with certainty, which risks and dangers will surface during the next twenty to thirty years. But there is one certainty, the world will remain a very unruly place and the likelihood of crises and conflicts is increasing and not decreasing. Nevertheless, people in all NATO nations will most probably increasingly look inward, they will not appreciate if governments will see the necessity of taking preventive action in order to keep dangers at a distance and they will not too often support the need of staying engaged in conflicts far from home. I see three long-term developments, which could become the reasons for crises and conflicts: demographic changes, resource scarcity and climate change.
Traditional reasons such as unresolved territorial disputes, ethnic rivalries or religious strife will not be the real reasons but they could trigger or inflame conflicts. Such future conflicts will probably be characterised by three features: Non-State actors, proliferation of WMD and cyber operations. The traditional inter-state conflict might presumably become more and more the exception whereas some of the future conflicts could begin as inner-state conflicts.
From a European perspective demography could produce the biggest risks since Europe’s population will shrink and will get older and older. By the year 2050 the average age of the Europeans will be approximately 50 years whereas the US population will grow and stay at an average age of 37 years. In Russia the demographic data are even more alarming: The population may decrease to less than 100 millions and it may in its majority be Muslim. The six million Russians living today in the thinly populated Siberia, which is so rich in natural resources of all kind, will helplessly watch today’s four million illegal Chinese immigrants growing in numbers.
In China, which will soon be outnumbered by India, the average age will increase as well and the society will have to struggle with the long-term impacts of the one child policy in an increasingly urbanised society. Today’s tensions in the Chinese society are enormous: there are some 150 millions of unemployed plus some 200 millions of migrant workers, there are incredible environmental problems which require an annual real growth of the Chinese economy of some eight percent to be kept uestionable attempt to control the country by an manageable and there is the qauthoritarian form of capitalism masked as communism. Tomorrow’s problems might even be bigger and therefore I do not see a China, which will engage in global power projection although it will be a global actor, which wishes to be respected.
A real growth of population will take place in Latin America, in Africa and in the Muslim World. If one looks at the many young people in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia where often close to 50 percent of the population are younger than 25 years and if one remembers that in Germany soon one third of the population will be older than 60 years than one can foresee what might happen: migration which will primarily hit an aging and unprepared Europe.
The second reason for conflict is scarcity of resources. I do not have oil and gas in mind when I mention resources although nobody should have any illusions that assured supplies will be guaranteed: We must not forget that we, the so called West possess three percent of the world’s known reserves of gas and oil but we stand for 40 % of the world’s consumption. But possibly more alarming will be the likely competition for water and scarce minerals, metals etc, in particular if one takes the fancy ideas serious which are floated here and there, e.g. one million electro-cars in one country by 2020 which alone might eat up most of the world’s known and exploitable Lithium reserves.
Europe, China and to some extent India as well need imports of energy and raw materials. Regardless whether nations will stick to nuclear energy for quite some time to come, wise nations should, or not there is no hope that the growing demand for energy could be covered by renewable energy sources and the formula of the long term, fusion power plants will not be available before the second half of this century. Energy supply and with it energy security will become one of the issues of the future. The same is true for water. Today some 40 percent of the world’s population need foreign water sources to get the drinking water they need; one billion people have at this moment no access to potable water at all.
Should the World Bank’s estimate be correct then the demand for food will increase by 30 percent in the year 2030 which means that the struggle for water could become the reason number one for conflicts.
Climate change is expected to exacerbate resource scarcities, prompting large-scale migration of people, instability and conflict. The impact of climate change will vary and it is not as precisely predictable as one would need it for a proper assessment but many regions will suffer harmful effects, particularly water scarcity, storm intensity and loss of agricultural production. Estimates suggest that by 2020 up to 250 million Africans could face starvation and malnutrition due to the lack of fresh water supplies, lower crop yields and drought.
Another development could be the Arctic Ocean being ice-free in summertime. Such a development could have profound strategic consequences. I will come back to the issue at the end of my talk.
Should the results of these developments be crises and conflicts the resulting future conflicts will as mentioned earlier on probably be characterised by three features:
Non-State actors, proliferation of WMD and cyber operations.
We will probably see less obvious forms of attacks ranging from terrorist attack to cyber attacks launched by truly invisible attackers. We will see truly asymmetric reactions to all steps alliances such as NATO may take in crisis management, we will see armed conflicts triggered by other than the traditional reasons for war and our nations will be forced to react to proliferation and to cope with failing states.
Terrorism, organised crime and radical ideologies will continue to exacerbate regional tensions and trans-national threats and they will fuel competition and instability. Moreover, the technology and the knowledge to make and to deliver agents of mass destruction are proliferating among some of the most ruthless actors.
The ability of non-state –actors to employ destructive power will grow as governments struggle to meet the challenges of stateless networks that roam freely across borders.
I mentioned the risk of spreading nuclear proliferation when I discussed Iran but the world’ s most devastating agent of mass destruction – infectious disease – is moving from the hands of nature to the hands of man. The age of engineered biological weapons is here, today. The world is on the cusp of exponential change in the power of bio-agents and their accessibility to state and non-state-actors. The absence of available medical countermeasures and the inadequacies of health systems will limit most nations’ capacities to deal with large-scale epidemics.
In addition to nuclear and missile proliferation the proliferation of bio-agents thus poses truly existential dangers for the highly vulnerable Western societies as well as those of less developed countries.
Moreover, a new dimension seems to loom over the horizon, a dimension I would call the dimension of mass disruption caused by cyber attacks. Cyber operations could open a shift of strategic paradigms for state actors as cyber operations may permit to paralyse an opponent before he began using its instruments of power and coercion.
Thus the strategic paradigm of enforcing surrender through destruction might be replaced by enforcing preventive surrender through paralysation.
None-state-actors will have access to cyber operations as well and they will use it since it will be increasingly difficult to locate the source from which the attack was launched. Remember the incredible growth of capabilities: In 2000 the capability was determined by 4 Gbps, today it is 16 Gbps or more. Determined and skilled actors are or will soon be able to disrupt modern societies unless the industrialised nations take determined action to protect them better and coordinate their efforts. It is thus no longer Bond-movie science fiction that non-state-actors might take on states. We are about to enter a world in which cyber hackers, criminal cartels and terrorists have one thing in common: They are networks that prey on our networks, our interconnected arteries and nodes of vulnerability which are so typical for free societies.
This means in a nutshell that the potential for conflicts is growing faster than the international community’s ability to arrange for conflict resolution mechanisms. The states are in their thinking still locked in the „Westphalian order“ and thus they often look for rules and the traditional tools in a world without any rules and full of asymmetric conflicts. It is a world in which no conflict can be settled by using military means alone and in which no nation state including the U.S. and none of the existing international organisations will be able to arrive at a settlement by acting alone since the global has become local and the local has become global.
The Consequences for NATO
Being confronted with such a situation NATO truly appears at a first glance to be yesterday’s organization. It can no longer afford to sit and wait for an attack, which would mean today waiting until the dangers arrive at the NATO Treaty Area. The reactive defence of the past cannot be NATO’s answer to the challenges of the future. On the other hand NATO must never become the global policeman. The NATO nations can neither afford it nor would they be prepared for supporting long lasting military engagements if they do not see that they serve their nations’ security. Moreover, a NATO, which would be seen as an interventionist offensive actor, would never be able of producing political stability.
On the other hand NATO must not focus exclusively on the defence of Europe as such and concentrate on the protection against a Russia which will for quite some time remain an authoritarian state and which might be more assertive but it will be a Russia which for the foreseeable future is and will not be capable of threatening NATO as such.
Therefore NATO should seek an arrangement with Russia which allays the Russian fears of NATO’s superiority and which leads without making any concessions on NATO core issues to a more cooperative relationship.
But there are lessons which NATO learnt during the Cold War and which still seem to be applicable. There is first and foremost NATO’s collective defence.
NATO succeeded in keeping this guarantee credible throughout the Cold War despite a certain vagueness in Article 5 and despite quite a few uncertainties on nuclear deterrence NATO did so since there was the crystal clear commitment of all allies that an attack on one would be seen as an attack on all, there were force capabilities, which underpinned this commitment, and there was the visibility of NATO’s defence preparations, which the countless exercises provided.
Today NATO’s promise is doubted here and there. Therefore Secretary Clinton’s crystal clear reaffirmation of the US commitment to honour Article 5 in March of this year was extremely helpful. I hope that the new Strategic Concept will contain such clear language as well as the commitment of all NATO nations to honour it.
Moreover, I expect that NATO’s nations will in a follow-on step review their force postures and capabilities and will improve the visibility of their defence efforts. Today NATO does no longer need the Cold War preparations for war since there is nobody on earth who could hope succeeding in an attack against NATO or any of its members as long as NATO sticks to its successful albeit flexible Article 5 guarantee.
But what is still needed is the political will and the firm resolve of all NATO members to honour the Article 5 commitment underpinned by the credible ability of acting accordingly. This is as necessary today as they were during the Cold War. The other element, which remains indispensable, is nuclear deterrence although it could increasingly become a sole purpose instrument of exclusively deterring the use of nuclear weapons.
One of the questions thus is how to make collective defence credible in times in which the nature of conflicts and the threats are truly different. I mentioned earlier on the range of attack options. This means that today’s defences must no longer be the one directional, largely territory oriented defences of the past. Today’s defences have to be multi-directional and multi-dimensional since the threats are multi-faceted and they can come from anywhere. Moreover, NATO should not do anything, which could be misinterpreted as NATO being a threat to Russia. An exclusively one directional territorial defence could exactly be seen so by Russia. Nevertheless must NATO make it convincingly clear to all citizens in all NATO countries that there is no better formula for the protection of all NATO nations than NATO’s collective defence as stipulated under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
To this end the citizens must see that NATO has the credible capability of protecting them. Without such a capability one could never win the support of the electorates to deploy forces to elsewhere in order to keep the risks at a distance from the NATO Treaty Area (NTA). This, however, is the characteristic of today’s defences. Today defence could begin at an early stage of a conflict and could include preventive military action although the use of force, provided it is legal and legitimate, must remain the ultimate resort of politics, which does, however, not necessarily mean the last. But first and foremost defence must begin with the protection of the homelands. The main military contributions to a truly integrated NATO homeland defence are, first, a much improved intelligence cooperation, second, an integrated multi-layered missile defence which covers the entire NTA, i.e. North America and Europe, as well as deployed NATO forces, and, third, CBRN defences. In addition NATO forces will have to contribute to our nations’ provisions of protecting their energy supplies as well as their cyber defence efforts. Cyber defence requires NATO as well to dispose of a limited cyber attack capability enabling the Alliance of regaining the initiative should a cyber war being waged against NATO.
In addition to this largely reactive component of a future NATO force posture there have to be force capabilities characterized by multi-functionality, deployability and flexibility. Most if not all NATO forces should be capable of being employed throughout the entire NTA from Tallinn to Vancouver and beyond since the name to the game is from now on to counter the threats there where they emerge. NATO must accordingly enjoy information superiority achieved a 24 hours/7 days a week C4ISR capability which will permit seamless monitoring of NATO’s sphere of interest, which produces actionable intelligence there where NATO’s forces have to operate and which permits NATO forces to plug in anywhere in order to have appropriate secure Command, Control and Communications (C3) capabilities. These enabling and multiplying force elements of which the NATO owned and operated (NO&O)
Alliance Ground Surveillance system (AGS) is a first but indispensable component must be supported by adequate sea and air transport plus tailored logistics which have to ensure both deployability and in conjunction with adequate Host Nation Support sustainability. It would be advisable to organize the bulk of these enabling and multiplying force elements, possibly plus an adequate air-to-ground attack element, as multi-national NO&O component forces. This could at the same time pave an affordable and feasible way towards the necessary better and deeper coordination of European defence efforts since one could establish EU component forces, identically equipped as their US equivalents and fully interoperable with them, which could, being merged under NATO’s command, act as a NATO Component Force.
Such force planning and such capabilities of NATO’s conventional forces would match the requirements flowing from the new strategic environment. Such capabilities plus contingency planning plus exercises would lend credibility to both NATO`s Article 5 guarantee and its resolve to deter aggression. Moreover, such flexible, interoperable and deployable forces would pay heed to the rather limited manpower and financial resources. Should then the European nations develop the political will to respond resolutely and united to tomorrow’s challenges then Europe would contribute to strengthening the indispensable transatlantic link and Europe would be capable of influencing the US decision-making process.
My conclusion is therefore: NATO is still the best formula for transatlantic security but it needs fundamental reform. It should adopt a strategy, which I would call a Grand Strategy encompassing all instruments of politics, which aims at conflict prevention. To this end NATO should develop a strategy of reassurance and preventive expeditionary defence, i.e. a defence that aims at protecting the homelands and at meeting the risks there where they emerge thus keeping the risks at a distance from the NATO Treaty Area. NATO should explain such a strategy in its new Strategic Concept and it should tell all countries that NATO will not act against anyone of them unless they take hostile actions against a NATO country or tolerate hostile Non-State actors on their territories.
Agreeing to such a Strategic Concept would mean that NATO had identified and defined what defence means under the conditions of the 21st century. Adding to this element of the future Strategic Concept NATO’s views on the role of nuclear weapons would lead to the second element on which the new SC has to give answers, namely to a new definition of deterrence which requires first and foremost to define the role of nuclear weapons.
The nuclear question has long been of secondary interest in NATO. However, Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and North Korea’s nuclear threats will bring the topic of nuclear deterrence back into the limelight. The vision of a nuclear free world will remain on the political agenda, but it will not free NATO from thinking about the relevance of such weapons in the alliance’s future strategy since for the next twenty years or so there will be no elimination of all nuclear weapons. What might happen are significant arms reductions which means that NATO has to spell out how it will prevent the use of any nuclear weapon against a NATO country. Thus it might well be that NATO could adopt what I would call a sole purpose declaration, a declaration which states that NATO will consider the use of nuclear weapons only if anyone threatens to use nuclear weapons against NATO or one of its members.
The third critical issue, which has to be addressed in the new SC, is NATO’s relationship with Russia, a question closely related to NATO’s role. The dilemma is striking: NATO constantly evokes its special relationship with Russia, but at the same time, a large number of members – given their history and geographic location – view Article 5 was primarily directed against Russia. The Georgia crisis last year has worsened the situation. In the Baltic States the media raised the question of how NATO might have reacted if Russia had chosen to take military action to ‘protect’ Russian minorities in Estonia or Latvia.
The challenge for NATO will be to agree on a common position towards Moscow, although the historical experiences with Russia differ so widely in the alliance. Howcan a close relationship be kept, if Russia’s self-assertiveness – and, in the eyes of some allies, its aggressiveness – increases? Nevertheless, there should be no doubt, none of the major issues in Europe or beyond can be solved without Russian cooperation. NATO needs Russia as a partner but this must not mean that Russia can dictate the terms of partnership. NATO should seek a partnership which assures Russia that NATO will never use its military superiority against Russia and which leaves the door open for future members which are democracies, which respect human rights and in which the rule of law is played heed to. This could apply to Russia as well provided Russia will meet these requirements in the long-term.
Answering these three questions, defence, deterrence and the relationship with
Russia, NATO would underpin that it is and will remain a political-military alliance whose key purpose is to provide collective security and defence for its members. Article 5 of the NATO Treaty encapsulates this by implying the need to protect the population, the security interests and the territory of all member states. The new NATO would balance its role in self defence with its function as a global stability provider and it would assure its members that it is prepared to take on the so called ‘new threats’, like assaults on computer networks or energy supply cuts which are as yet not fully covered by Article 5 of the NATO Treaty.
Thus NATO could be prepared for tomorrow’s challenges but it would remain politically and strategically a defensive alliance between the North American democracies and a united Europe.
The Nordic security landscape
Being in Iceland I would be remiss did I not albeit briefly touch on the specifics of Nordic security. The Nordic security landscape was an area of particular strategic interest for NATO during the Cold War as security meant for NATO to guarantee security throughout and for the entire NATO Treaty Area. Nordic security was one element of NATO’s endeavours but it were endeavours, which were at the operational level focused on the North Atlantic and on the Baltic Approaches.
Sweden and Finland as neutral countries may to some extent have benefited indirectly but there were no NATO plans for the defence of these two countries. Moreover, one should recall that security during the Cold War was understood in a slightly more limited way than it is today. Security was to large degree focused on its military dimension and thus defence was seen as the principal instrument of protecting a state’s sovereignty and its national interests. Today security is understood in a much wider sense. Security is about protecting a state’s political and legal order and about maintaining the conditions for human prosperity including the environment. In addition it should be remembered that the divided world of the Cold War did not permit local or regional cooperation between states, which were members of each other confronting organisations. Therefore Nordic security was seen as one instrument in NATO’s tool box since there were two strategically crucial factors linked to NATO’s North: There was the possibility of a nuclear exchange over the polar region and there was the necessity for NATO of maintaining the control over the SLOCs between North America and Europe against the attacking Northern Fleet of the former USSR. The North Atlantic and not the North German plains was the battle area in which an all-out conventional European war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact would have been strategically won or lost. Some of you may remember terms such as the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap as it was called as the area in which NATO intended to prevent the Soviets from breaking through into the open Atlantic Ocean.
You may remember the numerous radar stations and signal intelligence installations located in the High North from the US through Canada and Greenland to Norway, which permitted to be alerted in Norfolk, VA as soon as one of the noisy Soviet submarines passed by the North Cape heading South. There was a complex web of national, bilateral and multilateral defence arrangements and there were meticulously elaborated contingency and reinforcement plans.
But the Nordic security landscape was politically frozen during the Cold War, as frozen as the Arctic Ocean.
When the Cold War ended Nordic Security quickly slipped into the background of Western thinking. As the likelihood of an armed conflict between NATO and Russia faded away during the nineties the region simply vanished from the political radar screens of NATO although it continued to be of crucial importance for strategic deterrence, early warning and missile defence. Moreover, if one defines Nordic as I do as the region which encompasses the five Arctic Rim countries bordering the Arctic Ocean (RU, US, CA, DA (incl. Greenland), NO) plus the three countries bordering or above the Arctic Circle (ICE, SWE, FIN) it is obvious that one cannot think of NATO meetings its Article 5 obligations of defending all Post-Cold-War NATO members without taking Nordic security into consideration. Nevertheless, the Nordic security was not in the focus of NATO throughout the nineties and it is not as yet. As a consequence of the emerging new threats and the NATO operations in the Balkans NATO’s military centre of gravity shifted increasingly to the Mediterranean and beyond. Politically the opposite happened since the frozen landscape of the Cold War melted, closed borders were opened and erstwhile strictly limited contacts gave way to numerous contacts at all levels.
When 9/11 ushered in the world in which we live today strategic thinking had to become multi-dimensional and multi-faceted. As a consequence Nordic Security gained in importance year by year as evidenced by numerous statements and documents.
All five Arctic Rim countries have issued policy strategy documents, most notably the American National Security Presidential Directive and Homeland Security Presidential Directive on the Arctic Region, released on 9 January 2009, the first such document since 1994. The European Union, possibly one of the regional actors, presented a High North Strategy document in 2009 and some countries in the region pursue policy agendas similar to the Norwegian as stated by the Norwegian MFA: „The High North will be Norway’s most important strategic priority in the years ahead“.
Surprisingly, NATO has so far not explicitly stated views on Nordic Security and the recently published Albright Report does not do it either. The report rules out conflicts in Europe as highly unlikely but it hints at changes, which might be the result of global warming.
It remains to be seen whether the new Strategic Concept will mention the Nordic Area, which in my view was, is and will remain of crucial importance for NATO, albeit as an integral part of NATO’s efforts to provide undivided security for all its member nations and throughout the NTA. NATO has to take into account that the prospects of global warming may result in dramatic changes of the geostrategic situation. Russia’s centre of gravity may then increasingly be the Arctic Ocean where important new shipping routes and areas of extraction of raw materials might develop. An ice-free summertime Arctic could open up vast energy and mineral resources yet pose considerable environmental, legal and geo-strategic challenges. Some estimates suggest that up to 25 percent of the world’s remaining oil and gas resources lie north of the Arctic Circle. Moreover, a host of other players could be prepared for disputes over SLOCs as world shipping might be transformed: The Northern Sea Route between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific is about 5000 nautical miles shorter, that is a week’s sailing time, than the trip via the Suez Canal. Such developments may raise many questions ranging from the control new SCLOCs to the question where the needed new transit ports should be established in which the cargoes of ice-going vessels will be loaded to less expensive ships. Iceland as well as Spitsbergen render themselves as the natural choice for such transit ports. Russia’s claim that foreign interference in the Arctic must not be tolerated clashes with
American, Canadian and European interests and calls for increased cooperation with Russia as well as with the Arctic Council, which so far limited its activities to environmental issues.
My conclusion from these likely developments is that the Nordic region will rather sooner than later be back in the focus of NATO’s attention. I therefore hope that the new SC will express NATO’s keen interest in Nordic security, propose appropriate steps of protecting the interest of the allies concerned and emphasise its desire of seeking cooperative regional arrangements with Russia which would best be discussed in the NRC.
NATO is at this very moment definitely not ideally equipped to deal with tomorrow’s challenges but there is no better instrument. First and foremost, however, NATO has one advantage which makes the Alliance indispensable for all European nations: it links in the emerging era of global risks and challenges the one and only global power, the US, to a Europe which on its own is neither now nor in the foreseeable future capable of autonomous global action. Moreover, it is probably the linkage between Europe and the US, which will at the end of the day permit to arrive at a lasting cooperative relationship with Russia. Hence, my plea to all fellow Europeans is to do their utmost to strengthen our indispensable alliance. This is our best insurance in an era of global instability.
Otterfing, August 2010
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