Events

Does NATO Have a Future After 9/11 and Iraq?

February 22, 2005 // 11:00pm

Professor Helga Haftendorn began by commenting on the speech by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the Munich Security Conference on February 12 in which he proposed that a group of senior officials and political leaders meet to discuss the leadership of the transatlantic alliance and ways that it could relate more effectively to the European Union which is evolving to be a significant organization for European foreign and security policy. In general she supported the proposals in the Chancellor's speech and felt that the reaction by some U.S. officials had exaggerated the nature of the proposal. She sees a number of advantages in examining the leadership of the transatlantic alliance at this time. Despite the success which the alliance has had in Afghanistan and the Balkans, one must note that NATO was not central to the planning in either case. She commented that the Prague NATO Summit of November 2002 was quite practical and effective in coordinating capabilities and that this was the sort of thing which NATO needed to continue.

Haftendorn noted several problems that NATO must address. The first is force planning to make sure that the forces available are trained and equipped for the most likely missions. She pointed out that NATO is structured for defensive military operations but most of the tasks it is now facing and is likely to face in the future are peacekeeping and stabilization. This requires the ability to move to distant areas and operate there with a capacity for combat operations but also an emphasis on military police and civil-military operations and in many cases reconstruction. In this regard there is a significant issue of how to involve the Partnership for Peace members in alliance activities including planning. She pointed out that 13 of the 26 nations currently having troops in Afghanistan are not members of the alliance but are members of the Partnership for Peace. She made the case for a constructive and effective linkage between the European Union and NATO and suggested that this could be built on the Berlin Plus capabilities that had been accepted by NATO and that in stabilization missions, the European Union could in fact take the lead with help from NATO since the European Union forces are structured more for peacekeeping and stability operations. A final problem that needs to be addressed is finance because at the present time many of the Partnership for Peace members are unable to pay the costs of operations in which they take part. There needs to be a more effective general pattern for funding alliance and EU operations instead of having to figure out the payment on an ad hoc basis for each contingency.

Haftendorn summed up her argument with the statement that: "There is a future for NATO but it will be a different future from the one it has known either during the Cold War or in the period since 1989." She is confident that there will continue to be coalitions of the willing and that NATO does not have to wait to create a special force for stabilization and reconstruction before committing itself to new types of missions. She would resist expanding NATO so far that it cannot remain effective and feels that it would be inappropriate to move beyond including Croatia and Macedonia, and perhaps Albania as members. She was opposed to including Ukraine or other states from the former Soviet Union within the alliance. She concluded her presentation by arguing that NATO will have a more political role in future, and she feels that it should focus on the NATO intervention force as the main instrument for its 21st century operations.

Samuel Wells, Associate Director, 202/691-4208

Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Kristina N. Terzieva // Program Assistant
  • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant

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