“The overall core Brussels deliverable is a strong message of unity from all of the alliance.” - Kerry Buck, Permanent Representative of Canada to NATO

Recap written by the Canada Institute's Ben Richardson and Ewen Cameron

With the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) leader’s summit fast approaching, the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute was pleased to co-sponsor the Atlantic Council’s “Road to NATO’s Brussels Summit” on Wednesday May 23, 2018. The event featured prepared remarks from:


The three NATO Ambassadors then joined Amb. Alexander Vershbow, deputy secretary general of NATO from February 2012 to October 2016, for a moderated conversation on transatlantic security priorities ahead of the July 2018 NATO Summit. The Ambassadors all stressed that NATO must be unified in the face of outside influences that seek to divide the alliance, as well as the need for the organization to adapt in the face of emerging threats such as terrorist plots, cyber-hybrid warfare and misinformation campaigns. Please see below for some quotes on the key issues facing NATO on the road ahead. 

Is NATO Unified?

“There has been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about if the North Atlantic bond is still an alliance? The answer is yes, we are. We know there will always be discussions, maybe disputes, maybe arguments and maybe differences among different countries in the alliance, that is not unusual. But when it comes to the goals of NATO, when it comes to what we know what we have to do for our common defense, our security blanket, our security umbrella, we are one. We are on together for our security and there is no dispute among us on that score. – Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO

“Alliances matter and as the world becomes more complex – with more asymmetric threats, and more blurring of the line between war and peace – those alliances matter even more. No country can do it alone and we know that. It’s in North American allies’ interest to work with those alliances and with those allies. And we have seen time and time again where allies step up. The overall key deliverable is a strong message of unity from all of the alliance. A message that the bond if unshakable amongst all allies. That’s political and military unity. – Kerry Buck, Canadian Permanent Representative to NATO

“I think that we are going to have a strong message, we are going to have a unified message because we are the most successful defense alliance in the history of the world, because we have adapted through the years with the risk that faces all of us. We are one – if one is attacked – we are all attacked.” – Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO

NATO’s Military, Political, and Institutional Adaptation

“NATO is adapting along three lines. It’s adapting militarily, adapting the conventional and nuclear forces that NATO has always had to make them even more usable in a cyber-hybrid data age and developing new capabilities in response to the technology threat change that we are seeing. It’s adapting politically to the consequences of globalization, where for instance long range missiles, cyber attacks, or terror threats can reach us from further afield than has previously been the case. And, it’s adapting institutionally to be able operate in this very fast moving world that we live in, with faster decision making, greater connectivity, a new command structure and the defensive investment at the scale and type that we need to be an effective alliance in face of threats that challenge us.” - Sarah MacIntosh, UK Permanent Representative to NATO

Deterring International Disputes

“Our biggest overall issues at the summit will be to make sure that we have the strong deterrents against any outside influence that would seek to divide us, and then secondly counter-terrorism that is so important for the safety and security of every one of our constituents and our member states.” - Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO

“In 2017 alone, militarily: four combat-ready battlegroups deployed to the Baltic states and Poland; we built a 5000-strong spearhead force able to deploy in days to support them, if needed; we tripled the size of the NATO response force to 40,000 people to provide additional reinforcement; we extended air-policing; and we increased NATO’s presence in the Black Sea region…” – Sarah MacIntosh, UK Permanent Representative to NATO

Defense Spending by NATO Members and the 2% Target

“We saw NATO’s defense investment increase in one year faster than non-U.S. defense investment has increased any time in the last 25 years.” - Sarah MacIntosh, UK Permanent Representative to NATO

“NATO is hardening it’s deterrents with a command structure, and making sure that we have covered our risk with the appropriate amount of burden sharing.” – Kay Bailey Hutchinson, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO

“We’re proud to be the second-biggest defense investor in NATO, and the biggest in Europe… we’re the only ally that spends [at least] 2% on defense and 0.7% - the UN target – on international aid.” – Sarah MacIntosh, UK Permanent Representative to NATO

“We’re not at 2%, but Canada has been a contributor to every single NATO operation since its inception. The new Canadian defense policy maps out the next 20 years, and it envisions an increase of 70% in defense spending over the next 10 years, with significant investments in equipment. It’s easy to have a binary discussion around the 2% target, but Canada is proud of the investment and contributions it’s made.” – Kerry Buck, Canadian Permanent Representative to NATO

On the U.S. Decision to Withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal

“Yes there is disagreement among our allies about what was the right thing to do about the Iran agreement. We acknowledge that there are differences but that doesn’t in any way effect our overall security alliance and the goals that we have. In fact the goals that America has are the same goals that were put out by our three major allies, France, Germany, and the UK with regard to Iran. It is how we reach these goals that we divide and I think on that front there will be a lot of bilateral talks with our allies about how we can go forward to reach that common goal even if we take different routes on how to get there. - Sarah MacIntosh, UK Permanent Representative to NATO

“While there are differences of opinion on the Iran tool and Canada as well was not entirely convinced that withdrawing from the JCPOA was the right approach. But we are very firm on sharing three common goals: no nuclear armed Iran, no Iran with ballistics missiles, and Iran to stop its destabilizations maneuvers through proxies throughout the region. And we are firm on continuing to strengthen the NPT and the IEAE monitoring on Iran nuclear.” – Kerry Buck, Canadian Permanent Representative to NATO

The Future of Warfare and NATO

“The whole point of hybrid and cyber warfare, and misinformation, is to attempt to operate just below that [NATO] Article V threshold, to make it harder for decisions to be made. We’re investing in ways to improve NATO’s capability to attribute cyber-attacks.” – Kerry Buck, Canadian Permanent Representative to NATO

“In July, when our leaders meet I expect to see them agree to new measures enhancing cybersecurity. The U.K. is proud to be the only ally, so far, to offer our offensive cyber capability to NATO” – Sarah MacIntosh, UK Permanent Representative to NATO

“NATO has two primary structures for evaluating the future of warfare. The first being the Allied Command Transformation, in Norfolk, Virginia, whose job it is to look forward and predict the sorts of threats we may face in the future and help allies in preparing for those threats. Second is the Emerging Security Challenges Division, which has produced seminal information for the alliance regarding cybersecurity threats.”  - Sarah MacIntosh, UK Permanent Representative to NATO

Inclusive Security and Gender Equality

“Inclusive security is about legitimacy and the effectiveness of NATO. If NATO doesn’t represent 100% of NATO allied publics, it won’t have that legitimacy…… We know from long experience at NATO that if women are involved in peace process, if women are involved in the military, and if women are involved in post conflict stabilization you have more effective outcomes.”  – Kerry Buck, Canadian Permanent Representative to NATO