How Defence Matters in NATO Countries
NATO has asked think tanks from eight European and North American allied countries to assess the national conversation on defence and to provide recommendations on how to stimulate this debate. Today, Carnegie Europe hosted a conference in Brussels to reflect on the conclusions of the "Defence Matters" project. In essence, defence still matters, but the wider strategic community needs to do a much better job at explaining why and how.
While the political cultures and national views on defence vary significantly across the Alliance, there are also commonalities: Elites and publics express respect for the armed forces and support for NATO and defence in general, but are increasingly skeptical of far-away military operations. Strategic debate about contemporary security risks and NATO's role are insufficient or limited to small strategic communities.
NATO Secretary General Rasmussen has made use of the think tanks' findings in his speech at the 2013 annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
The Atlantic Initiative, the publisher of atlantic-community.org, conducted the "Defence Matters" research for Germany. (Download the report written by Jörg Wolf) The other contributing think tanks were the Atlantic Council of Canada (Canada); Institut français des relations internationales (France); Istituto Affari Internazionali (Italy); the Hague Center for Strategic Studies (the Netherlands); DemosEurope (Poland); the International Institute for Strategic Studies (United Kingdom); and the Center for a New American Security (United States). All eight think tanks received generous support from the NATO Public Diplomacy Division. Carnegie Europe has published all reports by the eight think tanks and organized a public conference for more than 170 representatives from the diverse strategic community in Brussels on November 26, 2013.
Below and on Storify are some of the Tweets from the conference on how and why defence matters to the decision-makers, opinion leaders and citizens of NATO member countries and what the way forward should be: