NATO is Still on Time, But Time is Running Out
We need strong collaboration among all NATO countries to live in a freer and safer world. But something does not work. NATO member states know that they do not have enough money to cover all defense needs that their nations require, but few of them seek real solutions. They believe that national sovereignty will be lost, but if they do not share capabilities, much more can be lost.
Since the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis, defence budgets of Western countries have been reduced in a considerable way, being below the 2% of GDP threshold recommended by NATO. But what may seem a setback in the security Alliance, could be a horizon full of possibilities in which member states could share resources and military capabilities. This system of coordination will be key in bolstering the Alliance's defensive capabilities in such a sensitive time like the current.
Although there are no conclusive analyses that allow estimation of the economic benefits of military cooperation, I think it is more than evident the savings compared to the high cost that uncoordinated military spending entails. Definitely there are lost resources that can be dedicated to other items within defence budgets.
Member states (should) find more facilities for sharing capabilities distant battlefield as training, part of the logistics, maintenance of weapons systems and the like. Therefore a greater effort must be made in field capabilities in order to be prepared for future situations similar to the conflict in Libya or Afghanistan. States should not worry about the possible loss of sovereignty because even restricted sovereignty to secure the defense of all is more important than losing important capabilities. In many cases, countries can not afford the high cost or complexity of weapons projects. Now more than ever requires that NATO member countries make a move.
On the one hand, citizens must be educated about what NATO is and the importance of belonging to the Alliance. We have an important precedent, in the case of the United Kingdom exiting an international organization such as the European Union. We cannot allow the same to happen within NATO, because if we develop strong Smart Defence, the output of a country from the European Union contribution much, it can destabilize the joint defense of all countries. In this case, if the United Kingdom specializes in one capacity, and other countries specialize in other sectors, and the population decides to leave NATO, the Alliance can be very seriously compromised.
But on the other hand, we must also educate governments. The sovereignty of countries has changed. Currently it is unlikely that the United States or Germany receive an attack from a developed Western country, or vice versa. Although there is some potential for an attack from Russia to occur, the evidence is unclear. Although countries should continue to invest for a possible armed attack, today's threats are more related to intelligence, cyber attacks, natural disasters, biological hazards such as biological weapons or infectious diseases (e.g. Ebola), migration and, of course, terrorism.
I believe that NATO countries are beginning to realize that mutual support among allies is more than necessary. There is a single objective: the security of all allied countries. One vulnerability is a vulnerability for all. The recent terrorist attacks in France and Turkey are clear evidence of this. The list of threats is increasing and it is becoming apparent that any country can fall victim to either a terrorist attack or to the threats mentioned in the preceding paragraph. If it is not already happening, all countries should consider playing an active role in NATO's Defense Planning Process.
The best way to generate the necessary defensive capabilities would be to create standing committees within the national defence ministries in cooperation with the ministries of foreign affairs. These standing committees would be responsible exclusively to promote cooperation for the development of Smart Defence. At the same time, countries must sign agreements with defense industries to generate projects that can be completed in a short period of time.
We are living in a key moment to show that cooperation between countries works. Against terrorism which is hitting the West hard, it is important to secure strong coordination between the intelligence services of NATO countries. First, these bodies should share relevant information and act effectively in order to avoid strong disorganization which was suffered, for example, a few days before the Paris or Brussels attacks of 13 November 2015 and 22 March 2016, respectively. Secondly, they could benefit from the experience of, say, Spain and its long and tragic story with counterterrorism.
Evil does not rest. NATO members must be united to fight against the threats that we face. Responding effectively to these threats can only be achieved by gaining more allies and investing more in defense. Since this is difficult to achieve in the short term, the simplest strategy is to create joint capabilities for all allies. NATO should make a move.
Ricardo Díaz is studying Business Administration and Management and Law at the University Rey Juan Carlos. He has participated in a research project for NATO called UNSCR 1325 Reload: "Women, peace and security".
This article has been submitted for category C "Getting Defense Planning on Track" of the competition "Shaping Our NATO: Young Voices on the NATO Summit". Comments are most appreciated. You can also read the other articles in this category. Learn more about this competition and how you can submit your own text or video for category D.
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