NATO Must Be Re-Structured
NATO still seems to presuppose a rather small and cohesive membership that communicates effectively, is strongly committed to similar democratic values, and is chiefly designed to counter a formidable foe. However, the current reality rather is one of a quite diverse membership. NATO should, either for all NATO members or for some of them, obtain some internal democratic structures.
More than previously, in recent years it has become evident that NATO has not been structured as would be optimal to reach results. Rather, NATO has been chosen for lack of a better option at two important junctures, namely after the European Defence Community was rejected by France in 1952, and after it became clear that even post-Cold War organized defense was indispensable. NATO still seems to presuppose a rather small and cohesive membership that communicates effectively, is strongly committed to similar democratic values, and is chiefly designed to counter a formidable foe. However, the current reality rather is one of a quite diverse membership, it is countering, for the moment, something that could be referred to as hybrid as opposed to traditional warfare, and it would seem to be prudent to prepare for diverse scenarios. This seems to logically lead to the following issues:
1. It is hard to believe that the other NATO countries will extend their commitment to defend to countries that have recklessly created a reason for such support. For example, had the Turkish downing of a Russian plane led to a Russian attack on Turkey, there should have been a mechanism for defining whether Turkey is eligible for support or whether the Turkish action is rather seen as being reckless. Similarly, had Georgia been a member of NATO when Georgia attacked Russia there would have needed to be at least some predictable mechanism in which NATO could have decided on whether to back Georgia.
2. NATO seems to live from the assumption that the members of NATO divide the burdens of defense fairly. At the same time, given there is no consensus on what the threat is, it does also seem to be difficult to define adequate defense spending and project related discussions into the internal political discussion of NATO-countries. A remedy could be that NATO is encharged with some public review and reporting of defense capabilities. Such reporting could also increase the rationality of debates. In an example, if the main concern is that hybrid warfare is widely used, the ability to respond with an agile troupe would be tested and made public, with a view of the related results playing a major role in internal political debate.
3. Clearly, the reasons for a country being admitted to NATO may cease to apply over time. In such case, exclusion of NATO and a process for such exclusion would be helpful. By way of an example, if Turkey were to engage in a civil war against the Kurds while violating their human rights, there would need to be a process for ending Turkish membership in NATO.
4. One of the more important achievements of NATO appears to be to provide tools for coordination that in joint missions have successfully diminished the casualties by friendly fire. Given that the likelihood of missions of NATO countries with Russia with similar aims like in Syria, or the need for antiterrorist actions in Central Asia continues to be high, access to those mechanisms and dispute resolution mechanisms in case they fail should be made a priority, and the lack of such communication being in place should be made public.
5. The justification for interventions that earlier was a given because of the ideological ties is now problematic, and those countries that believe in the rule of law should create an appropriate forum for such justifications to be reviewed. For example, the current reaction of the West to the argument that Serbia and other interventions are against the existing rules is not satisfactory, at least until the readiness to come up with new rules – which admittedly may well only be acceptable and accepted by a group of countries – is supported by concrete proposals. Also, the fact that the Libya and Iraq interventions only had internal political consequences, and no international political debate took place following the interventions, is unsatisfactory.
In summary, NATO should, either for all NATO members or for some of them, obtain some internal democratic structures.
Max Gutbrod is a German national working as a business lawyer with Baker & McKenzie in Moscow for more than 20 years and was the deputy chairman of the now German Russian Trade Association from 2000 to 2006.
This article has been submitted outside of the "Shaping Our NATO: Young Voices on the NATO Summit" competition. However, it looks to answer the questions set out in category C "Getting Defense Planning on Track", so 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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