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August 30, 2010 |  4 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

Ari Rusila

Topic NATO 2020: Downsizing Instead of Reshaping

Ari Rusila: Rather than providing for collective defense, today’s Alliance is invited to join American wars. Instead of scribbling a new Strategic Concept for NATO that will preserve the dominant position of the US, it might be wiser for European states to develop a New Security Structure within the EU to replace the Cold War relic.

During last sixty years, the security environment and NATO's role within it have both changed considerably. Threats are more diverse, as the main enemy of the Alliance disappeared in the 1990s. An attack in North America or Europe by the army of an outside state is highly unlikely. Instead of providing for collective defense, NATO is invited to fight US wars by attacking sovereign states. While experts are busy planning the new Strategic Concept, they have avoided a core question: Is NATO needed in the post-Cold War security structure, or could today's challenges be better met by replacing the Alliance with existing, modernized organizations?

Attack is the Best Defense?

Today's NATO is an extension of US State Department, where the role of other members is to support US wars, guarantee the quarterly profits of the US military-industrial complex (MIC), and try to cover damages and failures of these aggressions economically by using "soft power."

From her side, the US is motivated by the prospect of gaining control over the world's main energy resources. Examples include the US "Silk Road Strategy" (SRS) and the GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group, which aimed to block Russia from gas fields in the Caspian Sea, cut her connection to Iran, and isolate Moscow politically. Most conflicts from the Balkans to Afghanistan have their roots in the SRS. Russia's counter actions have been successful, and both the SRS strategy and GUUAM have been failures. Today, the main focus of the US is to keep a foothold in Central and South Asia and to prevent the expansion of China. NATO's role is to provide political backing and financial support for these American foreign policy goals, and does not necessarily reflect the EU's interests (read more in my article Is GUUAM dead?).

Threats Today and in the Near Future

The collapse of Communism removed the original idea of NATO's existence, and among the Allies there is a growing fatigue to participate in real or imaginary attacks around the world led by an American cowboy policy. The changed security environment has raised the question of NATO's continuing relevance, and so a new Strategic Concept is being developed to define new threats in order to legitimate the Alliance's existence. The following can have some relevance:

  • Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and their means of delivery, whether in the hands of irresponsible states or non-state actors.
  • Malevolent use of modern technology and information systems by individuals, organizations and states to target the vulnerable areas of societies is today's reality - cyber space is a growing battlefield.
  • Globalization is making borders more fluid, so the flow of goods, services, people, technology, crime and weapons is increasing. Open borders can be used to harm different societies by groups with political, religious, economic, or criminal motivations. Also, the communication, transport, and transit routes that link the multi-polar world together are increasingly vulnerable.
  • Climate change, migration of people, struggle over raw materials, and clean water can also be the cause of future conflicts.
  • Intrastate conflicts will continue, caused by both ethnic and economic factors.

The New Security Structure

The New Security Structure – which could replace NATO - should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. From the EU perspective, the core of this structure should be a combination of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and EU Battlegroups (EUBG). An even wider structure could be created by reinforcing the OSCE as the main security organization in Europe, but this may require a longer time. In order to respond to today's threats, the ESDP/CFSP/EUBG should coordinate its activities with the UN/Department of Peacekeeping Operations (world wide crisis cycle management), the IAEA (nuclear and other WMD), Interpol/Europol (organized crime, cyberwar) and FRONTEX (borders).

One crucial question, at least during the transitional period from NATO to the New Security Structure, is the coordination of US hard power with EU soft power in ongoing operations. If EUBG is not enough, more military muscle can be provided by the US. However, America will only help its European partners if the US military-industrial complex has some interest in doing so. Additionally, private firms will be more than ready to take on the dirty jobs: assassinations of terrorists, torture, and trafficking, among others (as they are currently doing in Pakistan on the CIAs payroll). Europe must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from the obligation of being complicit in such tactics, which are accepted means of defending and spreading western democratic values under the current US-dominated Alliance.

Ari Rusila is a development project management expert from Finland and has worked in the Balkans, Russia, and the Barents region. Further commentary can be found on his BalkanBlog.

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Paul-Robert  Lookman

August 30, 2010

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An excellent article, with refreshing new ideas which I wholeheartedly support. What we have seen so far on this subject on Atlantic Community and in Madeleine Albright's document is pleas for virtually “more of the same”, albeit with minor changes: “modernization” (code for: members must purchase new sophisticated weaponry from the American arms industry), plus budgets to increase to 2% of GDP.

Ari Rusila’s article deserves to feature prominently on the front page for a long time, and will hopefully play a key role in the final Atlantic Memo for decision makers.
 
Darrell Calvin Brown

August 31, 2010

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Get rid of NATO. I don't think so. The world is just not at that level of peace within its conciousness yet. However, I do feel all parties involved ( esp. on the allies side) should begin to take a closer look at the environmental detriment caused by the fighting strategies put into effect in places like Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. How much pollution is released into the environment by warfare as we know it ?
 
Paul-Robert  Lookman

August 31, 2010

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Darrel Brown: I agree that climate change should be included in the list of threats, but where in Mr Rusila’s piece did you read his plea to “get rid of NATO”?

In the running up to a new NATO strategic concept, I feel that some “lateral thinking” is called for. Learned scholars like Mary Kaldor and Shannon D. Beebe are doing just that in their book “The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon”, of which you will find a review by Aurora Ellis in Foreign Policy in Focus (http://www.fpif.org/articles/review_the_ultimate_weapon_is_no_weapon).

Kaldor and Beebe’s book “is an attempt to provide a viable human security alternative to the conventional military responses to warfare. [They] argue that in order to protect the human security of the West, the conditions for human security must be secured more fairly across the globe [and that] the West needs a paradigm shift in how it views security when contending with global crises and terrorism. They argue that because poverty, limited political rights, or threats of physical violence drive insurgencies and violence, the United States and Europe should not emphasize “defeating enemies,” but rather prioritize the economic, political, and physical needs and rights of people, namely human security. Then and only then will the West achieve a truly sustainable security for itself and countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq.”

The bottom line of the book is “that the scale of humanitarian crises around the world require a powerful transnational entity that has both civilian and military capacities.” Putting things in perspective, Aurora Ellis wisely notes: “Although the book offers many important ideas for resolving insecurity, they don’t adequately address the processes and organizations that reinforce insecurity, like military contractors, multinational companies, and international financial institutions. Without an in-depth analysis of the global economic system that often perpetuates insecurity and conflict in developing countries, the holistic human security approach comes up short.”
 
Jerzy S Deren

September 1, 2010

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"..might be wiser for European states to develop a New Security Structure within the EU to replace the Cold War relic. ".. yes it mighy be wiser, but it is almost unrealistic. Remind us please Mr Rusila, which serious project has been completed by EU members since European burocracy launched mentioned by you ESDP/CFSP/EUBG in the areas so vital for Europe initiatives: Force posture, Reaction Forces, Common Defence, state art of technology? Which serious ethnic problems in Europe has been solved by EU insitutions? Balkans? Which exemples might prove that good ideas were introduced in the life cycle. We can observe lack of unity among European countries, even to reach Europen Identity, thus we shouln't be wonder that they seek to keep defence policy ensured by NATO with its transatlantic link US led. On the other hand, you are right, Europe is mayby loosing something, being involved in authorisation of the US policy in expeditionary operations under NATO “tool box” umbrella and fullfiling its geopolitical level of ambition (OIF, OEF). However, as was written by R Kagan there is a lack of thrust on the both side of the Atlantic. Example: When Art.5 was invoced by NATO of after 9/11, US deployed coalition of will OEF, and only 2003 NATO took commanf (ISAF). At the end, tendency is observed, before Lisbon’s summit, where a New Strategic Concept is expected to be introduced, that influenced (?) politicians NATO’s countries, generate needs for development of a new contingency plans to protect them under Art.5. Washington Treaty. Where from conventional threat comes in Europe?
Tags: | NATO | EU | ESDP | ESDI | NNSC |
 

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