NATO's Agenda

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is one of the most important and visible pillars of the transatlantic partnership.'s web module "NATO's Agenda" is designed to connect Atlantic Community members to NATO decision makers and encourage constructive debate on the issues facing the Alliance.

"NATO's Agenda" features articles, speeches, and videos spotlighting the activities of the Alliance, including content from NATO sources and analyses from Atlantic Community members. It is also the hub for's Question and Answer sessions with senior NATO officials. Our most recent Q&As were with:

You can contribute to the debate by submitting your own op-eds and commenting on other articles. The best ideas and debates are condensed into Atlantic Memos and sent to policymakers in Europe and North America.

Russia, Germany, and the European Order

For a large part of their history, the destiny of the peoples living in Europe has been shaped by the interests of the great powers. This is still a reality of international politics. Yet, a reliable and sustainable order in Europe can only be achieved if states, both large and small, are prepared to establish a fair balance of interests and influence. View

Happy birthday, EU NATO Declaration! All the best for your future

Saturday, July 8th, 2017 marked the first anniversary of the Joint Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of NATO. The signing of this joint declaration between the EU and the Atlantic Alliance called for a new era of their relationship. But is the Joint Declaration really such a milestone that everybody in Brussels talks about? Or, is it just another act of nothing? View

Nationalism may bring Turkey back to its course

Nationalism, once again, will play the most crucial role in Turkish politics regarding the forthcoming presidential elections. While Erdogan and Russia seem to be investing in it, NATO's stance is on the contrary, which may result in losing Turkey forever. View

NATO Members Owe Money. To Themselves, Not the U.S.

Since the decision was made in 2006 to require NATO members to spend 2% of their GDP on defense, only five countries have lived up to that promise. President Trump is correct in drawing attention to NATO members’ chronically underfunded militaries. He is absolutely incorrect, however, in stating that NATO members owe any amount to the US for services rendered. View

Montenegro is in NATO. What's next for the western Balkans?

On June 5th, Montenegro has become the 29th member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This is the only success story coming from the Western Balkans in a long time. As such, it gains a particular importance beyond the reach of the small country of 620,000 inhabitants in the Southern part of Europe and has multiple implications. View

How Germany and the United States Can Strengthen Cooperation

“Federal governments should no longer be viewed as the sole source for action and solutions both because of the current administration in the US and a continued power shift towards NGOs and local actors. Engagement at the subnational level is ever more critical.” This is one of the key conclusions from the first “Atlantic Expedition”. View

EU's Litmus Test in the Western Balkans

Moscow's meddling in the western Balkans has increased, while the West's attention has focused on Russian activities in Ukraine and in the Baltic region. With the exception of Serbia, all the other countries in the western Balkans have indicated their desire to be part of the NATO alliance (Albania and Croatia are NATO members). Each of them have EU integration as their main foreign policy goal. In an attempt to weaken the region's ties to the West, Russia´s main objective is the creating of a "non- alignment zone". View

The Trump-Merkel Summit: After the Storm, a Vital Trans-Atlantic Agenda

Dr. Ariel Cohen, Atlantic Council US, consider the massive snowstorm that postponed Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House as symbolic of the chill in the US-German relations: President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Frau Merkel’s open borders policy, which has brought over 1,250,000 refugees to Germany since 2015. Merkel has responded with a strong defense of freedom of movement, refugee rights, and freedom of the press. View

The Lesson From Lithuania

Balance of power is a fairly straightforward dynamic within the Russia-NATO relationship but "balance of passion" seems to be an overlooked, but very crucial ingredient within long term confrontations. Lithuania is demonstrating to its NATO allies how to be more cohesive and unified than Russia both in message and purpose. Its citizens are preparing to confront invaders armed only with small arms, knowledge of their surroundings and a huge dose of patriotism. View

NATO Should be Worried About the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has long been at the forefront of the NATO alliance as one of the strongest military powers with a highly capable military, second only to that of the United States. This will slowly come to an end over the next decade with the erosion in the military capability of UK armed forces, the lack of a grand strategy emanating from London and the diminishing importance in the special relationship between London and Washington. NATO should be prepared for a less capable full spectrum UK military. View

The UK Cannot Afford Capability and Contribution Gaps to NATO Post-Brexit

Post-Brexit and at a time of precarious power dynamics the UK cannot afford to have significant capability gaps which would harm the credibility and image of the UK as a significant global contender. The UK government has an obligation to fulfill its part towards collective security and defence for the NATO alliance. What you do wrong is far more often remembered than what you do right. Britain must remain vigilant. View

Trump and NATO: Opportunities and Dangers

The Atlantic world is not coming to an end. Not yet, at least. It is facing turbulence, which means serious risks. Change always brings both opportunity and risk. The best way to head off risk is, in most cases, to find and focus on opportunities. On the evidence thus far, the risks from Trump are less, not greater, than they have been from Obama and Bush II. The latter two were very different, but both were bad for the Atlantic Alliance. View

Defense of the West: NATO, the European Union and the Transatlantic Bargain

NATO now faces what could be the most profound threat in its history – a threat with roots inside the alliance and linked to challenges from outside. I hope that President Trump will reaffirm the values of "democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law" articulated in the North Atlantic Treaty and will disavow previous statements that the US commitment to collective defense is contingent on specific defense efforts by individual allies. View

Jeremy Corbyn: An Underrated Threat to NATO

The United Kingdom’s two main political parties, the ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party, have been seized by isolationist doctrine in the past year. The UK’s decision to leave the EU and its dangerous consequences have been extensively documented. Underrated, however, is the threat posed by Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left leader of the Labour Party, to the UK’s status within the transatlantic community – namely NATO. View

Enhanced EU Defense Cooperation: Good News for NATO?

Despite recent commitments, it is unlikely that many NATO members will reach the 2% target on defense spending by 2024. While some seek to project their power globally, others are comfortable in their role of regional powers, or suffering from sluggish economies. Thus, the potential of Europe as an agent in international security remains largely untapped. Enhanced defense cooperation at EU-level might encourage better engagement with international security by some EU powers. View

Corbyn and Trump: Two Sides of the Same Anti-NATO Coin

Though seemingly worlds apart in their political leanings, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK's Labour Party, and Donald Trump, the divisive Republican residential candidate, share common ground in being critical of NATO – though for quite different reasons. Even if neither appears likely to make executive office, the sentiment which they represent and the movements which they have stewarded will continue to thrive while NATO's mainstream politicians fail to make the positive case for the Alliance. View

Improving Participation in the NATO Defense Planning Process

Memo 53: The North Atlantic Council needs an advisory voting system and more transparency. Regional interest blocs and enhancing the status of civil-military cooperation would incentivize more active participation in the NATO Defense Planning Process. View

Enhancing NATO Cohesion: A Framework for 21st Century Solidarity

Memo 52: A diverse set of policies is needed to unify a diverse set of peoples against a diverse set of threats. NATO should reorganize itself, develop a shared clean-energy grid and strengthen links between different national publics. View

Redefining Relationships Inside and Outside the Alliance

Memo 51: In order to learn from past mistakes, NATO should seek to bring Russia into the fold of European security, refrain from humanitarian missions better conducted under UN auspices, sanction non-compliance to the 2% defense spending promise, and strengthen its democratic norms. View

Georgia and Russia: Smoldering Conflict at a Geopolitical Intersection

Georgia can be a strategic pillar of stability in an otherwise volatile region and we should consequently place it much higher on our political agenda. Georgians want nothing more than NATO membership and the West cannot deny the evident successes of democratization and economic reform. The internal logic of realist politics however demands other factors also be considered. Georgia joining NATO would further exacerbate the conflict with Russia. View

Future-Proofing NATO: A Forthcoming Decade of Change

Memo 50: NATO must adopt hybrid models of national defense, coordinate efforts on economic and electronic warfare, and secure its space-based infrastructure. The Alliance should also establish a partnership with China and strengthen its presence in the Arctic. View

We're Missing the Point

NATO faces two great threats: the Southern and Eastern flank. But more is at stake. There is also an indirect but unavoidable peril. Without achieving two-front Solidarity—the elites and the people, committed solutions from governments and enthusiastic support from the people for them—the people of NATO will go for populists and radicals. Then our countries will be ruined, our Western community will be destroyed, and people globally will suffer as the liberal order dies. View

NATO Unity Dependent Upon Mediterranean Strategy

The long term health of the Alliance is at risk due to Southern members feeling ignored. The current Strategic Concept is six years old and fails to address many of the threats that NATO members currently face. The new Strategic Concept must hold more combined military exercises in the Mediterranean using Eastern European troops, revitalize the Mediterranean Dialogue, and create a Centre of Excellence for Humanitarian Crises in North Africa. View

Transatlantic Disunion: How Strained EU-US Relations Can Help NATO Boost European Defense

While discontent over the current state of NATO is growing on both sides of the Atlantic – with the US losing patience with European “free riding”, and Europe weary of US dominance – NATO members strain to demonstrate unity at one summit after another. Instead, NATO should openly address internal fault lines and use them to motivate a stronger role for non-US member states. In particular European NATO member states need to step up to ensure its own defense, and reduce its dependency on the US. View

Revamping the NATO Response Force

From Prague to Brussels, Brasov to Wales, NATO has haphazardly stumbled through political obstacles to create and fitfully modify the various layers of the NATO Response Force (NRF). To deal with burgeoning threats and shore up NATO’s ability to uphold its Article 5 obligations, the NATO Defense Planning Process needs to prioritize and expedite restructuring and revamping the NRF to reach its full potential as a nimble, effective response force. View

The Importance of a Transnational Cyber-Defense Policy for NATO

Most NATO Allies have been experiencing a gap between the identification of the existence of cyber-threats, and the implementation of cyber-defense policies. What is lacking in today's cyber-security landscape is a clear, transnational policy for all members of the Alliance. Yet, through NDPP, NATO can encourage policy harmonization by setting standard requirements, and encouraging inter-state cooperation with those at the forefront of cyber-security, such as Israel. View

No More All You Can Eat Buffet: Coming to Terms with Defense Budget Limitations

In an era of expanded budget limitations and shifting priorities, a new way of doing things is required for the world's military powers. The US must pick and choose and sometimes even cooperate with other nations in the acquisition and production of the massively expensive military equipment required by the world’s police force. It makes sense to do so under the auspices of an already established institutional structure, NATO. View

The Atlantic Alliance Must Undergo a Paradigm Shift for Survival

NATO must reinvent its mission in order to thrive in the twenty-first century. The rise of economic malaise threatens the financial goals of the Atlantic Alliance. In turn, a paradigm shift is necessitated to continue the existence of Europe's security apparatus. View

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 than sovereignty can be lost. View

Moving Towards Common Spending, NATO Would Increase Efficiency

In increasing NATO’s total defense expenditures, its members should move towards granting the organization the capability to independently decide its spending. By funding NATO directly and increasing multilateral cooperation in military research and organization, NATO’s capabilities can be strengthened, while its cost efficiency could increase the public’s opinion. View

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. View

NATO is Synonymous with the US. Europe Must Be Included

People do not see NATO as just a defense organization: people still feel the tension between the US and Russia. The feeling that US soldiers are tantamount to NATO forces is widespread across Eastern Europe, particularly the Czech Republic. Few there feel that NATO represents their interests. Before a sense of unity and cohesion can be achieved, NATO must change. View

NATO's Greatest Mistake was Libya: the Alliance Should Have Nothing to do with R2P

As a collective security organisation for its members NATO overreached its purview and the spirit of its treaty mandate by intervening in Libya. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle adopted by the UN in 2005 should not partner or utilize with NATO’s operational capability to be able to intervene in states outside of the North Atlantic Treaty. NATO should stay clear of becoming an operational arm for liberal internationalism and re-consider its humanitarian role. View

West in the Middle Earth: Between the UN and NATO

Since 1989, the US has become the world’s policeman. This situation has put NATO in several unnecessary international conflicts as it has often taken the UN’s place internationally. Does the West really need NATO? Which can be a possible solution? View

Turkey: An Inconvenient Tie Between NATO and the EU

The admission of Turkey into NATO structures was not the mistake, it was the result of contemporary circumstances. The common failure of NATO (as well as of the EU) was the inability to keep Turkey in the discourse of democratization – which is a cornerstone of NATO’s internal integrity and solidarity. View

Brexit and the End of Europe's Golden Age

Britain’s vote to secede from the European Union poses a greater existential threat to NATO than any foreign military. In leaving, the United Kingdom has accelerated the political disintegration of Europe and threatened to rob NATO of the prosperous European economy it relies upon. Consequently, NATO must fully transition to a new role it has only just discovered: that of a politico-economic confederation, not just a defensive organization. View

The Post-Cold War NATO: Decoupling Regime Change and Human Rights Promotion

NATO's biggest mistake in the past 25 years is that in its search for a post-Cold War raison d'être, it has taken on roles as both an instrument of regime change and of humanitarian intervention. Humanitarian work and the protection of human rights is a noble pursuit that NATO should continue to undertake; regime change and the imposition of democracy from above is not. View

Why NATO Must Revert to Basics and Adapt to Russian Aggression

With the risk that the EU will collapse following the UK's decision to leave, it is a pivotal time for NATO to assume responsibility for the unity and security of Europe. NATO's biggest mistakes have been its commitment to widen its scope both globally and in terms of its activities pursued, whilst failing to deal with the Russian security threat. NATO must simplify and return to its core objective of collective security and propose Russian integration into the Alliance. View

NATO's Biggest Mistake? Public Relations

In order to stay ahead of a changing world, NATO must increase its visibility to the public. As populist "independence" movements are on the rise, the future of the Alliance may be in jeopardy. As it stands now, NATO is failing to show the public the good it does. Allowing voters to remain ignorant of the Alliance could hamper future military capabilities. View

Moving Beyond the 2 Percent Promise

NATO's member states failed to abide by the solemn promise to spend 2% of their GDP on defense spending. Jumpstarting NATO resolve while understanding economic constraints requires a strategy that advocates pooling and sharing and cooperation among member states. View

Russia: The Threat NATO Created Itself

Over the past 25 years NATO has isolated Russia, preventing it from influencing European security. As a result, Moscow is demonstrating its determination to become a global power through aggressive policies. Only an open acceptance of Russia as a global power and respect for its interests can prevent further security escalation in Eastern Europe. Thus, NATO must stop further enlargement. States that perceive Russia as a threat should be able to get protection outside of NATO. View

The Moscow Integration That Never Happened

NATO’s failure to proactively include Russia after the collapse has led to 25 years of ongoing conflict. By examining history, the organization is a fundamentally anti-Russia group focused on surrounding, isolating, and deterring aggression from a country different to its late Cold War identity—the USSR. The introduction of a formal military agreement and a change in NATO’s image, led by Western leaders, are necessary to rekindle relations. View

From Opportunity to Crisis: NATO's Eastern Perception Problem

With its rapid eastward expansion following the Soviet collapse, NATO lost an unprecedented opportunity for east-west cooperation. Since then, its rhetoric and further expansion have only entrenched its negative perception in Russia, which the Ukraine crisis revealed to be problem a serious danger to European stability. In future, NATO must make accession process more selective and weigh geostrategic concerns more carefully. View

NATO's Missing Member

Criticism of the eastward expansion of NATO misses a crucial mistake: the failure to map out a plan to incorporate Russia as a member of the Alliance. It should have taken more concrete steps toward ensuring Russian cooperation, providing plans for Russian and NATO engagement leading toward a goal of eventual membership. View

Winning Asymmetrical Warfare with Economic Policies and Measures

When facing asymmetric warfare conventional military measures are often highly ineffective. Thus, incorporating well-thought-out market and economic policies and measures into NATO’s politico-military “toolbox” seems essential. Failing to do so, and failing to understand or comprehend market realities might even be directly harmful to NATO’s goals as demonstrated by the case of Afghan drug industry and by the counternarcotic eradication programs in this article. View

The Obstacles of Managing NATO: A Way Forward

NATO’s biggest mistake in the past has been to permit the citizens of its Western European and North American countries to fall into a feeling of complacency, ignoring the very prominent fear Eastern Europeans feel due to Russia’s threats of invasion. NATO must put an emphasis on crisis education within its countries so that the organization can confidently right wrongs done by Russia's military. View

Containment Is Dead. Long Live Containment

They say old foreign policies never die, only fade away. Three decades removed from the height of the Cold War, American troops are heading back to Europe: the next war is no longer a matter of if, but when. From the day NATO opened its doors to the East, could we have expected anything different? View

Lessons from Libya: Indecision, Air Power and the Light Footprint

The fall of Colonel Gadhafi’s regime in Libya, brought about in part by a sustained NATO air campaign, was lauded as a triumph by the international community. However, as with every intervention of this kind in recent memory, what replaces such violent rule is the crucial determinant of success. This is where NATO fell short in Libya. Its failure represents a threat not only to the stability of Libya as a nation, but also to the stability of North Africa and the Middle East. View

Why We Should Build a Bridge of Trust Between NATO and Russia

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization must extend its hand towards the Russian Federation to avoid further military conflict and sow the seeds of future cooperation. A bridge of trust must be built between NATO and Russia in order to mitigate the effects of future harm in the case of continued tension and rivalry. View

Why Kosovo Matters

Kosovo, Europe's youngest country, is also the capital of Europe's organ and drug trafficking market. Less than 20 years after NATO's occupation, bombing, and liberation of Kosovo from Serbia, the region has become poorer than ever. The policies the West enact in response to each misdiagnosed nation leads to further hostility and distrust by Balkan citizens, thereby hindering NATO’s credibility in the region. Why does Kosovo matter and how does the West fix it? View