Increasing Solidarity in the Face of Divergent Threat Perception

Shaping our NATO: Young Voices on the Warsaw Summit

Unity is NATO's key strength; however, member states often perceive the severity of security risks and threats differently. Geographic position, lessons from history, and economic interdependence are a few examples of factors that shape and divide opinion on NATO policy.

Young NATO citizens devised concrete policy proposals in response to the following questions:

How can NATO improve cohesion, and strengthen consensus on how to deal with the many different threats? What practical steps can be taken to increase empathy and solidarity between the publics in the NATO Members countries?

The shortlisted authors will then combine their ideas and those from the best comments to write a policy paper to be presented to decision-makers. Until then we encourage you to provide feedback, give counter-arguments, point out the articles' weaknesses, and highlight strengths. If you are not a member, you can join for free with just a few clicks.

The competition has been made possible by generous contributions from:

NATO     Konrad Adenauer Foundation     Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation

EuroAtlantic Institute

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
 

NATO Energy Security Strategy Crucial to Checking Russian Aggression

Russian gas supplies are dividing Europe on sanctions. Recognition of the security implications of climate change are becoming widely recognized. NATO can and should play a key role in driving positive on both by building energy security for its members. Including specific, targeted mandates to enable mutual energy security in NATO’s mission moving forward would be to both recognize the key challenges of our time and bolster longstanding alliance precepts. View
 

Making NATO More Institutionalized

NATO can only improve the cohesion and strengthen consensus among the member countries if the right tools and framework are introduced. Member nations will not voluntarily focus on the common good of NATO. They need to be persuaded by initiatives and measures that serve their other national interests. It is thereby important to create an independent NATO body or institution that can make some recommendations for the political agenda and reward member nations. View
 

Making NATO More Popular for Everyone

To increase empathy and solidarity between the publics of NATO member countries, the organization must start with the education of their citizens and promotion of the Alliance’s. The general knowledge of ordinary people in society needs to be increased by incorporating more information about NATO related activities into their daily lives. Providing this information only to interested people or narrowly focused university students is not enough. View
 

NATO Needs to Make Itself Heard

NATO's strength is based on the cooperation and support of many nations. Member nations however seem to be less willing to protect one another as diverging threat perceptions arise. NATO must begin creating ways for member citizens to interact and associate thereby increasing unity and cohesion in the face of future challenges. View
 

To Enhance Cohesion, NATO Should Change Its Name

As former Soviet states joined the Alliance, a problem of unity emerged for conceptions of order and military thinking differed. Today, NATO is facing increasing pressure to cope with multiple challenges. A lack of cohesion may have disastrous consequences for world peace. What I therefore proposed is not concerned with the internal structure of the alliance. Instead, I recommend changing NATO’s name as a way of enhancing cohesion through meaning. View
 

NATO: Solidarity Through Diversity

To improve cohesion, NATO must accept that consensus will rarely be found at the operational level. While all NATO members must be united in their grand strategic desire for peace and security within the NATO framework, the 21st century presents too many threats at different levels for all member states to share the same intensity of concerns at the same time. NATO must accept that solidarity will come from a willingness to accept diversity. View
 

How Europe and the US Can Usher in a New Age of Solidarity

Faced with multiple potential threats, NATO allies must ensure they remain united. This is made more problematic by US retrenchment from Europe. To prevent this, European members will have to achieve the 2% target, and deploy some of their forces to the Pacific. In addition, Eastern and Southern members should work alongside each other more frequently in order to foster greater solidarity and friendship. View
 

Increasing Solidarity: How to Fairly Prioritize the Alliance's Security Threats

The best way to increase solidarity within NATO is to ensure that every nation's voice is heard with equal attention and their security concerns addressed. A sixth committee, answering to the Assembly, would help to prioritize and deal with these concerns fairly. View
 

A Time Capsule to the Present: Restructure. Recruit. Rebalance

NATO members currently do not have similar priorities. If NATO hopes to strengthen its coalition, it must change its organizational structure to allow different nations to pursue different interests, recruit other nations that share similar goals, and finally, ease the burden of defense from the United States’ shoulders. These practical steps will allow NATO to continue fighting to preserve and spread democratic ideals around the world. View
 

The Threats Within

NATO may face many divergent threats abroad as its members perceive different areas as more concerning, but the true concern that unites NATO members comes from within. Populist, nationalist movements are rising throughout the West with the intent to withdraw from the economic unions that have ensured peace among Western countries. The changes will not end there as these movements continue to push for the withdrawal of their respective countries from NATO. View
 

Solidarity Means Involvement

For several years the discussion on NATO was limited to two general issues: the undeniable power of the United States to operate globally and Article V as the best guarantee of safety. In fact, each NATO member should consider its own involvement in common defense policy in order to avoid falling victim to the "waiting for others" strategy. View
 

Prioritizing Threats to Bring the Alliance Together

With the introduction of a threat level indicator system NATO can prioritize national threats to NATO members. Accordingly it can create coherence as members of the Alliance are confident their concerns are being discussed and an appropriate NATO led response coordinated. View
 

Creating a Credible Identity Through a Perimeter

NATO has an incredible opportunity to rebrand itself as a new generation – disaffected with trends in globalization – comes of age. By constructing an identity associated with a fixed geographic perimeter, NATO has more ideological tools to convey its objectives to its constituent publics. It will reintroduce NATO’s purpose to a new generation and allow for redefining the organization’s objective in the 21st century's political landscape. View
 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: A Recipe for NATO Cohesion

With the diversity of threats that jeopardize European solidarity today, it is critical to consider how the NATO Alliance can bolster its credibility and provide a sense of unity to its members. By re-examining external partnerships, restructuring intelligence mechanisms, and reminding NATO’s key constituents of the Alliance’s capabilities, NATO may rediscover the harmony that is so vital to an effective institution. View
 

Moving Forward from Crimea: Cohesion for Modern NATO

In the wake of a wave of tension with Russia, NATO now faces new challenges and threats on many fronts. In order to unify its 28 members, the Alliance needs to pursue compromise and coordination, and rally the public will behind itself in the face of nationalist sentiment. View
 

Strengthening EU Defense Capabilities Could Affect Solidarity Between NATO Members

Lack of solidarity has become one of the major barriers for both the further development of common defense capabilities and a better understanding among the members of NATO and the EU. Solutions should be directed at strengthening the bonds between countries and building a common geostrategic approach. Increasing solidarity between EU member states would result in the formation of a solid group in both organizations heading towards the same direction. View
 

School of Hard Knocks: Lessons from Crises show NATO Path Forwards

A series of different calamities have struck Europe one after the other in recent years from the 2008 recession, to the Ukrainian Crisis, to the migrant crisis. Taking a deeper look at the underlying causes of these issues and how they can help inform future decisions offers NATO the opportunity to formulate a coherent strategy moving forwards. View
 

Improving Cohesion and Sharing Perspectives

In the light of recent events, members of NATO, especially the European ones are divided into two camps; regarding the threat they perceive to be the most severe. The countries of Western Europe, like France, Great Britain or Germany, who think that the refugee crisis and the situation in the Middle East is the most threatening, and those in Eastern Europe, like Poland, Romania, and the Baltic states, who fear Russia. View
 

Opening the Discourse: How to Strengthen Alliance Cohesion

NATO’s 2014 Readiness Action Plan is representative for the Alliance’s focus on its challenge at the Eastern front. However, not all allies perceive Russia as the major threat to their individual security. Political fragmentation and a lack of cohesion among the members is the result. To reverse this trend, the states’ individual perspectives need to be taken into account. A broader security dialogue replacing a mainly one-sided focus may be the answer. View
 

A New Funding Mechanism for NATO: Pro-cyclical Spending Targets to Improve Cohesion

Free-riding is undermining the solidarity of NATO and diminishing its capacity for consensus. In the midst of austerity policies, more flexibility is needed to enable members to realise the ambition of 2% of GDP spending on defence. Pro-cyclical spending targets may offer the path. View
 

NATO is Not Only About Security, but Also About Values

It is hard if not impossible to sustain the life of any collective organization without shared values and moral authority. NATO needs not only military and institutional modernization but foremost the re-invocation of the principles and values upon which it has been built. The enhancement and promotion of the shared values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law, is the only way to increase solidarity and unity among the member states. View
 

No To Anymore NATO Bases: Military Presence Only Goes So Far

Through "learning summits", it is time the Alliance took heed of the rising sophistication of global terrorism and other issues that pose existential threats to NATO's members and their populations, such as global warming. View
 

The Key to NATO Solidarity: an Open Door Policy

The new crises and threats from Russia and East would be an opportunity to increase the solidarity of NATO. The solidarity of NATO will be strengthened by consolidating the transatlantic links between Europe and the US – particularly in terms of their open door policy – thereby tightening the solidarity and security not only within borders, but also by enriching western identity with Georgia and Ukraine that account themselves as European. The importance of Turkey rises with its new period of relations with Russia. View
 

Political Unity: the New Defense Doctrine?

With the new threat of hybrid warfare and increasingly complicated interventions abroad it is clear that Cold War static defense is not enough to address the threats of today. A form of greater unity politically is needed in order to present a united front to new threats. View
 

Lessons from Europe: We Must Accept Multi-Speed NATO

At the end of the Cold War, NATO was not the only organization which faced a crisis of purpose. The European Community was on the verge of a fundamental shift in its nature, and faced the daunting choice of how to maintain its core values while embracing expansion into a truly united Europe. From the way in which it solved that problem, and the mistakes that have undermined that system today, NATO can learn much. View
 

NATO: Protecting Our Way of Life

To effectively address a wide range of security threats and challenges, allied leaders must overcome their differences, reconcile divergent threat perceptions and make an effort to re-establish the founding narrative of NATO. Referring to the Alliance's main raison d'être can help increase solidarity between NATO’s member countries. View
 

Homogeneity at Home, Security in the World

Nowadays, NATO is in a difficult crossroad due to the complex issues that it should deal with. The crucial decision that should be taken is whether to become more homogeneous and coherent, or to end up as an à la carte alliance, a useless forum full of divergences and impediments. Yet, we must ask what the role of Turkey in the whole process is? Is it facilitating deeper integration, or does it function as a destabilizing and disintegrating factor? View
 

NATO and the Promise of Disharmony

Perhaps at no other point in its post-Cold War history has the Alliance been faced with so many different threats to the security of its member states. But, in all likelihood, the greatest menace to the internal cohesion of the Alliance, the one factor that might paralyse any effective military and political action does not come from the outside: rather, it is the very lack of internal cohesion and the declining solidarity among its member states. View
 

Social Media Is the Answer to Increasing Solidarity

Social media plays an important role in today’s society. Via social media it’s possible to reach not only decision makers but also wide sectors of the population. It’s important to strengthen the unity between NATO member states. By learning about each other’s history, culture, and possible threats, it is possible to make the Alliance more united and decrease the problem with decision making that is hampered by divergent threat perception. View
 

A Look in the Mirror: How NATO Has Created its Own Divisions

Strife within NATO is a result of the Alliance’s relentless enlargement and lack of purpose. If NATO is to endure, it should find a way to become relevant again. NATO members have two options. First, they could disband NATO. Doing so would give countries a chance to rebuild alliances to defend against specific threats. Second, if member countries wish to retain the Alliance, they must first end the Open Door Policy espoused in Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, and close NATO to any further expansion. View
 

How to Strengthen Alliance Cohesion

The recent crisis within the European Union and North Atlantic Alliance arose several question regarding the future of these two organizations. The general perception is that due to lack of leadership, this feeling enhancing exacerbated nationalism and the extend influence of Russian influence, especially over the former soviet satellites. The Alliance must take action and rebuild the trust and cohesion among member states, along with the security and stability in the region. View
 

Breaking Apart Can Bring Us Closer Together

NATO will need to realign itself if it is to remain viable in the eyes of its members, and credible in the eyes of its adversaries. A resurgent Russia demands that the NATO Alliance take steps to deter adventurism along its eastern boarder, yet transnational and irregular threats along the Mediterranean require NATO to re-orient itself with an eye toward the future. Only a versatile strategy will allow for the Alliance to lead in the 21st century. View
 

No Increase in Solidarity Without Democratization and the Media

While NATO requires solidarity to guarantee an effective defense of the West, it suffers from a lack in democratic structures. In addition, missions that could serve as examples why NATO is necessary outside its eastern borders are not communicated properly. Without an increase in democratic voting structures and the focus on NATO’s humanitarian efforts, long-term NATO members might lose interest in deploying forces to countries whose interest in détente is low. View
 

Market Mechanisms to Coordinate Defence Expending

The Austrian School of Economics, through praxeology, tells how to value means to reach ends. This same approach could be applied to assess threats and in order to allocate resources. View
 

Why NATO Unity is Important and Possible

With the threat of the Soviet Union gone, NATO members must look to the emerging security threats of the 21st century, such as instability in the Middle East and cyber terrorism, in order to create a newfound sense of solidarity. By combining resources and discussing ways to address new threats, NATO members can work to craft solutions for multiple, new threats more efficiently. View
 

A Common Sense of Solidarity is Needed for Efficiency

The whole point of countries working with each other in NATO is to provide security. Yet, within the Alliance there are so-called “free-riding” member states, who despite contributing little, continue to reap the rewards as much as any other ally. There is little point in maintaining these relationships with no benefit to NATO. Therefore, these free-riding members should face sanctions, or in extreme cases, exclusions. View
 

NATO's New Solidarity

The world is currently going through many changes and challenges. Existing crises have brought much instability and uncertainties. These challenges require immediate reaction from different actors. NATO – the largest international alliance of our time – shares the duty and responsibility to not merely address the solution, but also to maintain peace, security, and prevent the expansion of current conflicts and crises. It is time to overcome fragmentation by strengthening cooperation among members via means of a clear strategic agenda that produces tangible results in solving common concerns. 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
 

Shaping our NATO: Young Voices on the Warsaw Summit 2016

Our new policy workshop competition gives students and recent graduates the opportunity to reflect on the most pressing issues facing NATO today and to shape the future of the Alliance. Five winners will receive a trip to Berlin to present the collective ideas to decision-makers. View