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.

Promoting NATO's Mission and Vision at the Grassroots Level

Due to the lack of recent conflicts on European soil, people have forgotten about NATO's relevance. Consequently, European leaders do not dare spend more on defense capabilities. The lack of support for NATO funding is an easy target for nations seeking to destabilize the Alliance. Improved Public Relations can help NATO member states reach their 2% of GDP benchmarks. Not all armies seek to destroy but rather to protect: it is time that NATO shows people this side of the Alliance. View

NATO's Article V: Iron Clad Commitment or Paper Tiger?

NATO's "Ironclad" Article V is referred to when any threat is made to an ally or the Alliance. Yet, Russia's hybrid warfare in Ukraine, coupled with Article V's ambiguity and NATO disunity, brings into question Article V's reliability and function. To deter anyone from testing its validity, NATO should pursue proactive forms of collective defense. Given the meagre response to the 2% pledge, a stance based on increased cooperation and integration between the EU and NATO should be adopted. View

Vigilance Through Encouragement During a Time of Torment

While NATO should remain vigilant of terrorist activity and weaponization spurring from immigration volume, it is also imperative to realize the fact that most refugees are innocent families fleeing violence in their home country. The way NATO has essentially ignored this issue could be the Alliance's biggest mistake in recent history. NATO should employ Civil Response Teams to help with logistical planning and relief operations to ameliorate living conditions for refugees. View

NATO: Losing the War of Narratives

This is the era of wars of narratives rather than conventional military clashes. NATO has to endorse its narrative better and create a united front in diplomacy. View

NATO’s Failure to Tackle Extremist Ideology

Violent extremism has become the most destabilizing threat facing NATO has faced. There has been no coherent, international strategy to counter the narratives that perpetuate the ideology and the violence is causes. We need new structures in NATO to address the ideology as well as a global commitment on education and governance, equipping states to effectively tackle extremism at its roots. View

How NATO Underestimated Russia

NATO redefined itself by expanding its membership in three waves, but underestimated Russia's future capabilities. These waves of enlargment provoked Russia, which responded through a first step of testing the Alliance, in 2008, through the Georgian war. Putin continued with the decision to test at a fully-length pace, NATO's response, through the annexation of Crimea and the start of the Ukrainian war in 2014. View

NATO's Mistrust Crisis

NATO has changed over the last 25 years. Nevertheless public opinion on the Alliance has stayed the same. The North Atlantic Alliance is facing a massive mistrust crisis. People are starting to distrust and question the organization: the main reason for this lack of trust is that the general public does not know exactly what NATO does. View

Facing Decreasing Support, NATO Must Motivate the Home Front

What has supported democracy in Europe in the presence of communist autocracy, faces decreasing approval rates throughout the last decades. With NATO’s solidarity in danger, keeping quiet and staying out of public discussion is no longer an option. By increasing its efforts to put public attention on NATO’s importance in keeping not only Europe safe, it must show that it has not become obsolete following the demise of Soviet communism. View

Enable German Rearmament to Kickstart NATO's Transformation

To transform NATO, rearm Germany. The Euro-Atlantic security community should welcome Germany's military growth, and help turn it into a wider process leading to a necessary and long overdue shift of security responsibilities away from the U.S. and towards major European powers. View

If NATO Cannot Be a Lion, It Must Be a Fox

Imagine you are Vladimir Putin. If you wanted to invade a Baltic NATO ally, you could: you are certainly not deterred by NATO's defenses. Currently, Russia is capable of achieving a victory – albeit limited – against NATO: thus, NATO has failed to be a lion. It should raise the cost of a Russian invasion by being a fox. It should adopt hybrid defense; adapting policies such as the Swiss model of national service to counter the threat of Russia. View

NATO Should be Targeting the Financial Infrastructure of the Enemy

NATO is the most powerful military alliance on the globe; this will not change in 2026. Consequently, the future conflicts involving NATO will be asymmetric. Economic warfare is a tool to both address this changing environment, and respond effectively to future threats and imbalances. Targeting the elements of the financial infrastructure of the enemy will complement and increase the effectiveness of NATO’s regular military efforts. View

Identifying and Closing NATO's Arctic Capability Gap

In the Arctic, Russia is dominating. NATO is experiencing significant gaps in its security architecture in the Arctic, including a lack of icebreakers and reduced military presence. The Alliance can collectively address this common problem through building-up NATO's icebreaker fleets, establishing search-and-rescue bases, and most importantly, working together towards a shared goal. View

The Battle for Tallinngrad: New Ways to Fight an Old War

NATO is failing to respond to a revanchist Russia and must do much more to deter further aggression. An imbalance of force parity in the Baltics and a one-sided information war is sending all the wrong signals to Moscow. By examining a potential conflict ten years in the future, this article outlines the nightmare scenario facing NATO if steps are not taken now to win the goodwill of Estonia's Russian population, thereby thwarting Russian influence. View

NATO Must Keep Up with Opposing Force Research

Over the next ten years a series of revolutions stand to up-end the way wars are fought. To stay ahead of the curve NATO not only needs to invest in this research itself, but in comprehensive understanding of possible future opposing forces. Without such research, NATO's battlefield supremacy will be in serious jeopardy. Therefore, NATO needs an Opposing Force Office, and it needs one now, not in 2026, and not a day later. View

Shortfalls in Electronic Warfare Pose a Danger to NATO

Russia has demonstrated a tendency to destabilize neighboring countries as they near membership to both the EU and NATO. As EU enlargement progresses, this trend may well result in other border countries, such as energy rival Azerbaijan, being destabilized. Considering that current NATO electronic warfare capability is inferior to that of Russia, the Alliance must reduce this shortfall in order to ensure both regional stability, and the safety of NATO forces and future allies. View

The Biggest Threat to Geopolitical Stability: Climate Change

Climate change represents a threat to geopolitical stability that is present, tangible and crucially, preventable. It may be too late to avert all of the dangers posed by global warming, but it is not too late to prevent catastrophe. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions to a scientifically determined threshold must become a precondition of NATO membership. View

Partnering with China and Stifling ISIS's Funding

By 2026, the rise of China will result in a bipolar international system. NATO can be the vessel through which the US cooperates with China. China can be made a “partner” and the role of partners can be expanded. Meanwhile in 2016, NATO is insufficiently addressing ISIS. NATO should strive to stifle ISIS economically. By leveraging diplomatic and economic influence to deal with state and non-state threats, it can pursue its function of collective defense while preserving peace. View

Space Junk: The Biggest Threat to NATO Interoperability in 2026

Imagine a battlefield with no drones or precision-guided munitions, a lack of satellite phones or near-instantaneous intelligence reports. One would think I am talking about WWII or the Korean War. In reality, I am imagining a potentially not-too-distant future that NATO might face as a result of space junk threatening its coveted GPS, communications, and intelligence satellites. NATO must act now to safeguard against this threat. View

NATO Must Adapt to the Battlefields of Tomorrow

With the increasing use of the internet in cyber warfare, the premier Alliance of the West must focus strongly on its offensive cyber capabilities to deter potential enemies: after all, enemies would be more wary of attacking NATO if they knew the Alliance had the ability to fight back. Therefore, in order to become a formidable player in the cyber arena NATO must create dedicated task forces of cyber experts, and ensure they are structured into an effective military heirarchy. View

The Greatest Challenge for NATO Will Be Europe Itself

The biggest challenge for the next decade – and one that Russia and nonstate actors in the Middle East and North Africa region will seek to exploit – is maintaining the core identity of Europe. By the NATO Summit in 2026, the Atlantic community will have confronted many of the challenges that we face today, yet if NATO is to continue protecting peace and security in the Atlantic region, it must prioritize solidarity among its members. View

A Holistic Approach to Defeating the Islamic State

NATO and its allies are insufficiently addressing the Islamic State, which will significantly backlash in the next 10 years. In order to sufficiently tackle this huge threat, we need a more comprehensive approach that addresses not only the Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria, but worldwide. The key to a successful strategy lies in a holistic two-fold approach – using special forces and the establishment of non-democratic governments. View

New Kids on the Block: How NATO Should Address Secessionist Movements

Over the next decade there is increasing likelihood that a NATO member state will experience a successful independence movement within its territory. As evidenced by the Scottish independence referendum, NATO has insufficiently addressed the path to membership for newly independent territories of member states. NATO should establish a policy that independent democratic states arising from members will automatically be offered inclusion in the Membership Action Plan program. View

Why NATO Should Get Involved with Bitcoin

Bitcoin has the potential to fundamentally transform the global financial system. It also poses a serious threat to international security. NATO needs to play a role in protecting the Bitcoin market economy from cyber-attacks, aggregate the human and technological capital necessary to thwart prevent Bitcoin from being used in the funding and orchestration of terror attacks, and proactively address potential privacy concerns. View

The Domino Effect of Environmental Threats

The necessity to focus NATO’s attention on climate change and environmental degradation at the 2016 Warsaw Summit is essential for preserving international security, as these threats will intensify interstate instability, terrorism, and modify the geopolitical board game. By establishing a clear energy-efficient active strategy, encouraging multilateral cooperation, and promoting open dialogue, NATO will be better prepared to tackle the irreversible environmental threats. View

The Hidden Threat of Corruption

NATO should take a “ground up” approach to addressing corruption, starting on the local level in order to shore up trust in the federal government. Without trust in the government, nations cannot strengthen themselves and sustain for the future. NATO then must address the roots of federal corruption by targeting capital gains of corrupt national leaders. View

Pakistan: the Islamic State’s Path Towards Nuclear Proliferation

As NATO shifts its focus towards Syria and ever-escalating tensions with Russia, NATO is blind to a new threat rising from a nuclear-armed Pakistan. By 2026 the country, and its nuclear arsenal, could be controlled and influenced by an expanding IS, a resurgent Taliban, or another extremist organization. We must take radical steps now to prevent further radicalization and the expansion of nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and across the globe. View

The Importance of Cyber-Security for NATO

In the probable event of an extensive cyber-attack in the next decade, it would be difficult to create a spontaneous and cohesive response. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that NATO and its member states turn their attention in order to prioritize cyber-security policies – they cannot afford to waste time. View

A World Without NATO

Have you ever imagined what would happen if NATO would cease to exist? The world is currently facing several crises due to misunderstanding and mistrust. NATO has to face these conflicts in order to keep its leading role, but it has to undertake several reflections. View

Adapting NATO to a Changing Face of Global Insecurity

Terrorism is our biggest threat, and NATO must adapt to deal with it. NATO was designed to combat the uncertainty of a post-WWII world, and to deter aggression from the USSR under a bipolar world order. But since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and increasing global terrorism, NATO has become outdated and under-equipped to suit contemporary security needs. Thus, NATO should increase membership and develop a common intelligence-sharing community. View

The EU and NATO Must Cooperate Even More Closely

Due to the amount of shared members, NATO and the European Union must solve their common problems together. At the same time, however, both organizations must specify and distinguish their competencies and fields of action. The phrase “armed aggression” should be replaced by a more accurate term to be applicable in contemporary gun-less conflict, such as the use of propaganda in Russia. Without its consolidation and modernization, the Alliance could become powerless over the next decade. View

The Internationalization of Far-Right Terrorism in Europe and NATO's Future Role

Out of Ukraine we can see indications of a future threat. It is not the Russian government, it is right-wing extremism. Right-wing terrorism is becoming increasingly international, and hence requires international action through NATO. To mitigate this threat more intelligence cooperation is required and NATO stands as a perfect institution to facilitate this in Europe. View

Reading Recommendations on the Warsaw Summit

The “Shaping Our NATO” competition is off to a start and the Warsaw Summit is fast approaching. In an effort to keep you up to date on all the latest developments and give you a better idea of the most relevant topics and most pressing concerns on NATO’s agenda, our editorial team has gathered a number of recent publications concerning what issues the Summit seeks to resolve. View

6 Tips to Help You Start Your "Shaping Our NATO" Op-ed!

Not sure where to get started for the "Shaping Our NATO" competition? We know the feeling. An op-ed is very different to a term paper, so we compiled a guide to get your creative juices flowing. From basic structure to overcoming writer's block, these 6 pointers will help put you on the right path to writing a great submission. Although we have provided broad guidelines, they should help you with the basics – they don't need to be followed word-for-word! 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

Bibliography on NATO: Some Guidance for Getting Started

As a think-thank comprised mainly of Political Science students, we are keenly aware of the endless activities that foment procrastination when writing an article. In order to get the proverbial mental ball rolling for the "Shaping our NATO" competition, we have compiled some recent publications regarding NATO. These articles range from introductory texts to more area-focused and technical papers. View

Countering Russia's Hybrid Warfare in the Baltic Region

Taking the Baltic states as an example, this commentary argues that the increasing prominence of ‘hybrid threats' in the current conflict that opposes the West to Russia makes a case for a redefinition of what constitutes a 'security threat' by NATO allies, and highlights the need for a fundamental rethink of NATO strategy towards Russia. While NATO has long focused on the ‘hard' dimension of security, leaders should bear in mind that the current standoff with Russia is no longer ‘just' a military matter. View

Stop Blaming the West for Russia's Aggression

Adam Reichardt, Editor in Chief of New Eastern Europe, argues that Russia's actions in Eastern Europe should be viewed similarly to that of a bully in the schoolyard. The bully will force you to hand over your lunch money and will beat you up if you refuse to play by his rules. No one ever blames the victim (or his friends) for the bully's actions; so why are we blaming ourselves for Russian aggression? It is absurd and only proves to Putin that he is right in his assumptions that the West will not stand up for its own principles. View

Clinton Expresses Strong Support for NATO and Europe

Hillary Clinton is much more supportive of NATO and Europe than all the other presidential candidates. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton gave an impressive speech describing NATO as “one of the best investments America has ever made”. She stressed the need for US leadership and collaboration with allies in the struggle against ISIS. Bernie Sanders has yet to give a major speech on NATO. Donald Trump's opinion on NATO reflects widely held sentiments in the US. View

NATO's Burden Sharing: Challenges and Opportunities

In the last years the pressure for NATO members in Europe to take more responsibilities inside the Alliance has increased. Issues such as persistent budgetary pressures and austerity measures in the European Union, new threats falling to the European portfolio, the US rebalancing policy toward Asia Pacific, and the defense shrinking budgets are part of the burden sharing debate. View

The Munich Consensus and the Purpose of German Power

The Munich consensus has not radically transformed German foreign policy, but it has started an evolution. Germany is showing signs of strategic leadership in the international sphere. It must now reflect carefully about the preconditions for its economic wealth and act to reform the liberal international order in such a way that this liberal order can be sustained without disruption by major-power conflict. View

NATO: The State of the Alliance

Jens Stoltenberg has just released his second annual report as NATO Secretary General. The report describes NATO’s responses to a security environment “of complex challenges and unpredictable threats.“ is highlighting a few key statistics and interesting graphics about defense spending, military exercises and other topics to promote informed debate about NATO’s achievements, shortcomings and challenges. View

Nuclear Sharing is Caring

Russia constitutes a real threat for NATO’s easternmost nations. The unpredictable Kremlin seems to be willing to use tactical nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear neighbors. While Russia’s saber-rattling is reaching new heights, NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy seems to be stuck in a bygone era. Unsurprisingly, one of the Alliance’s frontier members seems to be considering strengthening regional deterrence possibly via participation in Nuclear Sharing. View

A Long View of Transatlantic Crises

Since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, its relations with the US have shaped not only its foreign but also its domestic policy. In the future, too, the US will remain Germany's most important partner outside the European Union. Differences between the US and Germany notwithstanding common interests and values prevail. As repeated periods of discord exemplify, with increasing closeness comes increasing friction in the transatlantic relationship. View

Russian Plane Downed in Turkey: What Should NATO Do?

As Turkey shoots down a Russian plane, NATO is indirectly involved as Turkey is an Alliance member. What could/should be role of NATO (if any) in the current situation when we should probably firstly find a way to deescalate the situation? Read a few comments from US experts weighing in on the issue. View

NATO Should Strengthen Deterrence in Baltics

Aggressive, revanchist and opportunistic Russia perceives NATO as its top enemy. Would Russia dare to challenge NATO in the Baltic states? Yes, it looks like it would, as long as Putin believes that the Russian military could do that successfully, quickly, and with impunity. Would the United States risk nuclear holocaust in order to punish Russia's occupation of the Baltics? Ultimately, NATO needs to establish a permanent and hefty military presence in the Baltics to deter Russian aggression in the region. View

TPP Completed, on to TTIP?

The new TPP and TTIP agreements are the greatest deepening OECD has ever seen. True, they deepen it in two halves, one Atlantic, one Pacific; this is because some of the socio-cultural issues are different, and it enables the inclusion of several non-OECD allies from the diverse Pacific region, laying grounds for a further OECD widening when some of these countries become socioeconomically ripe. The two agreements could nevertheless be fruitfully linked later on. View

Ukraine and NATO

It used to be that Ukrainians were heavily pro-Russian, and would have agreed to join NATO only alongside Russia's joining. However, in light of the conflict ignited almost two years ago, it appears that Ukrainians have finally had enough and today, a supermajority favors joining NATO without Russia. The new thinking in Ukraine requires the West to do its own new thinking. It needs to make a decision on Ukraine and NATO, at a time when either option, yes or no, is riskier than ever. View

Armament and Sanctions: Hard Power Versus Soft Power

The options on arming Ukraine and on sanctions against Russia, and how they relate to the options on NATO membership must also be given ample consideration in this situation, as well as all of the leftover in-between options experts have to offer. The necessity of choice is certainly important considering the amount of time that has lapsed since this conflict began. This choice is equally as difficult as it is important, because the wrong choice could have dire, and even violent, consequences. View

Europe's Migration Crisis May Have Spillover Effects for NATO

In the past few months, a hitherto unseen influx of migrants* has caused societal and political upheaval in Europe. Responses are debated on a European Union and an individual member-state level with NATO mainly left out of this conversation, but in light of current events the potential role of NATO will come under increased scrutiny. Migration, which has until now mainly been seen as a socioeconomic question, is quickly becoming a securitized, and in certain cases, militarized, issue. View

Ukrainian NATO Membership as a Bargaining Chip with Russia

There are two ways of using the NATO membership question in negotiations with Russia: soft-line and hardline. Both aim at a deal for peace in Ukraine, but on different terms; one would refuse Ukraine membership in return for a deal, the other would not grant membership unless Russia agreed to a good enough deal. The former would need a compromise formulation, to avoid alienation of Ukrainians and help ensure compliance, while the latter is simply unlikely to materialize given recent hostility. View