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.

Diverging Policies on Iraq/Syria Threaten Peace and Stability

Europe is currently witnessing the highest number of refugees at its borders since the end of WWII. Lacking common borders, the US is widely untouched by this mass exodus from war-prone countries. However, since the US is vastly responsible for the chaos in the region and thus the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it bares most responsibility for the consequences. Its NATO allies of the EU should claim solidarity, but they must be a lot more committed to forging a common military-political strategy. View

The Emergence of a New Reality

In the last two years, out of the four options on Ukraine, Russia, and NATO, one that in the past had seemed the least likely, has suddenly materialized: Russia treated Ukraine so badly that it has driven Ukrainians into NATO's arms. This option came second on the list, but last on expectations. It depended on two failures: the failure of the two countries moving toward joining NATO together, and the failure of Ukraine’s balancing between East and West in the face of pressures to choose sides. View

The Four Original Options on Ukraine and NATO

In the conditions of a strongly anti-NATO popular leaning, from 1991 to 2013, Ukraine could not join NATO, nor could it join a Russian-dominated union without coercion, and the attempts, of its respective westernizers and easternizers to do so, backfired. The pressures to simplify and choose sides came from both ends, East and West. Their symmetry eliminated the more complex, but better, cooperative options. Their moral non-equivalence ultimately drove Ukrainians into choosing the side of the West. View

How Should the West Respond to Ukraine's NATO Bid?

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

Is Turkey Going Rogue?

Turkey's geo-political maneuvers may urge reconsideration of its NATO membership. While the threat from Daesh grows, Ankara is more focused on the continuing fight with the Kurds. The Erdoğan government is undermining the core values of what NATO stands for, and its anti-Kurdish policy spells problems for its role in the region. NATO has to make a statement and also work behind the scenes to engage Erdoğan to prioritize the war against Daesh. View

Another Reset? The Iran Nuclear Deal and Its Consequences for NATO

The recent nuclear agreement with Iran has consequences not only for the Middle East, but also for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The deal changes the energy landscape and offers a chance to break free from the Russian near monopoly on natural gas supplies for this region, but Russian help in shepherding the agreement may prompt President Obama to cooperate with Moscow on other security issues. However, the price for such cooperation may require sacrificing interests of America’s regional allies. View

Germany's Fateful Missile Defence Choice Damages NATO

Germany’s recent pursuit of the MEADS missile defence system is illogical and misguided, but reveals a greater malaise at the heart of NATO; Germany is drifting towards isolationism and is failing to acknowledge where its rightful place in the world is. If a country decides to arm itself with sticks, it better hope the world is populated with rabbits. But since this is not, and never will be, the case, pursuing MEADS represents a turning away from reality. View

NATO Solidarity: Atlantic Community is a Vision, not yet a Reality

The Pew Research Center’s new transatlantic survey indicates a high degree of security complacency and a lack of solidarity across NATO member publics. Evidently, the Atlantic Community is still a distant future, with this vision being marred by an absence of real unity. We must encourage more policy dialogue between citizens throughout Europe and across the Atlantic and in consequence create empathy and a shared identity. View

Intervention in Syria & Iraq is Hopeless

As the Islamic State took the Syrian town of Palmyra, EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Frederica Mogherini informed them that destroying Palmyra’s archaeological treasures would constitute a war crime. Mogherini’s words, however, are as irrelevant as they are true. The sad truth is that following an ineffective nine month military intervention by a US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq, her warning is representative of the powerlessness of the West in combatting the Islamic State. View

The Patriot: The German Military's Best Option

Germany risks isolating itself from its fellow NATO allies, at the same time as spending considerable additional money, were it to purchase the MEADS missile defence system. Given the recent history of military intervention, a lacklustre position on defence spending is understandable and perfectly legitimate. But MEADS fails on both strategic and financial fronts and therefore should no longer be under consideration; Germany should, instead, choose the Patriot. View

Putin' the NATO-Russia Founding Act to Rest

The United States is renegotiating its temporary military presence into a permanent arrangement with a NATO member state. While the country in question is not one you may expect, there is a dire need to boost deterrence capabilities via permanently stationed forces in member states with exterior borders. With Putin on the loose in Ukraine, the time has come for the NATO-Russia Founding Act to be put to rest and a permanent military presence to be established in Poland or the Baltics. View

The EU Eastern Partnership Needs More Attention to Security

On March 6-7, 2015, the EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs reached the conclusion that the EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) requires transformation and further development. The current situation in the EaP Region, frozen conflicts, and aggression against Ukraine demands more attention to the security dimension of the EU initiative and it is very important for the Eastern partner-countries to find ways to meet these key challenges. View

Holding Putin over a Barrel

Authors Sijbren de Jong, Willem Th. Oosterveld, Willem Auping and Daniel Fiott write that the collapse of the price of oil has masked the fact that Europe's response to the Ukraine crisis has been vacillating, slow, and toothless. Yet worsening economic conditions in Russia should not tempt Europeans to consider prematurely easing sanctions. Rather, European states should remain vigilant in their military preparedness and mindful of the dangers of internal divisions with regard to Russia. View

Russia's Policy Toolbox

The current diplomatic disconnect between Russia and US-EU is monumental. Having returned from the Munich Security Conference former German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger stated at the Hertie School of Governance, "Trust between the two sides is virtually at zero." With the recent crisis in Ukraine it is vital that the Atlantic community assess Russia's policy toolbox on the European continent. Thus, it is necessary to plan and familiarize ourselves to the tools at Putin's disposal. View

Defending the Rules-Based Multilateral Order against Putin's Multipolarism

The Ukrainian crisis represents the clashing of world orders; Putin's multipolarism with European multilateralism. Principles such as the rule of law, democracy, individual rights and civil liberties have no place in Putin's world of power politics and spheres of influence, but Europe should work hard to preserve them, and stand up to Russian aggression. Power matters always, but in a rules-based multilateral order law and institutions are the framework that organize and limit power. View

Counterinsurgency and Tribal Politics

Findings of this research are focused on NATO capabilities in the light of requirement and planning assumptions required to conduct missions tailored to certain operations within tribal society. The key aspects are related to the strategies of the International Organizations and its implementation while facing an unpredictable threat in hostile environment relevant to the hybrid wars and asymmetry. View

NATO Enlargement: Why a Fourth Round is Long Overdue

The events in the Ukraine over the last year and a half have led to some calls for a ceasing of NATO's successful enlargement process. However, this would be detrimental to the future stability and security of the Western Balkans region. As of 2015, Albania, Croatia and Slovenia are formal members of NATO. Why, therefore, should Montenegro and Macedonia not be the next states to join the alliance from this region? The fourth phase of NATO's enlargement should occur for a third time in the Western Balkans. View

NATO's Large Nuclear Arsenal Serves Little Purpose

The nuclear powers of NATO should reduce their nuclear arsenal to a much smaller level, but still retain enough force to retaliate against a nuclear strike. Considering that a couple hundred nuclear explosions would cause a nuclear winter and destroy civilization as we know it, why maintain such a large nuclear arsenal? NATO realistically needs to only maintain a few hundred weapons to serve the same purpose of the few thousands it maintains and upgrades today. View

When Solving Ukraine Focus on Ukraine, not Russia

When trying to solve the Ukraine crisis, the United States and its European allies concentrated their efforts on punishing Russia. While Moscow is a major stakeholder in the crisis, the keys to peace are in Ukraine. The transatlantic partners must turn to Kiev, Donetsk, and Lugansk in their attempt to bring the country back to normality. There are no more concessions Russia would be willing to make with respect to the crisis, but those are not needed. Instead, the transatlantic partners must exercise their full influence with Kiev. View

Afghanistan's Best Asset: Its Youthful Optimism

Afghanistan of 2001 is not comparable with the Afghanistan of 2015. With 352,000 strong Afghan National Security Forces, backed by the US and NATO, an increasingly vibrant civil society sector, and a large youth population, Afghans are hopeful that their country will never return to the dark era. For this to remain effective, Afghanistan and its partners must continue to broaden those achievements over the next decade, ushering in a new era of transformation. View

NATO Does Not Want Ukraine to Apply for Membership

Now that Ukraine has voted to drop its non-aligned status, we are hearing an official story from Russia that "NATO has pushed Ukraine to do this." Endlessly repeated, it is exactly opposite to the truth. Russia's agression has changed popular opinion in Ukraine. Until recently every poll indicated that a plurality of Ukrainians was opposed to joining NATO -- the only qualification that Ukraine was lacking. NATO, however, still does not want Ukraine to apply. View

Germany: The Economic Perils of More Arms Exports

The consensus in Germany is wrong. Arms exports do not ensure employment and preserve technological capabilities. Fact is that in today's buyers market such exports lead to technology transfer, create tomorrow's competition and destroy the arms industry's own basis. Instead of promoting arms export, the EU governments should consolidate the European arms industry to reduce excess supply and increase joint military procurement and resource-pooling. View

Why Germany Shouldn't Go it Alone on Missile Defense

Later this year Germany has to choose between acquisition of the Patriot system, which is used by many other NATO countries, or the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), which will be under development at least until 2018 and has been abandoned by other NATO members. This choice will have important geopolitical repercussions: choosing Patriot will bolster the Western alliance, while choosing MEADS will fuel the Kremlin's expansion drive. View

After Wales: Further Steps for NATO

The NATO summit in Wales last week didn’t do enough to meet its responsibilities in the external world. Its next steps should include taking meaningful steps in Ukraine, placing permanent troops in Eastern Europe, hitting its spending targets, and more. NATO cannot just take care of itself; it has to actively work towards solutions to problems that will inevitably have an effect on the alliance. View

The Myth that NATO Committed to Having No Permanent Troops in Eastern Europe

It is widely believed that NATO cannot station forces permanently in Eastern Europe without violating a pledge it gave to Russia in 1997, in the NATO-Russia Founding Act. The belief is accepted even in articles that favor stationing troops in Eastern Europe. Yet, as we shall see, a simple cursory examination of the 1997 document reveals that it is not the case. View

The Myth that Ukraine Cannot Join NATO While Russia Occupies Some of its Territory

There is the perception that NATO’s treaty prohibits it from granting membership to Ukraine given that it is currently involved in a territorial dispute. This is, however, a myth, as demonstrated by the historical example of Germany’s entrance into NATO amid territorial disputes with the Soviet Union. Though it cannot be claimed that Russia has stirred up disputes solely for this reason, this misconception contributes to making such actions more attractive. View

NATO: American Contribution in Response to Russia Falls Flat

The United Kingdom, joined by several other concerned NATO members, has taken a leadership role in the response to Russian aggression in Ukraine in order to form a new joint expeditionary force. By neglecting to commit support to the endeavor, the US reduces its part to one that fails to live up to historical precedent as a leader in the Atlantic Alliance. Meanwhile, the UK decision to take charge in the absence of American support deserves credit. View

NATO: Three Integral Discussions to Take Place During This Week's Summit

On September 4-5, NATO Heads of State and Government will gather at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. This will be the alliance’s most important summit since the end of the Cold War, a quarter of a century ago. The accepted political order of the last twenty-five years has now been challenged by Russian behaviour in the Ukraine, and NATO now needs to formulate a fresh strategy which takes into account these important metamorphoses’. Three areas specifically deserve the focus of NATO leaders at this week’s summit. View

NATO Should Tread Softly While Re-evaluating its Relationship with Russia

When recalibrating the NATO-Russia relationship at this week's Alliance summit in Wales, policy makers would do well to keep cool heads and focus their attention on long-term strategic interests. Rather than feeding Russian fears of encirclement by adopting a reactionary approach, NATO's posture should instead be based on the recognition that Russia's cooperation is vital for addressing future security challenges pertinent to the transatlantic community. View

Why NATO Should Buy and Operate France's Mistral Carriers

Delivery of the Mistral carriers to Russia would be a strategic disaster. Given that NATO finds consensus on the purchase and funding of the Mistrals, it would send a strong signal to Putin. Operating the Mistrals would not be difficult for NATO, with its decades of experience with combined and joint operations in common structures and standards. The idea that NATO buys these ships from France and operates them makes perfect sense. Of course, there are many obstacles, especially with concern to funding. View

Twitter Highlights: July 2014

With over 4,990 followers on Twitter and counting, we're very close to our summer goal of reaching 5,000 followers. continues to use its social media platforms to share stories relevant to transatlantic relations and to promote published member articles while engaging with the community on both sides of the Atlantic. Our July tweets cover a range of issues, from the foundations of the transatlantic partnership, to ISIS, to energy policy and European security. View

Educating Future Generations of Atlanticists

The under-40 generation do not seem to appreciate the transatlantic relationship as much as their parents’ or grandparents’ generations. While politicians, economists, and other government officials are surely important for the transatlantic renaissance, we must ask ourselves how we are going to ensure future generations see the benefits and understand the special relationship. One of the most important ways to accomplish this is through education. View

Administrating Atlanticism Is Not Enough for Preserving It

The political project linking America and Europe is missing. During its remarkable history, NATO has arguably only thrived when there was a unifying positive purpose that could be linked to the very values on which our democracies rest. Every successful transformation of the Alliance relied on the idea of NATO being a value-based community of liberal democracies. A re-commitment to the fundamental values of the liberal democracies at home is a prerequisite for their successful promotion abroad. View

Poland Speeds Up Deterrence Weapons Procurement

With Russian military conducting aggressive operations, Poland, which has been apprehensive about NATO’s reaction in case of a low intensity conflict, decided to speed up some of its planned military procurement in order to deter potential aggression and retaliate with force in case of attack. In a few years’ time, NATO's largest east flank country wants to field long range missile systems, modern attack helicopters, three-tier anti-missile shield, and even cruise-missile capable submarines. View

Should Finland Join NATO?

The Ukrainian crisis has focused the attention of the international community and global mass media on the region. The annexation of Crimea and the possibility of several regions in eastern Ukraine seceding have been rightly seen as major changes to the post-Cold War geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe. At the same time, these events may have an impact on the strategically and geopolitically important country of Finland. Is NATO membership a viable option for the Nordic country? View

Event Report: The Cost of Peace and Freedom

The Atlantic Initiative held a public event in Berlin in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation on The Cost of Peace and Freedom: What is security worth to us today? The panel included a security expert and a member of the Bundestag's budgetary and defense committees. Panelists discussed Germany's role in global defense alliances in light of the Ukraine crisis and security issues in the Middle East and Africa. View

Little Leeway for Dealing With Putin's Russia

Trust between the West and Russia is converging to zero. Neither is blameless; but while many cite Europe and America’s insensitivity to Russia’s ‘legitimate concerns’ when dealing with Russia and Europe’s shared neighborhood, Western powers face an existential dilemma over how to treat Russian moves against the sovereignty of states in the former Soviet Union. They should improve their communications with Moscow, but not waver in their commitment to Western values. View

Three Steps That NATO Needs to Take with Russia

After years of Putin gradually pushing the envelope and expanding his influence, it is past time for NATO to coherently respond to Russia. NATO countries can either stop their public threats and ultimatums towards Russia, or they can match their rhetoric with action outside of simple symbolic sanctions. Continuing the path of rhetoric without action, however, serves only to decrease Western credibility and continue allowing Putin to endanger Russia’s neighbors. View

NATO Needs an "American" Reassurance Initiative

NATO's European members should send a positive message to US lawmakers by organizing their own defense package in Eastern Europe. Obama's "European Reassurance Initiative" asks the US Congress to allocate $1 billion to ramp up the US presence on the territory of European NATO states. A separate package funded by the European allies would show congressmen that Europe is committed to the transatlantic partnership, and would help garner backing for the US initiative. View

Ukraine Should Not Be Dragged Into Shield Debate

Recently, after the Ukrainian crisis began there was much debate on the required security measures to reassure the NATO’s Eastern European members. Some lawmakers have called for a speeding up of the implementation of the NATO missile shield project. To link missile defense with Ukraine would be a self-defeating move however. The shield is not designed to stop Russia’s arsenal and would allow Moscow a free hand to tear up other arms control agreements. View

Four Reasons Why the EU Needs Its Own Military

The European Union needs its own raw military power and security and defense capabilities if it wants to gain credible and effective influence in the international system. The EU should increase its collective defense capabilities to safeguard its strategic goals, which at times may not be aligned with those of NATO. It should develop the Common Security and Defense Policy in order to be able to conduct the full set and broad-spectrum of military operations. View

Friends Like These: the International Community and Ukraine

Russia has violated numerous international agreements, treacherously attacked Ukraine and occupied a part of its territory. Ukrainians are in the process of restoring Kiev's control in the east, despite the neglect of the army under former President Yanukovych. We are thankful to all international organizations and states for the support that Ukraine has received at this very difficult time, but they must do more. Ukraine needs offensive military equipment and real economic sanctions on Russia. View

Eight Recommendations to Help Cool Down Ukraine

Ukraine is in severe danger of losing its eastern territory. The escalation level is rising to military confrontation with the separatists and Russian special forces and a possible open intervention by the Russian Federation as lack of trust in Kiev grows in the east. The US, the EU, and especially Germany, with its strong relations with Moscow, should now pursue a more active double strategy of power and diplomacy, including hard and soft factors of peace keeping. View

Invitation: The Cost of Peace and Freedom, June 25

The Atlantic Initiative would like to invite you to our upcoming event in Berlin, offered in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation. We will discuss implications of the Ukraine Crisis for Germany with security experts and members of the Bundestag’s budgetary and defense committees. We would also like to invite you to contribute your perspectives or to pre-submit any questions you wish to pose to the speakers. For those who cannot attend, please click through to see how you can contribute online. View

German-Polish Partnership Shapes NATO's Eastern Flank Defences

With shrinking military budgets, all eyes at Berlin's ILA air and defence exhibition were on the modernization efforts of the largest countries on NATO's eastern flank: Germany and Poland. Both nations are expected to select providers for much-needed upgrades of their air-and-missile defense systems later this year and, depending on the system each chooses, the pair could become close partners in enhancing NATO’s air-and-missile defense capabilities at a time of renewed tensions with Russia. View

NATO and Russia: Cold War 2.0 at Sea?

Putin's actions in Ukraine shifts NATO's focus back to Europe. Therefore, maritime security's relevance for the Alliance will suffer. The NATO partnership with Russia is effectively over for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, Russia's new assertiveness has a massive impact on NATO's maritime priorities. Other than expeditionary missions, European home waters are now the theaters of concern. What must be done to defend them? View

Beware, Europe! Putin's Appetite Extends Beyond Ukraine

For eastern NATO members, the most frightening aspect of the Ukraine crisis has been the lack of a strong Western response. These states require concrete demonstrations that they can count on their allies' protection should they too come under threat. As of yet, neither Putin nor his potential future targets are convinced that this is the case. Thus, Western leaders must take both symbolic and tactical steps to illustrate their commitment and dissuade further Russian aggression. View

After the Red Line

The red line of the crisis in Ukraine was crossed on 2 May 2014, with the decision by Kiev to use Ukrainian army and interior ministry forces against separatist groups in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. It is the real beginning of a civil war that could lead to the end of the country. All factions in the crisis have a responsibility to act in the narrow window of opportunity left. After this, there will be no more chances to return back to normal life, perhaps for a very long time. View

Europe (Finally) at a Turning Point?

The ongoing Ukraine crisis is hopefully the last straw before Europe’s leaders reset the European project and build new partnerships with America and Russia. Since its inception, the European Union has scored successes in many areas that benefit the political, economic, and social development of the increasing number of member states, yet also many recent failures. Europe’s security has been preserved— but mainly thanks to NATO and its driving force, the United States. View

NATO Jets Train with Nordic Partners

For three weeks NATO Allies have been training air defence flying in Iceland together with first-time participants Sweden and Finland. The Iceland Air Meet 2014 has served to strengthen the interoperability between NATO and partner countries in the context of the Nordic Defence Cooperation. This joint initiative will also allow Nordic states to develop, maintain and use their militaries more efficiently and in a more cost-effective manner amongst themselves. View