NATO renewed
Sten Rynning

In the aftermath of the Cold War, the absence of a strategic threat led to efforts to make NATO a collective security organisation that laid claim to legitimacy in universal values. As a result of the 1999 intervention in Kosovo, however, the Allies discovered that values are no substitute for politics and the interests they generate. Instead, the Alliance must act flexibly in coalitions driven by interests and capabilities. Some would argue that NATO should be replaced by a two-pillar partnership between the United States and the European Union, but the EU is no alternative to NATO. A number of factors make NATO's renewal possible including ongoing military modernisation and new global partnerships. NATO should not automatically signal the possibility of full memberships to new partners, however, because a big NATO would lose its sense of purpose. A meaningful strategic dialogue would build on global partnerships.

Transforming our vision of security
Adm. Giampaolo di Paola

The September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States will remain in our collective memory as the event that initiated a new security revolution. The causes of this revolution are complex and tend to consolidate a core of advanced nations while further marginalising a periphery of poor and failed states. Instability tends to occur in a belt between these two contrasting geopolitical areas. A revolutionary change in our approach to security will take into account the increasing role of international organisations and the opportunities for consultations implicit in Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The security revolution will also impact military operations that now continue after the defeat of opposing forces since the enemy is part of the society that we wish to stabilise. The new approach to security, called transformation, is a conceptual revolution involving organisation, capabilities, training, and doctrine. The Italian armed forces are accelerating their transformation in order to continuing contributing to international security deployments.

Assessing NATO transformation
Mario Bartoli

The Riga Summit will be a time to take stock of NATO's efforts to strengthen its response to new security challenges. Although NATO's current operations in Afghanistan, its training mission in Iraq, and the recent humanitarian operations conducted in Pakistan demonstrate that a shift to expeditionary operations has already taken place, the Alliance must be sure that it has the right capabilities to conduct present and future operations. These capabilities include the NATO Response Force; a Defence Against Terrorism programme that leverages the capabilities of national governments, industry, science and research; the development of Allied Ground Surveillance, NATO's largest programme ever; and an Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence programme that will provide protection for our troops in theatre against short range missiles. Strategic lift is potentially the Alliance's Achilles' heel of capabilities. Work is ongoing on an initiative to create a NATO Strategic Airlift Capability consisting of a multinational fleet of C-17 aircraft and operated by participating member nations. While the Alliance's transformation is now a fait accompli, it will never be complete as the process must be continuous in recognition of an ever-changing security environment.

Sisyphus and the NRF
Robert Bell

NATO leaders at the November 2006 Riga Summit may think that the NATO Response Force (NRF) has achieved its required capability levels. Such a view would be mistaken. Like the mythological figure Sisyphus, forever condemned to push a rock up a hill only to have it roll back down, NATO seems destined to come up short on six-month NRF rotation requirements unless the NATO leadership receives more commitments from member states. Reasons for this situation include 'implementation gaps' that stem directly from the declining defence budgets of most NATO member states; a competition for forces between the European Union, the United Nations, and NATO; disagreements over NRF missions; and disputes as to funding arrangements. The French writer Albert Camus wrote that when Sisyphus became conscious of his fate, the futility of his labours rose to the level of tragedy. If the Alliance focuses on the NRF without identifying solutions to the problems of this critical transformation initiative, the result would be not just absurd, but tragic.

Missile defence on NATO's agenda
David S. Yost

"Full spectrum" missile defences protecting NATO cities and territory could enable the Alliance to navigate crises with greater steadiness and solidarity, and even dissuade adversaries from acquiring ballistic missiles that could be used to threaten Allied homelands. The potential advantages of full-spectrum missile defence, however, have often been overlooked as experts and officials debate its many unresolved questions. These questions include: command and control issues; the prioritisation of scarce missile defence assets; the prospect of continuing Allied dependence on US capabilities; liability for debris from successful interceptions of WMD-armed enemy missiles; enemy circumvention options; technology transfer; cost; threat assessment; missile defence architecture priorities; and possible reactions by Russia and China. The most serious cost issue may be that the defence spending of most Allied governments is at low levels and these governments have other urgent military priorities. An expression of NATO support for "full-spectrum" missile defence could help to create a positive framework for future missile defence initiatives and might be seen by potential adversaries as a sign of Alliance resolve.

Renewing Central Asian partnerships
Richard Weitz

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, NATO looked ready to emerge as the major institutional player in Central Asian security affairs. Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan resulted in a major increase in NATO's military presence in Central Asia, and the June 2004 Istanbul Summit saw the designation of Central Asia as an area of "special focus" in the Summit communiqué. After the Uzbek government's May 2005 crackdown in Andijan, however, the Alliance cancelled some cooperative programmes with Uzbekistan and scaled back others. Despite the collapse of NATO-Uzbek security ties, other Central Asian governments remain interested in Alliance cooperation. As it looks to renew its ties to Central Asian partners, the Alliance should consider establishing a formal dialogue with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Such a dialogue would allow for a useful exchange of views on democratisation and religious extremism while encouraging possible collaboration on concrete projects in the areas of energy security, counter-terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and weapons of mass destruction.

Energy security: NATO's potential role
Jamie Shea

Recent price increases in the oil market have once again made energy security an issue of strategic importance. Vulnerabilities such as lines of communication and transportation concern Allies at the same time that both North America and Europe are becoming more dependent on imported energy. Threats to energy supply could come from a number of different sources: terrorist attacks, natural disasters, political intimidation and blackmail or disruption from regional conflicts or tensions. There have even been explicit threats from al Qaida in recent months to carry out "economic jihad" by attacking energy facilities. While NATO does not claim to take the lead role in energy security, there is the potential for NATO to add value to international efforts to improve energy security in a number of niche areas, including monitoring and assessing the security situation, providing energy security assistance to Allies, initiating maritime surveillance and threat-based response, and conducting interdiction operations. While energy security will increasingly be a strategic concern for the Alliance, there will need to be further discussion amongst the Allies before NATO's role and contribution can be properly defined.

Empire on demand
Patrick Stephenson

The boundaries of NATO Partners now extend all the way to China, as the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council now counts the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan as members. Indeed, pro-Western elites in many developing countries are banging on NATO's door, extending an invitation to NATO to extend its 'soft' imperium. This means that what fifteen years ago a specific defensive mission for the Alliance has evolved into the project for the Eurasian protection of liberal norms that must be fundamentally offensive in its nature. In turn, NATO policy may be defined less by well-crafted strategies formulated in the Allied capitals and more by the impromptu reactions of the Allies to political developments in Partner countries or potential areas of missions or operations. If an outward-looking alliance with centralised decision-making can be described as an organisation run from the "inside-out," then we may now have an alliance run from the "outside-out" as NATO's chessboard is pulled across the globe. If this is empire, then it is not an empire by invitation but an empire on demand.