Atlantic Community Opinion

The purpose of this section is to promote a dialogue on issues that affect the democratic nations in the Atlantic Community. It will include periodic editorials from the Initiative, guest editorials, and letters to the editor, which may be sent by email to: .
March 29, 2014

Putin calls the United States, not Europe, to discuss Ukraine

By Stanley R. Sloan

Think about this. In 1973, Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State, was said to have remarked, “If I want to call Europe, who do I call?” Kissinger has since said, “I am not sure I actually said it, but it's a good statement so why not take credit for it?” (Shortly after Kissinger’s parallel proclamation of the “Year of Europe” in American foreign policy, I was tasked with writing an intelligence community estimate on the future of European defense cooperation.)

Some European Union (EU) officials now claim they have provided the answer. An American President can call former Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, the current President of the European Council, or the EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso, a former prime minister of Portugal. In addition, the EU for some time now has had a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a position currently held by Catherine Ashton. Secretary of State Kerry can call her! And, of course, there are the Prime Ministers of Germany, France and the UK, all representing major European countries.

However, please note that Russia’s President Putin believes in talking to power. In spite of the Obama Administration’s “pivot” to Asia and the on-going reductions of the US military presence in Europe, when Vladimir wanted to talk about a possible diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, whom did he call? Well, it was not Europe, or any one of the possible representatives of Europe. It was, in fact, US President Obama. And this in spite of the fact that, just days before, Obama had referred in Brussels to Russia as a “regional power.”

Putin knows that, in spite of the recent questioning of the US commitment to European defense, the United States still is a major player and is the most important country to engage, even on questions related to European security. Now, it is true that Russian leaders like to deal directly with the United States, because it reinforces the image of Russia as a major international player on the same level as the United States. This apparently has not changed.

It then is ironic that many American observers would like to imagine that “Europe” exists in the field of foreign and defense policy. It may one day, but it does not today. There is “more Europe” today than when I wrote the intelligence estimate in 1973. But to ask why “Europe” doesn’t do more for “its” own defense usually reflects too optimistic a perspective on the current levels of European integration. That, perhaps, is why some analysts, believe that the best way to get Europeans to “do more” is for the United States to continue to play a leading role in NATO.

The shock therapy that many American observers recommend for dealing with those lazy, socialist governments in Europe is not going to create a more united Europe and, in the meantime, would seriously undermine US goal of protecting its own interests on the “old continent” and in maintaining productive relations with its most reliable allies.
March 21, 2011
NATO Needs Better Nonmilitary Options
By Stanley R. Sloan
(Opinion Editorial first appearing in Defense News)

Against the backdrop of a decade of Western intervention in Afghanistan, the ongoing turmoil in the Arab world makes it clear the U.S. and its allies desperately need better coordination of their nonmilitary responses to security challenges.

When NATO released its new strategic concept in Lisbon last November, there were no surprises and, perhaps, some disappointments. The document was the product of extensive consultations, not just among governments but also with input from expert discussions and public forums around the alliance, led by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. After the grand unveiling, some wondered how so much time and effort could have been spent on producing a snapshot of the status quo, rather than an adventurous path toward NATO’s future.

The 2010 strategic concept reflected a lot of change beyond the last one drafted in 1999, and in that respect was a success. Perhaps most important, all the allies now agree that threats to their territorial integrity and interests can arise far from their borders, and that their security cooperation needs to reflect this reality. This was a key sticking point in 1999.

However, the 2010 project was not able to take the next step — actually developing new cooperative approaches to deal with future security challenges ranging from terrorism to Middle Eastern instability to energy security.

Over the past decade, it has been increasingly accepted that military power alone will not be sufficient to confront such challenges. But attempts to develop comprehensive trans-Atlantic approaches that integrate military means with the panoply of nonmilitary instruments of power available on both sides of the Atlantic have failed.

One lesson we can already take from Afghanistan is that security challenges should be met with advance planning that integrates all tools of statecraft. This means that diplomacy, military planning, intelligence sharing, development assistance, financial cooperation, police and security collaboration, and other nonmilitary security instruments should be combined to try to prevent crises from turning violent and to deal with them when they do.

However, attempts to meld the resources of the two most important Euro-Atlantic institutions, NATO and the European Union, and the work of U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations, whether in Afghanistan or more generally, have run into serious political obstacles. Those obstacles have nothing to do with the perceived need for such approaches — everyone agrees in principle on that goal. The problem is that other political issues or bureaucratic turf concerns get in the way.
For example, the EU was reluctant to get too intimately involved in Afghanistan, at least partly out of concern that it would become subordinate to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. In Brussels, NATO and EU consultations, which should cover the whole range of security issues, are limited to their shared roles in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Discussions of all other areas of possible security collaboration are blocked by festering differences between NATO members Greece and Turkey over Cyprus.

Prospects for multilateral cooperation are further complicated when U.N. and nongovernmental organizations are reluctant to get too close to NATO military operations, fearing that their humanitarian efforts will be perceived as part of a war effort.

Adding urgency to this challenge is the fact that NATO’s new concept will do nothing to improve the lopsided burden-sharing equation (with the U.S. doing much more militarily than the allies). At a time when all governments will have constraints on future defense spending, more effective collaboration on nonmilitary aspects of security — an area in which European allies and the EU have many useful resources — could help create a better holistic balance in security efforts.

If the Obama administration hopes to make progress toward more effective international security cooperation, it might be forced to take some steps that appear inconsistent with the multilateral-institution bias the administration has admirably deployed. That bias has helped solidify U.S.-European relations in NATO and improved the atmosphere for international cooperation. However, the administration perhaps should consider working with, but not necessarily through, trans-Atlantic institutions.

This could be done by organizing a running dialogue on the topic among NATO and EU member states, in which all participants represent their nations rather than any organization. The relevant institutions could be involved as observers and even commentators. If the dialogue produces ideas around which cooperation can be built, those ideas could be introduced into the relevant institutions for action.

If the old roadblocks prevent progress, the U.S. and allies that are agreeable could produce ad hoc approaches intended to enhance trans-Atlantic cooperation in preventing or dealing with security challenges with all instruments of national power, nonmilitary as well as military. If such a mechanism were in place at the beginning of 2011, it could have been activated to help coordinate diplomatic, financial and humanitarian responses to the turmoil spreading across the Middle East.

Such an American policy approach would likely engender howls of protest from inside and outside institutional structures in which member states, as well as bureaucracies, have vested interests. But perhaps those howls would help call attention to the fact that current institutions are simply not producing all that the U.S. and its allies need to confront future security challenges.

March 5, 2009
Pondering NATO's future
By Stanley R. Sloan
(Opinion editorial first appearing in the International Herald Tribune)

When the NATO nations meet in Strasbourg, France and Kiehl, Germany, early in April, their leaders will be surrounded by a variety of assumptions about their alliance. A number of ideas about the trans-Atlantic alliance have persisted for virtually the entire 60 years since the North Atlantic Treaty was signed. Some assumptions have developed more recently, particularly during the crisis in the alliance brought to a head by the policies of George W. Bush. Perhaps alliance leaders should start by questioning these assumptions.

The alliance has always been more than what goes on in and what is done by NATO. Granted, the North Atlantic Treaty contains clear statements of the values and commitments that give meaning to the relationship. However, NATO has never been given the mandate or the tools to deal effectively with all the security requirements of its member states. Most importantly, NATO does not provide the framework for the use of nonmilitary instruments of national power and influence. Increasingly, it is such tools that are required for dealing with contemporary security issues.

NATO and the United States do hard power, the European Union does soft power. Particularly during the Bush administration, but before as well, some observers argued that it would be logical for the EU to concentrate on "soft power," the ability to get other nations to do what you wish with friendly persuasion rather than forceful coercion. The U.S. and NATO, according to this perspective, should concentrate on the use of force to defend common security interests.

This seemed a logical division of tasks, but it was always a false dichotomy. The damage done by the Bush administration has not been completely repaired, but the Obama administration's approach to security, has helped re-fill the once-deep well of American soft power.

So today, even if NATO is not designed to deploy soft power, the United States is well-positioned to use its powers of persuasion once again with as much potential impact, if not more, than the EU. A balanced relationship, of course, would be one in which both Washington and its European allies made coordinated soft and hard power contributions to security.

It is increasingly conventional wisdom to observe that failure to stabilize Afghanistan could destroy NATO. Taking on command of the International Security Assistance Force took in Afghanistan took NATO well beyond its European confines. The allies have found the challenges posed by terrain, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda daunting. However, the biggest challenge has been confronting the different attitudes that make the NATO effort anything but "united." Does this say more about the flaws of the alliance or the challenges of the mission? If Afghanistan is not stabilized, is it a failure for NATO? For the United States? For the EU? For the United Nations?
March 31, 2008 -- A Grand Plan for NATO Will Have to Wait

a view from the Atlantic Community Initiative……

As the NATO countries prepare for the last alliance summit of George Bush’s presidency, scheduled for April 2-4 in Bucharest, there is widespread recognition that the alliance needs reinforcement. On the practical level, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan needs more men and equipment, particularly helicopters, to block resurgence of the Taliban. On the strategic level, the alliance’s 1999 concept of its role and operations is in dire need of updating to reflect new realities in the wake of 9/11 and NATO’s subsequent mission in Afghanistan. On the political level, new life needs to be pumped into the alliance’s veins, to convince skeptical commentators, publics and parliaments that the transatlantic bargain is still a viable and valuable deal.

Hopefully, new commitments to the alliance mission in Afghanistan will emerge from Bucharest. None of the allies will want to celebrate NATO’s 60th anniversary in 2009 by acknowledging that it is incapable of handling the Afghanistan mission.

However, the commitment to prepare a fresh strategic concept along with a new “Atlantic Charter,” as advocated by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, may have to wait. As good an idea as it is, the reality of the American election schedule will enforce a delay. Do the European allies really want to take the chance of handing off a drafting process begun under President George Bush to a new American administration led by Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? There could not be a more awkward way for the allies to greet the next US administration.

Preparation of revised strategy and a new charter for NATO are highly political tasks, not appropriately left to a lame duck administration. This would be the proper perspective for the allies to take, even if one were betting that the Republican nominee will succeed President Bush.

In these circumstances, what should the European allies do? First, they should go along with the Bush administration’s desire to invite Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia to join the alliance. These countries will not add significantly to the capabilities of the alliance, but their membership would be another important step in NATO’s mission of helping tie up the loose ends left at the end of the Cold War. This step surely could be seen as the last major contribution of the Bush administration to the process of making Europe “whole and free,” a process begun by his father’s administration nearly two decades ago.

The administration’s desire to put Georgia and Ukraine on track for membership is, not unreasonably, opposed by several European governments. The populations of the two countries are not yet sufficiently convinced of the wisdom of NATO membership to support giving their governments “Membership Action Plans.” The fact that Russia opposes the move is the major concern for some European allies, but should not be the reason for delaying the first step toward membership for Georgia and Ukraine – they simply are not ready. Their time will come.

With regard to the future of the alliance, NATO leaders at Bucharest should support the goal of preparing a new strategic concept and a contemporary Atlantic Charter. They should even make it clear that the new declarations would have to tackle not only traditional security issues but also the “new” question of energy security and electronic warfare against NATO countries. The drafting project, however, should be left on the table for the allies, in concert with a new American administration, to tackle in 2009.

In the meantime, both the United States and the European allies need to devote more military and non-military resources to the mission in Afghanistan. Recent reports about the failure of the international community, including the United States, to deliver promised aid to Afghanistan are unfortunately not a surprise. American priorities have focused on Iraq, leaving Afghanistan as the step-child to Iraqi military and non-military requirements.

The fact that the United States has appeared to care less about the stabilization of Afghanistan has taken the Europeans off the hook. After all, if Afghanistan is not important to the United States, how can European countries make the critical difference? The recent decision by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to dispatch some 3200 marines to Afghanistan is the kind of leadership by example that perhaps will help bring allies along.

The renovation and political revitalization of NATO should be high on the agenda of the next American administration. Senators Obama, Clinton and McCain all say it will be if they are elected. In the meantime, perhaps French President Sarkozy, during France’s EU presidency in the second half of this year, will set the transatlantic table by laying out a realistic plan for bringing France back into full participation in NATO and overcoming problems that have hampered NATO-EU cooperation in the past. We all can hope.
 October 31, 2006 NATO’s Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

…. a view from the Atlantic Community Initiative

The NATO summit scheduled to open in Riga, Latvia on 28 November will be a “success.” But then, NATO summit meetings are always successful. They are planned and conducted with scripts that ensure positive outcomes.

When President Bush and his colleagues gather in Riga, they will, with some justification, congratulate themselves on the alliance’s transformation and performance in Afghanistan, acknowledge the important and growing role of NATO in international security, and pledge their commitment to the future of transatlantic security cooperation. The veneer of success, however, will not hide the many issues clouding NATO’s future.

The meeting will trumpet NATO’s Response Force, which will be declared fully operational, whether it is or is not ready to be thrown into the breach during the next international crisis. The Response Force is the most visible token of NATO’s transformation from an instrument of European security to a much more demanding international role. But the force, composed mainly of European troops, may still be more a symbol of transatlantic security cooperation than a useable capability. Questions remain concerning how to finance operations, interoperability of the forces contributed by different nations, and the big unknown: whether countries would actually send their promised forces when push came to shove.

Allied leaders will commend each other for NATO’s having taken responsibility for the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. This mission confronts violent Taliban and al Qaeda opposition, a government that has been losing the trust of the people, and a poppy growing culture that supports the international drug trade while it underpins the Afghan economy.

NATO forces have registered some successes in dealing with Taliban resistance and promoting development. But the force is handicapped by limitations some NATO countries put on their participation. For example, the forces of several allies cannot be used in the south and east of Afghanistan, where NATO faces the most violent opposition. These governments, in effect, are acting as if Afghanistan were a traditional peacekeeping operation rather than the peace enforcement activity that it really is. The NATO force is consequently insufficiently flexible and capable for the difficult parallel tasks of providing security and enabling reconstruction.

Stabilization of Afghanistan is likely to require outside military assistance for many years to come. At present, only NATO – with a strong US contribution – can provide this. However, public and parliamentary opinion in some allied nations is raising doubts about their future participation in the operation. The fact that the forces of some allies are in locations likely to produce casualties while others are less exposed to danger could over time produce a divisive risk differential. And, if things continue to go badly in Iraq, American public support for the US role in Afghanistan may suffer as well.

The leaders will appropriately note the role that NATO has played in training Iraqi security personnel. But the admirable NATO effort may look a bit like re-arranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic as Iraq’s fledgling democracy is increasingly devoured by sectarian conflict.

Moreover, differences over the original decision to go to war against Iraq, while somewhat muted by the passage of time, remain a source of division inside the alliance – among and inside European governments as well as across the Atlantic. Perhaps most importantly, the entire affair has made US leadership less effective and credible at a time when it is most needed.

Riga summit declarations about the benefits of transatlantic security cooperation will come against the backdrop of continued debilitating competition between NATO and the European Union. This is a duel fueled by the wish of some EU members to establish the Union’s European Security and Defense Policy as a framework for “autonomous” European actions on defense – meaning free of US influence.

At the moment, a dispute involving Turkey and Cyprus has limited discussions between NATO and EU officials to questions related to Bosnia. They have not come close to developing joint approaches to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, or Afghanistan, where the EU’s development assistance capabilities should logically be coordinated with NATO’s security mission. But France, Belgium and some elements in other EU governments, while prepared to accept NATO support for EU military operations, oppose putting the EU in a supporting role for a NATO operation.

The NATO leaders are expected to acknowledge the role that non-European democracies Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea are playing in Afghanistan and in counter terrorist efforts more generally. These countries might be offered a special form of partnership with NATO to acknowledge their role and to facilitate additional assistance. While it is good news that these countries are willing to support such operations, NATO’s move comes in part because the NATO countries have not been able to produce the military forces and resources required for success in Afghanistan. The global partnership deal therefore would tend to reflect NATO shortcomings, not strengths.

The gap between likely summit declarations and on-the-ground realities does not suggest that NATO has outlived its utility. The Bush administration has discovered the United States needs allies, and not just on an ad hoc basis. Many Europeans believe that European unity works best in partnership with the United States, even if most find cooperation with the Bush administration a domestic liability.

NATO’s military role has become an important part of the struggle against terrorism. But as NATO’s Secretary General recently acknowledged, the alliance does not have the mandate to handle some critically important parts of the Afghan situation, such as dealing with the poppy growing culture there. The transatlantic allies need more broadly based cooperation to get at the roots and consequences of the current terrorist threat.

In part, malaise in the alliance reflects flawed US leadership. But it also illustrates the tendency of European governments to put a higher priority on the appearance of European unity than on the commitments required to deal with contemporary security problems. Without effective US leadership, and with a less than fully helpful European partner, the glass that the Riga summit will proclaim half full looks more and more half empty.

August 21, 2005 Transatlantic Relations: The Leadership Challenge

…. a view from the Atlantic Community Initiative

The first years of the 21st century have witnessed the emergence of potentially disabling challenges to the values and institutions on which the Western democracies have relied for over 50 years. The new security environment, posing seemingly irreconcilable threats from non-state actors, has raised questions about how democratic nations can protect their much-treasured domestic freedoms while seeking to enlarge the

The attacks on Madrid and London demonstrated that the threat is to all “Western” societies, and to the democratic principles on which they are founded, not just the United States. But seeking to help democratize Middle Eastern societies, with the long-term goal of promoting stability and peace, has, in the short term, led to insecurity and limitations on civil liberties here at home.

Radical Islamic terrorism, with 9/11 as its flagship and suicide bombers as its legions, has so far not undermined the foundations of Western society. It has nonetheless demolished the (perhaps false) sense of security most of us wanted to embrace at the end of the Cold War.

Unfortunately, the ability of the democratic nations to respond to the new challenge has been hampered by a serious leadership deficit. The initial international reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States was one of shock, sympathy and common purpose. The decision by the United States and Great Britain to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and the shaky ground on which the decision was sold to domestic and international audiences, destroyed that sense of community. The original public rationale for the war has been subsequently undermined by a wealth of evidence from inside the US and UK administrations. For many in Europe and around the globe, this has called into question the wisdom of US leadership and raised doubts about the credibility of US intelligence.

The irony, and problem, of course, is that only the United States can lead the democratic nations toward an effective defense of the Western system. The European Union’s constitutional crisis does not mean the end of the EU, but it does raise serious obstacles to the EU becoming an alternative source of international leadership any time soon. The fact that US leadership was so seriously weakened by the Bush administration’s Iraq policies and the crisis of confidence in the EU’s future, taken together, lead to an obvious conclusion: only by working together can the United States and its allies effectively defend their democratic systems.

The good news is that, in the wake of the disheartening divisions over Iraq, quiet collaboration against the sources of terror has replaced open bickering among US and European leaders. The US-UK relationship has remained sound, in large part because of Tony Blair’s willingness to bet the UK’s foreign and security policy on cooperation with the United States.

Perhaps more importantly, the leading European critics of the war have continued to work intensively with the United States in responding to commonly-perceived threats. France hosts a top-secret multinational center where US and other counter terrorist officials share information and mount joint operations. France also is the largest contributor of forces to the NATO Response Force (NRF), now under construction. The European Union has taken over leadership of efforts to ensure stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina, freeing up US troops for other missions.

Germany, another critic of the Iraq war, makes a leading contribution to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. A new conservative-led coalition government in Berlin expected to emerge from the September elections will likely make a concerted effort to repair US-German relations.

For its part, the 2nd Bush administration has gone out of its way to try to mend fences with its allies. Public perceptions of the United States have a long way to go to return to pre-Iraq levels of approval. But practical work among governments is building a foundation for more effective future cooperation against terrorism, in dealing with Iran, Iraq, and coping with the future of the broader Middle East in general.

That said, there still is the widespread impression that Western cooperation is broken and needs to be fixed. And there is work to be done. The sense of community of interests and of shared values needs to be re-established. This is a bigger task than simply reaffirming the goal of NATO unity, or avoiding disastrous unilateralist European or American policies. It requires approaches that reflect and acknowledge the mutual dependence and shared values that still make the Euro-Atlantic community special.

Moreover, the increasingly complex international security environment calls for innovative approaches to western cooperation to produce a better synergy among the various political, economic, financial, and social as well as military aspects of the relationship that is essential to fight an effective war against the sources of terror.

If the September elections bring an end to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s chancellorship, as expected, one of the most important legacies he will leave behind is his early-2005 advocacy of a deepened transatlantic community. Schröder did not argue that NATO was dead or question the importance of US-European cooperation, as some of his critics complained. He did make the case for creating a more comprehensive cooperative transatlantic framework that could bring together all the political, economic and strategic resources of the allies to help defend their common interests and shared values against current and future threats.

The challenge to the new leaders in Germany and in the other Euro-Atlantic democracies will be to find the way to develop new cooperative structures without putting at risk the traditional values and institutions of transatlantic relations on which the new framework must be built.

May 11, 2004 U.S. Unilateralism and Transatlantic Relations

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

[This text is a summary of the chapter on U.S. Power and Influence in Europe to be published in June 2004 by the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy as part of a larger study entitled The Use of U.S. Power: Implications for U.S. Interests]

The alliance between the United States and Europe was at the heart of the Cold War strategy against the Soviet threat and remains a vitally important political, economic and security relationship in the post-Cold War era. However, the large capabilities and threat perception gaps between the United States in Europe have in recent years grown increasingly problematic for the alliance. Now, widespread European perceptions that the United States intends to have its way in international relations regardless of the views of allied countries or the standards of international law have seriously undermined the trust in and respect for the United States.

The troubled relationship between the United States and Europe has already directly affected US interests, producing strong European resistance to the US war against Iraq, limiting international involvement in the process of stabilizing and reconstructing post-war Iraq, undermining European governments that did support US policy in Iraq, raising credibility issues about US intelligence resources and political judgment, and weakening the ability of the United States to use its “soft power” to influence attitudes and policies in European countries.

A continued pattern of perceived or actual US unilateralism could produce significant costs for US foreign policy. The long-established democratic governments in Western Europe all carry forward a strong commitment to the values on which international cooperation, law and organization has been based since the Second World War. Many of these governments and peoples instinctively feel that the system is not owned just by the United States. They believe their democracies played a role in creating and sustaining the system. When the United States attempts to change underlying aspects of that system, and particularly when the US government attempts to do so unilaterally based on overwhelming US power, they are inclined to question and perhaps even oppose such US efforts.

If the United States continues to be seen by majorities in most European countries as an overbearing, hegemonic power, it will be increasingly difficult for European political parties to take positions that are openly warm and friendly toward the United States. Over time, the United States could find it increasingly difficult to line up support behind its policies.

Such a long-term shift in public and governmental attitudes could seriously undermine US “soft power” foreign policy resources. At a time when the military power of the United States remained superior to that of any other country or group of countries, US influence could decline, particularly in circumstances where it had to rely on the trust and cooperation of other governments. On the other hand, a return to more traditional US foreign policy behavior that includes a mix of multilateral cooperation and unilateral actions when necessary as well as a balanced blend of hard and soft power would undoubtedly begin to mitigate current European concerns about the US role in the world.

At a time when the American people feel under imminent threat from terrorist attacks, the President can say, as President Bush did in his January 2004 State of the Union address, that the United States does not need a “permission slip” from anybody to defend itself. This remains true, even in “normal” times. However, US public opinion surveys for over a decade have reflected the belief of a vast majority of Americans that the United States should help maintain international peace, but should share burdens and responsibilities with friends and allies. To respond to this American sentiment over the long term will require US policies and actions that attract support and involvement from key US allies in Europe and around the globe.


December 11, 2003 A Policy of Reward and Retribution:

Bush administration shoots itself and

transatlantic relations in the foot

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

Just when it appeared the Bush administration was attempting to broaden the base of international support for Iraqi stabilization and reconstruction, the administration unilaterally shot itself and US interests in the foot. George Bush was preparing to call the leaders of Germany, France and Russia to ask them to forgive old Iraqi debt when a directive from Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz – cleared by a White House-led committee – was posted on the Pentagon web site specifying that only coalition members would be eligible to serve as prime contractors for US-financed reconstruction projects in Iraq. This eliminated the three countries Bush was about to ask for Iraqi debt relief and many others.

The predictable reaction was immediate. German foreign minister Joschka Fischer said that the move “wouldn’t be in line with the spirit of looking to the future together and not into the past.” The directive undermined the diplomatic efforts of Secretary of State Powell and special envoy and former Secretary of State James Baker to build international support for Iraqi debt relief. Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov reportedly reacted by opposing any forgiveness of Iraq’s $120 billion debt, $8 billion of which is owed to Russia. Ivanov noted “Iraq is not a poor country.” Before President Bush explained that Canada would not be excluded, Canada’s pro-American prime minister designate, Paul Martin, apparently astounded by the US action, said “I find it difficult to fathom. There is a huge amount of suffering going on there, and I think it is the responsibility of every country to participate in developing it.”

The directive apparently would not prevent non-coalition partner companies from serving as sub-contractors and therefore would not necessarily exclude them from participating in and profiting from reconstruction funds. The political damage done, however, is substantial. Iraqi reconstruction will suffer. US international influence will be further diminished.

The administration’s approach raises a number of questions about the administration’s foreign policy management: Why is policy toward Iraq reconstruction and allied relations apparently so poorly coordinated – isn’t that what a national security advisor is for? How can Secretary of State Powell continue to serve an administration that constantly undercuts its own diplomatic efforts, weakens America’s alliances, and tarnishes America’s international image?

Even more important, why does the administration insist on further damaging relations with good friends and allies? Does it not understand how such decisions will be received, or does it not care? The latter seems more likely, and so administration officials consciously set out to punish those governments that were skeptical about the administration’s rationale for going to war. The President claims the approach was designed to reward coalition partners who were putting lives on the line for the cause. If asked, leaders of the key partners – Britain, Italy and Spain, for example – undoubtedly would have wisely recommended against being rewarded in a way that only exacerbated transatlantic divisions.

In recent weeks it looked as if the administration might have learned how much the United States needs international cooperation to achieve its national objectives. But it has once again demonstrated that its base instincts are more inspired by reward (for coalition partners) and retribution (for war opponents) than reconstruction of Iraq or rehabilitation of US-allied relations.


March 4, 2003 Transatlantic Relations the Day after Iraq

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

The transatlantic debate over Iraq has revealed a number of truths about US and European approaches to international relations. The fact that the United States is more, and European nations relatively less, willing to use force to deal with international security issues was observed by some in the 1980s. This fact has been rediscovered and even exaggerated by contemporary neo-conservative pundits.

The profound transatlantic differences over use of force against Iraq have exposed Bush administration cynicism that many Bush officials brought with them into their government jobs. Recent events undoubtedly have reinforced their view of Europeans as feckless friends, some of whom they no longer even regard as friends and allies. Many Members of Congress appear to be competing with popular comedians and commentators to see who can better bash European allies that disagree with US policy.

Before Iraq, there was a persistent but minority residue of anti-Americanism around Europe, ready to be energized by the right circumstances. The Bush administration with its unilateral behavior, "with us or against us" attitudes, and fundamentalist, unshakable beliefs in clear distinctions between right and wrong in the world has swollen the ranks of those in Europe who mistrust current US policy directions and question US motivations and values. Taken together, the excesses of the recent debate on top of the real policy issues have driven transatlantic relations to new lows.

The bottom line is that the United States and Europe still need each other. Our economies are so deeply intermingled that if less responsible members of Congress had their way and imposed bans on European products, American firms would suffer collateral damage.

Moreover, the international community needs this "crucial couple" to find some form of marital harmony. Working together, the United States and Europe have the wits and resources to deal with most international problems. In the absence of such cooperation - as recently demonstrated over Iraq - the international community simply doesn't function very well.

So how do we get out of the hole we have mutually dug for ourselves?

The United States, for its part, faces the challenge of using its power in ways that reflect U.S. values and draw on the American public's desire to cooperate with other countries while not inspiring opposition by being too domineering. In other words, the United States has to learn how to be a hegemon without acting like one. (This is not the first time this advice has appeared on these pages, but it remains necessary advice nonetheless!!)

If U.S. allies still believe that U.S. leadership is essential on many international issues, as they apparently do, then their challenge is to express their criticism of U.S. leadership style in terms that are appropriate for frank and honest discussions among friends, and in ways that will promote US-European cooperation, not make it more difficult.

The sense of "community" among the transatlantic nations has been the first victim of the crisis over Iraq. On the "day after Iraq," the United States and Europe will need to breathe new life into the sense of common destiny among the Atlantic community of nations. For those who share this belief, the time has come to start preparing a re-awakening of transatlantic good will and cooperation.

No matter how the Iraq issue is resolved, we should now begin preparation of a new Atlantic Community Treaty, reaffirming the broad area of U.S-European shared values and interests. The treaty would have both political and functional goals.

· Politically, such a major political act would shift the focus of US-European relations toward all that we have in common and away from the exclusive focus on what divides us.

· Functionally, the treaty among all members of NATO and the European Union would create a soft-power framework of cooperation to complement the hard power frameworks of NATO and the EU's Common European Security and Defense Policy.

This will not be easy; attitudes on both sides of the Atlantic today make it even more difficult. However, without a renewed sense of common destiny, the United States would be weaker and less predictable and Europe would be less confident and much less secure.


April 19, 2002 A Deepening Strategy for Transatlantic Relations

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

Much time and energy is being spent preparing the next stage of NATO enlargement, with the expectation that as many as seven countries may be invited to join the alliance when allied leaders meet in Prague this November. The continued process of enlargement, in parallel with strengthening NATO-Russia ties, is good for European stability. However, the allies desperately need to deepen their relationship as well as widen the membership to deal with the current crisis in the alliance.

NATO has seen and survived many crises in its history. At the end of the Cold War, the transatlantic allies decided the alliance remained relevant to contemporary challenges, and agreed to adapt the alliance to meet those challenges.

However, after a decade of post-Cold War experience, the allies find themselves in a crisis of capabilities and confidence. The European allies, in spite of commitments made in the context of NATO's 1999 Defense Capabilities Initiative and the European Union's defense "headline goals," have fallen far behind the United States ability to field military forces on a modern battlefield.

Throughout the Cold War, there was a persistent gap between US and European capabilities. To a certain extent, a European defense dependence culture has taken hold, while a unilateralist impulse comes to the fore in Washington.

Some on both sides of the Atlantic say let's make a virtue out of necessity, and divide burdens in the alliance in a way that takes advantage of US and European strengths. In such a formula, put simply, the United States would take care of the "warfighting" while Europe provided peacekeeping forces and finances for reconstruction and development. However, NATO unity has always been predicated on sharing risks and responsibilities. Dividing those burdens to deal with future security problems would only intensify European and American differences about how to interpret international security problems and which instruments to use to deal with them - the United States always quicker to resort to the use of force, Europe always reluctant to do so.

The unchallenged US status as the only true global superpower can have positive or negative consequences internationally, depending on how the United States uses its position. The trouble for transatlantic relations comes when the United States, which can't help the fact that it is a hegemonic power, also acts like one. This has been the criticism of the George W. Bush administration, which has appeared not to wish to be bound by international agreements it finds disagreeable or by allies and alliances when if find them inconvenient. This behavior has created the "confidence" side of the current crisis, raising the question of whether or not the United States has faith in the transatlantic alliance.

In the past, when the transatlantic relationship faced a crisis, the allies acted to overcome the difficulties by strengthening their ties. Today, the allies face the same choice: act to strengthen the Atlantic Community or risk its growing irrelevance.

The United States and Europe continue to need each other. In spite of their differences, they share much more with each other than with any other country or group of countries in the world. When the United States and Europe cooperate - as they must to have an effective war against terrorism, for example - things get done. When they do not cooperate, international cooperation more generally grinds to a halt.

The transatlantic allies therefore need a deepening strategy to move from crisis to a new level of cooperation. Many elements of the strategy are already written down, and simply need to be implemented. The European allies must implement the defense goals represented by their NATO and European Union commitments. The EU members should continue to work toward their goal of developing a 60,000 troop expeditionary force capable of autonomous operation, but should put a higher priority on developing a smaller and more capable set of air, naval and ground forces, equipped and trained to operate on a modern battlefield with the United States. An American analyst, Hans Binnendijk, has argued that a "spearhead force" of a few brigades and air squadrons with modern sensors, secure data links, all-weather capabilities and improved logistics would help Europe "plug into" future US military operations.

In addition, NATO should create a counter-terrorism combined joint task force command. Such a command should bring together the military services of allied countries, along with required civilian expertise and officials, to provide a focus for NATO's support of future counter-terrorist operations.

In Prague, the allies should strengthen their commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty's Article 4, which says that they will "consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened." The commitment to deal with threats to their security does not impose geographic limits on the source of such threats or on the area of operations against them.

For its part, the United States has to be more sensitive to its need for allies and for the transatlantic alliance, even if it appears that any one military operation does not require their direct involvement. US defense planning has recently paid little attention to the requirements for coalition operations. The United States should, at a minimum, make a "coalition operations pledge" that it will ask "how will this affect our ability to operate in coalitions with our allies?" in all future decisions about US strategy, doctrine and weapons systems development.

And, even thought the United States will retain many characteristics of a hegemon in international relations, it must make an effort not to act like one.

Finally, it is critically important that the United States and Europe renew their commitment to the Atlantic Community as well as broaden the framework for their cooperation. They can do this by appointing a new "wise men's" committee to prepare a new Atlantic Community Treaty. The treaty should be based on the North Atlantic Treaty's statement of common values and objectives, but then expand transatlantic cooperation to include political, economic and other areas that go beyond NATO's mandate. Such a new Atlantic Community would embrace NATO and US-EU cooperation, not replace them.

Such a deepening strategy would not resolve all issues between the United States and Europe, but it would reaffirm their commitment to work through issues and challenges with a renewed sense of common purpose. With a deepening and widening strategy, the Atlantic Community nations could face the future with confidence in the continued vitality of transatlantic cooperation.


March 26, 2002 Don’t Write Off the Allies

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

(adapted from an “op ed” by Robert P. Grant and Stanley R. Sloan in the March 25-31 Defense News)

The “hurrahs” had barely faded from NATO’s invocation of Article 5 after the September 11 terrorist attacks when the latest crisis in the alliance began. In spite of the unprecedented step by the allies, the United States largely ignored the alliance and initially brushed aside most offers of assistance, conducting its own campaign against the al Qaeda terrorist organization and their Taliban government hosts in Afghanistan.

That the European allies could be of little help in the tightly focused, high tech campaign far from Europe’s borders was of no doubt. European military deficiencies clearly warranted the United States’ running the early stages of the operation with the involvement of British special forces and a modicum of support from other allies. The “lessons” of the Afghanistan campaign, the dramatic increases planned for the US defense budget, and the weak state of European defense spending, have all combined to promote a view in Washington that European participation in warfighting operations alongside the United States is both unnecessary and undesirable. The new paradigm of the US fights, the UN feeds, and the EU funds peacekeeping and reconstruction has thus gained many US adherents.

Confirming such tendencies in policy, however, would certainly lead the United States and its allies in the wrong directions, exacerbating the current “gaps” in the alliance and encouraging the tendency toward divergent US and European views on international security challenges and especially on preferred responses. Dividing “warfighting and “peacekeeping” roles between the United States and Europe could ensure NATO’s demise as a place where the United States and Europe coordinate military efforts. This may be the eventual outcome of current trends. However, it is premature for the United States to give up on its allies, and for the allies to give up on efforts to develop the capabilities to fight alongside the United States in future conflicts.

The indisputable view that the Europeans are not doing enough on defense has been unfairly transformed into a belief that they are not doing anything to improve defense capabilities. A non-governmental four nation (France, Great Britain, Germany and the US) project organized by US-CREST, a transatlantic research institute based in Arlington, Virginia, is currently studying how the development of a common European Security and Defense Policy may affect the conduct of transatlantic coalition operations over the next 15 years. The results so far suggest that, while Europe could use much more investment in defense, the major European military establishments are aiming to be able to conduct future operations on the kind of high tech battlefield that currently is the exclusive US domain. Scheduled improvements in communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, all weather precision weaponry, strategic mobility, and force projection over the next 15 years, if carried out, should produce European forces that are more capable of conducting operations in a great variety of battlefield conditions in coalition with the United States and, to a lesser extent, on their own if necessary.

US dismissal of the goal of conducting warfighting operations in coalition with its closest allies would have the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy, convincing European politicians that it is not worth the effort to devote resources to building modern military capabilities. If the United States wants to have allies with whom to share the military and political burdens of future military operations, it must make a conscious decision to promote that objective, not appear to be discouraging it. It is therefore notable that forces from several NATO countries, including some 1700 British Royal Marines, have joined the United States in the current and dangerous phase of the war against the residual al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

Defense circles in the major European nations understand the real need to maintain significant warfighting capabilities, and the ability to operate as effectively as possible with the United States in any coalition military intervention. On the other hand, many European politicians and diplomats would be perfectly happy to see Europe limited to humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, and use it as justification for further cutting defense budgets.

US policy will play an important role in helping decide this debate. To most the European debate in the right direction, the Bush Administration needs to make it clear that it continues to value having militarily capable allies, and to back that up with concrete decisions such as the technology transfer reforms NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson has been urging. Such a choice could help tip the balance in favor of the development of 21st century combat capabilities on the part of the major European militaries.


December 4, 2001 Russia and NATO: An Evolutionary Development

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

NATO and Russia have in recent weeks moved toward a new, more cooperative relationship. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson have proposed creation of a new NATO-Russia body in which decisions would actually be taken. Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently is considering these suggestions favorably. Such a step would represent a major change in Russia’s relationship with NATO, but must be seen in perspective to understand its limits as well as its potential.

The military and ideological threat posed by the Soviet Union, with Russia at its core, along with European concerns about a resurgent Germany, provided the original stimulus for the 1949 transatlantic bargain. These two factors also provided motivation for the steps taken in the 1940s and 1950s to initiate the process of European unification. Decades of liberal German democracy, loyalty to the Western alliance, and the process of European integration dissipated the German “threat.” When the Soviet Union imploded at the end of the Cold War, the United States and its European allies discovered that even though this founding threat was also disappearing, the cooperation that had developed over the years was not only based on solid common values and interests, but also had continuing utility in a post-Soviet world.

Nevertheless, Russia remained a major factor in allied calculations. In spite of Russia’s devastated economy and military forces that were incapable of putting down rebellion in the former Soviet Republic of Chechnya, Russia remained a world-class nuclear power and a huge variable in Europe’s future. The development of a liberal democratic system in Russia would constitute a dramatic gain for international peace and stability. An autocratic, deprived and dissatisfied Russia would constitute a major source of instability for the indefinite future. As a consequence, the transatlantic allies moved carefully throughout the 1990s trying to assess how steps that they were taking to adapt their alliance would affect and be affected by Russia.

As the EU and NATO began their separate processes of outreach to the new democracies emerging in Eastern and Central Europe and figuring how to respond to their long-repressed desires for membership in Western institutions, neither NATO nor the EU thought that Russia would qualify for membership in either organization for as far out as the eye could see. It was clear, however, that Russia, even as weak as it was, remained a major player in European security.

NATO in particular reached out to Russia as it moved toward including the Soviet Union’s former Central and East European “allies” in the Western security system. Russia was offered participation in NATO’s partnership program and then, in the context of the first round of NATO enlargement, was given a special relationship to the alliance with negotiation of “The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russia Federation,” establishing a “Permanent Joint Council” – NATO nations plus Russia – as a framework for continuing consultations.

Russia’s acceptance of the PJC was always grudging. Russian leaders wanted something more – something that would appropriately acknowledge Russia’s importance in European security. The NATO countries, on the other hand, did not want to give Russia a direct say in NATO deliberations and certainly not a veto over NATO actions – a concern directly expressed during the US debate on the first round of NATO enlargement.

However, under President Putin, an autocratic leader with pragmatic foreign policy inclinations, Russia and NATO have moved toward a more meaningful relationship. The most important stimulus was provided by the September 11 terrorist attacks and Putin’s offer of assistance in the US-declared war against terrorism. Putin’s position clearly helped strengthen his relationship with President Bush, and facilitated work toward agreements on dramatic cuts in strategic nuclear weapons arsenals and possible agreements on missile defenses. Putin also hinted at new Russian perspectives on its relationship to NATO and Russia’s attitude toward NATO enlargement.

Once again, Tony Blair, who had played such an important role in getting the European Union’s Common European Security and Defense Policy on the tracks, started the ball rolling for a new Russia-NATO initiative by proposing creation of a new forum for Russia-NATO cooperation. Prime Minister Blair, in a letter to NATO Secretary General George Robertson, suggested creation of a “Russia/North Atlantic Council” which would take decisions by consensus on certain issues affecting both NATO and Russia, for example, terrorism, arms proliferation and peacekeeping. According to press reports, Blair hoped that post 9/11 events could lead to a new world order, ending old enmities and building new bridges.

Apparently with the blessing of the Bush administration, Secretary General Robertson put the idea forward during an official visit to Moscow. Headlines blared that “Russia Could Get Veto Power in New NATO.” Russian conservatives worried that Putin was about to give away the store. American conservatives were concerned that the move might do in NATO. Polish observers fretted that this might be the first step toward Russian membership in NATO. French commentators wondered if events were moving too fast for rational consideration of their consequences.

In reality, it seems likely that the road will lead to an evolutionary, appropriate development in the Russia-NATO relationship. The Permanent Joint Council will likely be replaced by a new “Russia-North Atlantic Council.” The new council will meet more regularly, and will actually make decisions on some subjects. However, the regular agenda of the North Atlantic Council will not be shifted to the new framework. The NAC will decide when issues should be submitted to decision by the R-NAC (as NATO acronym-makers seem likely to dub the new council) and when they should be kept within usual NATO decisionmaking channels. If the R-NAC becomes deadlocked on an issue because of Russian disagreement, this would not bloc the NATO members from acting in the NAC without Russian agreement or participation. Russia will not have a “veto” over NATO decisions, only over joint Russia-NATO decisions, which is not unreasonable.

The advent of a more meaningful, action-oriented NATO-Russia relationship could be a very positive development for European security. It will not block NATO decisions on enlargement of the alliance. In fact, just as creation of the Permanent Joint Council with Russia “accompanied” the first round of NATO enlargement, establishment of the new Russia-North Atlantic Council will likely parallel NATO’s decisions on the next round of NATO enlargement, which now could begin a stream of membership negotiations, initially with Slovenia and Slovakia and then the three Baltic states, with Romania and Bulgaria not far behind.

Creating a new Russia-NATO forum will not presage imminent Russian membership in the alliance. Russia is a long way from meeting the guidelines for membership laid out in NATO’s 1995 Study on Enlargement. Russia falls far short particularly in terms of the internal development of liberal democratic institutions, including a free press, and a Western-style human rights regime. If Russia some day meets these guidelines, there truly will be a “new world order” and Russia should then be considered a legitimate candidate for membership. Until then, there should remain a clear distinction between what issues are decided with members of the alliance and which are decided with this very important Russian partner.


November 3, 2001 Terrorism Must Not Stop NATO Enlargement

By Stanley Sloan and Heiko Borchert

(Stanley Sloan is Director of the Atlantic Community Initiative and a Visiting Scholar at Middlebury College. Heiko Borchert heads a political and business consultancy in Lucerne, Switzerland.)

Some weeks after the terrible terrorist attacks on American soil and on two of the world's most powerful symbols of economic and military power, the world is still trying to adjust to these traumatic events and their consequences. The Bush administration, despite internal differences about the ultimate aims of its response, has launched a broadly based diplomatic and military campaign aimed at fighting the terrorists and countries that harbor them

How will the war against terrorism affect the pursuit of NATO enlargement? Even before the September 11 events political interest in and support for NATO's second enlargement round could not be compared to that for the first round, which brought the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland into the alliance. President Bush has said that his administration is a strong supporter of NATO enlargement. But the administration has no eager European partner on this issue. Germany, the key European architect of the first round, has less of a strategic stake in the next stages and is reluctant to upset Moscow.

Now, the terrorist attacks on the United States and their aftermath could create additional obstacles. The demanding and necessary campaign against terror will pull resources and political attention away from other issues, including NATO enlargement.

This coincides with a domestic European agenda that is not very favorable to NATO's enlargement process. European Union governments are increasingly preoccupied by the scheduled launch of the EU’s common currency on January 1, 2002. Important European countries such as France and Germany are about to go through presidential and governmental elections, respectively.

US relations with Moscow also could play an important role. Russian officials have declared that the country would not provide military help for Bush's anti-terror coalition, but Moscow seems prepared to provide at least political and intelligence support. Some experts have argued that Russia might want to request favors in return for its support against terrorism. Delaying or abandoning plans to bring the Baltic states into NATO could be such a favor. Neither the United States nor European governments should be tempted by this option.

Launched in the early 1990s, NATO enlargement aims at stabilizing Europe and at furthering the spread of democracy in former Warsaw Pact countries. Together with the EU's admission of new members, expansion of Euro-Atlantic institutions has been a key part of the strategy aimed at extending the benefits of democracy, economic prosperity, and international multilateral cooperation to a region cut off from such opportunities for over 50 years. More than ten years after the fall of the iron curtain, the basic rational for this strategy has not changed.

How, then, should the allies proceed? Ten countries currently seek membership in NATO. Judged by the standards set in NATO's 1995 Study on Enlargement, some of these countries could be considered close to qualifying for an invitation. They include Slovenia, Slovakia and the Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Two candidates, Romania and Bulgaria, could be strategic assets to the alliance and presumably will get invitations further down the road. The other candidates, Albania, Macedonia and Croatia are even less prepared to begin formal negotiations.

The "objective" criteria of the NATO Study on Enlargement clearly should serve as the first hurdle. Only those countries that have made significant progress in developing their democratic institutions, establishing free market economic systems, and moving their military systems toward NATO standards should be on the next list of invitations.

Second, although there should be no formal link between NATO and European Union enlargement, the fact is that every EU member is effectively part of the Western security system that is organized around NATO. It is no coincidence that countries that are closest to EU membership are either NATO members already (the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) or are strong candidates for NATO membership (like Slovenia, Slovakia, and the Baltic states). In some European capitals this reasoning has given rise to the idea of delaying the Baltic states' accession to NATO in favor of a quick admission to the EU coupled with an implicit defense guarantee. However, as the EU is not yet able to issue convincing defense guarantees, this approach is not a compelling alternative to moving both enlargement processes ahead.

Third, even though Russia should not be accorded a say over which country can or cannot join NATO, it is in the interest of NATO members to try to involve Moscow constructively in the campaign against terrorism and to strengthen links between Russia and NATO. NATO should offer to open discussions with Moscow about the technical issues associated with Baltic membership in the alliance, like how to deal with the Kaliningrad enclave, Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania that would be surrounded by NATO (and EU) territory in the future. The allies should also make clear that NATO membership for Russia is not excluded, and that, if Russia were interested, it would be judged on terms similar to those applying to other candidate states.

Finally, the NATO allies in Prague next year should declare that all 10 candidates can expect to receive invitations to begin formal negotiations with the alliance as they meet the standards set in the NATO Study on Enlargement. As a recent NATO Parliamentary Assembly report has suggested, the enlargement process should be converted from one of "waves" to a "stream" of invitations. To buy some time to work through the Baltic issues, Slovenia and Slovakia should be invited to begin formal negotiations in 2003 with the Baltic states beginning such talks in 2004.

Does such an approach have a chance of moving enlargement ahead? The answer to this question begins in Washington and ends in Europe. Only if the Bush administration decides to move enlargement ahead, in spite of all obstacles, is there any chance of invitations being issued in Prague. However, only if the European allies are convinced of the wisdom of continued enlargement will the Bush administration be able to get the full consensus required for even one formal invitation. After the first hour of fine political rhetoric, Europeans must deliver. Extending NATO to the East will in the long run strengthen the alliance's European pillar as well as the transatlantic link. A commitment in Prague is thus in Europe's interest and should receive concrete backing.


October 12, 2001 Events Illustrate Need for New Atlantic Community

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

In early 1995, a number of leading European officials argued that NATO remained the necessary, but not sufficient, organizing framework for the Atlantic Community. They called for a more broadly based transatlantic community that would bring together the many strands of common political, cultural, economic, and security interests between North America and Western Europe. The proposals built on themes that had been around since the transatlantic alliance was founded. From the late 1940s through the 1970s, a number of proponents urged creation of an "Atlantic Union" and the US Congress considered a variety of resolutions aimed at stimulating this process. [See "European Proposals for a New Atlantic Community" for more details.]

Today, in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States, these ideas appear even more appropriate and timely. The attacks have highlighted the fact that allies on both sides of the Atlantic still need NATO as an essential framework for security cooperation. NATO's continued relevance has been made clear by the invocation of Article 5, the Washington Treaty's mutual defense provision, and by its operational implications, including NATO’s commitment to help patrol US air space with alliance AWACS (airborne warning and control system) aircraft.

However, it is also evident that transatlantic cooperation to respond to and deal with the terrorist threat, did not begin and will not end with military missions. Defense of the Atlantic Community nations from the threat of terrorist attacks requires coordinated actions across the broad spectrum of transatlantic relations. Creation of a "new Atlantic Community," like that proposed in 1995, could facilitate such cooperation. It would embrace, not replace, NATO. It would not require sacrifice of national sovereignty or threaten the process of integration in the European Union.

A "new Atlantic Community” would reflect the reality that the transatlantic nations share more than a commitment to come to the defense of an ally under attack - they share a common political, economic and security destiny. That common future needs to be supported by an institutional framework that is sufficiently broad to support coordinated responses to terrorist and other challenges that the Euro-Atlantic democracies will face in the years ahead. [See the "draft treaty" for one possible way of creating such a broader institutional framework.]


September 16, 2001 NATO’s Response to Terror

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

NATO passed its first test of the 21st century, pledging allied support to the United States under the Treaty of Washington following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The allies agreed, barely 24 hours after the attacks, that if the acts were the responsibility of a foreign source, Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty could be invoked by the United States, thereby calling on all NATO members to treat the attack as an attack on themselves, and to decide what to do in response.

NATO’s collective defense commitment in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty was designed in 1949 largely to deter the Soviet Union from attacking Western Europe. Throughout the Cold War, it was in most respects a US commitment to defend Europe, including the possible use of nuclear weapons, in the case of such an attack. The provision was never invoked, and the end of the Cold War seemed to make it less likely that it would become a factor in the post-Cold War era. However, in the discussions of NATO’s strategy in the 1990s, wise US officials and experts pointed out that the collective defense provision could come into play as a result of new challenges, including terrorist attacks. Who could have expected that the first instance would be a horrendous and brutal attack on thousands of innocent US citizens?

As the Bush administration considers its response, a high priority has been placed on developing an international coalition, not only for the political support it will yield but also for the potential military assistance of other nations. Our NATO allies are the most militarily capable of all our allies, and might be expected to contribute not just base access but also some military forces, if needed.

Will the allies be able to pass the next test as easily as they passed the first? Probably not. Much will depend on what the Bush administration asks them to do. As was demonstrated in the air war against Serbia in 1999, the Europeans cannot currently match the high-end military capabilities that the United States deploys, particularly in air power. However, if counter-terrorist operations include assaults on terrorist enclaves in difficult terrain, some of the NATO allies – particularly Britain and France – may indeed have select forces that could and should go into combat alongside US units.

During the NATO strategy debates leading up to the agreement on NATO’s strategic concept of 1999, the European allies resisted further expansion of NATO’s possible missions. They had already accepted a broad interpretation of NATO’s mandate to mount military operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. The challenges in the Balkans were, after all, in Europe and a threat to European stability. But allies were reluctant to give carte blanche approval for so-called “out of area” operations at great distance from Europe’s shores, as any military action in response to the terrorist attacks undoubtedly will be.

It seems clear that the Bush administration and the allies will want to ensure that the response to the terrorist attacks strengthens America’s most important alliance instead of undermining it. As a start, the administration should muster the best evidence and intelligence it can about the sources of support for the terrorist attacks. This part of the process already offers the allies an opportunity to contribute. No country, particularly the United States, will want to reveal sensitive sources and methods by which individual pieces of intelligence are obtained. However, in this case all coalition countries will have to be as open as possible about the information they develop and exchange with the others. The United States needs to set the example to encourage other countries to make their best efforts both in collection and sharing of intelligence information about the terrorists.

Beyond the intelligence aspect, the United States should be careful to ask allies to do only things that they are capable of doing. It may, in fact, not be wise to make the actual military operations against the terrorists a NATO-commanded operation. It might be best to use an ad hoc coalition, hopefully including key NATO countries, to mount the actual operations. However, the background and support for the military action should be backed by a formal NATO operation. The United States should ask that a special NATO task force be created to help organize and support future counter-terrorist military operations.

In the best case, President Bush will follow his father’s Gulf War example and build a strong enough case against the culprits to get a UN Security Council Resolution that would support military action against the terrorists. The question is how far Russia and China will be willing to go in authorizing military action. Both governments have taken strong stands against terrorism and denounced the attacks, but they will not want to give the US a free hand for future military operations

A UN resolution would clearly facilitate the participation of a wide range of nations in the operations. It would liberate all NATO countries from reticence some might otherwise have about an operation without an international mandate. They already have the Washington Treaty’s self-defense provision, legitimized in the UN Charter, as a legal foundation. But a UN resolution would be better.

Finally, the NATO allies must avoid at all cost the perception that they do not support the United States in responding to the terrorist threat. As detailed plans for military operations develop, support for the United States will come with prices tags attached for the NATO countries, including possible domestic opposition, increased vulnerability to terrorist strikes, and combat casualties of their own. The allies, if appropriately involved in the decisionmaking process, must be willing to pay the price. Failure to do so could mean the effective end of the transatlantic alliance in a fashion that would undermine both US and European security for decades to come.


June 11, 2001 NATO Enlargement

…. a view from The Atlantic Community Initiative

Continuing the parallel but independent processes of NATO and EU enlargement is in the best interest of the Atlantic Community nations. It is in the nature of the EU process to move ahead at a slow but deliberate pace. Meanwhile, the NATO process is at a critical crossroads. There is no groundswell of official or unofficial support for the next round among European NATO members. It falls to the Administration of George W. Bush in the United States to prepare the way for the next phase.

Two countries, Slovenia and Slovakia, are widely accepted to be qualified (according to the guidelines in the Study on NATO Enlargement ) to be issued an invitation when the NATO summit is held in Prague, The Czech Republic, next year. If they stay on track, they should be invited.

The tough issue comes next: should one (Lithuania) or all three (Lithuania plus Latvia and Estonia) of the Baltic states be invited as well? According to NATO standards, Lithuania may be best prepared for an invitation, but the others are not far behind. If it is decided to confront the question next year, should NATO begin the process of inviting Baltic states by inviting only Lithuania and deal with Moscow’s reaction incrementally, or all at once, by inviting all three.

The issue of 2, 3 or 5 awaits decisions by the Bush Administration this autumn. The conservative approach would be to defer Baltic invitations until the next round. However, a strong case can be made for getting it over with, and inviting all three Baltic states to join at the Prague summit.