From Sarwar Kashmeri, the New Atlanticist: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen would like to see NATO become a hub for an anti-missile shield with Russia that protects everyone from Vladivostok to Vancouver. Yet it would seem absurd to think that an alliance that is unable to find a few hundred trainers for Afghanistan will muster the political will and the money to field an anti-missile shield that covers half the planet.
So is there a realistic scenario to keep NATO relevant for the 21st century? After speaking to some 40 military and government leaders in the U.S and Europe, I see the salvation for NATO’s woes as bridging the alliance with the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy. In its 10 years of existence, the CSDP has already been used to deploy 27 missions from Africa to Asia.
Most of these were small civilian missions, but there were also military mission of some consequence. In 2008, 11,000 troops were mobilised for the EU’s mission to land-locked Chad in Africa and 27 countries and Russia deployed under integrated CSDP command to protect 400,000 refugees in Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic. The military action ranged over an area more than twice the size of France. …
NATO and CSDP are two organisations with increasingly overlapping objectives, and they also share growing financial constraints. The military organisation of NATO and the far-sighted design of CSDP offer a window of opportunity for leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to again synchronise the strategic visions of Europe and America and to revitalise the transatlantic security relationship. A revitalized security relationship would recharge the wider transatlantic alliance, which is, in the end, the real prize.
It is time for the United States, Canada and the European Union to begin a project, perhaps at the level of the U.S. Secretary of State, the Canadian Foreign Minister and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to determine how to bridge NATO and CSDP. It is the objective that should be at the top of the agenda at the Heads of State NATO meeting in Lisbon this coming November It would, when all is said and done, be a great pity to let NATO fade away because we might then have to re-invent it someday. And that will not be easy.
Sarwar Kashmeri is a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s International Security Program. He is the author of the forthcoming NATO 2.0: Reboot or Delete. This piece appears in Europe’s World.