NATO Summit Reaction, Day 2

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On the second day of the NATO Summit in Lisbon, Allied leaders approved the Lisbon Declaration, providing an action plan to implement the Strategic Concept in the months ahead and agreed to reconvene in the United States in 2012. They also met with President Karzai and NATO’s partners in Afghanistan to endorse a strategy to transition responsibility for security to Afghan authorities by the end of 2014. At the NATO-Russia Council summit, President Medvedev agreed to intensify Russia’s support for ISAF and to study further cooperation with the Alliance on missile defense.

On Day II, Atlantic Council team members continue to offer analysis of the summit outcomes on our online debate.  Key highlights follow:

General Brent Scowcroft, Chairman, International Advisory Board, Atlantic Council, and former National Security Advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush:

  • “The purpose of the new Strategic Concept is to answer the fundamental question: ‘why does NATO exist?’ By agreeing at 28 nations that the Alliance has three tasks – collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security – the Strategic Concept has answered the question and made clear NATO’s determination to be much more than a Cold War relic. The key test for NATO now, for the Secretary General, the nations, and NATO’s military leaders, is whether they will provide the resources, forces, equipment and training the Concept makes clear are required to carry out the three tasks.”

Fred Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council:

  • “Today, the nations in the fight in Afghanistan have adopted a sound transition strategy. Getting that strategy right depends on NATO’s Afghan partners holding up their end of the bargain. President Karzai’s decision to charge Ashraf Ghani with managing this transition ensures a competent, credible interlocutor on the Afghan side and dramatically improves the odds for success.”

Franklin C. Miller, Board Director, Atlantic Council; Principal, Scowcroft Group; and former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control:

  • “The Alliance’s new Strategic Concept has dealt with the issues of nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control and missile defense in a sound and judicious manner which will provide continued security for all of NATO’s member nations.” 
  • “By calling for the creation of ‘conditions for further [nuclear] reductions in the future,’ but at the same time advocating increased transparency into Russia’s nuclear weapons and drawing public attention to the disproportionately sized Russian short-range nuclear arsenal, the Concept endorses negotiations designed to enhance security and stability in Europe.” 
  • “Altogether, the Concept represents a significant achievement for the Alliance and for its members.”

Damon Wilson, Vice President and Director, International Security Program, Atlantic Council; and former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs:

  • “Yesterday, NATO leaders adopted a Strategic Concept setting out a vision for the Alliance in the coming decade. Today, the leaders agreed a set of initiatives that ensures NATO leaves Lisbon not just with a vision, but with an action plan for modernization.” 
  • “The Lisbon Summit may represent the turnaround on Afghanistan. Before Lisbon, NATO’s Afghan strategy was dogged by questions of resolve, credibility and effectiveness as allies contemplated early withdrawals and Afghans doubted the long-term nature of our commitment. At Lisbon, Allied leaders, recognizing the surge is breaking the Taliban’s momentum, endorsed a long-term partnership that commits the Alliance to Afghanistan well beyond the expected end of combat in 2014.” 
  • “Secretary General Rasmussen’s unwavering message to those in Afghanistan and the region is that we’re in this to succeed. President Obama’s message that as Afghans stand up, they will not stand alone did much to allay concerns in Washington and the region about July 2011.”

Kurt Volker, Senior Advisor, Atlantic Council; Managing Director at the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations; and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO:

  • “The NATO Summit did all the right things: outline a diverse and ambitious role for NATO in a complex world; renew and recalibrate NATO’s role in Afghanistan; relaunch the NATO-Russia Council; and even move the ball forward on missile defense. To someone who has worked on these issues for over two decades, it is hard to think of anything that should have been done differently.”
  • “As long as the real world doesn’t intrude, this is a perfectly good set up for NATO and the future. But that’s always the problem: the real world does intrude. And in 2010, the gaps between the vision held by transatlantic security experts, and the beliefs and actions of Allied governments and publics is as wide as it has ever been. Until we confront the real world, the best-laid policies will remain just that.”

Shuja Nawaz, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council:

  • “A new phase in the Afghan war is in the offing. Recognition of the need for Afghans to take ownership of the war and to gradually take the lead in the fighting is critical to changing the face of the conflict. Success needs to be defined in Afghan terms by Afghans, not by how the Coalition views the war.”

Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy:

  • “The Alliance effort to demonstrate resolve on Afghanistan was undercut by its contradictory messages. Alliance leaders, particularly President Obama and the Secretary General, tried to dilute the arbitrarily imposed deadline of June 2011 by emphasizing a new date for success, 2014.” 
  • “This message of long-term resolve is, however, undercut by the Administration’s continued emphasis on initiating withdrawals from Afghanistan in the middle of next year. That is a mixed message at best and people, particularly the Afghans on both sides of the war, will focus most on the latter.”

Harlan Ullman, Senior Advisor, Atlantic Council:

  • “Friends and allies played the biggest test to the NATO summit in the form of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.S. Senate.”
  • “Agreement on missile defense and a timetable to turn security responsibilities to Afghan forces by the end of 2014 were significant achievements. Yet Karzai’’s harsh critique of the West last week sounded an alarm. Fortunately, Karzai seemed to have stayed on the reservation at the summit. But will he stay there? That is the question on which the future of NATO in Afghanistan rests in large measure.”
  • “If the Senate delays or rejects the START treaty, this is not quite as serious as the failure of the Versailles Treaty ending World War I to be approved and ratified. Still, it is a chance that the United States and NATO should not take.”
  • “The summit advanced the ball. It did not score the winning touchdown and one hopes the field goal it kicked can be enough to assure victory for the alliance in the days and months ahead.”

Check out our collection of writings and materials related to the Lisbon Summit, and our survey of NATO’s defense budgets and cuts across the Alliance. 

Damon Wilson is Vice President and Director of the International Security Program at the Atlantic Council.

This article is part of a New Atlanticist discussion – The 2010 Lisbon Summit: A New Atlanticist Forum – on the Summit’s expectations, areas of focus, and potential outcomes.

Related Experts: Harlan Ullman

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