The Lisbon Summit: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Good:  The new Strategic Concept is a good document. It uses firm language to reassert the centrality of NATO’s Article 5 security commitment, affirm the Alliance’s role in guarding against today’s wide array of multi-dimensional threats, and formalize NATO’s roles in crisis management and prevention.

Good:  Aside from Missile Defense, the summit’s heavy emphasis on developing and sustaining Allied defense capabilities in an era of fiscal austerity went under-reported. No summit since the 2002 Prague summit initiated as comprehensive a capabilities agenda. Defense ministers were tasked to address cyber warfare, missile defense and the integration of military and non-military capacities.  The Lisbon Critical Capabilities Commitment, a set of ten priorities that include command and control, strategic lift, counter-IED and other key capability needs, was launched. NATO leaders tasked their defense ministers to work on “multi-national approaches and other innovative ways of cost-effective capability development.”

The Bad:  For the second summit in a row, NATO failed to give Georgia and Ukraine a clear roadmap for eventual integration.  NATO’s Open Door language was reasserted, but only in a perfunctory manner.  This undercuts those in these countries who want their nations to join the Alliance as well as those in Russia who seek a more normal relationship with their neighbors, rather than a sphere of influence.

The Ugly:  NATO-Russia Relations:  President Medvedev came and was recognized. Resumption of missile defense cooperation was announced. Deeper cooperation was envisioned. Perfunctory calls were mumbled for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgian territory.  It is unwise for the Alliance to have confirmed there are no consequences for the Kremlin’s continued violation of Georgia’s sovereignty.

Ian J. Brzezinski, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and leads the Brzezinski Group, a consulting firm.

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