Save NATO: Merge it with CSDP
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General Brent Scowcroft, dean of the American foreign policy establishment, has proposed a deceptively simple test to determine whether NATO is still relevant. His test is a question: “What is NATO for?”
There is as yet no acceptable answer to this question.
Set up in 1949 to defend against the threat of Soviet aggression, NATO today is increasingly dysfunctional, still searching for a new role two decades after the end of the Cold War. As NATO‟s star has dimmed, the European Union‟s military arm, its common security and defense policy, or CSDP, has become increasingly more cohesive and capable. It is high time to bridge NATO and CSDP and to turn over primary responsibility for defending Europe to the Europeans. That goal ought to top the agenda when NATO leaders gather in Lisbon, November 19-20, 2010 to adopt the Alliance‟s New Strategic Concept – its mission statement for the next decade.
Cohesion used to be NATO's hallmark, but there is little of it left. The Eastern and Central European members still consider Russia to be their main threat, while the Western Europeans no longer do. NATO believed it had found its new calling by adopting an "out of area" strategy – transforming itself to be a world-cop – but this dream is dying a slow death in the mountains of Afghanistan, where many European nations avoid the main battles, and are already packing up to go home. And, in spite of the fact that for over a year NATO has been challenged to find resources to send a few hundred trainers to Afghanistan, it now proposes to set up a missile defense system to protect half the planet.