Shadow Government

A front-row seat to the Republicans' debate over foreign policy, including their critique of the Biden administration.

The NATO meeting in Chicago should be more than an ‘implementation summit’

A few days ago, I had the privilege of testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago. The whole testimony is here, but the bits that Shadow Govt readers need to know is this. The gathering of allied heads of state has to be more than ...

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A few days ago, I had the privilege of testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago.

The whole testimony is here, but the bits that Shadow Govt readers need to know is this.

The gathering of allied heads of state has to be more than the administration's desire for a low-key "implementation summit." The NATO meeting needs to "provide credible reaffirmation of the Transatlantic Bargain -- one in which the United States demonstrates commitment to Europe's regional security interests and our European allies demonstrate that they stand ready to address global challenges to transatlantic security."

A few days ago, I had the privilege of testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject of the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago.

The whole testimony is here, but the bits that Shadow Govt readers need to know is this.

The gathering of allied heads of state has to be more than the administration’s desire for a low-key "implementation summit." The NATO meeting needs to "provide credible reaffirmation of the Transatlantic Bargain — one in which the United States demonstrates commitment to Europe’s regional security interests and our European allies demonstrate that they stand ready to address global challenges to transatlantic security."

Toward that end:

First, the president must credibly reaffirm Europe’s centrality in U.S. global strategy. The drifting apart of the two continents has many causes, but a key one is a U.S. transatlantic agenda whose dominant elements recently have been a vaguely defined reset of relations with Russia, a defense guidance that articulates a pivot to Asia, and reductions of combat capability deployed in Europe. Through robust military engagement with Europe, the United States would reinforce the credibility of its commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty and sustain, if not improve, the ability of European and U.S. forces to operate together within and beyond the North Atlantic area.

Second, the Chicago Summit should be used to reanimate the vision of a whole, free, and secure Europe as a guiding priority for the transatlantic relationship. NATO heads of state can and should: declare their intent to issue invitations to qualified aspirants no later than the next summit; underscore the urgency of resolving the Macedonia dispute with Greece over the former’s name, the last remaining obstacle to Skopje’s accession to the alliance; assert that Georgia’s path to NATO can be through the NATO-Georgia Commission; and applaud Montenegro’s significant progress under the Alliance’s Membership Action Plan. By leading the effort to fulfill the vision of a unified, undivided Europe, the United States would drive forward a process that strengthens Europe’s stability and security and thereby reaffirms the centrality of Europe in America’s global strategy.

Third, the Alliance must chart its way forward in an era of financial austerity. In an age of austerity, the focus of the Alliance’s Smart Defense initiatives should be on the practical and attainable. Such projects in the realms of effective engagement, JISR, logistics, and training are not only needed for operational purposes, they are more credible to NATO publics than promises concerning the distant future. 

Fourth, the Chicago Summit should be used to expand and deepen the partnerships the Alliance has developed around the world. The globalized and increasingly hybrid character of today’s challenges make it important for the Alliance to expand and deepen its relationships with non-governmental organizations and non-member states around the globe. By leveraging the potential offered by a network of NATO global partnerships, the United States and Europe can "pivot" together in the effort to address the global challenges that already define this century.

Finally, NATO must demonstrate unambiguous determination to sustain a stable Afghanistan. In Chicago, NATO aims to map out a strategic partnership with Afghanistan that will endure well beyond 2014. The U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership, even if it is fleshed out robustly, will likely be insufficient to ensure success in Afghanistan in the absence of a long-term transatlantic commitment to the Afghan people.

In these ways, the Chicago Summit can emerge as an important, if not inspiring, benchmark of American commitment and European ambition regarding the Transatlantic Alliance.

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