Chatham House—the Royal Institute for International Affairs—released a report on Jan. 10, which proposes how NATO should confront “today’s security challenges,” that is, those that have emerged since NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept. The six-page paper declares near the outset that “Leaders must show the political will to confront today’s security challenges today, not tomorrow. They must convince citizens that they cannot take their security for granted. Even as the scars of the economic crisis and the siren call of populist politicians tempt to turn inwards, governments must reaffirm the value of the Atlantic Alliance. They must also acquire and deploy the necessary resources, even though this will mean making tough choices. Following its withdrawal from Afghanistan, NATO needs to reaffirm its value around the twin objectives of collective defense and common security.”
So, they begin by presenting a false choice, that is, in terms of international policy, there is either NATO’s interventionist and confrontational policy, or there’s isolationism. There’s no other alternative to be considered. And then there’s the demand for austerity. That’s what “making tough choices” always means, as if the European population, which is already being sacrificed in a vain effort to save the euro, hasn’t already suffered enough austerity.
Then, the authors go on to the “value” of NATO. “The transatlantic bond reflects a shared belief in Canada, the United States and their European allies that international peace and prosperity are best delivered through the combination of democratic institutions, open economies and the rule of law.” NATO’s job, they say, is to ensure that citizens of its member states can live by those principles. They go on to say that for most of the last 25 years, there has been a belief that the world is moving in the West’s direction. The recent events in Ukraine show that this is no longer the case. “As a result, NATO members can no longer delay in committing political will and resources to the Alliance’s two core objectives for the 21st century,” that is, collective defense and common security.
The next section is a direct attack on Russia. “Russia’s current policy of coercively building a sphere of exclusive interests in the post-Soviet space poses risks for the transatlantic community that are unprecedented since 1989,” they write. They charge that Putin has imposed an increasingly authoritarian form of leadership on Russia, established a “Russia-dominated” Eurasian Union and uses economic and political coercion to achieve its vision, as it did in Ukraine after the overthrow of Yanukovych.
It goes further downhill from there, and then lists a number of steps NATO and its member states must take in response. The list includes, but is not limited to, raising the alliance’s military potential by doing things like increasing defense spending, improving its military infrastructure, reinforce the NATO response force, conduct more and more regular exercises, to include “snap” exercises to test readiness, and so on. It demands that NATO be capable of responding to “non-linear aggression” such as disinformation, and all of the things that Russia has been accused of doing in Crimea and southeastern Ukraine. It also includes non-military measures, such as reducing the reliance of certain European countries on Russian gas.
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The paper doesn’t limit itself to just the Russian threat, however. “Much of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Sahel, are facing at least a decade of turmoil.” They cite Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, as well as the threat from Yemen across the Sahel region. “The transatlantic community cannot ignore the rising and likely persistent instability in Europe’s southern and south-eastern neighbourhood,” they write, and, again, they create a false construct, by refusing to acknowledge the role of the West—such as NATO’s 2011 bombing of Libya—in creating these crises, in the first place.
They then provide a series of steps that NATO should take in confronting this international insecurity. To mention only a few, they demand that other members of NATO take a larger share of the responsibility so that it doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the US; NATO and the EU must work more closely together, including through new arrangements by which each can borrow assets and capabilities of the other; and completing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership as soon as possible. It all sounds like a recipe for empire building.
The authors of the report Chatham House report are:
Martin Butora, head of the Institute of Public Affairs in Bratislava
Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Camille Grand, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris
Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House and chair of this particular committee
Ana Palacio, former foreign minister of Spain
Roland Paris, director of the Centre for International Policy Studies in Ottawa
Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and security Affairs in Berlin
Nathalie Tocci, deputy director of the Institute for International Affairs in Rome
Sinan Ulgen, director of the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul
Marcin Zaborowski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw.