ASG Chair Madeleine Albright writes on the future of NATO in The Times of London
The Times of London
"Europe needs ‘get well plan’ before America loses patience"
By David Taylor
Europe needs an urgent “get well plan” to strengthen its military power before America loses patience, Madeleine Albright, the former US Secretary of State, warns today.
She makes an impassioned plea for Nato countries to end defence cuts. She says the alliance, which may be aged 65 and tired, “cannot retire” because of pressing new threats to international security.
Fears of sectarian strife in the Arab world, Russian bullying, nuclear proliferation and the risk of catastrophic cyber attacks all hang over the world, she writes.
But she paints a picture of weakness as Europe cuts back on defence and chooses to rely upon the power of the United States, while America turns its attention to the Pacific.
“A global recession continues to erode defence spending on both sides of the Atlantic. Much of Europe seems complacent about security challenges.
“And the American ‘rebalance’ to Asia has some European allies worried about abandonment,” Ms Albright says in a briefing document seen by The Times.
In her intervention, timed to coincide with this weekend’s gathering of world leaders for the Munich Security Conference, she calls for a new transatlantic declaration which would commit both America and its European allies to a new “will to act”.
She urges European allies to take a greater role in the security of their European and Arab neighbours and says the United States must confirm its commitment to Europe.
Looking ahead to the next Nato summit — in Cardiff this September — she says leaders must look beyond the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan and focus on continuing threats to security.
But calling for “a sound ‘get well plan’ for European militaries before America loses patience”, she warns: “Those commitments are hollow unless the Cardiff Summit squarely addresses Europe’s deteriorating military capabilities.”
Her analysis comes in a briefing document prepared with Hans Binnendijk, a former White House defence policy expert . It says Europe must pledge an end to defence cuts — it spends less than 1.6% of GDP on defence, while the US spends over 4%.
“Operations in Libya and Mali revealed European gaps and shortages,” she writes.
Ms Albright, has always been a staunch supporter of Nato, having driven strategy on the Kosovo war while she served President Bill Clinton.
She also chaired a high-level expert group which set a new direction for Nato, linking with non-member partners like Australia and Sweden who have gone on to play supporting roles in Afghanistan.
"Nato at a crossroads"
By Madeleine Albright and Hans Binnendijk
Delegates to the 50th Munich Security Conference this coming weekend will be discussing how to reinvigorate the Nato alliance looking ahead to the Cardiff Summit in September. Nato is 65, tired, and at an inflection point. But it cannot retire. Nato’s mission is as necessary as ever.
Closing down ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan will be the headline issue at the summit. Heads of state would commit small numbers of American and European forces to post-ISAF training and counter-terrorism missions.
Planning for this has been complicated by President Hamid Karzai’s unwillingness to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, which most Afghans dearly want. Nato may simply need to wait until after the April election in Afghanistan to complete this aspect of summit planning.
But Nato leaders should not allow Cardiff to become the Afghanistan summit. They need to look beyond 2014 to what lies ahead. At Cardiff, they must recognize the changes that have taken place recently and recommit to meeting those new challenges.
Since 2010, the Arab Spring has morphed into potential regional sectarian strife. Russia turns its back on the West and intimidates its neighbors.
The risks of catastrophic cyber attacks and nuclear proliferation are more real than ever. A global recession continues to erode defense spending on both sides of the Atlantic. Much of Europe seems complacent about security challenges. And the American “rebalance” to Asia has some European allies worried about abandonment.
The new Strategic Concept issued at the Lisbon Summit in 2010 continues to provide solid guidance. It set three core tasks for the Alliance: common defense, crisis management, and cooperative security. Each remains relevant.
But a new transatlantic compact or declaration is needed to bring the Strategic Concept up to date. It should emphatically reiterate the Alliance’s will to act when necessary across the full spectrum of Nato’s core tasks. That will is currently in doubt. The United States would confirm that it remains a European power and that its rebalance to Asia reflects the relatively stable nature of Europe, not diminishing American interest. The European allies would agree to take a greater role in the security affairs of their European and Arab neighbors and limit their proclivity to opt out of military operations. Both would reaffirm that the Article 5 mutual security commitment remains the bedrock of the alliance and that its scope has grown. Efforts to maintain that commitment would be demonstrated by vigorous conventional exercises, nuclear deterrence, and missile defense.
Those commitments are hollow unless the Cardiff Summit squarely addresses Europe’s deteriorating military capabilities. Europe spends under 1.6 per cent of its GNP on defense — while the United States spends over 4 per cent — and the cuts continue. Operations in Libya and Mali revealed European gaps and shortages. So far a major Congressional burden sharing debate has been avoided, but that may not last.
The Cardiff Summit needs to develop a sound “get well plan” for European militaries before America loses patience. Nato has developed several initiatives that show some promise, but they are inadequate to reverse the magnitude of the budget cuts. The summit needs to set forth a plan for protecting defense capabilities: pledge an end to defense cuts, adopt more smart spending programs, and promise predictable defense spending increases once economies overcome the euro crisis. The United States must make clear what it expects its allies to contribute to various phases of military operations. And more dramatic efforts at regional capability sharing, such as the German proposed framework nation concept, need to be given a chance.
Next, the summit must tackle Nato’s responsibility to deal with emerging threats in the realms of cyber security, energy security, and nuclear proliferation. Cyber attacks, in particular, are becoming more dangerous and can have effects comparable to weapons of mass destruction on populations and infrastructure. Leaders should start practical planning about what the organization will do to help member states, beyond what it already does to protect its own infrastructure.
Nato’s leaders could also agree to hold regular consultations on issues of security concern to any member. These discussions — called “Article 4” consultations after the treaty article that authorizes them — could reinvigorate Nato.
In addition, new approaches to Nato’s partners must be developed at Cardiff. Nato has more partners than allies now, and gets key capabilities from some that are not available from allies. If done properly, Cardiff could be remembered as the “Partnership Summit.” Nato’s door remains open to new members but few viable aspirants wait in line. Focusing on Nato’s partners from Sweden to Australia could now be much more profitable. The package would include greater political consultation with partners and greater military interoperability. That combination can produce willing and capable partners. Some have suggested a “gold card” system for capable partners and security sector assistance for less capable partners.
Finally, as the leaders think about Afghanistan and new security threats, they should consider the signal that will be sent when they settle on a new Secretary General over the next year. Some candidates may signal continuity, others an intention to engage in new ways in a new environment.
The hard work needs to begin now to take full advantage of the opportunity that will be provided at Cardiff to rejuvenate the alliance.
Please see the full articles online at: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3992166.ece