Rome – 25 May 2016
The NATO Defense College Foundation was invited to an exercise co-organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division in order to reflect in advance of the upcoming Warsaw Summit. Rome was only NATO Southern Region capital where the panel convened and the NDCF ensured that the meeting witnessed a substantial debate on serious security issues that were unfortunately further highlighted by the twin terrorist attacks in Belgium and by the migration crisis in Central and South Eastern Europe.
Today NATO is often seen as a military tool, but it must also be a political actor. The collective defence and crisis management dimensions of NATO can easily overshadow the political function of the Washington Treaty. More and more, the value of the Alliance is being measured in terms of available military equipment, in newly built infrastructure, or in whether or not member states contribute 2% of their GDP to defence spending. Naturally, this is an important aspect of NATO core business, but it also results in a state of mind where materialism becomes a quantitative means to justify the existence of the organization. The raison d’être of the Washington Treaty goes well beyond that, of course. The true relevance of the Alliance is based on its ability to unite liberal democracies in a volatile world and to assure the stability and well-being of the North Atlantic area.
Threats emanating from Europe’s east and south give particular urgency to the Alliance’s next summit, scheduled for Warsaw in July. The nature of these threats ranges from military to economic to cyber to energy security. The 28 NATO Allies must decide how they want to tackle these threats and what role they want to see NATO play.
The members of the panel engaged in a much-needed debate on the security challenges faced by the Alliance and on possible policy solutions. The report of the NATO Summit Advisory Panel offers concrete ideas and actionable recommendations to address the most pressing issues on NATO’s agenda in the run-up to the Warsaw Summit.
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