June 22, 2016 | Publications, Work | TPF Staff

NATO: Rethink–Realign–React. Tackling Security Challenges Together

The forthcoming NATO summit in Warsaw will face historic challenges. The context of the summit is no less historic. No nation would seem better-placed to understand the complexity of the turbulences of history than the Poles and city would seem placed to talk about the breakthrough in NATO strategies for future than Warsaw.

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What we can assume in the run-up to the meeting is that the summit will signal the renewal of NATO as a military alliance or at least remind us of its primary task – territorial defense. The war in Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea, the crisis in the Middle East and mass migration to Europe along with the rise of new threats, like terrorism, all give a new urgency to the search for a new security paradigm – a paradigm of a resilient alliance that is ready to face the sad fact that war has once again become part of the spectrum of modern statecraft.

The United States remains the leading power of the Alliance but, as François Lafond notes, it is with increasing frequency that questions about burden-sharing are being raised. The White House is pressing European NATO members to contribute more towards their own security. And Europe must pursue its integration, including in the military sphere, without jeopardizing NATO.

Building up modern security no longer means concentrating solely on tanks and jet fighters, though in his article Tim Stuchtey accurately highlights the necessity to advance modern military solutions and combine military effectiveness with more than just an eye on economic efficiency. Lithuanian experts – Greta Tučkutė and Deividas Šlekys indicate the threats posed to public order, democratic values and peace in NATO countries by hybrid measures. The Baltic states fully understand that, thanks to years of high oil prices and firm leadership, Russia has been able to develop a capacity to match its ambitions. Therefore Tučkutė and Šlekys underline the psychological aspects as a vulnerable area of defense.

Two main fronts of discussion at the NATO Warsaw summit will be, on the one hand, the Eastern Flank and NATO relations with Russia, and on the other, the less linear but more complex challenges of the Islamists in the South. As pointed out by Przemysław Żurawski vel Grajewski, the NATO summit in Warsaw will be a forum for debating these threats, taking the different natures of each and the different sensitivities of individual Alliance member states to them into account.

What is the balance between the East and the South? Phillip Karber and Phillip Petersen of the American think-tank The Potomac Foundation expose the fact that the countries most vulnerable to large-scale Russian aggression are the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Their history, geography and demographics all contribute to the insecurity in the region. A growing sense of threat is accompanied by requests for a stronger NATO military presence in the region. Iulian Fota points to another crucial area – the Black Sea region, which, he argues, remains the center of the process of reshaping relationships between Russia and the West. As Fota claims, a Black Sea closed to access from international community would be nothing more than a “Russian lake.” At the same time he ponders the idea of global realignment introduced by Zbigniew Brzeziński and how it will influence the upcoming NATO summit.

Today, when the overoptimistic period in relations between the West and Russia is history and as new challenges emerge in the South, the heads of NATO member states, soon to meet in Warsaw, have to decide what form NATO 3.0 will assume – or in other words, what shape modern deterrence will take. I hope that the articles collected in this volume will inspire readers and provide a deeper insight into the complexity of the current security challenges.

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