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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union's Common Security and Defense Policy: Intersecting Trajectories

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union's Common Security and Defense Policy: Intersecting Trajectories - Cover

Authored by Mr. Sarwar A. Kashmeri.

July 2011

60 Pages

Brief Synopsis

NATO used to be the world’s most formidable military alliance. But its original reason for existence, the Soviet Union, disintegrated years ago, and its dreams of being a world cop are withering in the mountains of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the European Union’s (EU) Common Security & Defense Policy (CSDP) has deployed 27 successful military/civil missions from Africa to Asia in the last 10 years. Through CSDP, Europeans are increasingly taking charge of managing their own foreign and security policy. NATO is no longer the sole and preeminent Euro-Atlantic security actor. But watching NATO fade into irrelevance would be a mistake. It is a tried and true platform to harness the resources of North America and Europe. NATO’s future usefulness depends on its willingness to accept its reduced role, to let the EU handle the day-to-day security needs of Europe, and to craft a relationship with CSDP that will allow North America and Europe to act militarily together, should that ever become necessary. It is time for NATO 2.0, a new version of NATO, to fit the realities of an ever more integrated Europe in the 21st century.


This report recommends that:

• The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) be bridged to the European Union’s (EU) Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).
• The EU assume responsibility for the defense of Europe.
• NATO and CSDP continue to serve as the platform to enable the United States, Europe, and Canada to act militarily together in cases where severity of the issue calls for joint action.

The monograph recommends that these changes in the structure of Euro-Atlantic defense and security be initiated forthwith and completed within 3-5 years. It also contends that if NATO is not bridged to CSDP, NATO will become less and less relevant for the security of the Euro-Atlantic area and may well fade away as a military alliance.

The recommendations are based on the author’s original research and conversations with over 50 military and political leaders, as well as academics and diplomats from Europe and the United States. They include General (Ret.) Bantz J. Craddock, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR); Lieutenant General (Ret.) Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor and CEO of The Scowcroft Group; Lieutenant General Christopher J. R. Davis, CMM, CD Canadian Military Representative to NATO; Ersin Onunduran, Professor of International Relations, Ankara University, Turkey; General Håkan Syrén, Chairman, European Union Military Committee (Brussels, Belgium); General Karl-Heinz Lather, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe, NATO (Mons, Belgium); and General Stephane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, NATO.

The author’s research indicates that, through the EU’s CSDP, Europeans are now capable of defending their own territory, except in extraordinary situations and threats that require a combined response from the EU, Canada, and the United States. This monograph concludes that except for these extreme eventualities, NATO should serve in a supporting role to CSDP. It states that NATO is increasingly dysfunctional, makes commitments it cannot keep, and continues to assume responsibilities that it cannot fulfill, especially given the diminishing financial resources at its disposal. The New Strategic Concept (Stratcon) adopted by NATO in Lisbon, Portugal, at its November 2010 Summit did not, unhappily, deal with its degenerative symptoms. Nor did the Stratcon recognize the impact of Europe’s increasingly integrated foreign and security policy on NATO’s future.

If CSDP and NATO are not bridged, NATO will become increasingly irrelevant to Euro-Atlantic security and then likely fade away. That would be a real tragedy. It is far from certain the Alliance could be recreated again, and NATO’s fade-out would remove an important political and military link from the transatlantic relationship.

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