NATO : from defensive to offensive


What to think of Nato new strategic concept, adoptee at the time of the Lisbon Summit on November 19 and 20 2010 ?

Since the end of the cold war NATO is in the search of a credible identity. After twenty years of vain research would the objective be reached at the Lisbon Summit ? Yes, answers Anders Fogh Rasmussen, general secretary of the Organization, not hesitating to qualify this top of history “one of most important in the history of NATO” he specifies, and declares “a new organization is founded”. The idea to reinvent the Organization is not new, but ran up, top after top, with multiple contradictions. These last would have they disappeared ? It is far from being obvious because these contradictions, internal and external, are due to the existence even of NATO in the world of today. At the international level it is perceived like a structure, which in an orientation known as sedentary, is used to legitimate the militarization of the foreign politics of the United States, as an Organization which tends to grant a statute which belongs to UNO, considered by it a simple partner. Within the 28 members, countries do not agree, more or less openly, to follow such an orientation. The new adopted strategic concept confirms well that the objective of the Summit of Lisbon was to instrumentalise always more NATO. The orientation is to set up a device offensive politico-soldier having vocation to intervene everywhere as arm armed with the Western interests. It is the door open to operations except initial zone and a multiplicity of the missions. Such a design of safety causes reserves of several Member States, because it moves away gradually from the original design of the Organization. This is why undoubtedly that the strategic concept briefly recalls the concept of “collective defense” to the base of which NATO had been initially constituted. But the text very quickly approaches an offensive orientation, which the title translates even document “active engagement for a modern defense”. Far from the sometimes expressed idea of a possible satisfying of the United States with respect to NATO, the weight which they exerted and the active presence of president Obama in Lisbon largely contributed to the new orientations.

Thus the strategic concept stresses “the management of the crises”, for which, it indicates, NATO has a single and powerful range of political and military capacities. On this subject the approaches are varied within NATO, so much so that the American secretary with defense, Robert Gates, expressed fear to see NATO becoming an alliance at “two speeds”. The text of the concept, left compromise on great principles, could not elude, within the partners, approaches different on nature from NATO, its relationship to the European Union, with UNO, on the anti-missile shield, the relationship with Russia, and of course on the war carried out in Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan

As it was foreseeable the war carried out in Afghanistan held a broad place at the time of the top. Indeed NATO plays in this war most of its credibility. This war engaged in 2003 and at present the coalition which animates it account 150000 soldiers, to American two thirds. Never NATO carried out such an important, such a long armed intervention and also far from its traditional bases. It became a true mud pit in which military but so civil victims accumulate. The question of a fast political exit to the conflict arises imperatively. The United States, which impels the military intervention since the origin, evoked a process of withdrawal of the forces fighting with transfer to the Afghan forces. But this process does not cease slipping into time and military engagement continues. Several States, pressed by a not favorable public opinions upon this engagement, announced a fast calendar of withdrawals of their troops. Although the French public opinion wishes to go in this direction, the government did not fall under such a process.

Another question held the attention at the summit, which of the “shield” presented like likely to face the new threat

An anti-missile shield in Europe

At the time of the summit the 28 allied had to adopt the principle of obtaining an anti-missile shield to protect the European territory. This project was pushed by the Americans who made anti-missile heart of their policy of strategic alliance in the world. The device considered would include/understand missiles American interceptors deployed in Europe, in four stages, initially on ships, then on ground during ten next years. Barack Obama could declare on this subject “the future anti-missile shield offers a role to all our allies, to answer the threats of our time”. The principle of the project seems to be approved in Lisbon. But of multiple questions remain : what will protect this shield exactly ? Against which ? With the request express of Turkey Iran was not quoted and threatens it is not specified. Another question : who will decide on a reaction ? On a very short time, it is a question of a delegation of powers, therefore of sovereignty. There is no doubt that the key, with final, will be between the hands of the Americans. In addition the question of the cost of such a project arises. It will cost billion Euros, for which Europeans would be solicited, a billion in a first phase, up to twenty over the ten next years, which is not without posing problem. The price remains the Achilles’ heel of the project. Another question caused debate, that of the relation with Russia. Under certain conditions, it could connect its own anti-missile shield to that of NATO. Several countries there are favorable, others, in particular Poland, fear that this bringing together is done “at the expense” of the safety of the Central European country and Eastern. A many questions remain open after the top.

Concerning the bond European NATO-Union the concept remains very vague. It is however known that it is one of the subjects highly discussed between allies. Some suggest that NATO could become officially the military component of a partnership reinforced euro-American. Others think, taking into account the weight exerted by the United States in Alliance, that the European Union must have the ambition to be a total actor with whole share.

Nuclear weapons

The United States clearly decided against any shrinking of the tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Europe, approximately 200, deployed on air bases of NATO, in Germany, in Italy, in the Netherlands, in Belgium and Turkey. Such a decision is disputed by several pay. Germany is at a peak to suggest a withdrawal of these weapons, followed by Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The Central European countries and Baltic see in the presence of these weapons a guarantee to ensure a “coupling” between the United States and their allies. The Secretary of State American, Hillary Clinton, made a point of reassuring them “As long as the nuclear weapons will exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance”. A position which attenuates somewhat the declarations of Barack Obama deciding for a world removed from the nuclear weapons.

These some briefly mentioned questions tend to relativism the agreement scope concluded on the new strategic concept. But even if this agreement were shown minima between the partners, the roadmap that he recommends represents a real danger to peace and international safety. More than ever NATO is committed in logic of war and of confrontation and cannot meet the needs for a new architecture of safety for the 21st century which calls international relations of another type. This is why the conscience grows in the opinions of a necessary questioning of this structure, of a progressive disappearance of NATO, with the profit of a true European organization of collective security whose contours would be defined in a wide-ranging debate. In last analysis, it is in the development of the intervention of the people that the exit resides basically.