The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, no 1/2016 - ebook
„The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs” jest anglojęzycznym kwartalnikiem Instytutu poruszającym i analizującym kwestie istotne dla Europy Środkowej i Wschodniej. Stanowi forum debat nad współczesnymi wydarzeniami międzynarodowymi. Każde wydanie zawiera zbiór autorskich artykułów poddanych ocenie peer review, a także recenzje specjalistycznych publikacji.
The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs is the Institute’s English language journal and has a Central and Eastern European focus. It provides a forum for the analysis and debate of international affairs through a collection of original, peer reviewed articles on a contemporary theme.
NATO at a Critical Crossroads
To deal with challenges, NATO needs a strategic vision that translates into political and military credibility of the Article 5 guarantee but at the same time makes the Alliance more relevant for its members that do not feel threatened by Russia. There are a number of areas where NATO will have to overcome the lowest common denominator to deliver tangible results.
Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia became members of NATO in 2004. However, they became members only on the map, not in practice. The Baltic States are still the most vulnerable and the hardest to defend in the event of aggression from the legal successor of the country that necessitated the foundation of NATO. Russia’s armed conflict with Georgia and its military intervention in Ukraine have demonstrated not only its capability but also willingness to use military force. Because of the Ukrainian crisis, Allies proceeded with some tangible, albeit symbolic, steps to reassure the Baltic States that they remain under the umbrella of the collective defence policy. As a result, it is safer but still not safe on NATO’s eastern flank.
The new strategic reality for the Atlantic Alliance is shaped not by the increase of instability and uncertainty, but by a very definite increase of direct military threats from a powerful and aggressive neighbour. This adversary perceives military power as the most effective, indeed the only, available instrument of policy, and has acquired new skills in applying it in both “hybrid” and traditional ways. Russia considers its readiness to deal with high security risks as an important political advantage, and is relentlessly exploiting every potential division in Western unity by seeking to undermine NATO’s ability to act in a timely and cohesive way. Moscow probes and targets strategic vulnerabilities in NATO’s security posture, and tries to maximise its particular positions of power. Besides the Baltic and the Black Sea theatres, Russia may in the near future attempt to utilise its strategic advantage in the Arctic, where it continues to increase military activities and infrastructure, despite the absence of any threats to its interests.
First of all, the summit should reaffirm in practical and concrete terms NATO solidarity, calling on the nations to provide their contribution outside their specific geographical proximity. In organisational terms, a thorough reconsideration of the financial mechanisms of the Alliance appears to be necessary, stopping to keep the “costs lie where they fall” principle as a truth of faith. Also, a new task should be given to the Secretary General to revise and possibly partially reverse the recent reorganisation of the NATO Command Structure in order to grant effectively a consistent match with the agreed level of ambition, which, in the present strategic scenarios, seems to be more realistic than ever. And finally, on the political side, a new approach should be tested with Russia, making it clear that there are no hostile intentions from NATO and that Moscow has no reason to be aggressive in countries such as Ukraine and Georgia, with whom negotiated agreements must be found and complied with in order to solve the controversies.
If NATO wishes to deter Russian aggression reliably, its deterrence and defence policy must once again contain a serious nuclear component, and Western leaders must begin the difficult task of revisiting NATO nuclear deterrence policies and postures. The NATO Warsaw Summit provides the ideal opportunity to fill the most critical gaps in NATO’s nuclear posture and to initiate the longer process of nuclear adaptation.
Bringing a new reading to collective defence after the Cold War allowed, among other things, an expansion of NATO’s tasks as well as membership. This being said, it is high time for deep reflection about the opportunities and limitations for the Alliance from the perspective of the promotion of peace, more than 25 years after the end of the bipolar order. Drawing on the introductory remarks to this special issue, the paper will focus on 1) the strategic differences between a security versus a peace agenda for NATO in the context of increasingly transnational and complex threats, 2) Russia as both a necessary ally and a challenger at NATO’s borders, including its positioning regarding a “shared neighbourhood” with the European Union (EU) and the Atlantic Alliance, as well as Moscow’s investment in the development of military alliances to the east (the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, or CSTO), 3) the Middle East as a geostrategic area where the conflation of competing interests, norms and values has revealed complex dynamics, both in-country and regional, and impacted on the NATO space (for example, the effect of the Syrian conflict), and 4) whether the conceptualisation on a “European security architecture” remains useful or has become meaningless in face of current challenges.
Against this background, NATO’s strategic adaptation has only just begun. The Alliance’s 2014 summit in Wales initiated the process and defined the short-term goals to reassure allies against the context of a shifting and deteriorating security environment. The 2016 Warsaw summit will rightly celebrate what has been achieved since Wales. Strategic significance, however, will be achieved only if NATO’s heads of state and government use the occasion to agree a strategic adaptation plan that balances tasks and geographies and embraces the idea that adaptation is a process not a result, and make a firm commitment to improving the resources available to meet the security needs of the Euro-Atlantic security community.
The Warsaw Summit, to be held on the 25th anniversary of the end of the Cold War, a conflict not only between the U.S. and the USSR, but also between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and this is very symbolic. Our greatest expectation would be a clear and unquestionable declaration and plan, provided by NATO collectively and supported by the resources of each individual Ally, aimed at dramatically updating and increasing NATO’s conventional Article 5 capabilities. Anything less would be considered, by the Kremlin in particular, as the Alliance backing down.
Even though Article 5 is NATO’s ultimate security guarantee, it is only the very last in a long chain of measures that need to be functioning in order to respond to today’s most probable and lethal threats. The Alliance has spent the last two years implementing the agreed Readiness Action Plan and reassuring eastern members not only with rhetoric, but also by taking more action and putting more troops on the eastern border. This is all what one would expect a political-military alliance to do when it is threatened. The evolution of NATO’s posture towards Russia has proven to NATO members, and, arguably, to their adversaries, that the Alliance still has a mission.
In this essay we pose five key questions for the future of NATO and provide what we think are five appropriate answers. Our assessment emerges from historical experience, an evaluation of current policies, and what we believe the Alliance’s strategic directions should be. We chose this format for clarity and precision. We submit that the Alliance would be best served by brutal honesty and directness. Our views, of course, are “country centred;” we speak from the Hellenic point of view. Today, as never before since 1945, we need new, bold directions in the Churcillian manner, and radical re-assessment of theories and, often, myths which, unfortunately and frequently, still drive policy-making.
Overall, counterinsurgency should be rethought from the perspective of Arab-Muslim host states facing a domestic or regional insurgency, far from orthodox conceptions of this paradigm. A renewed, indigenous understanding of COIN could become the strategic operating concept, guiding the “positioning and application of kinetic (military) and political (non-military) uses of power to achieve national (strategic) aims,” underpinning MENA states’ national efforts to address their domestic and regional challenges and improving cooperation between them and their NATO allies. For these purposes we should adopt a holistic, flexible approach to COIN, and train and prepare armies and civilian players to respond adequately to complex insurgencies.
NATO’s expansion steps—lately to Montenegro—will almost perfectly cover the European Union except for a few states. We cannot indefinitely divide the security of Europe into the EU and NATO. It is increasingly evident that is necessary to think of both organisations as a unified Euro-Atlantic area. In this sense, there must be a change in policy for all NATO members, including Turkey. The agreements between NATO and the EU signed on 16 December 2002 have had the potential to increase the effectiveness of full-scale cooperation if completely applied.
As the challenges will be coming mainly from areas to the south of the NATO zone, the southern Allies will most probably be their first victims. That will happen in circumstances of NATO’s diminished ability to make friends to solve its problems, brought about by Moscow’s current divisive tactics. One could doubt whether those politicians among NATO’s southern allies, currently opposing the idea that Putin should be deterred, will feel more secure in a world based on the Putinesque principle of coercive actions instead of compromise-seeking and negotiations as the cornerstone of international relations. It will be too late by then to quarrel about whether or not it was necessary to allocate resources to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank and who bears the greater responsibility for that change in the way in which world works. It seems much wiser to prevent that change from happening, and concerted efforts to deter Moscow and prove its tactics unsuccessful can achieve this. That is how deterrence of threats existing on the eastern flank of NATO contributes to the security of the Alliance’s southern members.
Seen from the ground, Asia remains far from quiet when it comes to regional security: the situation in the South China Sea keeps worsening; China challenges Japan’s control of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea more forcefully; and North Korea conducted nuclear and ballistic missile tests as recently as January and February 2016. The reality is that Asians are also too busy dealing with the problems in their own region, and generally do not pay much attention to the problems with which Europeans are now preoccupied. That said, however, we are also beginning to see more similarities between the European and Asian security landscapes, and the two regions share an increasing number of common security challenges, mainly caused by those who are prepared to change the status quo by force or coercion, namely Russia and China. In addition, the increasing similarities between the situations in Europe and Asia mean the two are using more common terminology to describe their challenges.
The forthcoming Warsaw summit will be the time to assess the Enhanced Opportunities Program (EOP), which was introduced at the Wales summit in 2014. In the following it is argued that, due to the high degree of security interdependence in the Baltic Sea area, and the degree of interoperability gained by Sweden and Finland, regional cooperation between NATO, Sweden and Finland should be deepened further, thereby strengthening security and stability in a strategically crucial region for the Alliance. Given that neither Sweden nor Finland is likely to apply for NATO membership any time soon, NATO should develop “extended cooperative security.” Such cooperation includes not only the military dimension, such as common situational awareness, exercises and improved partner representation in the military structure, but also elaboration of political consultation mechanisms, to assure common assessments and a rapid response to situations that may arise.