Sunday, December 11, 2011

Changing NATO and its current most important tasks

Written by Tomáš Teleky

The international security environment has a very dynamic character. Due to quick progress in technology, increasing international interdependence, climate changes and many other factors, NATO has to face newly emerging threats like cyber terrorism, migration, energy security and many others. Situation now is much different than it was ten years ago. NATO in its new Strategic Concept (NSC) adopted in Lisbon summit in November last year, presented a vision of Allies for the next decade. This document is NATO’s roadmap for the next decade. The aim of the NSC was not only the reflection of the whole spectrum of threats (traditional and new) but also to provide guideline how to tackle them.

In the time of Cold War the majority of NATO‘s activities were closely connected to principle of deterrence. But after the big geopolitical changes concerning the end of the Cold War and breakup of the Soviet Union the role of NATO has changed. The war in Balkans and the threat of spreading instability from unstable regions showed that deterrence is not sufficient enough and NATO will have to intervene more in the future. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon from 9/11 showed us that in globalised world we are much more vulnerable than it was before. Today we have to eliminate possible threats also in distant regions before it is too late. NATO realized that out of area missions beyond Europe are inevitable.

The mission ISAF in Afghanistan launched ten years ago remains the biggest challenge for the Alliance. In Lisbon summit the Allies agreed that process of transition in Afghanistan will be completed in 2014. However it doesn’t mean that all coalition troops will leave the country until this date. NATO will continue to train Afghan army and police also after the end of transitional process. Afghans must be able to take care of security in the country. Major NATO’s effort in Afghanistan therefore consists in training. In March 2011 seven Afghan provinces already took responsibility for their own security. Despite the big progress in many provinces, Afghanistan still remains one of the poorest countries in the world with terrible economic situation, problems with producing and trafficking of drugs and high ethnic fragmentation. Afghanistan after 2014 will undoubtedly need (not only) financial help of NATO to meet the present challenges.

When we speak about stability in Afghanistan we just cannot forget on Pakistan which has a great impact on the stability in the region. Stability of Afghanistan and stability of Pakistan are mutually intertwined. It is a big challenge for NATO to settle disputes with Pakistan and find an effective way of cooperation especially today when the US-Pakistani relations have been getting worse because of US unilateral actions in Pakistan.

In the crisis management, there are many challenges for NATO. Operation in Afghanistan has revealed many deficiencies. There are 3 main lessons learnt from the expeditionary operation:

1. NATO needs more deployable troops

Territorial defence still remains the fundamental role of NATO but the majority of current security threats originate far away from the NATO’s border. The armed forces of NATO member states must also reflect the character of current threats. We do not need big armies no more because the major conventional attack on NATO is currently very unlikely. What we need is to have deployable armed forces which will be ready to response very quickly to new threats and intervene in distant regions.

2. NATO needs assets and capabilities to do same actions in different places

NATO must be not only able to deploy its troops wherever required but must also have suitable capabilities for realization of necessary activities which reflect character of particular geographical region and substance of the threats. Operation in Afghanistan demonstrates that military approach must be supported also with civilian aspects.

3. NATO must continue reaching out international organizations

Broader and deeper cooperation with relevant international organizations is inevitable. The NSC pays a big attention to importance of partnerships and cooperation with other international organizations especially EU, UN and OSCE. The both NATO and EU emphasize the necessity of constructive mutual cooperation with the aim to minimize unwanted duplication.

NATO must also focus more on enhancing cooperation with Russia. Since the end of the Cold War the relations between NATO and Russia have looked like a sinusoid. In Lisbon summit the both sides have decided to leave behind all disputes from the age of the Cold War and focus on constructive cooperation with the aim to achieve common goals. In Lisbon NATO and Russia agreed on cooperation in the field of missile defence. But one year after the summit it is more than clear that different visions on this issue represent a serious obstacle for the cooperation. Despite of this fact NATO cannot afford to worsen relations with Russia because Russia still remains a strategic partner for NATO. NATO cannot underestimate the historical context because it helps to understand today’s reality but NATO must also be aware of its position. NATO must keep engaging Russia to mutual projects because Russia is not the one that will push the other side to broader cooperation. There are many areas where the interests of NATO and Russia are identical and in which cooperation would be mutually beneficial and NATO must focus on them.

And last but not least issue I want to mention is Smart Defence. It is ambitious project presented by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Lisbon. The substance of this approach consists in multinational cooperation and specialization of the Allies. In foreign policy of the NATO member states, the national interest will always be crucial. However NATO members have to realize the benefits of the multinational cooperation from longer term perspective and rethink their policies. In time of austerity and decreasing of defence budgets it seems to be one of the possible solutions how to deal with current situation. In Europe we have several successful examples of multinational defence cooperation. In respect of necessity of specialization, NATO members have to also realize that nowadays it is not possible to keep full spectrum of capabilities. NATO members have to give up some capabilities in order to save money for financing and modernizing others, more important capabilities. This is of course a very sensitive political issue and many countries hesitate to do so. Smart Defence with the principles of “pooling and sharing” is undoubtedly a vital approach but it still lacks concrete political decisions.

NATO summit in Chicago offers an ideal opportunity to work out the details of the most important issues for NATO. Until May, there is a space for discussing relevant issues with a view to find compromises among Allies and set a better stage for the summit.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Assisting West Africa, Preventing a Second Somalia

Written by James Bridger

Over the past year, pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) have increased in number and expanded in geographical range. It appears that West Africa’s pirates are becoming more organized and have now begun to mimic the tactics of their Somali counterparts—a development that has been met with great international concern. As was the case in the Gulf of Aden, the need for a robust counter-piracy strategy for West Africa has been loudly proclaimed by regional states, Atlantic powers and international organizations. The worry however, is that this will amount to little more than platitudes if political will and local security capacity remain in short supply.

The centerpiece of the current strategy is a Nigerian initiative which calls for joint naval patrols to be conducted by the region’s littoral states. Though multilateral maritime security cooperation is a commendable concept, the reality of the current patrols is that they are a largely a Nigerian effort with only token participation from its small neighbours. Nigeria is the only state in the region that possesses frigates, corvettes, and an aerial surveillance capacity. The other littoral nations “navies” are more accurately described as coastguards. Given that a coalition of the world’s most powerful navies has been unable to suppress piracy in East Africa, it is highly unlikely that a collection of impoverished West African states with little manpower and equipment will be able to secure a coastal perimeter that spans 12 countries. Foreign assistance is therefore essential.

In late September, Benin asked the UN to send an international force to help police the GoG. However, with the naval forces of NATO, the EU, and other maritime powers currently committed to costly operations on the other side of the continent, there is little appetite for a West African deployment. Instead, the UNSC has called on the international community to assist local organizations through “information sharing, coordination improvement and capacity building.” If managed effectively, this strategy presents the best option for achieving long-term maritime security in the GoG.

West Africa is becoming increasingly important to Washington, as it is estimated that the region will supply a quarter of US oil imports by 2015. Seeking to build up local capacity, US naval vessels have been sent to train Beninois, Togolese and Ghanaian sailors as part of a cooperative program known as the Africa Partnership Station. France, which maintains close ties with its former colonies in the region, has also been actively engaged in West African counter-piracy. Aside from assisting with training and equipment, Paris has also deployed its own frigate, the Germinal, to help survey the coast and neutralize pirates. Drawing on lessons learned in East Africa, the UK has advocated for the expansion of coastal surveillance and law enforcement facilities in the region.

While the bilateral programs already initiated are a step in the right direction, a more comprehensive strategy is ultimately required. As the German Ambassador to the UN recently recognized, an effective counter-piracy policy must place security assistance within a political and legal framework. This presents an opportunity for NATO and the EU to improve cooperation with the multinational organizations of West Africa, primarily the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

NATO was able to build strong partnerships with a number of North African and Middle Eastern states through the Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperative Initiative—culminating in a broad base of regional support for Operation Unified Protector in Libya. Maritime security provision in West Africa could lay similar groundwork in a region that is taking on increasing global importance.

Regional maritime security could be improved through the military assistance of additional NATO members, a project that would combine maritime training with the provision of patrols boats and radar and intelligence sharing installations. The EU is better positioned to address the political and economic causes of piracy. Drug trafficking, government corruption and the unjust practices of foreign oil companies are all exacerbating the offshore crisis. Simply throwing money at regional states will not solve the problem if these issues go unaddressed.

If the international community does not wish to see a complete bicoastal breakdown of African maritime order, then the time to act is now.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Importance of EU – NATO Strategic Partnership: visions and perspectives

Written by Tomáš Teleky

The role of EU and NATO for the stability in the Euro-Atlantic region is crucial. The importance of the cooperation between these two organizations is unquestioned. But this cooperation is still not efficient enough. How to enhance this strategic partnership?

The same goals but different strategy

The role of NATO and the European Union is substantial not only for stability and development in the Europe and Euro-Atlantic region but also for stability in the other countries with strategic impact on international community. Many experts agree that promotion of Euro-Atlantic security can be best assured through the broader and deeper cooperation between NATO and EU. Despite the fact that membership of both NATO and the EU is almost identical and both organisations share the same values like democracy, freedom, rule of law or respect of human rights, the mutual cooperation between them has still many shortcomings and lacks efficiency. The goals of both organisations are the same in the broad context but the strategy of their fulfilment is often very different. The serious obstacle for deeper cooperation is not only the result of different character and the way how the organisations were established, but also very often the lack of constructive dialogue and political will.

The NATO’s new Strategic Concept adopted at the Lisbon summit in November last year pays big attention to partnerships with other countries and international organizations. Cooperation with the EU is currently one of the main priorities of NATO and both organizations agree that it must be improved. The Allies have been trying to find the way of cooperation based on comprehensive approach which would prevent them from unreasonable duplication but with the respect to the autonomy of both organizations. The importance of the EU as for the stability in the region is unquestionable and its importance has been growing since EU began to form the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The mutual goals and proclamations are ambitious but the reality shows us that the EU and NATO still have not found the proper “modus vivendi”. The most important is the practical cooperation in the operations where the both organizations participate. The examples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo or The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia demonstrate that this constructive cooperation is possible when the high officials of the EU and NATO member states are ready to talk to each other and to listen to each other. On the other hand, as for the operation in Afghanistan, it is much more difficult to cooperate because the competencies of both organizations are not clear enough.

No more duplication, more synchronization

The history of international relations has taught us that comprehensive dialogue is the best way how to promote cooperation. The regular political consultations at all levels represent a good framework for cooperation and should definitely continue also in the future. It is the best way how the Allies can minimize duplication and maximize cost-effectiveness. Especially now, in the age of austerity and underfinanced defence budgets of the many EU and NATO members, the minimization of the undesirable duplication will be crucial. This approach is in accord with the vision of NATO´s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and NATO’s “Smart Defence” policy. According to this approach, the Allies can ensure greater security, for less money, by working together with more flexibility. This is not only the matter of cooperation of NATO member states but also with other international organizations, most importantly the United Nations and the European Union.

The NATO-EU partnership has evolved hand by hand with the evolution of the ESDP. The Important steps about how to enhance mutual cooperation was adopting of NATO-EU Declaration on ESDP in December 2002, which affirmed the main principles of mutual relationship. Adopting of The “Berlin-Plus” arrangements was important for the closer cooperation in crisis management. These documents contributed to enhancing of mutual cooperation and since that time the several operations have been carrying out by NATO and EU side by side: in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Darfur and in the Gulf of Aden, where the NATO and EU naval forces fight the Somalia pirates.

It may seem that partnership of two organizations with 21 member states in common must be unchallenged, however, reality is different and many mutual talks have been obstructed because of divergent views of particular member states. Nevertheless, the potential of this strategic partnership is much higher. Mutual dialogue does not bring any strategic cooperation. Europe cannot afford this inefficiency and duplications in these austere times. The question is how to make a change and how to make it quickly. The common interests offer a broad spectrum for cooperation. Now it is time for action which must be visible especially in the “out-of-area” missions. The both organization must work together closer on capability development and lead strategic discussions, not only empty dialogue. This approach is beneficial for Europe but is also supported by the USA which has been calling for a long time for higher participation of Europe in the field of defence. The potential of this strategic partnership is unique and enormous. But we must start to act now. Synchronization, complementary operations, regular dialogue and exchange of views must become reality as soon as possible.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reflections on the 2011 Atlantic Council of Canada NATO Tour

Written by James Bridger

A group from the Atlantic Council of Canada recently returned from a week long tour of Belgium and France, in which we received briefings at NATO headquarters and other key transatlantic security and political institutions. Provided here is a compilation of the insights we gained into three primary areas of transatlantic concern: NATO-EU relations, NATO’s partnership expansion efforts, and the search for “smart defence".

NATO-EU Relations

Sharing 21 member states, there is much common ground between NATO and the EU in regards to security, democratization, and human rights. It was noted by the Canadian Delegation to the EU, however, that the two organizations also have different interests, objectives and priorities. Common members are thus forced to divide limited resources between the two. In order to increase efficiency and spheres of responsibility, officials from both NATO and EU stressed the need to avoid overlap while working in the same theatre.

It was only in 2009 that the EU moved towards becoming a unified foreign policy and security actor, with the establishment of the EU External Action Service (EEAS). While the project still remains in its infancy, the European Union has been involved in several small peace-keeping missions in Africa, police training in the Balkans and Afghanistan, and counter-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa. Officials on both side of the divided were generally optimistic about EU-NATO cooperation, though it was noted that non-common members—namely Turkey and Cyprus—have blocked closer integration at several turns.

The issue was raised during the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) briefings that it may be an inefficient use of resources for both NATO and the EU to maintain their own separate counter-piracy flotillas off the Horn of Africa—operations Ocean Shield and Atalanta respectively. While member state composition overlaps, it was noted by the EU Cell at SHAPE that certain countries “feel more comfortable” participating in either the NATO or EU context. Representatives from both parties stated they were content with the current level of cooperation. In private however, a French naval officer from NATO expressed bewilderment about the duplicate command structures of Ocean Shield and Atalanta.

NATO Partnership Expansion

A final issue of great importance was the expansion of NATO’s global partnerships through the Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperative Initiative and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. These programs have brought the Alliance into contact with a diverse array of actors. Individually tailored strategies of engagement are required, the Public Diplomacy Division informed us, as relations with Finland and Turkmenistan, for example, cannot be managed in the same way.

Over the past year, NATO’s relations with the Arab world have been at the forefront of the Alliance’s agenda. An officer from the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division explained that the Alliance and its intentions were misperceived by many in the Middle East and that recent efforts had been focused on promoting better mutual understanding. This strategy now appears to be bearing fruit. Both Morocco and Israel participated in Operation Active Endeavor—NATO’s counter-terrorism naval patrol of the Mediterranean—while Qatar, the UAE, and Jordan all contributed to Operation Unified Protector in Libya. Aside from improving interoperability with its Middle Eastern and Mediterranean partners, NATO has also sought to push for greater military transparency in the region and democratic control of the armed forces.

The Alliance’s relationship with Moscow, managed through the NATO-Russia Council, has been marked by both cooperation and confrontation. A policy officer specializing in Russian relations informed us that the two parties had been working together in Afghanistan to open up transport routes, engage in counter-narcotics operations and supply helicopters to the ANA (see page * for more information about NATO in Afghanistan). Moscow has also worked alongside NATO during Mediterranean and East African naval patrols. The biggest point of contention between the Alliance and Russia is missile defence. Moscow has continuously objected to the stationing of interceptor missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland, stating that it wants its own hand in Eastern European missile defence—a proposal NATO’s Baltic members refuse to accept. The Alliance is trying to explain that the system is designed to protect members from rogue states and is not directed against Russia; regardless, it does not appear that the two sides will see eye to eye for the foreseeable future. Moscow’s diplomatic and military support of Georgia’s breakaway republics, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, also continues to be a thorn in NATO-Russia Relations.

Smart Defence in an Age of Austerity

The need to cut costs in an age of fiscal austerity looms over every aspect of NATO operations. We were told during the first briefing that a current priority is cutting down the size of the command structure by reducing the Alliance’s “tooth to tail ratio”—the number of support staff required for each policy maker. An effort is also being made to bridge the civilian-military divide in order to avoid unnecessary overlap. A new headquarters that physically brings these two sides together is part of this plan.

Several officials spoke about the need for “smart defence,” a buzz term that calls for greater cooperation, specialization and prioritization among members’ military procurement. We were told how smaller states have given up full defensive capabilities in favour of a more specialized role within the Alliance. Denmark, for example, no longer fields submarines, while the Baltic states are retiring their fighter jets. These types of reductions, we were told, involve member states giving up a degree of their defensive sovereignty over certain areas—a strategy which requires great faith and trust in NATO’s protective shield. The Alliance has also sought to engage in multinational equipment procurement programs to reduce costs. This approach has been problematic in the past however: NATO was tasked with producing 110 variants of the NH90 Helicopter in order to meet member state specifications, making the program impossibly complex.

With many member states falling short of the Alliance’s two percent goal for defense spending, attaching restrictive caveats to their forces’ use, and looking to slash their defence budgets further, the charge that NATO is becoming a “two tier alliance” has been oft spoken. While one got a sense of the uncertainty regarding NATO’s future role and capabilities, we were reminded that the Alliance had always in effect been “two tier”—the US has consistently done the heavy lifting, France and the UK play an important secondary role, while the remaining nations contribute to lesser degrees. The issue of military spending nevertheless remains of paramount importance. The Canadian Delegation to NATO noted that it will be one of the main areas of focus at the 2012 Chicago Summit.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Diplomacy And Peace-Building: Women’s voices must be heard

Written by Astghik Injeyan, Armenian Atlantic Association

Do not look at us as victims, but treat us as guardians of peace and harmony…

Women suffered greatly during the wars, where their children and husbands were killed, they were raped, tortured, left homeless and abandoned. But even in such circumstances women didn’t lose their hope and fought for their families, for people they didn’t know and for their nations.

There is a monument in Yerevan, the city where I am living, called Mother Armenia, which represents a woman warrior with a sword in her hands, watching the city from the high point. Inside this huge monument there is a military museum: “Armenians in the World War II” and “Artsakh War in 1988-1994”. This monument symbolizes Armenian women protecting their children and values with arms on their hands while husbands and sons fighting for their families and homeland.

We are, arguably, a nation nurtured by women. The most touching last paragraph of Yegishe’s History of Vardan and the Armenian War[1] describe Armenia depleted of its men and soldiers, and action of women in this tragic reality. “The bridal chambers of young girls became empty, the widowed became again as virtuous brides, and even the noble women of Armenia, who had been brought up in luxury and petted in costly clothing and on soft couches, went untiringly to the houses of prayer, on foot and bare-footed, asking with vows that they might be enabled to endure their great affliction“.

It was the principles and stories of our ancestress that the new generation of Armenian men was raised on. The Armenian mother, remaining pure and untainted at home, was charged with giving the future generation the gifts of our culture in order to protect from the mixture with non-religious nations. Apparently, the lessons Armenian mothers taught their kids were not forgotten through the years.

Time passed and Armenian women saw lot of suffering. During Artsakh war there were women who forgot everything and rushed to join their brothers in the border.

The story of our women has a paradoxical narrative. On the one hand, they have been subject to backwardness at best and violence at worst, and on the other hand, the monumental role they have played in our nation’s life has always been applauded.

International organizations are slowly recognizing the indispensable role that women play in preventing war and sustaining peace. On October 31, 2000, the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 1325 urging the secretary-general to expand the role of women in U.N. field-based operations, especially among military observers, civilian police, human rights workers and humanitarian personnel. It is important to mention that NATO and its Partners are taking concerted action to support implementation of UNSCR 1325[2].

Women universally bear the burden of taking daily care for their families and communities and they are the primate stakeholders with interest in community stability, so they play important roles in peace-building in unofficial ways. Some women are peace activists advocating for non-violence, others are mediators, educators or facilitators of capacity-building. Women often bridge divides across traditional ethnic, religious and cultural divisions, coming together on the shared concerns about practicalities of life.

The security has become a key area where NGOs, Think Tanks, civil society and donors can engage Government on issues pertaining to the empowering women. Women are crucial to inclusive security, since they are often at the center of nongovernmental organizations, popular protests, electoral referendums, and other citizen-empowering movements whose influence has grown with the global spread of democracy.

Women are active in Track Two diplomacy[3], informal peace protests, community dialogue, promoting intercultural tolerance and in practical peace initiatives. However, they are absolutely deprived from participation in formal peace negotiations. One of the key issues in Armenia and in the entire region that requires consistent efforts of the governments, civil societies and development partners, remains the involvement of women in conflict resolution and peace process. Many power-driven projects are initiated where women are actively involved. However, women remain alienated from the real decision making processes. These projects generate huge amount of important ideas and results, which are diminishing, as they are not used and heard. That’s why it’s time to stream the results of Track Two into Track One diplomacy[4]. Women can play significant role of the agents for change in their societies in conflict for transformation, confidence building and reconciliation.

Bringing women to the peace table and including them in formal processes is a must. There is strong need to engage women in Track One Diplomacy and increase the number of women at decision-making levels in national, regional and International institutions involved in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts.

Women’s voices should be heard in important decisions; they should be given opportunity to use their experiences to help prevent future generations from suffering the same issues.

As part of the Alliance’s comprehensive approach, there is a need to seek maximum cooperation with all involved International actors, particularly in the area of training and education.

Being the educators of their children, women must be empowered, as they are growing our future and successor generation, with understanding of moral values within the home, in their communities and in society.

Women need to be secured, in order to give birth and grow up our future generation.

[1] Eghishe (AD 410 – 475) Armenian historian. He was the author of a history documenting the successful revolt of the Armenians in the 5th century against the rule and religion of the Sassanid Persians.

[3] Track 2 diplomacy is a specific kind of informal diplomacy, in which non-officials (academic scholars, retired civil and military officials, public figures, and social activists) engage in dialogue, with the aim of conflict resolution, or confidence-building.

[4] Track 1 diplomacy- official diplomacy