The American Interest

Another New NATO

NATO’s new “Strategic Concept” (SC), adopted at the summit in Lisbon on November 20, is neither new, nor strategic, nor much of a concept.  The 11-page document avoids issues of high strategy and refrains from conceptual daring.  It is worth pondering mainly for what it does not say.

Its six enumerated goals are largely conventional.  Members will defend one another against attack, “new threats” included.  NATO will prevent crises, manage conflicts, and stabilize postconflict situations, “working closely” with the United Nations and the European Union.  NATO’s “partners around the globe” will be offered “more political engagement with the Alliance, and a substantial role in shaping the NATO-led operations to which they contribute.”  NATO’s goal is “a world without nuclear weapons” (inserted at the insistence of nonnuclear Germany), but “as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear power” (added at the insistence of France).  Membership is open to “all European de­mo­cracies.”

The document’s “Core Tasks and Principles” are pure agitprop: “The Alliance remains an essential source of stability in an unpredictable world”; its member-states “form a unique community of values, committed to the principles of individual liberty,...

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