CHAL­LENGES FOR NATO

Global crises are prompt­ing the al­liance to re­vi­talise its ap­proach to­wards how it deals with con­flicts, with mul­ti­ple com­plex sit­u­a­tions de­mand­ing a va­ri­ety of tac­tics.

Viet Nam News - - Front Page - by Bryan McManus

As Jens Stoltenberg takes charge of NATO, the al­liance is con­fronting chal­lenges on mul­ti­ple fronts amid grow­ing global up­heaval.

BRUSSELS — For­mer Nor­we­gian premier Jens Stoltenberg will on Wed­nes­day take charge of a re­vi­talised NATO which less than a year ago looked like a Cold War di­nosaur in a fastchang­ing world.

The al­liance has a new­found sense of pur­pose thanks to the Ukraine cri­sis but Stoltenberg will be aware that it must also face up to many other and longert­erm chal­lenges, an­a­lysts said.

It is sim­plis­tic to fo­cus just on Ukraine cri­sis, they cau­tion, when what is needed is a “21st cen­tury threat re­sponse ” which re­quires money and a sus­tained po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment from all 28 mem­ber states.

De­clin­ing de­fence bud­gets have left “ NATO forces se­verely over­stretched to im­ple­ment de­ter­rence against Rus­sia in east­ern Europe while con­fronting grow­ing disorder in North Africa and the Mid­dle East ” , said Alexan­dra de Hoop Sch­ef­fer of the Ger­man Mar­shall Fund.

As the United States turns to­wards Asia, Wash­ing­ton will ex­pect more from its al­lies who will “ need to de­fine how they are will­ing to es­tab­lish se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity... from East­ern Europe to Cen­tral Asia and from the Mid­dle East to North Africa ” , de Hoop Sch­ef­fer said.

At the same time, up­heaval in the Mid­dle East and Africa is spawn­ing com­plex dan­gers which also de­mand an an­swer.

In Afghanistan mean­while, NATO is wind­ing up its long­est- ever com­bat op­er­a­tion while re­main­ing com­mit­ted to a post-2014 train­ing and ad­vi­sory mis­sion which it hopes will safe­guard the frag­ile and costly gains made on the ground.

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama brought the strands to­gether at a NATO sum­mit in New­port, Wales, in early Septem­ber.

He first called on the al­lies to back a broad in­ter­na­tional coali­tion to de­feat Is- lamic State ex­trem­ists in Iraq and Syria.

The sum­mit then agreed to boost NATO readi­ness, set­ting up a fast re­ac­tion force to re­spond to fu­ture crises, and cru­cially, to in­crease de­fence spend­ing after years of de­cline.

“We have reaf­firmed the cen­tral mis­sion of the al­liance,” Obama told his peers.

“An armed at­tack against one shall be con­sid­ered an at­tack against them all. This is a bind­ing treaty obli­ga­tion. It is non- ne­go­tiable. ”

Now comes the hard part – putting those words into ac­tion.

Stoltenberg “will have to fo­cus on im­ple­men­ta­tion (of what) the al­liance de­cided at the sum­mit, ” said Jan Techau, di­rec­tor of the Carnegie Europe think-tank in Brussels.

The com­mit­ment to in­crease an­nual de­fence spend­ing to 2.0 per cent of na­tional eco­nomic out­put within 10 years – a tar­get most mem­bers fall well short of now – “ will be very dif­fi­cult: some will not abide by it, oth­ers will then be tempted to follow their ex­am­ple ” , Techau said.

“ There is a po­lit­i­cal game that needs to be played very skill­fully, he added.

At the same time, NATO will have to forge a work­ing re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia given the wider dan­gers – nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion, ter­ror­ism, tur­moil in the Mid­dle East – which both face.

NATO “should pre­serve the means for co­op­er­a­tion with Rus­sia in the long term”, which may mean “tak­ing a prag­matic and cau­tious ap­proach” over Ukraine, de Hoop Sch­ef­fer said.

But one NATO diplo­mat, who asked not to be named, said a tough re­sponse now over Ukraine may not nec­es­sar­ily be counter-pro­duc­tive.

“To deal with Rus­sia suc­cess­fully, you have to do so from a po­si­tion of firm­ness, stand­ing your ground,” the diplo­mat said. —

AFP/VNA Phto

For­mer Norway's premier Jens Stoltenberg was named the next NATO chief on March 28 and will on Wed­nes­day take charge of a re­vi­talised NATO which less than a year ago looked like a Cold War di­nosaurt in a fast-chang­ing world. —

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