NATO Summit 2016: Expectations, challenges, and ambitions
by Leon Aron,@AronRTTT, Thomas Donnelly, Frederick W. Kagan,@criticalthreats, Phillip Lohaus,@philliplohaus, Dalibor Rohac,@daliborrohac, Michael Rubin,@mrubin1971, Gary J. Schmitt,
This year’s NATO Summit in Warsaw arrives at a time when the alliance faces significant challenges to its security and effectiveness.
In advance of the July 8-9 summit, AEI scholars and Radek Sikorski, a senior fellow at the Center of European Studies at Harvard University and former Polish minister of defense (2005- 2007), foreign minister (2007-2014), and speaker of parliament (2014-2015), offer their perspectives in response to the following questions:
- What can and should we expect from the NATO summit?
- Is the alliance secure, especially in light of continued disinvestment in defense?
- What about the growing challenge from Russia?
- Is the threat of European disunion — not only from Brexit, but also the refugee crisis and new extremist political parties — a problem for the world’s most successful military alliance?
The biggest challenge NATO is facing is the transition from a reactive defensive strategy vis-à-vis Putin’s Russia to a proactive one. This latter ought to be based on the recognition that the only way to check Putin’s aggression in the long run is to increase the domestic political costs of his foreign and defense policies. Foreign policy “triumphs” and the militarized patriotism that they feed constitute the foundation of the regime’s legitimacy as economic and social problems multiply and deepen.
Turning Putin’s foreign policy, therefore, from a source of pride to that of doubt and eventually remorse in the face of setbacks and costs in blood and treasure will at least confront Moscow with the choice of going on or seeking another means of legitimacy by improving the toxic domestic investment climate which is incompatible with the current external policies. The place to start is forcing Russia’s withdrawal from the de-facto occupied south-east Ukraine and working toward the eventual return of Crimea to Ukraine.
Thomas M. Donnelly, Resident Fellow and Co-Director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, AEI
While the Brexit vote dominates the headlines and transatlantic diplomacy surrounding the Warsaw summit, NATO also faces what is arguably a more serious question for what remains – at least nominally – a military organization: its inability to meet Europe’s security needs.
This past month, the alliance conducted what was billed as its largest exercises since the end of the Cold War. These centered around a maneuver dubbed “Anakonda 2016,” the reinforcement of Poland and the onward movement of forces to the Baltic states. The US Army not only moved units based in Germany, but deployed heavy armored forces from the continental United States, making up 14,000 of the NATO total of 31,000.