Saturday, June 03, 2006

NATO Defense Ministers Meeting and Agendas for the Future

NATO defense ministers meeting will be held on June 8 in Brussels. In the post-Cold War era, NATO forces act outside Europe. The agenda in this meeting will be the key to US strategy and its relations with allies.

Julian Lindley-French, Senior Scholar at the Center for Applied Policy, University of Munich, has contributed an article “For the Crucial Alliance, a Day of Decision” to the International Herald Tribune on May 30.

He says this meeting is important to set the agenda for the summit meeting in Riga this November. In face of increasingly authoritarian and assertive China, and erratic and untrustworthy Russia, NATO must transform itself into a global security alliance. For this objective, he suggests four points to be discussed.

1. Structural interventions:
Be clear about the reason for intervention. The alliance intervenes when democratic security is threatened. A new concept of structural intervention is required to re-energize NATO objectives.

2. Smart organization:
If NATO were to act globally, its forces must be more professional and smaller. It is necessary to strike a balance between rapid reaction and enduring operation to accomplish the mission for stability and reconstruction.

3. Smart transformation:
In face of new threats, like Russia, China, and other smaller autocratic states, NATO must develop a collective military capability. Also, NATO forces must be agile and multinational to adjust themselves to diversified missions.

4. Smart partnerships:
NATO can work with democracies in the Asia Pacific, the Greater Middle East, and Latin America. The June 8 meeting should be the first step toward a big NATO.

The above four points are crucial for American allies outside NATO as well. Japan, Australia, and New Zealand will act with NATO from Suez to the Pearl Harbor. Currently, US forces in Japan are under transformation, and this is a vital issue in Japanese national security. What happens in the Atlantic and the Pacific is strongly interrelated. Also, some like India, aspiring for a strategic partnership with the United States, needs to pay attention to issues discussed at the ministers meeting.

They are agendas for American global strategy, not only for the transatlantic alliance.