Report ‘The Atlantic Alliance 70 Years Later: From Reform to Rebuilding’ FAES proposes a radical transformation of NATO

18/11/2019

    _JOSÉ MARÍA AZNAR: "The conjunction of Atlanticism, Europeanism and the liberal order is the most desirable and beneficial to face the complicated future".

    _MIRA MILOSEVICH: "The Russian threat has given a boost to NATO, but a strategy based on unity, deterrence and resistance is needed."

    _FLORENTINO PORTERO: "The Atlantic Alliance was born with a vocation of perpetuity, and has been maintained as long as we do not question the liberal order".

    _Without a common strategy, the Alliance will gradually fade away.

    _Only from the leadership of the United States, a new Strategic Concept and the return to investments in Defence will be possible to survive.

    _NATO is one of the pillars on which the liberal Order was built, a source of progress and a guarantee of freedom.

    _Today the Alliance is weaker, lacks strategy, has become bureaucratised and its internal divisions are deep.

    _The current role of the US undermines the transatlantic link

    _FAES points out seven steps to take to carry it out

The FAES foundation has presented its report ‘The Atlantic Alliance 70 Years Later: Frim Reform to Rebuilding’ in which it proposes a radical transformation of NATO. At the presentation ceremony, the former President of the Government and president of FAES, José María Aznar stated that “the combination of Atlanticism, Europeanism and liberal order is the most desirable and profitable way to face the complicated future that lies ahead”.

In his opinion, “the defence of Europe is today unimaginable without the existence of the Atlantic Pact and NATO. In all this time, the risk have not diminished, they have increased and they are of different types, and this precisely what makes the transformation of NATO necessary” "It is not feasible to talk about European defence without talking about the budget and objectives. Anyone who is in favour of an autonomous defence of Europe must be aware that it will cost much more than if Europe remains in NATO", he said.

The report was made public at an event also attended by Professors Mira Milosevich and Florentino Portero. Milosevich pointed out that "the Russian threat has given a boost to NATO, but NATO needs to develop a comprehensive strategy towards Russia based on unity, deterrence and resistance, especially to respond to hybrid threats". For his part, Florentino Portero recalled, "the Atlantic Alliance was born with a vocation of perpetuity, and that vocation has been maintained as long as we have not questioned the liberal order". But even now, "NATO remains the best possible option for guaranteeing freedom".

At a time of great complexity and strategic realignment, FAES examines the challenges facing NATO, one of the pillars on which the liberal order is built, and concludes that without a common strategy, the Alliance will gradually fade away. Its survival is only possible through US leadership, a new Strategic Concept and a return to defence investment.

The new FAES report is the result of a Working Group coordinated by Portero and Milosevich. Its final objective is to respond to the sense of NATO's existence in 2019 and reflect on whether it is possible to aspire to a better Atlantic Alliance or whether, on the contrary, we can accept its adaptation to the new global scenario.

A Decade of Serious Deterioration
Ten years ago FAES already published a Report recognising the serious deterioration suffered since the loss of the direct threat, which had ensured a high level of strategic cohesion. The Atlantic Alliance had gone from being a collective defence system to an international security organisation. In this context, the importance of recovering the nucleus that gave meaning to the Alliance and NATO was stressed, and to this end it was proposed to insist on lines of action such as counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, democracy promotion or missile defence, as well as the revision of certain decision-making procedures.

A decade later, we find ourselves in a much more complex environment in which NATO has not yet found its place and in which internal differences generate wear and lack of credibility. Seventy years after its founding, the Alliance is weaker, while NATO has become bureaucratised and underlined its vocation for security.

The Alliance has long lacked strategy and internal divisions over threats and future challenges are deep. The emergence of Islamism as a threat did not generate a shared strategy, weakening cohesion. At the operational level, it does not seek a permanent Alliance, but ad hoc coalitions in which powers with affected interests act jointly. Only the Russian threat has given recent impetus to NATO, strengthening political agreement on the need to secure the eastern border. Even so, NATO needs to develop a comprehensive strategy towards Russia based on unity, deterrence and resistance. To avoid a new Cold War, it must rely on dialogue and firmness.

Risk of secondary role
In both the 2009 and the current reports, FAES defends the Atlantic Alliance as a milestone in the History of International Relations and Public International Law, and underlines the decisive role it has played in defending the sovereignty of member states, containing the Soviet threat and reconfiguring today's world. It is one of the pillars on which the liberal Order was built, a source of progress and a guarantee of freedom, together with the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

However, FAES points out that we are facing the beginning of a new era and warns of the risk that the Atlantic Alliance will be relegated to a secondary role. Any change of era entails a higher level of risk. And now, more than in previous decades, we need the Alliance to ensure a safe passage to a still nascent international society. This will not be possible if we do not decisively tackle its rebuilding.

Seven necessary steps
There is no reason to think that the Alliance cannot endure in a different historical context, but the only thing for sure is that to do so it will have to undergo a radical transformation. Among the necessary steps to take, the FAES report points out:

1. Assume the reality of a change of era and its consequences on principles, categories, doctrines and organization.

2. Reflect on the extent to which we continue to be a community.

3. If we believe that we are, provide ourselves with a joint strategy to shape a new order in an environment of globalization and the effects of the IV Industrial Revolution. The Alliance would once again be one of its pillars, the main one responsible for our security. The role currently being played by the United States is extremely detrimental to the maintenance of the transatlantic link because of the implications of unilateralism and nationalism.

4. If we conclude that the conformation of the new order must be done from the states or regional organizations, we would have to ask ourselves if the Alliance still makes sense. It would no longer be one of the pillars of the liberal Order, but it would be the foundation of our security.

5. The Alliance is only possible from the leadership of the United States, today questioned. If it is not possible to rebuild a strategic consensus in Washington that gives stability to its external action, the Alliance will end up decomposing.

6. The Alliance will not be able to survive without a new and credible Strategic Concept that brings together all the risks and threats and proposes viable and shared alternatives. It is essential to adapt to a technologically different environment, where the conflict is permanent and the instruments of aggression do not respond to the label of a weapon.

7. Without military capabilities and interoperability, the Alliance is a fiction, which can also be transferred to the national defences of states. Either the course of defence investment is reversed or the Alliance would vanish due to the non-attendance of the parties.

NATO is guaranteed a comfortable and secondary role on the new international stage, but that is not the case with the Alliance. The legal expression of the Treaty can remain in time, but not the collective defence system. Without a common strategy, the Atlantic Alliance will gradually fade away.

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