News / Europe

Gates Calls for Major Changes at NATO

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called on the NATO alliance Tuesday to chart a clear path toward relevance and enhanced capability as it faces a different set of threats than it was founded to address more than 60 years ago.  Gates wants a key NATO document being drafted this year to advance a transformation theme U.S. leaders have been pressing for a long time.

Secretary Gates told a NATO conference in Washington that the new Strategic Concept officials are set to write this year needs to address a wide range of issues in what he called a "succinct,... comprehensible and compelling" document that impresses Europeans raised in a post-Cold War and post-September 11 world.

"The demilitarization of Europe - where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it - has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st [century]," he said.

Secretary Gates said Europe's people must come to understand the importance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as an international security alliance, not just an organization for the protection of Europe's territorial integrity, as it was at its founding in 1949.

"Threats are more likely to emanate from failed, failing or fractured states than from aggressor states, where dangerous, non-state actors often operate from within nations with which we are not at war, or from within our own borders, and where weapons proliferation and new technologies make possible the specter of chaos and mass destruction in any of our capitals," he said .

Gates said NATO needs to change the way it operates - improving its budget process, investing in future capabilities and closing bases it no longer needs.  He noted that for many years, the member-nations have not been willing to meet requirements for cargo planes, refueling aircraft, helicopters and intelligence capabilities.  The secretary said the alliance needs to "fundamentally change how it sets priorities and allocates resources," so it can remain "relevant" in a changing "strategic landscape."

U.S. officials have pressed those points many times in recent years, urging Europeans to spend more on defense and be more supportive of NATO efforts - ranging from missile defense to the war in Afghanistan.  U.S. officials say there has been progress, particularly in getting more European troops for Afghanistan.

But British researcher Sally McNamara of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation doubts whether a new document from the alliance will change what she calls the "pacifistic" trend in many European countries.

"If we look at the problems that NATO has, [such as] burden sharing, it's Afghanistan.  We're in Afghanistan right now and there is nothing about a piece of paper or a treaty that is going to more equitably share the burden in Afghanistan.  And that is the problem, she said."

A defense expert focusing on NATO issues, McNamara says she was initially quite enthusiastic about the plan for a new alliance Strategic Concept document.  But as the process has developed, she says she has come to believe that the alliance's 28 nations will be unable to draft the kind of document they need.

"If you look at NATO's last strategic concept in 1999, it was widely regarded as one of the most useless documents because it was too long [and] it had a bit of something for everyone," she said.  "This document will almost certainly do that, and that will be a shame because it won't be clear; it won't give any message about the future," said McNamara.

Secretary Gates also mentioned that concern Tuesday, speaking to NATO officials at the National Defense University in Washington.

"NATO needs serious, far-reaching and immediate reforms to address a crisis that has been years in the making.  And unless the Strategic Concept spurs operational and institutional changes like those I just mentioned, it will not be worth the paper it is printed on," said Gates.

The conference is expected to be the last public discussion of issues related to NATO's new Strategic Concept.  In the next phase, experts will draft a document, circulate it among NATO members and make changes needed to get the required approval from all of them, and then put it up for formal endorsement at the next NATO summit, which is expected to be held in Lisbon late this year.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid