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

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development 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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid