News / Europe

NATO Leaders Meet Amid Array of Crises

Security fencing and police outside Cardiff Castle ahead of the UK-based NATO summit, in Cardiff, Wales, Sept. 3, 2014.
Security fencing and police outside Cardiff Castle ahead of the UK-based NATO summit, in Cardiff, Wales, Sept. 3, 2014.
Al Pessin

The 28 NATO leaders are gathering in Wales, in western Britain, for their first summit in two years, amid a new and challenging array of crises.
 
In 2012 in Chicago, they focused on Afghanistan, and continued the decades-long process of redefining the alliance for the post-Cold War world. They discussed issues like nuclear weapons proliferation, extremist violence, the Syrian civil war and missile defense.  
 
But the threats were distant or theoretical, leaving NATO to struggle to articulate a compelling mission, and to convince its own people to spend more on defense.
 
This summit “will take place in a changed world,” according to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
 
Ukraine, Islamic State


NATO is being challenged by Russia in Ukraine and by the newly prominent Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria. Leaders are also concerned about the Ebola outbreak in Africa, China’s increased assertiveness in Asian border disputes, and fallout from the Syrian civil war, in addition to all of the less urgent issues of two years ago.
 
The problem, experts say, is that the world’s strongest military bloc finds itself unable to address any of those issues decisively.
 
“There isn’t a whole lot that NATO can do about this push-back by Putin,” said former British official Nick Witney, now at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Maybe we in the West should console ourselves that before Putin started pushing back, we have, over the last two decades, pushed Russia a hell of a long way in the other direction.”
 
Indeed, NATO has absorbed all the former Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe. But Russian President Vladimir Putin is drawing the line when it comes to actual former members of the Soviet Union, like Georgia and Ukraine.
 
To stop Ukraine from moving to join the European Union, and ensure it never joins NATO, Putin annexed Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine in support of a separatist rebellion he instigated. Since Ukraine is not a NATO member, the alliance has no obligation to help, and no wish to get into a war with Russia.
 
“[Russia] is not going to let go of its ability to influence events in Ukraine, and there frankly isn’t a whole lot we can do about it,” Witney said.
 
Summit agenda

Instead, NATO is planning a series of steps - to be formalized at the summit - to demonstrate its support for its relatively new eastern members and to improve its ability to respond quickly if Russia moves against any of them. That will involve creating a quickly deployable force, and stationing supplies and some personnel on bases near its eastern borders.
 
“We are faced with the reality that Russia considers us an adversary, and we will adapt to that situation,” Rasmussen said at a pre-summit news conference.
 
Regarding the Islamic State, which threatens the stability of Iraq and has been brutalizing non-Sunni Muslims in areas it controls, “specifics ... are going to be very hard to deliver,” said Robin Niblett, the director of London’s Chatham House.
 
The United States has been bombing Islamic State fighters, to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting them on the ground. And U.S. and other allied military aircraft have dropped relief supplies for trapped and besieged civilians. But it is not a NATO mission and is not expected to become one.
 
The summit is expected to call for more steps to fight the spread of extremism and to support Iraq’s new government, which is now being formed, but not much more.
 
Afghanistan

The leaders will also review progress toward ending the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of this year, and deploying several thousand trainers and advisers. But that can’t happen until Afghanistan’s new president signs an agreement on the status of the new force, and a controversial recount of ballots is still in progress.
 
As always, NATO leaders will agree on various moves to try to increase the alliance’s military capability, to enable their forces to work together and to confront threats like missile proliferation and cyber attacks.
 
But Robin Niblett says the Ukraine and Iraq crises may have provided the leaders with a theme to tie such issues together, and to get the attention of their people.
 
“It is a critical summit,” he said. “It was all theoretical ... the world was not perceived to be as dangerous a place to the West as it has turned out to be.  This is a summit in which all NATO members and their partners need to step up and start to communicate to themselves and externally and to their publics - this is a dangerous world and there is a purpose to this alliance.”

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John from: USA
September 03, 2014 3:53 PM
Why can't NATO simply quit antagonizing Russia?

NATO under direction of the US has squandered the greatest existing chance for a fully peaceful Europe by insisting that the states formely within the Soviet sphere of influence once again become aligned. A truly monumental lack of vision and failure of leadership which will continue to have bad consequences.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid