What will the future of NATO look like?

After more than 60 years on its founding, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is facing new threats and challenges today ranging from terrorism and nuclear proliferation to piracy, cyber-attacks, and the disruption of energy supplies.

When NATO’s founding members signed the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949, they declared themselves “resolved to unite their efforts for collective defense and for the preservation of peace and security.” But now its priorities changed to be fighting ISIS and countering Russian aggression, among other threats.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement that “the problems are coming at us quickly and with complexities,” adding that there is a difference in opinion over NATO’s future among its members. Some are leaning towards more “coalitions of the willing,” in the future, rather than relying on the entire international alliance.

“We feel strongly that NATO is an effective organization,” he said. “But that doesn't mean NATO plays the same role it did in Afghanistan, but maybe (a role similar to) in Libya or Iraq. Libya started as a ‘coalition’ operation and was handed off to NATO.”

On that note, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in her speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany that Europe is facing a new security environment and Security policy is back at the top of the agenda. “There are disturbing developments on Europe’s periphery,” Solberg said. “In the south, we are witnessing instability, state collapse, violent extremism and civil wars. In the east, Russia’s violations of international law are causing concern. They are challenging our core values and the fundamental rules for Europe’s security.”

“We must ensure that NATO remains strong and capable of collective defense” she added, considering that a credible and capable NATO must be the first priority.

In her opinion, NATO should engage partners more actively to preserve its role. “NATO’s security challenges do not stop at NATO’s borders and the risks our partners face have direct consequences for allied security,” she said.

Cover credit: Blog.streitcouncil.org


Christina Boutros