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  • Author: Thomas G. Mahnken, Grace B. Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: On NATO’s entire Eastern and South-Eastern flank, the Allies face a major, pressing and subtle challenge. Using sub-conventional grey zone tactics, Moscow has repeatedly tried, and at times succeeded, in expanding its influence, eroding international norms, undermining the rules-based in- ternational order, and shifting the balance of power in its favour. Preventing Russia from launching such op- portunistic acts of aggression is particularly import- ant because its armed forces are developing the ability to attack quickly – under the cover of increasingly capable defences – countries on their periphery in a clear effort to impose a fait accompli.1 NATO countries are at a particular disadvantage in this type of compe- tition. Their force structures consist of expensive and technologically complex information-gathering platforms, such as satellites and manned aircraft, which due to their high costs are also scarce and employed with reluctance by states who generally hesitate to put them in harm’s way. Additionally, the prohibitively high cost of these platforms deters some countries from investing in these types of capabilities. As debates within NATO about cash, capabilities and contributions continue to hold the stage, highlighting Allies’ needs for different types of capabilities – less expensive, more resilient, and relatively more disposable – is important.2 Equal- ly critical is the need for Allies to develop new concepts of operations as well as new organi-zations to employ them effectively. The solution may not involve fielding exotic new capabilities so much as employing existing ones in innovative ways. It will also benefit greatly from approaches that allow Allies and partners to participate fully. If we do not adapt, we risk being surprised by potentially catastrophic events in a future conflict.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, Eastern Europe, North America, Southern Europe
  • Author: Olivier Rittimann
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: What is commonly known as the “Ber- lin Plus” arrangements, signed in March 2003, provides for the European Union (EU) to draw upon NATO’s assets and capabilities for operations in which the Alliance would not be militarily involved. Following lengthy delays incurred by the Cyprus question, it was only as of 2003 that the agreement was successfully implemented with the transfer of operations from NATO to the EU in both the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2003) and then in Bosnia-Herzegovina (2004). The Berlin Plus agreement guarantees EU access to NATO planning capabilities, which contribute to EU- led military operations through the identification of command options, procedures for release and recall of NATO assets and capabilities, and the exchange of classified intelligence under reciprocal security protection rules. At the end of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia (1999), the EU had no defence staff fit to plan nor conduct an operation, and it is only fifteen years ago that member states established national Operation Headquarters (OHQ), which nations make available for EU operations, as was done in 2006 in the Demo- cratic Republic of Congo and in 2007 in Chad. At the end of the 1990s, the Berlin Plus proposal made em- inent sense: it prevented any duplication (by the EU) of assets and fostered the emergence of a European operational culture. But is the Arrangement still fit for purpose almost 20 years later?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Chloe Berger, Cynthia Salloum
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Russia’s presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a significant component of contemporary Russian foreign and security policy. Moscow’s approach to NATO’s South1 has undoubtedly undergone considerable change since the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, it had built a set of alliances with Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Algeria and Libya, among others, which gave Moscow important leverage throughout the region. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan stirred resistance and opposition in the Muslim world, marking a major turning point in its Middle Eastern foreign policy. With the demise of its empire, in addition to its economic and military weaknesses, Russia faced a series of new challenges: a further disintegration of its own south, notably in the South Caucasus, the rise of radical extremism in Chechnya and Dagestan and a NATO programme of partnerships and cooperation that threatened its influence. All of these constrained Moscow’s foreign policy at large, including its Middle Eastern arrangements. In pursuing interests above values, Russia, in the last twenty years, developed channels of dialogue and cooperation with several Sunni Arab states traditionally close to the US, including Saudi Arabia, while deepening diplomatic and military ties with Iran and the Syrian regime. Russia maintained relations with Fatah and recognized Hamas after it won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, while successfully engaging pragmatically with Israel.2 Keeping contacts open with all relevant parties marks continuity between Soviet and Russian foreign policies. Moreover, in the last decade, the increasing instability across the Middle East and North Africa after the Arab Spring, from which Moscow kept its distance, offered new opportunities for influence and power projection, most notably in Syria and Libya. Putin is tracking two main objectives there: one is building status as a regional actor; the other is enhancing his prestige domestically.3 From the Libyan power vacuum to the US retreat from Afghanistan, the Kremlin is making the most of strategic opportunities and may continue to do so. However, it remains to be seen whether its regained confidence will lead to a more permanent Russian presence and influence. In the South, Moscow has today a relative free rein. But an increasingly mature European Union and most importantly a powerful and more strategically oriented US under President Biden may seriously constrain Russia’s room for manoeuvre. Several drivers, ranging from domestic and economic politics to regional and global geopolitics, could explain Russian involvement in the MENA. Firstly, Russia is building a defensive strategy aimed at reinforcing its front line against Western encroachment and Islamist terrorist attacks. Secondly, it is displaying an expansionist drive, aimed at controlling at least parts of the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean by consolidating old alliances and building new coalitions including with business and arms traders. Thirdly, Russia’s presence in the MENA can be seen as a classic zero-sum game of power politics with the US whereby Moscow is trying to fill the void left by Washington. Last, but certainly not least, it is also driven by domestic considerations that strengthen Putin’s grip on power, and Russia’s regional influence and international prestige. While all these factors play a role, this edited volume shows that opportunism and contingency remain key variables to explain Russian behaviour in the MENA. All of these drivers were somehow on display in Syria, which became an ideal case-study to explain Russian policy in the South. Yet, beyond the specific rationale, some questions still remain about Russia’s future role and influence in the region. Is the MENA region significant enough to help Russia recover a status of global power beyond regional leadership? Do status and prestige suffice, and if so, at what cost? What are Russia’s current and future investments in the region and what are their consequences on trade, energy, and its military posture? What would the real benefits of a Russian return to the MENA region be for its economy and power? Most importantly, what would be the consequences of an assertive Russia for NATO and its partners in the South?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Andris Banka
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In recent years NATO has markedly increased its presence in the Baltic states. Relatively “light”, yet highly diverse multinational forces have been placed across the Alliance’s frontline with an underly- ing objective: to deter Russia. In this effort, the United States has served as a critical ballast. The Pentagon has directed sophisticated military exercises and rotated US service members throughout the region. These mea- sures, however, often did not align with US President Donald Trump’s spoken words nor written tweets. This obvious dichotomy disoriented Allied governments and shook bedrock assumptions about US security commitments. As political power changes hands in Washington, this lends an opportunity for a retooling of the transatlantic partnership. Domestically, incoming US President Joe Biden ran on the platform “Build Back Better”. In the spirit of that slogan, this Policy Brief lays out policy cor- rectives that both sides of the Atlantic could pursue to strengthen the US-Baltic security link.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Thierry Tardy
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO’s history is marked by both profound continuity and deliberate adaptation. Over the past seven decades, NATO’s mission, the defense of the Euro-Atlantic area, and its constitutive values – democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law – have not changed. Similarly, the Alliance’s founding principle, namely the commitment Allies have made to defend each other and work together for their common security and defense, is as relevant today as it was when the Alliance was established in 1949. At the same time, NATO has adapted throughout its history to ensure it always remained capable to fulfil its mission and guarantee the defense and security of the almost one billion citizens it was established to protect. In the last decade, this meant that the Alliance had to boost its ability to tackle more sophisticated non-conventional threats. It has done so by investing in resilience as well as by enhancing its tools to fight terrorism, counter cyber threats, and respond to hybrid challenges. Even more fundamentally, since 2014, NATO has responded to the changing security environment by implementing the biggest adaptation of its collective defense since the end of the Cold War. This has led to deploying combat- ready troops in the East of the Alliance, modernizing NATO’s command structure and Headquarters, enhancing the readiness of Allied forces and to an increased and sustained Allied commitment to invest more in defense. In this context, NATO 2030, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s initiative, is driven by the belief that, to remain a strong and agile Alliance, NATO must continue its adaptation and focus on how to respond to a rapidly changing security environment. At the December 2019 NATO Leaders Meeting, Allied Heads of State and Government asked the Secretary General to lead a forward-looking reflection on NATO’s future. They asked him to provide concrete recommendations to NATO leaders in time for the 2021 Summit. In response, the Secretary General launched NATO 2030, focusing on the key question of how to prepare the Alliance for the next decade. To inform his thinking, the Secretary General decided to reach out and gather ideas from a wide number of actors: he appointed an independent group to provide him with their advice, established the NATO 2030 Young Leaders to hear the recommendations of the “next” generation, and launched a number of dialogues with civil society, youth and the private sector. The rationale behind this approach is solid: in an increasingly complex world where security challenges are more diverse and diffuse, it is especially important to engage with a broad set of stakeholders and to take different perspectives into consideration. The NATO Defense College’s work on NATO 2030 fits within this broader set of discussions and contributes to the policy debate on NATO 2030 and on NATO’s future more broadly. The timing is especially ripe for a reflection on NATO’s future adaptation. Looking at 2030, the Alliance needs to prepare for a more uncertain and competitive world. This requires understanding how the shifting global balance of power will affect both the international rules-based order as well as Allied security. It will be essential to consider how to best ready the transatlantic Alliance and how to forge a common approach to tackle these systemic challenges. At the same time, preparing for the future also means accounting for exponential technological changes and their impact on how conflicts are understood and fought; as well as stepping up efforts to combat climate change and prepare to mitigate and counter its security impact. It is also important to stress that while NATO needs to adapt to new challenges, it must also continue to strengthen its ability to tackle existing ones. NATO 2030 thus gives the Alliance an opportunity to both take stock of the impressive adaptation occurred over the past decade and to redouble its efforts to prepare for the upcoming one. To do so, the Secretary General put forward three broad goals: to keep NATO strong militarily, to make the Alliance stronger politically, and to ensure it adopts a more global approach. The papers presented in this volume contribute to the thinking on how to meet each of these goals. First, keeping NATO strong militarily is of course central to ensuring the Alliance’s ability to fulfil its mandate. Collective strength and solidarity are equally crucial to maintain Allied unity and cohesion and to underpin the Alliance’s political role. Ensuring NATO stays strong militarily requires sustained Allied investment in defense, but also a focus on Allied resilience and on technological innovation. Andrea Gilli’s paper on “NATO, Technological Superiority and Emerging and Disruptive Technologies” tackles the crucial question of how to ensure NATO’s technological superiority in the future. The paper rightly recognizes that historically the Alliance’s ability to deter and defend has always been predicated upon maintaining a technological edge over competitors and potential adversaries. Looking at a future of exponential technological change and geopolitical competition, it is evident that preserving Allied technological superiority will become simultaneously more complex and more important. NATO has recognized the growing importance of investing in innovation and in preventing a transatlantic gap when it comes to the adoption of emerging and disruptive technologies in security and defense. This is why, in recent years, the Alliance has redoubled its efforts in this field. Building on this progress, it is important to examine what more NATO could do towards 2030 when it comes to technological innovation in general and emerging and disruptive technologies specifically. Gilli’s paper points to a number of important areas, including by stressing the need to think creatively about what role NATO can play to foster transatlantic innovation and encourage more Allied investments and cooperation on R&D. A similarly interesting and related notion is the need for NATO to reflect on its role when it comes to transatlantic training and education, both crucial to fostering cooperation and boosting interoperability. Second, NATO 2030 focuses on how to strengthen NATO’s political role. On the one hand, this means ensuring NATO remains the platform where North America and Europe consult and coordinate on all issues relevant to their common security and defense. On the other hand, a more political NATO is also an Alliance that is better able to rely on both military and non-military tools to fulfil its mandate. The importance of this issue emerges clearly in Marc Ozawa’s paper “Adapting NATO to grey zone challenges”. The essay examines NATO’s tools and responses to a world in which competitors and potential adversaries increasingly rely on political, diplomatic, economic and military tools to challenge Allied security. The author argues that responding to these hybrid challenges requires the Alliance to update its broad strategy and expand its toolkit. This conclusion aligns with the Secretary General’s call to update the 2010 Strategic Concept to take into account the new strategic environment. In addition, enhancing NATO’s ability to respond to grey zone challenges, from information warfare, to asymmetric approaches and economic coercion, also means continuing and enhancing the Alliance’s work on resilience, as the first line of defense against both conventional and non-conventional challenges. In this respect, Ozawa rightly argues that NATO should both expand the lens through which it looks at resilience and widen the actors it involves in its consultations on this issue. Expanding NATO’s work on resilience could include, among others, using NATO more as a platform to discuss, identify and mitigate economic vulnerabilities that could be exploited to both sow disagreements and undermine Allied security. Similarly, broadening consultations on issues related to resilience and countering hybrid threats could lead to both more regular NATO meetings of Allied national security advisors and more robust engagement with the private sector. Finally, the Secretary General’s vision for NATO 2030 highlights the importance of adopting a more global outlook. Even though NATO is a regional Alliance, the challenges it faces are global, from terrorism to climate change. In this context, the question of how to better leverage NATO’s partnerships becomes especially important. Thierry Tardy’s essay, “From NATO’s partnerships to security networks” affirms the importance of partnerships as one of NATO’s key political tools and looks at how to further enhance them towards 2030. In a world of growing geopolitical competition, one of the key questions for NATO 2030 is how to further strengthen the Alliance’s political dialogue and practical cooperation with like-minded partners to deal with global challenges and defend the rules-based international order. Another important priority should be to examine how to further invest and leverage in partnerships to contribute to peace and stability in NATO’s immediate neighborhood. The three papers developed by the NATO Defense College’s researchers engage with the Secretary General’s 2030 vision by looking at how the Alliance can enhance its ability to innovate, strengthen its toolkit against hybrid threats and further leverage its partnerships as an important political tool. The breadth of topics reflects the fact that NATO finds itself in the most complex and challenging security environment since the end of the Cold War. In turn, this requires in-depth thinking about how to continue to deter and defend and tackle existing challenges as well as how to redouble efforts to adapt and innovate to address emerging ones.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Marcin Zaborowski
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The post-Cold War enlargements have changed the Alliance, its geopolitics and the definition of its purpose, which is no longer limited to deterring against threats to Allies’ territory. Enlarge- ments have also redefined the security and defence policies of the new member states, by transforming their armed forces, civil military relationships and im- pacting their defence industries. The states that joined NATO since 1989 are usually categorized as Central Europe or Central and East- ern Europe. Within this Central European realm of new member states, one can distinguish between the North-East, the Centre, the South-East, and the West- ern Balkans. All states in these groupings were com- munist prior to the end of the Cold War. Today, with the Cold War fast becoming a faded memory, Central Europeans tend to define their security needs with in- creasing divergence, with major repercussions on their defence policies, in spite of their belonging to the same Alliance. This Policy Brief maps out Central Europe by identifying groups of states in the region and looking at defence policy divergences. It focuses on a number of indicators, such as defence spending, acquisition of defence equipment and attitudes towards hosting for- eign NATO troops on their soil.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Post Cold War
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Heather A Conley
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The 1949 Washington Treaty is a remarkably brief document consisting of a preamble and 14 articles. The Treaty describes only the po- litical commitments and obligations of the signato- ries. It does not articulate a requirement for NATO members to spend a certain amount of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense nor does it specify the military capabilities that a NATO member must possess to defend the Alliance. From 1949 to the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO was the singular locus of geopolitical discus- sion between North America and Europe. These were not easy discussions, yet the Alliance weathered strident policy and geopolitical policy differences. NATO also endured its members temporarily ceasing to be democracies due to military coups or concern about Communist influence on NATO governments. With a political body standing on the shoulders of a credible military deterrence, Allies were able to deploy creative problem-solving skills to bridge political dif- ferences, such as the policy innovation of deterrence and détente, while pursuing other, quieter methods, such as the temporary suspension of sharing sensitive intelligence from compromised NATO governments. Unfortunately, NATO’s centrality as a political forum greatly diminished after the Cold War as the Alliance reduced its political consultations in a less demanding geopolitical environment. Despite occa- sional interruptions of intense political discussion re- lated to conflict in the Balkans and the September 11th attacks, US retrenchment, combined with Europe’s inward focus, minimized NATO as a political forum. NATO was increasingly consumed by tactical decisions on out-of-area operations and transatlantic policy divisions over the Iraq War which fueled both Europe’s desire for greater autonomy and America’s questioning of the military utility of its Allies. NATO leaders substituted tactical – albeit important – military decisions regard- ing troop contributions, placement, and caveats as a substitute for political discussion. This political drift has now become so great that NATO members have begun to withhold support for the defensive planning of other Allies and new disputes between NATO members have the potential to escalate.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Michael Clarke
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO has always been an important player in global politics. It is in the nature of the Alli- ance that its essential military missions were always carefully defined and its geographical boundar- ies strictly set by the collective defence commitments among its members. Nevertheless, NATO’s role as a politico-military institution among the great powers of the Cold War ensured it would always be global- ly significant. It could not have been otherwise. This remains as much the case – though now in different ways – as we consider the international environment taking shape for the 2030s. In this new environment the unavoidable global responsibilities of being a regional military alliance can be summarised in three ways; looking at NATO’s role in helping western powers defend their wider interests in the multi-polar world; helping meet the pseudo-ideological challenges posed by the rise of autocracies; and contributing to issues of the “global commons”.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Schuyler Foerster, Jeffrey A. Larsen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: This Research Paper addresses four key issues: 1) a holistic definition of strategic stability, highlighting the principal sources of instability in Europe and identifying requirements for strengthening stability in Europe; 2) an examination of recent NATO efforts to shore up its defense and deterrent capabilities, while underscoring the need to address defense against non-military threats to stability; 3) a discussion of how a comprehensive arms control agenda could contribute to strategic stability, including wide-ranging discussions with Moscow about Russia’s place in an evolving European security framework; and 4) an analysis of three different strategic approaches that NATO might pursue, each of which combines enhancements to military and non-military defense and the possibility of a broader collaborative security agenda. The continuing volatility of NATO’s strategic environment will require that NATO maintain its long-established strategies of deterrence, defense, and reassurance. However, a strategy that depends almost exclusively on the deployment of military forces will be insufficient to sustain strategic stability in the long run. NATO also requires a clear and purposeful strategy that incorporates both defense and dialogue – including arms control policies – as integral and complementary tools for addressing threats. The authors recommend that NATO should proceed to shape a new Strategic Concept by outlining a 21st century Harmel Doctrine, emphasizing both defense and dialogue with Russia as complementary paths to improving strategic stability. Simultaneously, NATO should fulfill its requirements for a 21st century strategy for deterrence and defense in dealing with nuclear, conventional, cyber, hybrid, and other military and non-military threats. For the foreseeable future, NATO will need to craft a strategy for security and stability in Europe based on the assumption that Russia does not share the West’s worldview and will likely continue to seek to undermine the stability and cohesion achieved in Europe following the end of the Cold War. If Russia proves unwilling to engage in a meaningful collaborative security relationship, NATO will be justified in embarking on a 21st century version of a renewed “containment” policy that includes the reintroduction of even greater military capabilities in Europe. In all cases, NATO should ensure that Alliance cohesion – including its transatlantic security link – is preserved even as it deliberates difficult strategic questions.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Heinrich Brauss, Christian Mölling
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO must “stay strong militarily, be more united politically, and take a broader approach 1 globally”. When launching the reflection pro- cess on NATO’s future role, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg set these three priorities to frame his vision of NATO 2030. At their meeting in London in December 2019, NA- TO’s political leaders mandated a “forward-looking re- flection process” on how NATO should further adapt to ensure it was able to successfully cope with a world of competing great powers due to the rise of China and Russia’s persistently aggressive posture, together with instability along NATO’s southern periphery, new trans- national risks emerging from pandemics, climate change and disruptive technologies. Establishing a unified stra- tegic vision is vital for upholding the Alliance’s cohesion, credibility and effectiveness. Looking forward, what does this mean for NATO’s military dimension?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America