Lord George Robertson was known as an independent-minded leader who takes personal decisions seriously. For instance, he opposed the decision to unilaterally disarm nuclear weapons.1 However, it is pertinent to mention that some of the decisions made by Robertson have been quite illogical. He was expected to support the disarmament proposal after joining NATO even though he never showed any interest or willingness to do so. To a large extent, Roberson was heavily inclined towards supporting American interests at the expense of NATO affairs.
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Nonetheless, he took a firm position in the fight against terrorism especially after the September 11 terror attacks in the United States. As a matter of fact, conjuring the fifth article on mutual defense was a pragmatic step in the right direction for the NATO Secretary General. The fight against terrorism received a new boost during his reign. Some of his critics believed that he could have done better in his leadership style than he portrayed while at the helm of NATO.2
NATO involvement in Afghanistan could be deemed as one of the failures of Lord Robertson because he permitted the action. The gross humanitarian crisis created by NATO involvement could not be equated to the skewed objectives of the move. On the other hand, Lord Robertson played a crucial role in the campaigns to keep Scotland under the United Kingdom. This followed attempts by some leaders in Scotland to separate the country from the United Kingdom.
In reference to Robertson, the union is important for the economic development of Scotland. It can also be recalled that the decision to avail war assets to Turkey was a crucial move when Robertson was the Secretary General of NATO. Although the move was initially meant for a good purpose, Turkey was eventually ravaged by war courtesy of the NATO decision under the leadership of George Robertson.
The most profound leadership initiative demonstrated during his leadership was the termination of the civil war that was about to take place in Macedonia. Robertson made every attempt to avert the war through the use peace keeping troops from NATO.
According to NATO, effective crisis management requires a comprehensive approach that incorporates both the military and non-military constituents of the organization. Political engagement is also recognized as an important component under the comprehensive approach3. A vital prerequisite that guided the comprehensive approach is the development of extensive cooperation among all the members. The fourth obligation was the analysis of the military, non-military and the economic factors required to ensure the success of the comprehensive approach in the field. However, the introduction of the approach has been complicated by several factors4.
According to NATO, military, civilian, and political approaches should be put in place in order to manage emerging crises effectively. In regards to the military approach, NATO proposes that crisis management can be effective if military force is applied in certain circumstances. Nonetheless, it is crucial to underscore the fact that several security challenges faced by the Euro-Atlantic bloc may not be solved through military action.
There are indeed complex problems faced by NATO member states. Unless reasonable measures and policy programs are initiated, the popular military approach may not be successful at all. As it stands out, the processes of stabilizing and reconstructing war-torn nations that belong may demand a lot of consultation from the civilians. Needless to say, political approaches are even worse than military action bearing in mind that politics has been a major setback towards realizing long term peace and stability. A comprehensive approach should largely involve the input by civilians since they form the soft target for rogue politicians and unpopular regimes.
A shared sense of responsibility coupled with concerted effort among NATO member states are crucial milestones that constitute comprehensive approach towards the reconstruction of peace and stability. Besides, transparency, determination and accountability among NATO members should form part and parcel of the required comprehensive approach. It is almost impossible for the organization to make a major stride in the right direction if politics and forceful military action are permitted to take the center stage.
The US-Russia relations have been bitter since the First World War and it may not end soon5. NATO is a well-established regional body that can indeed play a vital role to harmonize the working relationship between the two countries. Unfortunately, the latter is not the case. For example, NATO is believed to be a major architect in the current political crisis in Ukraine. NATO has also been accused of condoning the proliferation of nuclear weapons especially among nations that are considered to be unfriendly to the United States. A case in point is Iran. Although the latter state is not part of NATO, the organization has apparently played major underhand deals to worsen the state of peace and security between Iran and her neighbors.6
In spite of these grave accusations, NATO can still foster a cordial relationship between United States and Russia. To begin with, NATO ought to remain no-partisan in the internal divisive politics and foreign policy of the United States. In any case, Russia may not feel comfortable to accommodate NATO as a peace broker after being suspected to be impartial in the affairs affecting the region. It is fundamental to recall that a formidable relationship between the United States and Arab world has proven to be impossible mainly due to the veto power of the US and the overwhelming support of the latter from major political organizations such as NATO and the various organs of the United Nations7.
The NATO alliance should also strive to steer discussions between Russia and the United States. Moreover, there is urgent need to re-examine the United States’ foreign policy toward Russia. NATO should ensure that the United States clarifies its policy through close talks with Russia as since it is currently marred by misunderstandings
NATO and Europe may be reading from different scripts in regards to the US retrenchment. It is a common knowledge that the United States plays a central role in the operations of NATO. Perhaps, the reality on the ground is different altogether. Retrenchment by the US is not a welcomed move especially at a time when most of its troops are required to sever in several peace keeping missions.8
Ever since the United States began to withdraw its troops from Iraq, there is a growing concern that the American military intervention in countries around the world is gradually drawing to a halt. Moreover, the defense budget under the Obama administration has ended the robust annual spending on international military activities. There have been concerns over the future of NATO due to the shift by the United States.
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The organization can only survive if Europe starts to take a more active role with regard to international security. Europe may be required to take the position of the United States especially in terms of the number of troops deployed in foreign missions. In the case of NATO, the alliance might be compelled to a play a more diplomatic role towards the United States so that it may rescind its earlier decision9.
The current action by the United States can be equated to Russia’s defiance to leave Crimea. Whereas a sovereign nation like the United States cannot be forced to belong into any regional alliance, the retrenchment action came at the most inappropriate time. The US should have reconsidered its verdict bearing in mind that it still belongs to the global community. Furthermore, the retrenchment means that the military giants in Europe such as the United Kingdom will take up central roles in the international military interventions. NATO will also be required to devise its guidelines on the countries that will be involved in future military intervention.
NATO’s expansion is definitely expected to present both challenges and opportunities. A critical analysis of the anticipated expansion would fuel insecurity among certain member counties especially if the alliance opts to remain partial.10 For example, the gradual withdrawal of the US and troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan is ushering a new era of peace in the aforementioned nations. In the event that the US eventually withdraws all its armies from these nations, a rapid pace of socio-political and economic development will be realized by the civilians.
From this brief narrative, it is clearly evident that NATO’s expansion poses a major threat to world nations particularly in light of undemocratic governance of the alliance. The worst challenge can be experienced by NATO if rebellious nations decide to pull out from the common pact and act in their independent styles.
Second, the survival of NATO can only be feasible if Europe starts to take a more active role with regard to international security. During the Libyan war in 2011, the United States undertook limited role and allowed the European countries to take a more central responsibility in security and peacekeeping. The actions of the United States took the European countries by surprise11.
The best opportunity for NATO’s expansion can be witnessed if its policies and governance philosophies are overhauled. It is prudent to mention that peace and stability are common and most demanded entities by countries across the globe. If NATO’s decides to expand its horizons to other regions, it may as well be hugely accredited for maintaining peace and stability since the UN’s Security Council scorecard on international peace and security is below average.12 Furthermore, military giants in Europe might take up central roles in the international military interventions. NATO may equally be presented with vast opportunities to draft new security guidelines among partner states. As a result, over-dominance by countries such as France and the United Kingdom will be minimized or completely eliminated.
The United States and Europe have enjoyed a cordial political relationship since the last century. This partially explains why the two political blocs have managed to forge a close relationship for several decades. In other words, the US and Europe are historical allies who have prevailed against common enemies as a unified force.13
Nonetheless, there is more than meets the eye on the continual support of Europe by the United States. To begin with, the two transatlantic partners share a lot in common in terms of mutual benefits. For instance, they are strategically invaluable to each other in terms of wealth and security14. However, issues regarding climate change and terrorist detention processes have created conflicts in the past. Over the decades, the United States has been seen to protect Europe from the radical Islamic terrorists. This can be explained by the fact that Europe is a strategic spot that can be easily targeted by external insurgency.
Both the United States and Europe are also potential targets of terrorists. If terror activities are directed in Europe, it is highly likely that the United States will suffer similar social and economic repercussions. Better still, Europe is a major springboard for economic progress of the United States. It is against these backdrops that the United States compels itself to protect Europe as part of its foreign policy. 15.
It is noble responsibility of NATO invite the two countries into a common negotiation table so that bilateral cooperation can be fostered. Additionally, NATO must ensure that the plans to expand the alliance are halted until the two nations reach a consensus on the matter. As already pointed out, taking a neutral position on the conflicts between the two nations would definitely expedite the process of reconstructing the relationship between the two sovereign nations.
There have been mutual agreements between the two partners over the promotion of non-proliferation activities in the Middle East. In case of attacks, the military capability of some European nations would be of great importance to the United States.
‘Global NATO’ indicates the attempt by the organization to extend its membership to countries beyond the transatlantic region16. This was started due to the introduction of global politics during the post-cold war era. If the concept of ‘Global NATO’ will come into force, the alliance may be faced by myriads of opportunities and threats. The eventual outcome of the initiative largely relies on the framework adopted. The failure rate of such an expansive plan can be high.
For instance, when the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was transformed into the African Union (AU), the performance of the new has remained below par contrary to the expectations of the international community. Currently, there are a number of independent African states (Southern Sudan, Somali and the Democratic Republic of Congo) that are in political turmoil even in the presence of the perceived strengths and powers of the union. Expanding the geographical coverage and mandate of NATO may not necessarily generate the desired outcomes. The current NATO policies and operating framework should be made more robust before the initiative is rolled out.
The global challenges that exist today might be solved through the establishment of a viable global alliance. Currently, NATO has established the ‘contact countries’ that help in its operations. They include Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. These countries have been identified as potential contributors to the activities of the organization. The shape of the global security environment can only be explained by analyzing the long-term viability of NATO. Member countries that support the ‘Global NATO’ argue that international security can only be enhanced when an inclusive approach is adopted.
Global NATO might be desirable only under certain well-defined circumstances. First, the proposed global NATO can be desirable if the organization does not duplicate its roles with those of the UN Security Council. Duplication of roles and responsibilities among continental or regional alliances is a major setback in the effective delivery of services. Second, the landmark plan can be desirable if the alliance strictly remains non-aligned. Most of the rebellious attitude from the current member states has predominantly been caused by the partisan nature of the organization17.
“A Comprehensive Approach to crisis management.” 2013. Web.
Carpenter, Ted Galen. US Security Retrenchment: The First Effects of a Modest Shift. 2014. Web.
Daalder, Ivo, and James Goldgeier. Global NATO. 2006. Web.
Jakobsen, Peter Viggo. NATO’s Comprehensive Approach to Crisis Response Operations. 2008.
Mix , Derek. The United States and Europe: Current Issues. Washington D.C: Congressional Reserch Service, 2013. Web.
“NATO’s Next Challenges”. 2013. Web.
“NATO’s relations with Russia.” 2014. Web.
Nichol, Jim. Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests. Washington D.C: Congressional Research Service, 2014.
“Remarks by Former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.” 2009. Web.
Szyszlo, Peter. Countering NATO Expansion: A Case Study of Belarus-Russia Rapprochement. 2003. Web.
“The Folly of NATO Enlargement.” 2013. Web.
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“The U.S.-EU Partnership.” 2013. Web.
“Trapped”. 2014. Web.
“What US Rtrenchment means for Europe and NATO”. 2012. Web.
- “The NATO Secretary General”. Web.
- “Remarks by Former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson”, 2009. Web.
- “A Comprehensive Approach to crisis management”. 2013. Web.
- Peter Viggo Jakobsen, NATO’s Comprehensive Approach to Crisis Response Operations. 2008. Web.
- Jim Nichol, Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests. (Washington D.C: Congressional Research Service, 2014), 87-96.
- “The Folly of NATO Enlargement”. 2013. Web.
- NATO’s relations with Russia, 2014. Web.
- Ted Galen Carpenter, US Security Retrenchment: The First Effects of a Modest Shift. 2014. Web.
- What US Rtrenchment means for Europe and NATO”, 2012. Web.
- Carpenter, Ted Galen. US Security Retrenchment: The First Effects of a Modest Shift. 2014. Web.
- Center for European Reform. All Alone? What US Rtrenchment means for Europe and NATO. 2012. Web.
- Peter Szyszlo, Countering NATO Expansion: A Case Study of Belarus-Russia Rapprochement, 2003. Web.
- “The U.S.-EU Partnership”. 2013. Web.
- Derek Mix, The United States and Europe: Current Issues. (Washington D.C: Congressional Reserch Service, 2013), 49-56.
- Trapped”. 2014. Web.
- Ivo Daalder and James Goldgeier. Global NATO. 2006. Web.
- NATO’s Next Challenges”. 2013. Web.