European Affairs

2002 - A Crucial Year for NATO's Future     Print Email

This year is proving to be one of the most important for a long time in shaping the future of the Alliance. With the end of the Cold War and NATO's expansion across the former Iron Curtain, many have argued that it is becoming more a political than a military alliance. Others have pointed to NATO's lack of direct involvement in the War in Afghanistan and questioned whether it has much of a future.

NATO's advocates insist that the need for it has never been greater as the world faces unprecedented new dangers. Critics assert it no longer has a clearly defined role and that its fixed structures are not suitable for the kind of mobile warfare likely to mark the 21st century.

Meanwhile, efforts are under way to forge a new, more cooperative relationship with Russia, and in November in Prague, the Alliance's leaders will face a hugely important decision on whether to admit as many as up to nine new members from Central and Eastern Europe.

As a contribution to the debate over the Alliance's future, we publish extracts of speeches made at the Munich security conference1 earlier this year by leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, two from the United States and three from Europe. All are strong advocates of adapting NATO to its new tasks, which include closing the technological gap between the two sides of the Atlantic, expanding the Alliance's geographical reach, admitting a group of new members and agreeing new links with Moscow.

The authors are U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman, Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino and, for the candidate countries, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis.

 

This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number III, Issue number II in the Spring of 2002.