Pacific NATO?

NATO Ministerial meeting. Image by Secretary of Defense/Flickr.

The Atlantic Alliance is about to enter a tumultuous period of change both in Europe and the wider world. How we all conceive of our place in that world will be critical to the Alliance.

This dawning reality was brought home to me Friday when I had the honor of debating NATO’s emerging security challenges with the Norwegian ambassador to NATO and his colleagues on the Norwegian Permanent Delegation. Given changing energy patterns and the melting of Arctic ice, Norway will find itself on a new ‘front-line’ as the High North becomes a source of exploitation and friction. Moreover, with yesterday’s re-election of Shinzo Abe as Japan’s prime minister and the possibility of renewed tensions with China, a most profound question was also apparent: what, if any, is NATO’s Pacific role?

The OSCE and Conventional Arms Control in Europe: Towards a Double Relaunch

OSCE Ministerial Council meeting opening in Vilnius, 2011












Much has been written about the OSCE’s crisis. Much of it is true. Still, the future of this organization may be less grim than many predict. Current developments in Europe suggest that the role and relevance of the OSCE may actually grow in the years ahead.

For one thing, following the ambivalent outcome of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a conspicuous intervention fatigue among European publics. The ‘crisis’ of military crisis management is bound to exacerbate as the European debt crisis translates into shrinking defense budgets. There will likely be a shift towards more subtle, civilian, long-term approaches to conflict resolution and peacebuilding – the type of measures the OSCE has focused on.

Looking at the EU and NATO, there is also growing enlargement fatigue. This points to obvious limits to how far stability in Europe can be accomplished by expanding the Euro-Atlantic security community. By implication, the pan-European OSCE, with twice as many member states as the EU and NATO, is bound to gain traction again.