Tuesday, October 19, 2010


In an appearance at the Ecole Militaire organised by the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique and the IRSEM, and timely given his op-ed in today’s Herald Tribune pleading for better EU/NATO coordination, Ivo Daalder spoke about the Alliance leading up to Lisbon and relayed its two main goals:

1. Revitalize NATO for 21st Century realities, and
2. Poise ISAF for success by increasing the number of trainers on the ground.

In a brief, formulaic speech, Daalder developed the metaphor of NATO as a house (foundation: core values, walls: collective defense and cooperative security, roof: common technical capabilities sharing), while praising the consultative analysis that defines the Alliance's internal deliberations and advocating for increased investment in new technologies.

Daalder urged member states to maintain NATO funding levels despite the crisis, arguing it cheaper to spend collectively rather than individually or even bilaterally. As nations tighten their belts, collective projects like NATO deliver a better return on investment for the money spent, which in turn obliges NATO to better-manage its resources, rather than depend on a budget increase, to maximize efficiency in times of austerity.

Daalder took firmer stances in the Q&A, notably on the debilitating lack of coordination between EU and NATO (also the topic of today’s IHT op-ed). The major points:

- Russia: The consensus to reengage is real within NATO, and it is now up to Moscow to set the tone for further cooperation.

- Global NATO: Daalder revised his former position to echo comments made by Secretary Clinton during the Q&A following her January 2010 speech on European security at the IRSEM. NATO is a regional organization called to act globally and should not aspire to become a global policeman capable of supplanting the UN. Rather, establishing cross-regional partnerships is the key to bolstering NATO’s effectiveness beyond its neighborhood without drastically rethinking its current membership.

- EU/NATO: Daalder's harshest criticism and most vehement comments were reserved for this topic. With inefficient inter-agency organization with little interaction but at the highest levels (Rasmussen/Ashton), the NATO/EU relationship is marked by what it lacks: no common capabilities, no coordination, and incredible lack of communication between the two. For Daalder, the US does not care which of the two takes the lead – the key is that they talk and decide who heads which dossier – but rather decries the waste generated by having two parallel, uncoordinated (often overlapping) tracks of action on every dossier.

Little mention was made of Afghanistan, though Daalder acknowledged the “significant increase” of EU resources devoted to that mission and the fact that Europe bears the loss of life in equal measure to the United States.

To read Daalder’s piece on the EU/NATO relationship, published in the International Herald Tribune: LINK

- Amy Greene

(photo credit: US Department of State)