Maintaining the security of liberal democratic states everywhere will pose great challenges in the 21st century. Freedom from physical attack or coercion, from internal subversion and from erosion of the political, economic and social values essential to people's way of life will all be under threat.
Problems will arise from great power ambitions,regional disputes, the collapse of states and ecological disasters. But widely accessible new technologies, the spread of weapons of mass effect, and a high degree of global mobility have increased the vulnerabilities of democratic states to adversaries with trans-national ideologies willing to use violence to achieve their aims. Radical Islamism is currently the most visible ideological opponent to have adopted methods which exploit these vulnerabilities, but it is not alone and certainly unlikely to be the last. Small numbers of persons can now deal potentially lethal blows to any society.The security interests of liberal democratic states have become so interdependent that a global effort is required to protect these states, wherever they may be, from global or particular threats wherever they may arise. NATO has expanded to take in the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, but it has been slow to partner with major democracies elsewhere.
During the Cold War, NATO endured because its members shared common interests and values they were prepared to defend against an existential threat from Soviet communism. Allies today do not perceive threats the same way and do not always seem to care enough about what unites them to forego the gratification of pursuing national interests that may undermine the security of others.
NATO decision-making is unnecessarily ponderous and afflicted by a “UN syndrome” according to which governments often authorize action without committing all the resources required for success. Furthermore the Executive Summary Alliance still finances its peace support operations by relying on archaic arrangements which penalize those most willing to help.
Members' enormous military resources are designed mostly for static territorial defence and are, therefore, not suited to expeditionary campaigns. Non-military resources for policing, governance and reconstruction remain underdeveloped despite the importance of their role in the development and execution of the “exit strategy” for military engagements.
The current campaign in Afghanistan exemplifies all that is good in NATO. It also demonstrates that NATO needs a major overhaul. This paper proposes that the renewal of NATO be guided by four main concepts:
(1) commitments must be supported by resources;
(2) NATO and member-states must have well developed civil affairs capacity;
(3) the costs of peace support operations must be commonly funded; and
(4) NATO must enhance its special relationships with key democratic states outside the Euro-Atlantic region, especially those helping out in Afghanistan.