Ivo Daalder, a former presidential campaign adviser to Barack
Obama, was sworn in today as United States Ambassador to NATO,
replacing career diplomat Kurt Volker. Mr. Daalder will be
responsible for handling America's most important multilateral
alliance at a time when it is facing serious challenges
- A resurgent Russia;
- Inequitable burden sharing of the mission in Afghanistan;
- Negotiating a new Strategic Concept; and
- The formulation of a new NATO-EU relationship.
Reforming and revitalizing NATO will be a massive undertaking
requiring American leadership and an Administration committed to a
NATO-first agenda. NATO must confront existing challenges in
Afghanistan as well as future threats such as cyberterrorism and
ballistic missile proliferation. It must also re-energize NATO's
Open Door Policy and continue its successful enlargement program.
Above all, the United States must uphold the primacy of NATO in
Europe's security architecture.
In order to achieve these aims, Ambassador Daalder should adopt
the following principles:
Recommendation #1: Uphold the Primacy
of NATO in the Transatlantic Security Architecture
Traditionally, NATO has been the primary alliance architecture
in which to discuss transatlantic security. However, the
development of the EU's Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) and the
Obama Administration's endorsement of a separate and independent
Europe-only military identity now threaten this primacy.
Since the creation of a separate European defense identity in
1998, overall European defense spending, military capabilities, and
deployable manpower have decreased, creating fierce competition for
limited resources. The ESDP has provided NATO with little or no
valuable complementarity, and serious questions remain about the
EU's motivation in pursuing a military identity. The United States
should reassess the structural and organizational relationship
between the EU and NATO, including the purpose and value of
pursuing further integration.
Ambassador Daalder should establish the following principles
with regards to NATO-EU relations:
- NATO's primacy in the transatlantic security alliance is
- The EU should be a civilian complement to NATO rather than a
separate military identity;
- There should be no duplication of NATO assets, including any
separate EU operational planning and command capabilities;
- NATO must maintain at least one Supreme Command in the United
- NATO must reserve all resources exclusively for NATO missions;
- The assets and resources for exclusively ESDP missions must be
provided in addition to--not instead of--the members' contributions
Recommendation #2: Pursue a NATO-First
Ambassador Daalder should establish a NATO-first agenda.
Previously, Daalder has advocated an extreme pro-EU integration
position and even called for anti-terrorism cooperation to be moved
from the bilateral to the supranational EU level. In a major policy
paper in 2001, he called for the U.S. Administration to adopt a
"Europe-First Policy," supporting EU integration over-and-above the
prioritization of the NATO alliance.
As America's highest-profile diplomat within the alliance, it is
important that NATO can be confident of Daalder's support and his
prioritization of the alliance over all others, including the EU.
He should also be wary of the law of unintended consequences when
endorsing separate EU defense and security arrangements.
For example, next weekend, the EU will hold a summit with Russia
focusing on "hard security" issues. This summit will take place
in the wake of Moscow's recently unveiled National Security
Strategy, which identified the United States and NATO as major
threats to global security and Russian military interests.
Considering this context alone, the EU should not be negotiating
with Russia on any upgrading of security relations. However, the
political blessing imparted to the ESDP and the Administration's
support of an EU-first policy severely lessens its ability to
influence these matters.
Ambassador Daalder must take action to demonstrate to Europe
that NATO remains at the heart of the transatlantic alliance and
that the United States will not tolerate being sidelined by Moscow
Recommendation #3: Support NATO
Specifically (1) the Accession of Macedonia in Time for the
2010/11 Lisbon Summit, and (2) the immediate accession of Georgia
and Ukraine to NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP).
At the April 2009 Strasbourg-Kehl summit, NATO welcomed Albania
and Croatia as the 27th and 28th members of the alliance.
Ambassador Daalder has described NATO enlargement as "a highly
successful policy over the decades," which has contributed to a
"peaceful, united and democratic continent." NATO expansion has
been a major success story for the alliance and has played a
crucial role in stabilizing and reforming large parts of Europe
that were under Soviet domination. Withdrawing the prospect of NATO
accession from aspiring countries will jeopardize the West's
post-Cold War gains and betray the founding principles of NATO.
NATO enlargement has traditionally enjoyed strong bipartisan
support in the United States, and the Obama Administration should
rally congressional support for NATO's Open Door Policy,
- Macedonia's full accession to NATO; and
- The extension of MAP to Georgia and Ukraine at the earliest
Macedonia. Like Croatia and Albania, Macedonia completed
all the cycles of its MAP, but it was refused a full invitation to
the alliance after Greece objected due to a bilateral name dispute.
Bilateral disputes have traditionally been resolved outside of the
alliance (such as Slovenia's border dispute with Croatia) so that
one member alone does not block the consensus of the others.
However, Athens has been uncompromising, which is all the more
galling considering that Macedonia currently has more troops
serving under NATO in Afghanistan than does Greece. Ambassador Daalder
should use the U.S.'s diplomatic channels, in concert with his
colleagues in Athens, to complete Macedonia's accession to NATO in
time for the alliance's 61st summit.
Georgia and Ukraine. At the 2008 Bucharest summit,
NATO accepted the principle that Georgia and Ukraine would one day
accede to NATO but failed to offer them MAPs for fear of a Russian
backlash. Ambassador Daalder should make it a priority to
accelerate Georgia and Ukraine into MAP.
The accession of Georgia and Ukraine into MAP provides a key
test case for the Obama Administration's policy of resetting
Russian relations, as it will gauge whether Moscow is genuinely
interested in recalibrating its relationship with the United States
or if it is merely interested in accumulating policy gains from
Washington. Further, by inviting Tbilisi and Kiev into MAP, NATO
will send Moscow the message that it will not tolerate Russia's
"zone of privileged interest" policy, which Moscow believes
entitles it to interfere, militarily and politically, in the
affairs of its border states.
Recommendation #4: Support NATO's
Bucharest Declaration and the Communiqué of December
The NATO foreign ministers' communiqué of December 2008
recognizes "the substantial contribution to the protection of
allies from long-range ballistic missiles to be provided by the
planned deployment of European-based United States missile defence
At the Bucharest summit in April 2008, NATO leaders endorsed
U.S. plans for elements of its missile defense system to be based
in Poland and the Czech Republic and agreed to explore ways to link
the U.S. system "with current NATO missile defence efforts ... to
ensure that it would be an integral part of any future NATO-wide
missile defence architecture." This "third site" missile
defense deployment of 10 interceptors in Poland and a radar in the
Czech Republic was again supported by the alliance at the Foreign
Ministers Summit in December 2008.
However, prevarication on the issue of missile defense by the
Obama Administration has resulted in no progress being made by NATO
on an alliance-wide system, with the third site deployment also
looking to be in jeopardy. In fact, speaking in Prague following
the Strasbourg-Kehl summit, President Obama gave a keynote speech
focusing on complete nuclear disarmament whereby missile defenses
would be unnecessary.
In the absence of U.S. leadership on missile defense and mixed
messages regarding its necessity, NATO has produced an agenda for
inaction. The Strasbourg-Kehl declaration stated that "additional
work is still required" before NATO can advance its position on
missile defense and that this issue will not be considered until
the next summit in 2010-11. It is clear that the
alliance is waiting on direction from the United States and that
American abandonment of the third site installations will eradicate
the alliance's willingness to commit to a layered missile defense
program. Therefore, Ambassador Daalder must support both the third
site deployment and immediate exploration of an alliance-wide
missile defense system.
Recommendation #5: Ask All Members to
Contribute More Combat Troops to the Mission in Afghanistan
Ambassador Daalder has repeatedly criticized NATO members for
failing to provide enough troops for the mission in Afghanistan as
well as cumbersome operational caveats that hamper the execution of
allied missions. For example, in 2006 Daalder said: "[But]
in many cases the very allies who bitterly complained about the
U.S. president's unilateralism only a short time ago have been
reluctant to do their part in helping multilateralism succeed."
The U.S. Administration's new "surge" strategy in Afghanistan
did not receive the much-needed additional commitment of combat
troops from NATO's Continental allies at the Strasbourg-Kehl
summit. Only Britain pledged more combat troops in a sustained
deployment: Up to 1,000 British soldiers will join the 8,300 others
already serving, largely in the south of Afghanistan, along side
the 21,000 additional U.S. troops and trainers that President Obama
has already begun deploying. In total, European nations
committed just 5,000 troops and trainers, 3,000 of whom will deploy
solely for the August election in Afghanistan.
The majority of Continental European allies will therefore
continue to hobble their military commitments to Afghanistan with
the highly restrictive national caveats that keep their deployments
out of harm's way. These powers also cannot claim to have
undertaken successful civilian reconstruction efforts as an
alternative to providing combat troops: Embedded Training Teams,
Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams, and Police Mentoring Teams
are all understaffed.
Ambassador Daalder should decry the effective creation of a
two-tiered alliance within NATO--naming names where necessary--and
advocate more equitable burden-sharing arrangements for NATO's
military and civilian campaigns in Afghanistan. He should also
harness President Obama's personal popularity and credibility among
the European allies to leverage additional combat commitments to
the mission, as well as greater long-term resources for the new
Putting NATO First
Ivo Daalder described NATO as "the most successful multilateral
organization the world has ever known." However, he has also
called for the promotion of an EU defense identity at NATO's
expense. As U.S. ambassador to NATO, Daalder cannot afford to be so
equivocal in the future: In terms of transatlantic security and
America's national interest, he must put NATO first.
McNamara is Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs in the
Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and
Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The
Heritage Foundation. The author is grateful to Erica Munkwitz for
her assistance in preparing this paper. She is also grateful to , Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern
Affairs in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy
Studies, for his advice.