Document details

NATO: The Indispensable Western Alliance

Author(s): Romão, Rui M. J.

Date: 2011

Persistent ID:

Origin: Instituto Universitário Militar

Subject(s): NATO; Values; Terrorism; Allies


The 21st century did not start well. Terrorism and war has marked every single year so far. It is not a good sign of what this century will be. In the last century, globalization, the victory over communism, a technology driven revolution, the chance of spreading a model of society thru the internet and modern communication systems, all allowed the rise of political awareness, envy and resentment against the West. The Western societies feel less secure now than they did during the Cold War period. Their values and beliefs are at stake. The problem is not only the asymmetric threats, it is also the political conflicts between Americans and Europeans. Instead of unifying efforts against a common threat, the Allies seem to be drifting further apart, and loosing the war. How can the West escape from this trap and guarantee the preservation of their values? This preservation is essential, so that future generations can have the opportunity to live in a free world and make their choices. NATO is the indispensable Alliance to the preservation of the western values. It is a tool capable of creating a bridge between American and European interests and identities and without it, the western stability will grow weaker. It is true the Allies are different to a certain extent. It is also true their cultural foundations are based on the same core democratic values and beliefs. Although because of their geography, history, nationalism/ethnicity, development and religion, they came to develop different external behaviors. Cultural differences are common and well accepted in both Europe and America. This is not the problem. The problem is diverging and conflicting external policies that separate the Allies and benefit terrorists. To prevent a strategic split it is indispensable to find and implement the right solution, aimed to preserve the Western Values and the freedom they represent. The first possible solution is the creation of ad hoc coalitions, every time a security problem appears. Operation Iraqi Freedom is a good example. Such solutions are not legitimate since they do not rely on international recognized and generally accepted institutions, such as the UNSC. It is not the way of defending the collective security the West needs, since Nations do not commit themselves to develop and enforce rules generally accepted by the international community. It does not guarantee the preservation of the western values, since it can create conflicts among the Allies, just as it happened during the Iraqi War, leaving them in a weaker political position. The second possibility is NATO being replaced by a completely separate European and American Militaries. A complete separation between western military institutions, more than serving the West would hurt the preservation of its values. A European Security and Defense Policy completely separated from NATO would mean that the forum of decision that NATO provides would no longer be available to filter interests and protect higher values. It would mean less unity to fight a common threat and address the global turmoil issues. The solution that matches the challenge is a NATO prepared and redefined for the 21st century and its challenges. It means the establishment of a new framework, within the North Atlantic Alliance. A new marriage of convenience is required, including what seems to be a multilateral Europe and a unilateral America. In the 21st century NATO, Europe needs to assume its full political and economic responsibilities. America needs to compromise its freedom of action towards effective institutionalism, in favor of a global leadership rather than global governance. Only strategically combining efforts can the West guarantee the preservation of freedom and other core democratic values.

A Research Paper Developed as part of the Air Command and Staff College program.

Document Type Master thesis
Language English
Contributor(s) Romão, Rui M. J.
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