In his valedictory speech (June 17 2013 at Carnegie Europe) entitled ‘Renewed Ambitions for NATO’, US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder made the following comment on the relevance of the US Pivot to the alliance [emphasis added]:
“Contrary to suspicions on this side of the Atlantic, the United States does not intend to pivot away from Europe. Instead, we continue to look to Europe as an essential partner in facing all security challenges, from wherever they may come.
Let me be clear on this point. The United States is not abandoning NATO—our commitment to security in the North Atlantic community is deep and enduring.
But we also see threats looming on the horizon—including from far beyond Europe. North Korean missiles are an Article 5 threat to the United States and Canada just as Syrian missile are an Article 5 threat to Turkey and Europe.
And we want to make sure that we face these threats collectively, as true partners.
So the question is not whether Washington will choose Asia or Europe. As my former boss, Secretary Hillary Clinton, used to say … we Americans know how to walk and chew gum at the same time. The question is whether our NATO Allies will make the commitments necessary to face 21st century dangers together.”
What does that mean in practice? Something in between more ‘strong condemnations‘ and an actual presence in Asia for the alliance (recently ruled out by Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen)?
People sometimes ask ‘what should be Europe’s role in Asian security?’, but surely we have first to understand the role European nations and their institutions are already playing.
Something that doesn’t often get discussed (excepting the EU embargo on arms to China) is the increasingly important role played by Europe as supplier of defence equipment and technology to Asia, Continue reading
NATO and Japan explore opportunities to cooperate on emerging security challenges – “such as cyber defence, counter-terrorism and non-proliferation. Opportunities for collaborating on responses to such challenges through science and innovation were a particular focus of the visit” (link)
Woody Allen said that 80% of life is showing up. By that standard, the various European security actors (EU, NATO, a couple of sovereign states) made the grade at this year’s Shangri-la shindig on Asian security.
EU: Cathy Ashton went (first time) and gave a speech in plenary. It was Continue reading
There are some stories circulating to the effect that NATO is going to do this or that if North Korea launches an attack, e.g. ‘NATO to protect US from N. Korea Attack’ here and ‘Senior NATO Official Will Not Rule Out Conflict with N. Korea’ here).
All the hard evidence so far indicates that NATO doesn’t know what it will do until an attack or something like it occurs. The North Atlantic Council would have to first meet to discuss the situation and options for any possible alliance response in the light of what just happened. Remember, Article 5 is about an armed attack on Allies in Europe or North America, not in Asia. An interview the NATO Secretary General gave to the Japanese media on 16 April during his visit to Japan makes it pretty clear:
The key point is around minute 1:
“If a NATO ally is attacked it will probably be raised for consultation among NATO allies. NATO allies will discuss the situation and make decisions based on the specific circumstances“
This is all the SecGen can say, which is no more than an explanation of the NATO process following the NATO Charter – specifically Article 4 (discussion), rather than 5 (collective action). And yet saying ‘we don’t know what we will do’ has more influence than saying nothing at all.
As for my earlier suggestions about employing NATO’s Article 4, Philip Cane at Atlantic Community has some practical suggestions about what NATO could do before an attack by the North (read at ‘South Korea:NATO’s Asian Pivot‘).
A full text of the declaration is available here. Not much of note in the text itself, but there was an intriguing if slightly confusing bit of language about what NATO is not doing in Asia -
On his video blog, the SG makes the point that “my visit does not mean that NATO seeks a presence in the Asia Pacific region, but it does mean that NATO seeks to work with the Asia-Pacific region…” Subtle distinction, but clear enough because the North Atlantic Charter is also pretty clear on allies needing to be from the North Atlantic area.
Then Rasmussen told reporters after the signing ceremony “While NATO has no ambition to take on a permanent role in Asia, we see very clearly the advantage of working with like-minded partners like Japan”.
But why the qualifier ‘permanent’?
(Photo courtesy of NATO) (Yonhap)
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will visit the Republic of Korea from 11 to 13 April 2013.
In Seoul, he will meet with President Park Geun-hye, Speaker of the National Assembly Kang Chang-hee, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se, and Minister of Defence Kim Kwan Jin.
Fogh Rasmussen gave an interview to Yonhap press agency, which offers some context. Here are the highlights:
“We are watching the development in the Korean Peninsula with great concern,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency Monday at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. “North Korea’s rhetoric, attitude and actions are provocative. North Korea’s actions pose a threat to regional and international security. They’re irresponsible; they are in defiance of the international community. “So I have a very clear message to North Korea. Stop what you are saying. Stop what you are doing.” Continue reading
Carnegie Europe has posted a new discussion piece on its ‘Strategic Europe‘ blog, in which Karl-Heinz Kamp, (research director of the NATO Defense College in Rome) says:
NATO needs to follow the US pivot to Asia
As for how, Karl-Heniz has the following ‘big hand, small map’-type suggestions:
“First, NATO has to Continue reading
Outgoing US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivered a speech in London on 18 January, where he called on Europe to join in the US rebalance to Asia: Continue reading
JLF wonders whether NATO will have to consider extending its zone for collective defence (article 5) to the Pacific (Pacific NATO?).
“There are some reports that US Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton is considering a Pacific-Atlantic Treaty Organisation or PATO. Continue reading