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Recasting NATO's Strategic Concept. Possible Directions for the United States

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To address the security challenges it faces, the United States will need the active support of its allies. This means, in particular, ensuring that the states joined in NATO remain able and willing to make a contribution to resolving their common security problems wherever possible. The current revision of NATOs strategic concept offers an excellent opportunity to further this aim. It is a chance to build consensus about the future and thereby steer the alliance in a direction that will help keep it relevant. The alliance has long provided its member states with considerable power and influence in world affairs. It offers the citizens of its member states a level of confidence that they will live their lives in peace and with security. It is a cornerstone of the transatlantic relationship and a repository of members shared history. For all these reasons, an effort to sustain the alliance is worthwhile. Recent years, however, have seen strategic drift within the alliance and disagreements over its basic purposes. The revision of the strategic concept must, on the most basic level, revitalize the alliance by defining a suitable set of purposes that it will serve in the future. This paper is a contribution to this effort. It examines five possible directions--refocus on Europe, new focus on the greater Middle East, focus on fragile states, focus on nonstate threats, and a global alliance of liberal democracies--for the alliance in the next ten to 15 years, assessing them against certain key political and military criteria. The purpose is to offer those involved in the rewrite both a range of potential options and a preliminary assessment of the feasibility and potential implications of each.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations

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