Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 08/2014

The Challenge: NATO Amidst Geopolitical Realities

Rob de Wijk

February 2010

Atlantic Council


Rob de Wijk, member of the Strategic Advisors Group (SAG), highlights the need for NATO to address three new challenges as it drafts the 2010 Strategic Concept in "The Challenge: NATO in the Realm of New Geopolitical Realities."

Should NATO remain primarily a collective defense alliance or should it be transformed into a worldwide security provider? This question lies at the core of the debate in allied capitals as NATO develops its next Strategic Concept. New security challenges, as well as NATO’s military operations in Afghanistan, suggest that the pressure for change has become irresistible.

As NATO considers its future strategic posture, it must take into account three dramatic new security challenges that will impact the interests of its members. First, it must account for the impact of rising poles in the international system. Second, it must prepare for the security impact of the competition among world powers for scarce resources. Third, NATO must consider how climate change will impact international security and Alliance interests. These three principal challenges in this emerging strategic environment require that NATO reconsider its role and mission, in particular the meaning of Articles 4 and 5 of the Washington Treaty, military transformation and partnerships - most importantly the NATO–Russia relationship.