Feature

Mad Libs: NATO

FP and the Atlantic Council asked a panel of experts to fill in the blanks on one of the world's most enduring alliances. 

NATO TODAY IS...

Still the indispensable alliance. -Hans Binnendijk • In crisis, as per usual. -James Joyner • An indispensable part of the European and world security architecture (apart from the most successful alliance in history). -Ioan Mircea Pascu •  Remarkably relevant given fundamental changes in world politics. -David Aaron • The only international organization capable of mounting serious military operations, as we were reminded during the run-up to the Libya conflict. -James Goldgeier  •  In need of a strategy that moves it beyond Afghanistan. -Christopher Chivvis •  In trouble because of Europe's deficiencies; why should the U.S. keep paying for the bulk of it? -Daniel Keohane • As necessary as ever, but for different reasons. -Karl Kaiser • A large and important collective defense arrangement that has yet to clearly define its mission for the future. -P. Terrence Hopmann • In search of a role, in need of reform and a recommitment of all allies to do their share. -Toomas Hendrik Ilves • An alliance looking for a mission. -Sarwar Kashmeri • Made up of countries whose warring triggered the largest bloodshed in history only 70 years ago. But for over six decades these former enemies have had their militaries working side by side, as friends. And for all the alliance's shortcomings, this is no mean feat. -Clara Marina O'Donnell •

Composed of allies the U.S. would gladly trade in for better ones, if there were better ones. -Kori Schake • Like democracy: the worst possible institution except for all of the others. -Stephen Saideman • Like a local Rotary Club: still central to the lives of some members but increasingly quaint and of little interest to the rising generation. -Matthew Rojansky • Going to survive its disarray, as it has over the past two generations. -Lawrence Kaplan • One step from the museum. -Tomas Ries

NATO'S BIGGEST MISTAKE IN THE PAST 10 YEARS HAS BEEN...

NATO's members, egged on by the United States, put global ambition and political ambition ahead of the will and capabilities of its members. -Sean Kay • To act as if the Cold War was still on, e.g., by enlarging without taking into account Russian sensibilities and pursuing missile defense. -P. Terrence Hopmann • To set itself unattainable goals in Afghanistan. -Jan Techau • The huge scale and poor results of the Afghanistan involvement. -Aleksander Kwasniewski • Declaring Article 5 after 9/11. -Ulrike Guerot  • Not going in to Afghanistan as an alliance from the start after 9/11. -Damon Wilson• Allowing the focus to shift from Afghanistan to Iraq. -Shuja Nawaz •  The inability of the nations to reach consensus toward taking decisive action against Somali pirate strongholds ashore. -W. Eugene Cobble • Not to have built up, along with enlargement, a genuine partnership with Russia. -Karl Kaiser • Promising Georgia membership without giving Georgia membership. -Christopher Chivvis • Denying Georgia MAP, which Russia interpreted, as I predicted, as a green light to invade. -Toomas Hendrik Ilves • Enlargement. Most of the former WTO countries are poor fits and the almost-invite to Georgia put Article 5 in serious jeopardy. -James Joyner • Not pressing members for a larger defense effort. -David Aaron • To allow European forces to decay. -Ian Brzezinski • Harping on the capabilities gap between the U.S. and Europe instead of emphasizing the capabilities gap between Europe and anyone they could conceivably fight against. -Kori Schake • Not developing stronger partnerships with democracies outside of the transatlantic area. -James Goldgeier • Failing to clearly and explicitly explain and demonstrate its raison d'être to the public opinions of its members. -Jeremy Ghez 

NATO'S MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN IS...

A bridge too far, and a clear indicator that those who advocated for a "global NATO" were simply wrong. -Sean Kay • Sound, succeeding in its military elements, hindered by its timeline, but needing to be better supported with a regional political strategy and stronger non-military elements. -Kori Schake • Unloved. -Damon Wilson • Problematic, but so is the war. -David Aaron • A failure, given the means, time, and resources employed, despite some progress. -Ana Maria Gomes • Vital to the credibility of the alliance. However, as Emperor Charles V once said, "Once cannot have peace without the opponent's consent," and the military component of ISAF was not backed by sufficient political efforts to ensure security durability. -George Maior • Likely to be seen by future historians as a failure. -Daniel Keohane • NATO's biggest commitment and a headache. -Rasa Jukneviciene • To fight terrorism and to help the international community to rebuild a failed state in a critical part of the world. -Alessandro Minuto Rizzo • To hand power over to a legitimate government capable of maintaining order and to leave. -Toomas Hendrik Ilves • To limit the damage. -Jeremy Ghez • Get out and contain what remains. -Tomas Ries • To leave together. -Sarwar Kashmeri • Unclear. -Ken Weisbrode • On borrowed time. -James Joyner • To organize an orderly and graceful withdrawal. -Jan Techau • Coming finally to an end, but the lack of stability there will be a permanent challenge to the international community. We will have to newly define the NATO mission toward Afghanistan. -Aleksander Kwasniewski • Very soon going to be a problem for Moscow, New Delhi, and Beijing. -Matthew Rojansky • In trouble as individual nations pull out early. -Jason Healey • Vital beyond 2014. -Hans Binnendijk •  Far from completed. -Ian Brzezinski

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH NATO TODAY IS...

Uneven division of labor. -Daniel Serwer • Lack of commitment on Europe's part (with some exceptions). -Toomas Hendrik Ilves • Low military spending from European allies burdened with sickly economies. -Jason Healey • The United States plays too dominant a role, which explains Europeans' excessive dependency and insufficient financial and practical commitment in times of economic crisis. -Ana Maria Gomes • That Europeans vastly underestimate security as a category in their political thinking. -Jan Techau • The combination of growing American disinterest and Europe's declining geopolitical ambition. -Ian Brzezinski • That it consistently amounts to less than the sum of its parts when dealing with Russia. -Matthew Rojansky • That it is an organization constrained by a regional membership despite being called upon to act across the globe. -James Goldgeier • The constant pressure from many politicians and pundits to prove its relevance beyond the Article 5 guarantee. -Jeorg Wolf • A culture of bureaucracy and status quo thinking. -Barry Pavel • A dwindling deterrent. -Ken Weisbrode • Weariness from dealing with all the challenges of the past 22 years. -Kori Schake  • It needs to find a new narrative for young people and profoundly modernize. -Ulrike Guerot • That it lacks a long-term future conceptual framework. -Marios Efthymiopoulos • Resolving its raison d'être. -Lawrence Kaplan • People do not realize that we have few alternatives. -Stephen Saideman

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