A New Transatlantic Compact

By Volker, Kurt | Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

A New Transatlantic Compact


Volker, Kurt, Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly


Thank you Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, and all the distinguished Senators here today for the opportunity to testify about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As you know, I served as the 19th U.S. Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council, from August 2008 to May 2009. I remain extremely grateful to the members of this Committee for supporting my nomination to that position in 2008. That posting came at the end of a career spanning over 20 years in government in which I worked on NATO issues from a number of different perspectives during the course of five U.S. Administrations: * as a desk officer for NATO issues in the State Department, * as a political-military officer in Budapest when it was aspiring to join NATO, * here in the Senate as a Legislative Fellow during the year of the Senate's ratification of the first modern round of NATO enlargement, * as Deputy Director of the NATO Secretary General's Private Office, * as a senior official in both the National Security Council and the State Department * and finally as U.S. Ambassador. In these various capacities, I had the opportunity to contribute to NATO's 1991 and 1999 Strategic Concepts, NATO enlargement, NATO's partnerships, NATO operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the 50th and 60th Anniversary Summits, and countless Ministerial and Summit meetings. It has been a unique privilege to serve both my country and the greatest Alliance in history in so many ways and I am thankful for the opportunity. During these two decades, I have seen NATO transform dramatically: from a Cold War alliance focused on deterrence and preparing for the defense of Europe against the Soviet Union, to a much larger, outward looking Alliance one that is engaged in civil-military operations, and aimed at tackling a new range of security threats, together with many partners, in places around the globe. Despite this remarkable transformation, I am deeply concerned about the state of our Alliance today. NATO is in trouble. It faces significant challenges from both outside and within.

A New Transatlantic Compact In my view, we need a renewed political compact on security between Europe and North America. The firm establishment of the past is fading. The establishment of a new compact, at a political level, should be the central task of the ongoing effort to produce a new NATO Strategic Concept. Such a compact would not change U.S. or any other Allies' obligations under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. Rather, it would constitute a fresh, common understanding of what those obligations are in today's vastly changed security environment. At its heart is the idea that the United States remains committed to Europe itself a reliable ally that will share decision-making and do its part to guarantee a strong, secure, democratic Europe. And Europe, in turn, must be prepared to put its full weight behind joining the United States in tackling the global security challenges that affect us all. Such a political compact needs to encompass: * a coherent transatlantic approach to dealing with Russia; * a common commitment to facing new threats and challenges both inside and outside of Europe; * a renewed commitment that our shared goal remains a Europe whole, free, and at peace; and * a commitment that each of us will put the full measure of our human and financial resources behind making NATO's work a success.

Fundamentals of the Transatlantic Relationship Before discussing in greater detail these current challenges to NATO and ways to address them, let me stress some fundamentals. First, as clearly stated in its founding document, the Washington Treaty, NATO has always been about values. Having an organization that serves as a means of pulling the transatlantic community together, to produce joint action in support of shared democratic values, remains essential today. After defeating fascism and faced with expansionist Soviet communism, the transatlantic community established NATO out of the recognition that the universal human values that underpin our societies freedom, market economy, democracy, human rights and the rule of law remained under threat and had to be actively defended.

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