security

NATO summit contributes to strong, allied defense – The Dallas Morning News


The recent summit of NATO heads of state has set the alliance’s security blueprint for the next decade.

One European newspaper dubbed it, “A summit for hawks.” I would amend that to read, “A summit for the future.” For Europe, it was the (finally) acknowledged reality that Vladimir Putin desires to re-create the former Soviet Union as “Mother Russia” and will commit heinous crimes to achieve that goal. For the long term, the alliance reluctantly but firmly declared that China is also a potential threat to our alliance, and it will take all of us to respond.

First, the allies addressed the present danger posed by Russia, committing to concrete measures that increase NATO’s deterrent capabilities. The 30 leaders invited two significant countries, Finland and Sweden to join NATO. They both add strength to the alliance with highly trained militaries and resilient, proven democracies. It was also agreed to build the rapid-response forces in Europe from the present 40,000 to a bold goal of 300,000 interoperable troops.

But the accomplishments of the summit to address future security were longer range and comprehensive.

NATO was formed in 1949 to be the security umbrella for Europe, with America there in the beginning of potential conflict, rather than the experiences of the world wars, when we entered late after enormous destruction and loss of life. As technology enabled more nuclear-capable autocracies and other forms of aggression, NATO has adapted and expanded to address common threats from outside its original geographic boundaries.

In 2022, led by the U.S., NATO is looking at the increasingly malign activities of China and how it could affect our common security.

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense noted China in its National Defense Strategy. This regular exercise assesses long-term threats that our country must address. The report predicted “great power competition” between the U.S. and China, with Russia as a significant, but less capable, player. The U.S. security leaders briefed NATO ambassadors on this assessment, sharing intelligence analysis and linking it to public activities. Examples of this included the Belt and Road infrastructure procurement China acquired throughout Europe, Africa, parts of Asia and even South America.

In the same time frame, the Chinese Communist Party heavily promoted their Huawei systems for installations in government communications facilities throughout the world, to provide data collection and the possible intrusion into those systems when desired.

The culmination of the U.S. effort occurred last week when the NATO summit adopted the once-in-a-decade Strategic Concept. For the first time, the concept includes China as a potential adversary. This concept is the blueprint from which NATO operations will be guided for the next 10 years. As we continue to double down with deterrence against Russia’s aggression against its neighbors in Europe, we will also be on alert to China’s military buildup and menacing of its neighbors, many of which are NATO partners.

To emphasize the importance of this focus, NATO included four key Asia-Pacific leaders in the biennial summit (a first). Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea have all been affected by Chinese aggression. This outreach by NATO signals information sharing and coalition building that will likely lead to joint military exercises and ongoing collaboration.

NATO is casting a wider net to build partnerships with like-minded countries that value freedom, self-determination of governance, human rights and rule of law, including international free and fair trade. Geographic boundaries no longer inhibit the number of autocracies that are weaponized and belligerent, and it is wise for democracies to build common defenses.

Strong and allied defense is the best deterrence against future conflict.

Kay Bailey Hutchison is a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and a former U.S. senator from Texas. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

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