Nato's New Strategic Concept in Action

NATO’s respond to the Libyan crisis was immediate and well coordinated. It was also based on principles derived from the “New Strategic Concept”. Yet, as the situation in Libya unfolds, it seems that NATO is unable to fulfill the “new strategic
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  NATO’s Operations in Libya Is NATO’s New Strategic Concept a Little too Ambitious?  The strategic concepts are the most important documents after the NATO founding treaty of the organisation and they determine the strategic directions of its members. The new strategicconcept was the product of the need to redefine the ways to tackle international threats anddangers that arose after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Thus, the revision of thedoctrine of 1999 was necessary. In the ‘new strategic concept” the primary aims continue toinclude the cooperative security, as it is defined by the article 5 of the NATO’s charter; thefreedom and security of NATO members by political and military means; the maintenance of NATO as a unique forum for consultation on security matters; political independence andterritorial integrity; recognition of the principles and objectives of the UN, while it also confirmsthat it is the Security Council that has the primary responsibility for maintaining internationalpeace and security. In terms of the crisis management, it typically mentions that even in thecase of crises and conflicts outside the range of the Alliance, should member states arethreatened and if prevention is not achieved, NATO must be prepared and able to manageeven not only the crisis but also possible hostilities. Moreover, the reference to the role of theUN states that if NATO's engagement beyond the Euro-Atlantic region becomes necessary,there should be a mandate from the UN Security Council, like in the case of Libya.  The beginning of operations in Libya was largely based on a French initiative and that wasbecause the French foreign policy under President Nicolas Sarkozy has clearly turned towards amore pro-American direction, seeking a more prominent role in international and regionaldevelopments. Therefore, it was no surprise that the French President was the first to supportthe rebels in Libya, thereby seeking to secure an advantageous position for France in thesituation; a situation which could turned into an important development not only for thecountry of Libya but for the greater Mediterranean region as well. The U.S. agreed to theFrench initiative with relief since the outcome of the Libyan crisis it is very important for theAmerican interests. However the reluctance of the United States to take a proactive role, eventhough not very surprising – given the developments of the last decade, it was something new.In contrast to previous US interventions (Afghanistan and Iraq), this time the American actionwas covered under the umbrella of NATO. This is of course consistent with decisions taken atthe Lisbon Summit in 2010 where, amongst other things, NATO commits to intervene in crisissituations or armed conflicts that take place beyond its borders to prevent or manage them.Furthermore the UN resolutions 1970 and 1973 played a very important role in the legitimacyof the intervention in Libya. Decision 1970 imposed a weapons embargo on Libya, the freezingof personal assets of the Libyan leaders and banned the exit from the country for politicalpersonalities. On March 18, while the international concern about the crisis in Libya becamestronger, the UN Security Council adopted the resolution 1973 which authorized all UNmember-states and international organizations to take "all necessary measures" to protect theLibyan citizens.NATO had no intention to develop land forces anywhere on Libyan soil. However, on the 24 th of March it decided to impose the no-fly zone over Libya under the UN mandate. The decisiondeclared the ban on all flights in the Libyan airspace, apart from those for humanitarian andmedical purposes, to ensure that citizens and residential areas will not be subject to air attack.On March 27 the NATO-led forces started the military operation "Unified Protector" for theprotection of civilians who faced bombings from the government of their country.So far the obstacles the Alliance is facing are important and the undertaken efforts have notreally been successful. The imposition of the no-fly zone and the marine operations wereadmittedly successful. Yet the “new strategic concept” makes a clear reference to the politicaland civil capabilities of NATO in crises management. The latter does not seem to have worked,since NATO’s action in Libya so far has been militaristic. Is the “new strategic concept” tooambitious or is it just the fact that NATO cannot find political solutions after all? It is too earlyto know for sure; the situation in Libya is currently very fluid and therefore any calculationsregarding the future outcomes are difficult to be made. We do know, however, that there isthe need for a comprehensive strategy that takes into account both the military and political  problems of the situation. The outcome of this situation could be crucial for the effectiveness of the new concept and the future of the Alliance. Athina Scourta Posted on June 26, 2011.
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