NATO at the Crossroads, Key note address at the SHAPE Commanders Conference on June 17, 2003I. Introduction
NATO has seen many crises in its 54 years history and it was presumed dead more often than any organisation I can think of but no one should have any doubts this crisis over Iraq in February was more serious than anything I can recall. The US Ambassador to NATO called it recently a near death experience and he was right. When this latest crisis began at the end of 2002 NATO had not fully recovered from the wounds inflicted to it when nations failed to implement the Washington Summit decisions and then when the US simply neglected NATO’s offer to help after the alliance had invoked Article 5 in fall 2001. The undeniable success of the Prague Summit was an ailment on these wounds of NATO but the success paled over the Iraq crisis. NATO was more severely damaged than ever before when three nations refused to allow precautionary planning for the defence of a member nation. No doubt, there were mistakes on the side of the US and Turkey as well since the US had linked the request for the precautionary protection of Turkey to steps for which it had sufficed to consider them once the operation against Iraq had begun. Moreover, Turkey itself had initially not asked for support. This unfortunate linkage lead to the involvement of the NAC instead of the DPC which should be the forum for debate on all issues concerning NATO’s integrated defence. These deficiencies may explain why the three nations reacted in such a way but they are by no means an excuse for the unacceptable position taken by these three nations. To block precautionary defensive planning means to put the axe at the roots of any defensive alliance and in the case of NATO it destroys the backbone of the alliance, namely the credibility of NATO’s central promise, collective defence. No one should have any doubts, confidence and mutual trust were damaged by these three nations, and you can still feel it today when you talk to nations which are still exposed to uncertainties next to their doors. They have doubts whether they can rely on NATO and as a consequence one of the ghosts which haunted Europe throughout its history raises its ugly face again, nationalism and with it the re-nationalisation of defence. None of you should have any illusions, despite the positive and well-meant rhetoric from Brussels and some progress on the NRF, the command structure and NATO’s role in Afghanistan, there is still a rift between the US and its allies on the one side and among the European allies on the other hand. It must be healed and the transatlantic relationship must be re-vitalised. The word is spreading in Washington that the US will need allies but no longer alliances. Should this view become the prevailing opinion in Washington then the US will no longer look at NATO but at coalitions of the willing although increased reliance on such coalitions will turn out to be divisive at the end of the day. Then this most successful alliance mankind’s history knows will increasingly become irrelevant, linger around as an empty shell and it will eventually simply fade away. This would be day of victory for nationalism and the re-nationalisation of defence. Then the erosion of the European Union could occur as well since too many European achievements are not yet irreversible. Moreover, the two organisations, NATO and EU, are much more dependent on each other and linked to each other than the general public knows. Once again as so often in its history this alliance is therefore at crossroads.
To discuss what this could mean for NATO I will first look at the international environment, I will then discuss the options for NATO and I will end by making a few proposals what should and could be done.
II. The Environment
The international situation is characterised by some remarkable differences and discrepancies.
There is the reality that nobody has the capability to launch a conventional attack on NATO which at the same time means that Europe lives at peace, a notion reinforced after 11/9 when the Berlin Wall crumbled and the European dream of “peace at our time” began. But as we Europeans live at peace since 11/9 the most powerful NATO nation, the US, does no longer live at peace since 9/11. They see themselves at war since 9/11, the day on which the American dream of becoming invulnerable came to an end. Many of the European allies have not yet fully understood to which extent this day changed and continues to change the US. Our American allies are determined to prevent anybody to do ever again to the US what happened on 9/11. Our American allies see themselves as being at war and therefore the US will use and interpret international law in a way which is different from most of their allies’ interpretation. Without trying to transform this conference into a postgraduates’ seminar on international law one simply has to say that there are serious and indeed unanswered questions about some of the fundamentals of international law. One question is whether an international order which treats democracies as equals of tyrannies and which therefore offers the same degree of protection against intervention to both of them can really be the order of the 21st century. I have serious doubts since such an interpretation would allow the bad guys of this world to do to their citizens whatever they deem possible. Another issue to be debated is whether the extant definition of self-defence which in principle requires waiting until an attack occurred or is imminent within hours is good enough in a world in which WMD are spreading. It is appropriate as well to raise the question whether pre-emption should be an option in NATO’s strategy. The issue at stake is to find the proper legal basis for that.
There are no answers at this time but to cling to an order which was born in the 17th century and then heavily influenced by the outcome of WW II and the defeat of colonialism is definitely no answer as well. This, however, is the attitude of most of the Non-US NATO allies who firmly believe in legality and legitimacy and who therefore insist on the authorization of the use of force by the UNSC whereas the US use a rather generous interpretation of the right of self defence as enshrined in article 51 of the UN Charta.
Then a real discrepancy is the disparity of power which exists between the US and its NATO allies. This is nothing new for NATO. There has always been a gap of power between the US and its allies but now the US is the world’s sole superpower. It is superior to any other power in every single category of power. To believe that there will be a multi-polar world within the foreseeable future is simply an illusion. On the other hand no one in the US should pursue the flawed approach of unilateralism. It would rather sooner than later lead to an overstretch of American power. Europe and the North-American democracies, notably the US, need each other. Moreover, there is no prospect of closing the capabilities gap between the US and its allies; on the contrary, there is every likelihood that the American technological superiority will even grow. First, the Americans invest much more than the Europeans in R&D and therefore the gap will continue to grow (39 Billion USD / year for military R&D as compared to approx. 9 spent by all EU nations for a rather uncoordinated national R&D programmes). Secondly, the economic situation of the EU will not improve in the long term since the population of the enlarged EU will shrink and the average age will increase from 37 to 55 in 2050 whereas the American population will by then probably outnumber the EU’s but the average age will remain at 36. This latter fact means that the EU will need the US much more than the US will need Europe. Therefore the dream of a Europe which speaks to the US as an equal will remain a distant dream. The best Europe could achieve, provided it spoke with one voice and acquired capabilities which matched the aspirations, is to become the indispensable partner of the for Europe indispensable nation, the US. This would mean to gain decisive influence on US decisions but keep the prerequisite in your mind: Europe must speak with one voice and this voice has to be underpinned by capabilities which really matter.
But more alarming than these discrepancies between the NATO nations are the discrepancies between the NATO nations and the remainder of this world.
First, there is an ever growing disparity between the rich and the poor nations. We got used to the reality that ten percent of the inhabitants of our world possess and dispose of ninety percent of the world’s wealth. But the living conditions of the poor are likely to deteriorate as the resources to house, feed and occupy their ever growing numbers of people are lacking, people who are young but have no hope for a bright future. As a consequence we will see growing competition for critical resources such as water, we will see failing states and we might see much more unrest and revolt. Most researchers believe that we may see in the foreseeable future a more or less constant pattern of 20 to 25 armed conflicts per year.
Secondly, the growing interconnectivity and the interdependence of our world will make everybody aware that our world consists in reality of three different worlds which exist in parallel, the post-modern, the modern and the pre-modern. In each of these worlds there are different ways to settle conflicts and the post-modern way of peaceful settlements has and will for quite some time not be applicable on a global scale. It is simply an illusion to believe that the despots and tyrants of this world will be amenable to peacefully negotiated agreements which would mean for them to agree at the end of the day to accept some reduction of their power. They will not and therefore one has to accept that the use of force will remain the last resort of international politics. As our world is such a use has to be legitimate and, desirably, legal as well and this latter point means it has in principle to be sanctioned by the UNSC unless it were self-defence. But to insist on legality must never mean to allow the bad guys of this world to do whatever they wish to do and to pretend that their national sovereignty will protect them against intervention. Consequently, the future will bring war back on the stage. War is alive and well outside Europe and North-America. This is another rather unpleasant discrepancy.
Legality must also never mean to deploy forces and to authorise ROE which ties one hand of the deployed military on their backs whereas the opponents do not show the slightest respect for any other law but the law of the jungle which means the rule of force. In addition to this discrepancy of respect for the law this phenomenon of the three simultaneously existing worlds will mean that the military of the NATO Nations have to be prepared to fight across the full spectrum ranging from the pre-modern struggle man against man to the post-modern cyber war. A glance at my crystal ball suggests that we will most probably see an increase of the use of force in conjunction with little to no respect for the limits and the rules set by international law. No doubt, a review of both the “ ius ad bellum” and the “ius in bello” seems to be appropriate.
This discrepancy may lead to ever growing violence against unarmed and unprotected civilian citizens of our nations. Our adversaries, in particular those who hate us since they the see our way to live and our way to communicate with the world as a deadly threat to their islands of ideologies, religious fervour and fanatism, will attack the Achilles heels of our post-modern societies, our citizens in order to compensate for their military inferiority. The tragic events from 9/11 to Riyadh will be followed by further attacks and we have to acknowledge that there will never be a 100 % protection.
Terrorism will remain with us for a very long time to come and our nations must know that we entered a war at a global scale of unknown duration, against an enemy whose face we do not know and in which one cannot achieve quick victories. But we should refrain from harbouring one illusion on the war on terrorism : As true as it is that this war cannot be won by military means alone as fatal would it be to believe that one could achieve a peaceful settlement with terrorist who hate our way to live.
These discrepancies between us, the nations who share the same convictions and values and most of the countries in the world exist and we, the NATO Nations, will neither be able to reduce them substantially nor to eliminate them. Furthermore they may, at least temporarily, be aggravated by the risks and uncertainties NATO will have to cope with and which will determine the relevance, the role and the mission of NATO.
Further uncertainties emanate from some of the unfinished processes of political transformation in Europe. You all are aware that neither the EU nor NATO has found a political formula for the Balkans. The Serb national question has not been answered nor has the Albanian. None of the issues in the Caucasian powder-keg has been brought closer to a political settlement. The last remaining totalitarian dictatorship in Europe – Belarus - cannot be tolerated forever and the issue of the integration of a democratic Ukraine into the West awaits a solution, presumably the most important unresolved issue in Europe if one assumes that the transformation of Russia into a democratic and modern state is on its way although it may take decades.
Further uncertainties flow from the Greater Middle East, a region
stretching from Northern Africa through the Levant and the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries. It is a region in which anti-Western ideologies, the strive for weapons of mass destruction and instable, undemocratic regimes unable to adapt to modernity and globalisation produce dangers for Americans and Europeans likewise.
Obviously, none of the states sitting in these regions of uncertainty is or will be able to pose a threat to NATO unless it acquired weapons of mass destruction. But these regions are not free from risks which may produce crises and conflicts.
There are the many unresolved nationality issues. You may recall that the UN acknowledge some 500 or so nationalities of which some 140 live on the territories of one or two countries of a different nationality. Most if not all of these nationalities may wish to live in a country of their own. This will lead to struggles for independence and self-determination. Most of these secession processes will probably lead to violent unrest. Neither Europe nor the US can afford to neglect such conflicts and Europe will most probably be directly affected since refugees or displaced persons will come and seek shelter in Europe, this island of peace, welfare and stability.
There is, secondly, the ongoing proliferation of WMD and missile technology.
Some 70 countries possess missiles of a range of more than 1.500 km, some 40 countries are capable of producing ballistic or cruise missiles, 12 of them export such weapons. More than 25 countries are seen as WMD possessing countries, 12 are suspected to pursue a BW programme. There is little hope for improvement; on the contrary, the quick defeat of Iraq may accelerate the run for nuclear weapons since they seem to promise rogue regimes to become unsanctionable. NATO has to continue its efforts to look into options for missile defence, has to be prepared for counter-proliferation and is well advised to explore whether there are options for fresh initiatives in the field of arms control. President Bush’s latest iniative points into this direction. It deserves support.
A risk of a truly new dimension seems to be the advent of non-state-actors who possess and use military weapons. The access to weapons is nowadays more or less unrestricted, these actors dispose of plenty of money and the chances for them to take over failing states rich of natural resources are manifold. These actors will most probably co-operate smoothly with criminal organisations and terrorists and they may also wish to acquire WMD. No country is really prepared for such a threat although the US took steps towards more and better protection when the USG established the “Homeland Defence Organization”. A similar step on the side of the EU would not be a bad idea but there seems to be no keen interest although most will agree that national precautionary steps will prove to be inadequate.
It seems to me there is but one consequence for the NATO nations: There is every reason to stick together, to face the risks and uncertainties collectively and to preserve the transatlantic alliance since none of the risks can be kept under control by regional approaches; they have to be addressed on a global scale. Europe will not be capable of acting on a global scale in areas other than economy for quite some time to come. The preservation of the US commitment to Europe is for this very reason truly indispensable. Yet, it is no longer guaranteed that the US will remain the European power they had become long before the day when the Berlin Wall came down on 11/9.
III. The Options
To answer the question which options are left to heal the transatlantic rift and to repair NATO one has first to look at the options left to the US on the one side and its allies on the other hand.
There are those in the US who firmly believe that the US can take on all future challenges alone. This might be true militarily but it appears to me more than questionable whether the US will be able to solve the burning issues by using its military power which is second to none, and if it were whether the US would be able to sustain such efforts. As Iraq shows it is the easier part to defeat someone militarily, the real difficulties surface when the peace has to be won and the time and resources consuming task of nation-building commences. I therefore believe that the neo-conservatives in the US are wrong who believe that the US can shoulder the tremendous burden of making our world to be a safer place alone. The result of this approach would rather sooner than later be an overstretch of commitments which would lead to the decline of American power.
The next option left to the US is to rely on ad hoc arrangements and on coalitions of the willing. This approach, the “US need allies but no alliances” approach, could work although it may take more time to form such coalitions than the sequence of events in a crisis may permit. The opportunity to prevent a crisis from becoming a conflict may thus be lost. Moreover, if the US believed that this approach will mean that the allies picked for participation will swallow American approaches and decisions without trying to win as much influence on the US as possible then they will soon learn how flawed this view is. Experience suggests that ad hoc coalitions of the willing require the demandeur, in this case the US, to make more concessions to win support than it would be case in an alliance. To believe that NATO could survive if it were used by the US as a framework which will allow to select and pick allies on a case by case basis is highly questionable in a situation in which the incentive for the Non-US allies, a threat which can only be met if the US remained involved, is not what is most urgently needed. Furthermore, the US have to take into account that such a reduction of NATO to an ad hoc allies provider would no longer guarantee to the US what NATO guarantees today: political influence on and strategic control of Europe, one of the two coastlines which are essential for the US as a maritime power.
The third and most advantageous option is to renew the transatlantic commitment of the US. This time, however, with most of the problems in Europe solved or on the way towards peaceful resolution, the US does not run the risk of being in an entangling alliance. They have the opportunity to take the allies by their words and to transform NATO into an alliance which is capable to act there where it necessary and where the common interests of the North Americans and the European NATO members dictate common action. NATO could thus become the option of choice for the US.
This approach could obviously be pursued only if it were the most advantageous approach for the Europeans as well. So, what are the options the Europeans might have?
Is it really true that the Europeans have become, as Robert Kagan argues, Kantian thinkers who eschew power politics and the use of hard power to achieve their objectives? If that were true then one could stop everywhere to think of the Europeans as a strategic partner of choice. I do not believe that Kagan is right. The Europeans know that the world is not yet mature for the European model of peaceful conflict resolution through negotiated compromises. Many Europeans understand that this model is the result of three hundred years of bloody wars in which millions of people were killed. It is not wrong to keep it on the shelf as the long term vision if one understood that it is simply not yet applicable outside Europe. But Europe is inward looking. Too many of its citizens believe that the end of the Cold War means that there are no longer any dangers for Europe and too many of the European politicians do not have the courage of statesmen who dare to tell their people the unpleasant truth as well. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the process of taking note of the unquiet world in which we live is under way and Europe begins slowly but steadily to think through how it can take care of its security.
One hypothetical option would be to aim at an independent European defence. I cannot see the political will to go down this road which would mean divorce from the American partner and, possibly, over time transatlantic rivalry. To take this approach would mean to invest in defence now and at a scale which would do damage to the huge task the Europeans have to take on right now and very urgently, the integration of the new EU members. As a footnote I should add that the European attitude towards the implementation of the well intended Helsinki decisions of 1999 gives undeniable evidence that there is little to no political will to invest seriously in defence.
Another political option could be to enhance Europe’s military capabilities to some extent but to seek politically to constrain American power. That was more or less the line taken by what Secretary Rumsfeld erroneously prefers to call the “old “Europe. No American leader will ever accept such a European proposition as the basis for partnership. Should Europe take this line then the US will oppose any attempt to strengthen European integration. It is therefore true what has been said by many Europeans that any attempt to unite Europe against the US will result in a divided Europe. But the recent crisis has clearly shown that there is no majority in Europe for this approach and that the days in which a Europe dominated by France and Germany came to an end. This second option has therefore to be ruled out as well.
The remaining option is to aim at a Europe that can act there where the American allies are either not willing to act or are simply not capable of taking on additional responsibilities. This would require the Europeans to modernise and to transform their armed forces in a way which ensures, first, interoperability with the US, and, secondly, that the European forces complement American capabilities and strengthen NATO. It is an approach not too different from the separable but not separate line which was adopted by NATO in 1996. The difference this time should be that this approach presupposes that Europe will be able to speak with one voice in all crises in which common interests are at stake, that such a Europe disposes of military capabilities which matter in the eyes of the US as well and, most importantly, that this Europe had the political will to use its power in pursuance of its strategic interests. Such a Europe would be a most wanted strategic partner for the US, it would be listened to in Washington and it would gain influence on the American decision making process.
To reconcile this most advantageous European option and the preferred American option seems to be both difficult and urgent but not impossible. It is therefore possible to heal the transatlantic rift and to rebuild the transatlantic alliance since there is simply no option which would offer more advantages to either side.
IV. What Needs To Be Done
The remaining question therefore is: What needs to be done?
The first and indeed feasible step is to implement the Prague decisions, notably and foremost to get the NATO Response Force operational as quickly as possible. Although I noted that progress has been made I urge you as military men not to be too self-complacent. It is simply not good enough to nominate existing forces, to enhance their readiness, train them together and call it then a response force. This force has to have some of the capabilities which most European armed forces are lacking of and it has at the same time to serve as the hub of the transformation of the many legacy forces of which the NATO nations dispose. There the Non-US NATO nations must learn and practice network centric warfare. This means to acquire capabilities which the Non-US nations do not have at the moment. In my view a NRF which will not be accompanied by, e.g. the establishment of a NATO owned and operated AGS Component Force, is not worth the paper on which the orders to establish the force will be written. Looking at the recent American successes achieved by the US through the co-ordinated use of assets such as JSTARS, Global Hawk, AWACS and Rivet Joint I see this capability as the most critical since without it the force would be almost blind and deaf. This is the crucial first step towards transformation since the other missing capabilities such as air transport or AAR are more or less available on the market, some of them for leasing on a case by case basis.
But these steps which simply implement what had been decided before the rift occurred cannot be seen as much more than a renewed interest in NATO, they are by no means sufficient to rebuild the transatlantic relationship and to restore the trust between allies which was lost.
I therefore believe that the NATO nations should as soon as possible agree on the following additional steps:
I do not want to dwell at length on the lessons learned part but a review is highly recommendable since this crisis was handled politically worse than anything I can recall in NATO’s history. The result is that the credibility of the US is severely damaged, that Europe is deeper divided than ever in the EU’s history and that the UN was simply made irrelevant.
One should therefore for example look at the consultation process which has to be adapted in such a way that allies who indicate their preparedness to contribute will have a saying on the decision as such and not only on the execution of a unilaterally taken decision. One should also discuss the requirements for swift decision making in crisis management to include the question whether the decisions on the conduct of operations should not be limited to those nations who contribute although the political decision to intervene was taken by all allies. Moreover, one has to adjust the political processes to the incredible speed which will govern future military operations. It would simply be irresponsible to give away the advantages which network centric warfare will offer since the alliance wishes to stick to procedures which were tailored to a totally different strategic environment. One instrument to advance such an evaluation would be a military lessons learned report given by our American allies. This would allow nations to understand better what technology has to offer today and what it might offer tomorrow. Such a report might have a beneficial side-effect on other pending decisions as well such as a NATO AGS since nations would immediately agree that this capability is indeed the most urgently needed one and that the system’s huge potential can best be used if one opted for a mix of unmanned and manned aircraft which are big enough to accommodate the sensors, the C3 and the targeters who can translate intelligence into rapid fire for effect.
I am convinced that such a review will confirm my second point that NATO will have to revisit its risk assessments in order to find where danger is looming next and where common interests are at risk. I could imagine that such an assessment will come to the conclusion that most and the most dangerous risks are at home in the Wider Middle East region and that the geographical closeness and the economic importance will dictate to attach the utmost priority to this part of the world, most probably at the expense of other areas which would undoubtedly deserve attention as well such as Central Africa.
What NATO needs today to cope with the dangers emanating from this region is a strategy that combines prevention, crisis management operations and post-conflict stabilisation and military options for defensive as well as offensive operations to meet the strategic threats of our days. Security begins at home and therefore the frontline of defence must start with homeland security of the NTA. Without credible efforts to take on terrorists, other Non-State actors and rogue states nobody will be able to muster support for operations far beyond the NTA. The impact could be wide ranging from an EU equivalent of the Office of Homeland Defence to a missile defence system which has to be closely linked to the American MD.
But to limit protection to reaction is no longer good enough. What is needed is what I would call a Harmel Concept for the Wider Middle East, a strategy which provides for an effective defence against the risks of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and cyber-attacks and which simultaneously lays the foundation for a new regional security system which would help to promote democratisation and political transformation in that part of the world. This is the challenge of our days. This obviously means that there is simply no way to reduce the Non-US-NATO allies to peace support operations and to leave the sharp end to the US. Such a division of labour is not in the interest of Europe since it would at the end of the day lead to little influence in Washington for a very big, expensive and long lasting engagement.
Such a grand strategy which has to include more than just military elements will allow identifying the roles, tasks and missions the alliance will have to take on.
It must not include any automaticity but it would have to emphasise that the preparedness of nations to agree on a NATO action does not constitute a binding commitment of individual NATO nations to commit forces.
But what has to be accepted is that NATO needs to improve its military capabilities in order to be prepared to act. This does neither mean nor require replicating the US but it definitely means that the Non-US-NATO must have modest expeditionary capabilities which ought to be fully interoperable with respective US components. The European allies must have the will to intervene shoulder to shoulder with their US allies and at the same time they must be capable of acting on their own, applying the separable but not separate formula, when their own interests must be protected and defended. Most importantly, however, the US and the Non-US allies have to have the political will and the appropriate military capabilities to see an intervention through, to sustain it and to remain engaged in the post-conflict stabilisation efforts until self-sustained stability is achieved.
These requirements mean that the national force planning has to be reviewed and where necessary to be adapted. Too much of the extant planning seems to be devoted to what I would call legacy forces although most of them will not enter service before the end of the decade. A review seems to be appropriate since nations must spend their scarce resources wisely. Many of the capabilities needed, e.g. for NCW are not foreseen and many of them fall into the force multiplier category. Surveillance, reconnaissance and the huge amount of bandwidth necessary to digest the enormous amount of data are to be mentioned there as well as air- and sea-transport, effective stand-off precision strike assets and TBM. Some of these forces exist and they simply need modernisation such as the NATO AWACS, others have to be created as new elements. Some could temporarily be pooled, others might be organised in multi-nationally manned components taking the AWACS Component Force as a model. Not everything might be available at short notice but NATO should begin since these badly missing capabilities would at the same time be available for the NRF. The best way to begin the process which will eventually produce those indispensable assets one should start with C4ISR since only assets such as JSTARS and Global Hawk will allow the NRF to see when the opponent is blind. Such capabilities mean transformation and they allow maximising the effectiveness of legacy forces which most if not all NATO nations will continue to have in their inventory for quite some time to come.
Although many of you may see this proposal as a danger for your favourite program be it a tank, a ship or an aircraft I urge you to take into account that you are at the brink of a shift of strategic paradigms. The aim in war is no longer to destroy the enemy’s military power through attrition by waging a three dimensional operation, the aim is to paralyse the opponent by waging a four dimensional operation which includes the cyberspace, to deprive him of his ability to control the country and to bring his power to bear.
I also urge you not to allow yourself to be self-complacent when ministers celebrate their successes in honouring their nations’ Prague Commitments by some reshuffling of forces, possibly plus some marginal modernisation but without any meaningful step towards transformation.
If the NATO nations took that line of continuing complacency they will run the risk to lose the US and with it NATO. The allies of the US must understand that this will result in a world in which they will have no influence at all on American decisions although they will feel the impact of American action. Moreover, their armed forces will simply no longer be usable in operations other than PSO. This would mean for the nations concerned high cost, long duration of deployments, still some risk but little influence. The Americans on the other hand must understand that the one and only way to get their allies into transformation is to abandon the line “the US needs allies but no alliances”.
V. Concluding Remark
NATO is indeed at the crossroads, more than ever before. But the rift can be healed if there is the political will on both sides of the Atlantic. But to heal means more than repair work. There is no way back to the Pre-Iraq situation. To heal means to rebuild NATO, to adapt its consultation and decision making process to the requirements of an alliance which is determined to act where and when it will be necessary and to transform its military into a 21st century fighting force.
Such a NATO would be the option of choice for both the US and the Europeans.
But both sides need to understand that there is no time to lie down and to wait.
The next crisis may be knocking at our doors tomorrow. I therefore hope that my fellow Europeans understand the recent crisis as the last wake-up call to save a happy marriage and that they refrain from useless and indeed damaging initiatives of the “chocolate “type. I also hope that our American allies understand that they need more than allies, namely an alliance full of allies who are determined to shoulder the burdens collectively and who are prepared to act side by side with them there where common interests are at stake. Slightly modifying what President Bush had said to his fellow Americans the NATO nations should send a message to the bad guys in our world which reads: The only road to security in this world full of uncertainty is to act and this alliance will act.