It’s time to radically transform the alliance – POLITICO

By on July 5, 2022 0

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Domènec Ruiz Devesa is a member of the European Parliament.

Offering a compelling blueprint for the kind of radical transformation NATO will have to go through to cope with the return of great power competition, the alliance’s newly agreed Strategic Concept is the product of an inevitable compromise. However, the document adopted at this week’s Madrid summit also stands out for its comprehensiveness and balance, as well as its ambition.

And yet, on its own, it is still not enough.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine, NATO’s initial task of collective defense is again – unsurprisingly – at the center of attention, with the alliance planning to bring its forces to a high readiness level of 40,000 to over 300,000 by 2023.

Furthermore, transatlantic leaders have also cleverly avoided a simple back-to-basics approach, reinterpreting the other two fundamental tasks introduced by the 2010 Strategic Concept – crisis management and cooperative security – in order to respond to the new realities of the today’s contested international environment.

As a result, cooperative security, which in the previous strategy document was closely tied to a “reset” of relations with Moscow, now aims to leverage NATO partnerships to counter Russia as “the most significant threat and the most direct for the security of the Allies”. in addition to China.

Indeed, for the first time, the strategic concept now spells out how NATO can help deal with an increasingly assertive and militarily capable China — a topic that was part of the alliance’s internal discussions some time ago. just a few years — as Beijing’s military and technological advances will require vigilance.

But while the adoption of a solid and forward-looking strategic concept should put an end to the recurring debates about erasing the logic of NATO, however – after all, French President Macron had diagnosed her with near “brain death” in 2019 – it takes even more to breathe new meaning into the transatlantic relationship after many recent convulsions.

That is why, following NATO’s new strategic document, it is high time that transatlantic leaders also adopted a political text – a different New Atlantic Charter, committing Europe and the United States on a set of objectives well beyond military and security policy, and which goes far beyond the Anglo-American agreement signed between US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year.

A broader manifesto along these lines could allay concerns about a militaristic drift in the aftermath of the war and help restore faith in Western principles and values ​​- “democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law” – such that they are crystallized in the North Atlantic Treaty.

It is certainly not a question of having a sheet of paper filled with noble concepts. Rather, like the historic Atlantic Charter of 1941, this document should pragmatically articulate a common agenda that the United States and Europe can advance together, despite their diminished international influence. Crucially, it should identify issues that enjoy broad transatlantic and bipartisan support, thereby protecting future cooperation from the disruptive impact that election cycles will continue to have on the relationship.

The 1941 text was also adopted in times of war. And as the ongoing war in Ukraine has underscored, this new charter should prepare transatlantic societies for the possibility that, in the not-too-distant future, challenges to Western leadership and standards could lead to large-scale international conflict. ladder.

Its objective should therefore be twofold: on the one hand, the new charter should update the “four freedoms”, while broadening the list. In addition to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from need and freedom from fear, one could consider others, such as freedom of the seas and freedom of the Internet, which have recently come under attack by the authorities.

On the other hand, the charter should also advance the new paradigm of “transatlantic resilience”, setting out the principles that the United States and Europe would jointly adopt to preserve cohesive societies and functional governance. Among these principles enjoying broad support on both sides of the Atlantic would be “fairness” as a corrective to free markets and free trade, as well as the notion of “inclusive and sustainable growth” as a response to growing inequality, the threat of climate change and increased risk of pandemic-like events.

With regard to the functioning of institutions, “accountability”, “responsiveness” and “transparency” – as well as a renewed emphasis on “integrity” and the fight against “disinformation” – would also go a long way towards remedying to the widespread distrust that has fueled the rise of populist parties on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years.

Articulating a transatlantic agenda capable of attracting bipartisan support is, of course, a formidable challenge. Yet it is also an imperative task given a likely Republican victory in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections and the likelihood of future instances of political divergence in years to come.

To meet this challenge, this new charter could be developed in an innovative way by transatlantic policymakers, with the European Parliament playing a proactive role. For while political polarization will undoubtedly remain a challenge in both the United States and Europe, even during the turbulent Trump years, a broad consensus among legislative bodies across the Atlantic still existed on key issues, such as the need to protect NATO.

And it is precisely this type of broad political convergence that such a charter could translate into a renewed vision of the transatlantic partnership.