Does NATO have a future role?
37. William Hopkinson commented in a RUSI article
in April that 'NATO is dying and decisions on enlargement will
not change that'.
We challenged him on this view in oral evidence. He reiterated
his opinion that NATO was dying, 'but I do not think it is dead
yet', and suggested that enlargement might give it 'a new lease
of life'. He believed that the fact that the invocation of Article
5 had not been followed by the engagement of the Alliance demonstrated
that, because there was no longer the external threat from the
... the glue which held the Alliance together, the
common concern against the Soviet Union, the planning for Article
5 and that being the bedrock of the Alliance is no longer there.
There is no outside threat of that sort and Article 5 is no longer
the glue of the Alliance.
The security problems which the Alliance now faces
lie beyond Europe and 'NATO is not yet geared, and may never be,
to being an extra-European agent.'
His view was that
... ultimately it is governments which animate NATO
and whether they are prepared to animate in the way that NATO
was animated for the first 50 years or the first 40 years at any
rate I think is a doubtful question.
38. Dr Allin believed that the most important mission
for NATO is to provide security in Europe.
The MoD views NATO's role as being 'the Euro-Atlantic area's key
defence and security organisation for the next generation'.
The Secretary of State believed that the fact that so many countries
were queuing to join NATO demonstrated its continuing vitality
and its continuing role. His view was that NATO does have an important
function but that this necessitated change
... the world has changed and absolutely for the
better, but there are still significant threats out there that
we have to deal with. The world may well be a safer place as a
result of the end of the Cold War, but it is certainly a less
certain place. Some of the stability that the Cold War brought
has ended and we have to deal with that ... That is why NATO continues
to have a function and that is why ... I laid emphasis in particular
on NATO's military capabilities because if NATO simply becomes
another international forum, however fascinating it may be, for
exchanging international views of a political kind, then we will
have wasted a unique opportunity of ensuring that NATO itself
remains a unique militarily-capable alliance.
39. We do not agree that NATO is dying. We believe
that NATO makes a vital contribution to Euro-Atlantic security
and that this is no less necessary in the post Cold War world,
despite the change in the nature of the threat. Its missions in
peace-keeping and promoting interoperabilty remain important.
We do, however, recognise the danger of the Alliance becoming
less relevant if it fails to face up to the need to adapt to the
post-11 September context. Prague provides the opportunity for
change and a failure to address the issues there could have serious
and detrimental consequences for the future of NATO.
40. We now look at the specific issues which the
Alliance needs to address at Prague.