Recently, news about NATO has been heard all the time.
From April 6 to 7, the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting was held in Brussels, Belgium. For the first time, the foreign ministers of four Asia Pacific countries, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand, were invited to the meeting.
From May 14 to 15, foreign ministers of NATO countries held an informal meeting in Berlin, Germany. At the meeting on the 15th, NATO said that it would make a rapid and positive decision on the application for accession submitted by Finland and Sweden.
On May 18, 2022, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg (left) accepted Sweden’s application to join NATO submitted by the Swedish ambassador to NATO in Brussels, Belgium.
The NATO summit is scheduled to be held in Madrid, Spain, at the end of June. On April 26, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced at a congressional hearing that the Japanese Prime Minister would attend the summit.
Taking this summit as an opportunity, under the leadership of the United States, NATO will once again launch a new strategic concept based on the needs of the great power game in the next 10 years. Based on the information from all parties, this NATO strategic concept update is an important step for the United States to use the NATO platform to integrate the strength of its allies in Europe and Asia, so as to make preparations for further making waves in the Asia Pacific region and suppressing China in the future.
So, will NATO’s core tasks be adjusted?
Wen Bing, international observer of outlook think tank
Editor Pu Haiyan outlook think tank
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NATO operational guidelines
NATO’s official website clearly points out that the strategic concept is NATO’s “key document”. It reaffirms NATO’s values and purposes, makes a collective assessment of the security environment, promotes NATO to make strategic adjustments in response to changes in the security situation, and guides NATO’s political and military development. Generally speaking, for NATO, the strategic concept answers the ultimate questions such as “who I am, what I want to do, and how I want to do it”.
NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Figure Xinhua News Agency
Since the end of the cold war, NATO has launched the strategic concept three times in 1991, 2000 and 2010. Before the launch of the new strategic concept in June this year, NATO implemented the strategic concept formulated in 2010 with the purpose of “active engagement and modern defense”. According to this strategic concept, under the new situation, the possibility of conventional attacks on NATO mainland is significantly reduced, but it still faces the threat of terrorist attacks, weapons of mass destruction, network security and supply chain interruption in key areas such as energy, trade and communication.
In recent years, NATO feels that the 2010 strategic concept has been difficult to cope with the changes in the new era. For example, the German Marshall foundation pointed out that in 2010, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine had not occurred, NATO had not attacked Libya militarily, the Syrian war had not erupted, the extremist organization “Islamic state” had not been widely known, the China missile defense treaty had not expired, and China had not appeared on NATO radar
NATO has made a series of preparations to launch a new strategic concept. In november2020, NATO released the NATO 2030: unite to face a new era reform report, which listed China as a new strategic challenge facing NATO and examined how NATO would strengthen internal unity and political consultation thereafter. At the NATO summit in Brussels in June 2021, NATO adopted the “NATO 2030 initiative” and made a decision to launch a new strategic concept at the Madrid summit in June 2022.
Based on the research of western think tanks, NATO’s official statements and foreign media reports, NATO’s strategic concept may make three major adjustments.
Add core tasks
In the 2010 strategic concept, NATO classified its core tasks as three: collective defense, crisis management and security cooperation.
In order to meet the needs of the big power game, NATO may adjust its core mission and add a core mission – “comprehensive resilience” in the new strategic concept. The proposal comes from the transatlantic leadership network, a non-governmental organization close to NATO.
The organization recently released a research report entitled “1+4: depicting the future of NATO in a turbulent era”, which believes that NATO should take “comprehensive resilience” as a major core task in the new era, and strengthen the construction from the three levels of “democratic resilience”, “common resilience” and “forward resilience”:
The so-called “democratic resilience”,
It means that NATO should look at the game of great powers in the new era from the perspective of institutional competition, emphasizing that this is not a simple competition of strength, but a game of “governance”;
The so-called “common resilience” emphasizes the protection of the key infrastructure, capital flow and supply chain connecting NATO countries;
The so-called “forward resilience” emphasizes that NATO should focus on actions at both time and space levels. For example, the assistance to Ukraine should not be “one-time” but “sustained”.
The proposal to add “comprehensive resilience” as the core task reflects that the United States is trying to unify the thinking of the Western camp through the NATO platform and strengthen the all-round mobilization from military to civil to suppress China. The United States is trying to promote the formation and strengthening of such mainstream cognition within the Western camp: China’s challenge to American hegemony is to challenge the entire Western camp; This kind of challenge is institutional and systematic, which is of great importance; The game between China and the United States is a protracted war, not a “one hammer deal”.
On April 7, 2022, the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting was held at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Figure Xinhua News Agency
In the future, under the leadership of the United States, NATO’s aggressiveness and expansiveness will be highlighted again.
The purpose of adding the so-called “comprehensive resilience” as NATO’s core task and this proposition come down in one continuous line. In essence, it is to instill the idea that “anywhere can be the front line” into NATO members and partnership countries, showing a strong sense of inciting all-round competition and confrontation.
For some time, western think tanks such as the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and the German Marshall Foundation (GMF) have repeatedly pointed out that as the United States shifts its strategic focus to suppressing China and the relative decline of its hegemonic power, the United States has no intention or ability to further share European Defense responsibilities. At the same time, the European Union is more willing to pursue “Strategic Autonomy”, and European defense independence has made progress, which runs counter to the United States’ taking control of Europe through defense and security and maintaining American hegemony.
After the escalation of the current round of Russia Ukraine conflict, the energy of the United States to shift its strategic focus has been restrained to some extent, and the deep-seated contradictions between the United States and Europe on defense issues have been temporarily covered up. However, there are many signs that the US has made up its mind to shift its strategic focus.
Majeda Rugg, senior researcher of the European Council on foreign relations, and Jeremy shaipro, research director of the think tank, jointly wrote an article a few days ago, pointing out that the Russia Ukraine conflict, on the one hand, shows that Europe is unable to guarantee its own security, on the other hand, it also shows that the United States can no longer provide security for the next generation of Europe.
The United States wants to “go east”, while Europe wants to keep the United States and “stand up”. How can the contradictions between Europe and the United States be resolved?
Under the leadership of the United States, NATO may take advantage of this revision of the strategic concept, based on safeguarding the hegemonic interests of the United States, and take advantage of the situation to promote the rebalancing of the defense responsibilities of the United States and Europe, so as to turn the momentum of Europe’s pursuit of independence into an opportunity to reduce the pressure on US defense in Europe.
The transatlantic leadership network has clearly indicated this idea in its research report, and stressed that in the future, the United States will devote more energy to dealing with China, and Europe should improve its own defense capabilities and assume more responsibility for crisis management. The report also clearly points out that the concept of “EU Strategic Autonomy” has generated “political toxicity” in some NATO allies. NATO should embrace the ambition of the EU to play a greater role to avoid this concept.
In other words, the home of NATO should still be the United States. The independence of the European Union mainly focuses on sharing responsibilities for the United States, rather than separating from the United States.
The transatlantic Leadership Network suggests that in the next 10 years, European defense capabilities should reach half of NATO’s minimum defense requirements, and small crisis response operations can be led by Europe, so as to improve the efficiency of European defense industry. In fact, all these are attempts to mobilize European resources to serve the United States to maintain hegemony after drawing a line and directing Europe politically. If the EU does not raise its political awareness, it may fall into the “American Trap”. As andreortega, a senior researcher at the Royal Institute of El Cano in Spain, said, “the harder Europe works, the more dependent it is on the United States.”
Meeting the “China Challenge”
There are many indications that the new strategic concept launched by NATO this time will cover China at a considerable length and will write China into the strategic concept document as an important challenge for the first time. NATO will propose a plan to deal with the so-called “China Challenge” to prepare for further suppression of China.
Instigated by the United States, NATO’s overall understanding of China has become increasingly negative in recent years.
According to the research department of the NATO defense academy, the NATO London summit in december2019 issued a NATO joint statement, saying that China “brings opportunities and challenges”. This is the first time that China has been included in the NATO joint statement. In june2021, the NATO summit in Brussels issued a communiqu é, saying that China is “a destabilizing force and a systemic challenge that threatens the rule-based international order”. The research department of NATO defense academy pointed out that there is a growing consensus within NATO that it must be vigilant against the challenges brought by China.
From the NATO defense academy to the transatlantic leadership network, these think tanks close to NATO have high similarities in their perceptions of the so-called “China Challenge”. They believe that although China does not pose a direct military threat to NATO, it has brought “multi-dimensional challenges” to NATO, covering 5g, quantum technology, key infrastructure, network security, interconnection and other fields. The trans Atlantic leadership network even divided the so-called “China challenges” into seven categories, and put forward fallacies such as “China’s scientific and technological progress has a variety of direct impacts on NATO Security”, “the security of Europe and the North Atlantic will be damaged by the dependence on China”, “China’s maritime claims, space policies and Arctic activities are the key principles that threaten the global common goals”.
The NATO defense academy made it clear that one of the tasks of the new concept of NATO strategy launched this time is to “transform the consensus emerging within NATO to deal with the so-called” China Challenge “into coordinated action. The research of several western think tanks shows that NATO may deal with China in its new strategic concept document in the following way:
First, with the help of the NATO framework, it promotes “decoupling” with China in infrastructure construction, supply chain and other aspects.
The trans Atlantic leadership network proposed to update NATO’s security requirements for 5g telecommunications equipment, review the dependence of the defense equipment supply chain of NATO member states on China, and establish a NATO EU dialogue mechanism to assess potential threats in key infrastructure, investment projects, export control and other fields.
Second, strengthen the linkage between NATO and Asia Pacific countries.
The trans Atlantic leadership network has put forward a number of proposals in this direction, such as inviting Japan and the Republic of Korea to become NATO’s “partners in enhancing opportunities”, or establishing a NATO Liaison Office in Tokyo or Seoul, or establishing a NATO Indo Pacific Committee to provide a forum platform for strengthening NATO Indo Pacific ties, or establishing various NATO centers of excellence in the Indo Pacific region.
The NATO defense academy proposed to establish a NATO center of excellence in the Indian Pacific region to enhance NATO’s understanding of the Indian Pacific region and facilitate NATO to promote its concept in the Indian Pacific region.
NATO has actually moved in this direction. The South Korean intelligence agency recently announced that South Korea officially joined the NATO cooperative Cyber Defense Center of excellence (ccdcoe) in Tallinn, Estonia, which is a typical case.
Third, we should focus on launching a scientific and technological war against China.
The German Marshall foundation proposed that NATO could cooperate with the US UK Australia trilateral security partnership mechanism (aukus) and the four nation mechanism (Quad) to contain China in artificial intelligence, chips, quantum technology, scientific and technological standards, etc. The Research Report of the foundation points out that the security cooperation between the United States, Britain and Australia is not limited to the field of nuclear submarines, but also intended to “deepen the integration of the United States, Britain and Australia in science, technology, industry and supply chain related to security and defense”. Under the framework of the four country mechanism, there are also many scientific and technological cooperation contents. All these have provided convenience for NATO to build a “high wall” to contain China in the field of science and technology.
Fourth, under the guidance of suppressing China, expand direct communication channels between NATO and China, facilitate dialogue with China, tap cooperation opportunities in the fight against piracy and other fields, and manage differences and crises.
Both the NATO defense academy and the transatlantic leadership network proposed that the establishment of the NATO China Committee could be considered. However, the NATO defense academy believes that the conditions for the establishment of this platform are not mature. The EU and NATO first need to coordinate their respective China policies. The “India Pacific strategy” issued by the EU in 2021 will help Europe and the United States coordinate their policy positions in the Asia Pacific region.
Lowering the “new iron curtain” in Europe
Yangchenxi, deputy director of the Institute of international strategy of the Chinese Academy of international studies, believes that the new concept of NATO strategy also deserves attention, including how NATO assesses the global nuclear situation. Its assessment will affect the development path of NATO’s nuclear weapons and affect China, Russia and many “nuclear threshold” countries; NATO may also relax the conditions for its military operations to facilitate its global deployment, and its military operations may further bypass the restrictions of the United Nations.
He believed that under the guidance of the new strategic concept, NATO’s future military exercises with China as the main imaginary enemy may also be upgraded. NATO will also promote cooperation with “India Pacific” partners in the fields of missile launching and antimissile, hypersonic weapon attack and defense, and sea air coordination. In the emerging security field, NATO may take “cognitive warfare” (or similar concepts) and “public opinion warfare” as new areas of cooperation, carry out cooperative offensive and defensive exercises against its identified major adversaries, and may establish new working groups or task forces in the network and outer space fields to strengthen coordination. In the field of new technology weapons, such as unmanned autonomous weapons, kinetic energy weapons, laser weapons, etc., NATO will take it as its new task to compete for the dominant power in the formulation of corresponding international rules.
Yangchenxi also pointed out that the new concept of NATO strategy is likely to lead to geopolitical and security divisions in the Eurasian continent and East Asia. To a large extent, it will lower the “new iron curtain” in Europe, strengthen the military security confrontation between Russia and Europe, and block the existing East Asian cooperation.
The potential long-term harm caused by NATO’s strategic adjustment should not be underestimated. However, it should also be noted that NATO, as a military organization, has its inherent limitations. There are many contradictions between the United States and Europe and within Europe. As long as I remain calm, maintain strategic concentration, grasp the main contradiction of “responding to U.S. hegemony”, be prepared in diplomacy, public opinion, military and other aspects, and strive to unite the majority of the international community, I can fully resolve NATO’s new threats and overcome new risks and challenges.