The United States’ department’s of State and Defense did something unusual this week. They coordinated and orchestrated a tough but constructive message to NATO and the Europeans.
Sec. of State, Clinton spoke at a reception for NATO’s senior team and high level officials, Monday, April 22. It was the kick-off to the one day NATO conference, Tuesday, Mar 23, to help draft the Alliance’s Strategic Concept for the next decade. Defense Sec. Gates opened the conference at the National Defense University the next day with as tough a description as I’ve every heard about NATO’s European members. Here’s how brutal it was.
The demilitarization of Europe — where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it — has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st…
Both Secretaries referred to each others remarks, built on what the other would say, and provided a one-two punch that was unusual, to say the least, in transatlantic circles.
Both Secretaries want NATO to expedite an overhaul of its bureaucracy (EG: over 300 committees, no integrated financial systems to track budgets, expenses, and projects) and to think about collaborating with the European Union and its security establishment: ESDP. No more double billing both Secretaries said, after all 21 of the 28 NATO members are EU members.
I was at the NATO conference, which was held under Chatham House Rules. So cannot offer quotations. I will tell you this, the mood was grim but determined. Grim because of the late hour for NATO. Determined because every person at the conference realized the importance of NATO to security and to the transatlantic alliance.