SP: Open debate on the future of NATO

19 February 2007

SP: Open debate on the future of NATO

Now that NATO is seeking a new strategic concept for 2009, it's time that we in the Netherlands opened a debate on this amongst the public and politicians.” So said SP Senator Tiny Kox on the occasion of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels. The Assembly, of which Senator Kox is a member, will discuss developments in the alliance as well as the future of what is the world's biggest military organisation.

Tiny KoxIn Kox's view we should not wait around for decisions to be taken but enter a discussion on the future of NATO. “This is the moment when we should be launching a broad discussion,” he said. “The outcome is not decided. Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer wants to have a proposal for a new NATO on the table before he leaves in 2009. NATO Commander-in-Chief General Craddock told me that he supported this plan and believes that it is both necessary and possible for a new proposal to be presented by NATO's sixtieth anniversary in 2009. However, the US ambassador to NATO, Victoria Nuland, told me that she had her doubts as to whether twenty-six member states can really reach agreement. They are at one, however, in their view that the debate needs to get under way. So how much encouragement do we need?”

It is not just the future but above all the present which is to be discussed in Brussels. “Almost all of our attention will be on Afghanistan,” said the Canadian General Hunault, currently chair of NATO's powerful military committee. In answer to Senator Kox's question as to why so little progress has been evident in that country, General Hunault replied that he was convinced that all would come good and that NATO was on the right track. Kox does not share this view, however. “The war in Afghanistan has already lasted longer than the Second World War,” he pointed out, “while resistance is growing rather than declining and the conflict threatens to become a sort of national liberation struggle against foreign occupiers.”

Kox's suggestion that NATO's 1949 treaty is out of date was dismissed out of hand by Ambassador Nuland. Comparing the treaty to the US Constitution in its brevity and clarity, she said that these meant it would not date. The SP Senator saw things differently, arguing that “the old, Cold War NATO is past, the new NATO is trying to find its way, but it's not going well. So it's time to look at whether we perhaps need a wholly new world-wide security structure, one to which the scaling down of military capacity and the building up of global development and security are central.”

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