The Future of NATO: How Valuable an Asset?"Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
June 22, 2007
Chairman Lantos, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen, members of the Committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you our thoughts on NATO.
I will make two key points: First, I will describe how NATO is meeting current transatlantic security challenges. Second, I will highlight NATO’s transformation, perhaps halfway through. We and our allies have done much; much more remains to be done.
Meeting Security Challenges
The shift is historic. Europe’s western half has been at peace since 1945, the longest peace since the Pax Romana and one now extended throughout Europe. Eleven states once behind the Iron Curtain are now democracies contributing to common security within NATO.
NATO’s missions span a wide geography and a wide array of activities. This trend is only going to continue. Clearly, there were differences over the war in Iraq, but they never paralyzed NATO. NATO’s scope is demonstrated by NATO’s two largest operations today: Kosovo and Afghanistan.
When Kosovo’s status is resolved, which we believe will be through supervised independence, KFOR will continue to maintain a safe and secure environment during this critical time. Every poll taken in Kosovo shows NATO to be the single most respected institution there. Kosovo has been a success story for the Alliance. By proceeding with the resolution of its status, we can move toward ending our post-conflict military involvement.
Instead, NATO has taken the initiative with our own civil and military efforts. Thirty seven countries–26 Allies and 11 non-NATO partners–participate in NATO’s UN-mandated International Security Assistance Forces: over 40,000 troops. About 24,000–nearly 60%–are from our Allies and partners, and serve throughout all of Afghanistan.
We have continued to press Allies to fill force shortfalls in ISAF, and since last fall Allies and partners have pledged well over 7,000 new troops to the mission, most without caveats. Although some caveats remain a concern, Allies have expressed a willingness to come to each others’ aid, should the need arise. There is a new flexibility.
NATO forces serve side-by-side with Afghan National Security Forces. We are also doing everything possible to train and equip Afghan National Army and Police forces. The recent supplemental passed by Congress, which provided funding to better train and equip Afghan forces, has helped us leverage even more from other contributors.
Today Afghanistan has a democratically elected President and Parliament. Five million refugees have returned. The number of children attending school has increased five-fold to six million, two million of those girls–who had no access to schools under the Taliban.
NATO and Missile Defense
The United States has proposed a long-range missile defense system in Europe, and at April’s meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Oslo our NATO Allies were nearly unanimous in support. Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer has noted that U.S. missile defense plans do not upset the strategic balance of Europe, and that NATO could help “bolt together” U.S. plans with the Allies’ national short- and mid-range missile defense systems with the U.S. system, and hopefully even in cooperation with Russia. As has always been the case at NATO, our and other national defense efforts contribute to security for the Alliance as a whole. Security, as we learned the hard way in the 20th century, is indivisible; if Europe is not secure, the United States is not secure.
The Riga Summit last November marked an important step forward in NATO’s transformation to meet 21st century challenges.
On all of these issues, there has been progress since Riga–and on all, there is still more work to do.
The Way Ahead
Thank you for your attention. I appreciate the opportunity to be here and I look forward to your questions.
Released on June 22, 2007