NATO plans to unveil the details at this summit of a Strategic Concept designed to answer new threats and challenges around the world. The first since 1999, it covers NATO expansion and is expected to answer questions about the kind of missions NATO will take on, and also reveal NATO's intentions regarding territorial missile defense. Missiles and NATO's involvement in Afghanistan can be counted on to bring out demonstrators, including anti-capitalists in the season of social program cutbacks in Europe.
NATO lists the new threats and challenges as: Afghanistan, energy competition, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global reach terrorism, pandemics, global warming, cyber-defense and critical infrastructure disruption and destruction. One goal of the Strategic Concept, according to NATO, is to make the organization and its operations more efficient and cost effective through "prioritisation; collective solutions; common funding; specialisation; avoiding duplication; and reform." Montenegro has joined NATO's Membership Action Plan, and the Alliance has reiterated that the door to NATO membership is open to Serbia, which is currently a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. In January Russian President Dmitry Medvedev approved a new military doctrine identifying NATO expansion as a national threat and reaffirming Russia's right to use nuclear weapons if the country's existence is threatened. His return to Cold War rhetoric can be counted on for an airing at the summit. The faltering Afghanistan operation is now nine years old, and seems no closer to an end despite the surge of troops in 2010. The 113,000 coalition troops in Afghanistan, roughly half of whom are American, are not enough, NATO commander Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif warned in Oct 2009. US President Barack Obama's surge of 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan counts on NATO sending as many as 10,000 additional troops, but the war has become increasingly hard for European capitals to support politically. The Netherlands and Canada are also grappling with their future in Afghanistan. Canada plans to withdraw its troops in 2011, and the Dutch may be just weeks from bringing their Afghanistan operations to an end, reports Canada's CTV News. The reluctance of most allies to reinforce the military operation could be one of NATO's greatest challenges.
Date written/update: 2010-11-19