Small Wars Journal

NATO Summit Shows Shift from Reassurance to Deterrence

Fri, 07/08/2016 - 9:04am

NATO Summit Shows Shift from Reassurance to Deterrence

Luis Ramirez, Voice of America

It is being called the most critical NATO summit since the end of the Cold War.

U.S. President Barack Obama began two days of crucial meetings in Warsaw Friday with Brexit at the top of his agenda and concerns of what the departure of NATO's other heavy-hitter, Britain, from the EU will mean for the security alliance.

The United States has “strong and enduring interest” in a united Europe and everyone has an interest in “minimizing disruptions” as the EU and Britain “forge a new relationship,” Obama said Friday after meeting with EU leaders at the start of the NATO summit.


The U.S. leader sought to offer reassurances to European leaders as anxiety grows on the continent over the future of European integration after Brexit.

“I am absolutely confident that the UK and European Union will work in a pragmatic fashion to ensure that the transition is orderly and smooth,” Obama said. “We cannot lose sight of the achievement” that European integration has made, he said, noting that no EU member has ever raised arms against another. Obama said those are “achievements that have to be preserved.”

Highlighting U.S. concern over Britain’s decision to leave the EU, Obama’s meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and the European Council’s Jean-Claude Juncker was his first after arriving in Warsaw Friday.

​​Russian Aggression

But on the official agenda it was Russia and what U.S. officials describe as its more assertive, more aggressive actions on NATO’s eastern flank that is dominating the two-day discussions.

As Russia, NATO’s most militarily capable neighbor, continues to arm and show no sign of ending its involvement in Ukraine, U.S. officials see a growing potential threat to NATO countries that were once part of the Soviet empire.

Washington sees this as a crucial time to forge a cohesive response that for the first time in a quarter century will focus not on reassurance, but on deterrence.

“From NATO’s perspective, this summit comes at a real demarcation point, or an inflection point, in the now almost 70-year history of the Alliance,” said Doug Lute, the U.S. ambassador to NATO.

Troop Readiness

For the first time in NATO’s history, it has a 13,000 troop high-readiness force, currently based in Spain – President Obama’s next stop.

At the summit, leaders are adding what Lute describes as a “modest” force of four NATO battalions in the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and in Poland. The U.S. has announced it will lead one of those battalions.
President Obama began the day Friday addressing domestic concerns: the killings of five police officers by snipers in Dallas. The U.S. leader called a "vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement" and said "We are horrified."


Edited just a bit:

A suggestion that to understand "The Purposes of NATO" -- yesterday, during the interim period, and today -- one must look to "grand strategy" to achieve this objective, as outlined below:

I. Yesterday, the Old Cold War; wherein, the purpose of NATO was stand against those that would:

a. Seek to advance the unique way of life, the unique way of governance and the unique values, attitudes and beliefs associated with communism. And, to stand against those that would

b. Use military, and/or other force/persuasion, in Europe, to achieve these such communist "expansionist" designs (which we would counter vis-a-vis our/the West's grand strategy of "containment" and "roll back.")

II. The Interim Period; wherein, NATO/the West would accommodate a grand strategy of "enlargement," by capitalizing on the West's winning of the Old Cold War, and by attempting to expand western power, influence and control as far as possible, in Europe, and indeed elsewhere throughout the world.

III: Today, the New/Reverse Cold War; wherein, the purpose of NATO will be to stand against both those great nations (think Russia) and small, and both those state and non-state actors (think AQ, ISIS, etc.) who, now

a. Seek prevent the U.S./the West from continuing to advance its unique way of life, its unique way of governance and its unique values, attitudes and beliefs -- further throughout Europe and, indeed, further throughout the rest of the world. And, to stand against those who would

b. Use military, and/or other force/persuasion, in Europe and elsewhere, to achieve these such "containment"/"roll back" objectives (vis-a-vis our/the West's such "expansionist" grand strategy).

Thus, to suggest that the changes in NATO's purpose and posture can best be understood -- not so much from the perspective of "from reassurance to deterrence" -- but, rather, through the lens of "grand strategy," and, thus, from the perspective of "From Containment to Enlargement" outlined, explained and established immediately below: