The Heads of State and Government of all NATO member nations met last week in Lisbon, Portugal, along with those of partner nations to discuss a myriad of issues, including missile defense, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Russia-NATO relations and the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept.
The Strategic Concept was perhaps the most defining aspect of the Lisbon Summit, as it was the first since 1999 and deals with much of the world realities evident since 9/11.
Version 1.0 of the Strategic Concept dealt specifically with the USSR and the Cold War, when NATO was facing one enemy. Version 2.0 came just after the fall of communism and focused more on humanitarian assistance, as was evident by the Alliance’s intervention in the Balkans. It also ushered in the era of expansion within the Alliance as new membership was offered to post-communist states.
However, version 2.0 failed to deal adequately with the 21st century enemy and the events on 9/11 changed much of the way the world operated. NATO became heavily involved in Afghanistan and much of the last decade has been dedicated to that endeavor.
Version 3.0, adopted by the Heads of State and Government in Lisbon has addressed the new realities of the 21st century.
Among other things, it details the turnover of the NATO mission in Afghanistan to the Afghans by 2014, while maintaining a supportive role. It also ensured Russian cooperation in Afghanistan and on the missile defence front.
It emphasized cooperation and partnerships with other world powers and committed itself to enlarging its membership to those who seek admittance, so long as the desires to have a Europe whole, free and at peace are met.
The NATO members also reaffirmed their pledge and desire to create the conditions for living in a world without nuclear weapons.
To read the new Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, please click on the link below.
By Sean Palter
*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s, and do not represent those of The NATO Council of Canada.