Nicolás Pascual de la Parte
Embajador de España
New context of risks and threats
The Atlantic Alliance, the most successful collective defense organization in history, is currently facing three priority challenges: Putin’s Russia’s challenge to the liberal international order and to the political and security architecture in Europe agreed in the Helsinki Act of 1975; the consolidation of China as an increasingly assertive and expansive great power; and the emergence of disruptive technologies. NATO must therefore respond to the geopolitical threats of two authoritarian and illiberal powers and to the technological challenge.
Russia has repeatedly demonstrated that it has no interest in normalizing relations with the European Union and the United States, and has decided to question the global order established after World War II. It has not hesitated to modify international borders by force (annexation of Crimea, fomenting armed conflict in the Donbas), to carry out cyber-attacks on critical structures of Western countries, to launch disinformation campaigns and to interfere in electoral processes, or to destabilize democratic systems through hybrid threats.
For its part, Xi-Jinping’s China has expressed its will to become a great technological, economic, political and military power in the coming decades, replacing the USA as the hegemonic country. To this end, a precise roadmap and timetable have been set, with the ultimate goal of determining the rules and shaping the institutions of the new world order.
Emerging disruptive digital technologies (cloud data, robotics, 5G mobile telephony, the internet of things, quantum computing, artificial intelligence) entail an atomization of power and its diffusion to non-state actors and an empowerment of extremists, terrorist groups and international criminal organizations.
Modernization and adaptation of NATO
In view of the new geopolitical and technological threats, the Alliance has to modernize and adapt itself, which implies: a new strategic concept (the current one, long outdated, is the one agreed in Lisbon in 2010), updating the transatlantic link, reinforcing the resilience of allies’ critical structures, making internal decision-making processes more flexible, maintaining the comparative advantage of its technological and military capabilities, deepening its mechanisms for political consultation among allies, adopting a more global approach (including the challenge of China), strengthening its relations with other democracies as well as political dialogue and cooperation with third countries.
In addition, the Alliance must lead the transition from a collective defense of the industrial age, based on large combat platforms (aircraft carriers, frigates, bombers, battle tanks, heavy artillery) to a defense of the information age of the 21st century, based on digital and technological offensive systems (drones, space satellites, focused laser beams, hypersonic missiles, autonomous combat systems, artificial intelligence). This in turn will require maintaining an appropriate and flexible mix of traditional and non-traditional capabilities, an adaptation of command and control structures, as well as close cooperation between the public and private sectors and a defense culture that incorporates civil society.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)