Foreign Policy Blogs

Live Blogging: Lisbon Summit

LISBON – Lisbon is a city that has been on the tongues of many a European multilateralist in recent years.  Not only is it the namesake of the European Union’s most recent governing agreement, the Lisbon Treaty, that lays out a number of ambitious goals in creating common foreign and security policy for the body, but its also the site of a much anticipated NATO summit that is likely to see approval of a New Strategic Concept – the alliance’s first since 1999.

Believe it, America, our transatlantic partners are getting serious about security.   Though skeptics abound when it comes to both NATO and EU security initiatives (see the previous post from my co-blogger Sarwar Kashmeri, who argues for the two to be combined) there are many here in Lisbon hoping that both NATO and the European Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) will be able to effectively co-exist, each as their own “brand” so to speak.   We’ll come back to CSDP in a bit, but for now, its all about NATO.

There is no doubt that NATO is due for a major overhaul.  Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the alliance has  moved through the first decade of the millennium like a ship without a rudder.  Following the 9/11 attacks, NATO invoked, for the first time in its history, Article 5, which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all.  While its initial offer of assistance in the American invasion of Afghanistan was politely declined by the U.S., it now commands more than 100,000 troops from 47 countries operating in the war torn country.    NATO  continues its long standing mission to stabilize the Balkans, and is currently at the forefront of a missile defense project aimed not at deterring Russia,as in the past, but Iran.

Politically,the alliance continues its eastward expansion, welcoming in a number of former Soviet countries from the Baltics into the club at a clip that far outpaces EU membership.  It’s partnerships include special relationships with Moscow, as well as the wild card countries of Ukraine and Georgia.

Yeah, it’s probably time for a review.

While NATO activities may literally be all over the map, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.  The problem, as framed by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the group of distinguished experts commissioned to give recommendations on boosting the transatlantic alliance in a recent report is that, “although NATO is busier than it has ever been, its value is less obvious to many than in the past.”

Is this a problem of strategy or communications?  Both?

In the next few days, we hope to find an answer to these question at the “Young Leaders and the Future of NATO  2010 Young Atlanticist Summit” taking place alongside official deliberations here in Lisbon and hosted by the Atlantic Treaty Association, The Atlantic Council and the Portuguese Atlantic Committee.

Highlights will include panels on a wide range of issues impacting the future of NATO, from defense and security measures to the promotion of democracy and human rights, including a panel on future threats moderated by yours truly.  Keynote addresses will feature General David Petraeus and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, among others.

You can follow proceedings here, but be sure to check out coverage at the summit page on Facebook.



Robert Nolan

Robert Nolan is Editor-in-Chief of New Media at the Foreign Policy Association and a writer and producer of the Great Decisions Television Series on PBS. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe and graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, he has interviewed numerous heads of state, Nobel Prize winners, artists and musicians, and policymakers.