Hariri Center Director Michele Dunne and Senior Fellow Amy Hawthorne reflect on US policy toward the Middle East and North Africa in the two years since President Barack Obama promised to make it a top priority to support democracy and human rights in the region.
J. Peter Pham, director the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, was one of four experts invited to address a high-level international conference on the crisis in the Sahel region convened today in The Hague.
Rudolph Atallah, senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, testified at a House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on “The Growing Crisis in Africa’s Sahel Region.”
On the heels of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to the United States, Energy & Environment Program Associate Director Mihaela Carstei joins CTV to discuss the Keystone Pipeline project that would transport tar sands oil from Canada and the northern United States to refineries in the Gulf coast of Texas.
Ambassador Kurt Volker, senior advisor to the International Security Program and member of the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Advisors Group, and Vice Admiral Kevin P. Green, USN (Ret.), vice president for defense and intelligence for IBM Federal, outlined several key principles for NATO reform in a new issue brief. The publication was released at the event “Transforming Towards a Smarter Alliance: NATO Reform in the Age of Austerity,” part of the Council’s Smarter Alliance Initiative in partnership with IBM.
The topic of reforming NATO—and in particular cutting costs and improving efficiencies—has been with the Alliance for decades. Throw-away lines such as “Why does NATO have 400 committees?” or “Cut the International Staff by 10 percent” have often been used to signal a rough determination to streamline NATO and make it more efficient.
To be sure, there are indeed improvements to the way NATO operates that should be made, and to be sure, they can result in more efficient use of resources, and perhaps even cost savings. But let’s not make the mistake of assuming that the most important problems facing the Alliance today result from a lack of reform. Nor should we assume that internal reforms can compensate for the glaring gaps in members’ political will and resources.
The real problems are far more fundamental: the lack of a strategic consensus on threats and responses, inadequate and still declining Allied defense budgets and capabilities, and a lack of leadership and solidarity among the Allies. Moreover, NATO has already gone through substantial reforms several times since the end of the Cold War.
Still, specific reforms have their place. We suggest below a number which, if the more fundamental issues of political will and capabilities are addressed, would make a good Alliance better and smarter.
Smarter Alliance Initiative:
The Atlantic Council and IBM established the Smarter Alliance Initiative in response to the NATO Secretary General’s call for European allies to adopt a “smarter” approach to leveraging scarce defense resources to develop and sustain capabilities necessary to meet current and future security challenges. Working with recognized experts and former senior officials from Europe and the United States, the Atlantic Council and IBM have produced a set of policy-oriented briefs focused on NATO reform which will be officially launched during the conference.
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On May 30, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center will release a new issue brief, The Kaleidoscope Turns Again in a Crisis-Challenged Iran, a discussion of Iran’s upcoming presidential elections.
From June 13-14, the 2013 Wrocław Global Forum will bring together over 350 top policy-makers and business leaders to explore the region’s impact as an actor in Europe, as well as its crucial role in the transatlantic partnership and on the global stage.