Professor Graeme P. Herd from Geneva Center for Security Policy

A better understanding of NATO’s future

Prepared by: Atlantic Initiative Team

We are bringing you something new, still unpublished in the broad specter of bibliographies about NATO. As the title says, it is not just another book about NATO. Analyzing the historical context of the Alliance in all its stages, this book is about the future of NATO.

The plan is that the book NATO 2030: understanding the future path, by Graeme P. Herd and John Kriendler will be published in summer 2012. In conversation with one of the authors, Professor Herd from Geneva Center for Security Policy, we learned what makes this book so different from many before.

Interests of members

Explaining the specificities of the author’s work, Professor Herd says:

This book aims to provide an assessment of NATO’s future evolution by answering the following key question: does NATO advance the interests of its members?” In order to be able to continue its successful protection of its members’ interests, among other things, NATO has to be capable of harmonizing the views of its members in identifying security threats, which will thereby have a positive reflection on the management of NATO operations, possess the appropriate capacities for efficient fight against modern security threats, and be able to exercise political will to duly use their own capacities and make decisions by consensus.

The future of NATO, which was a basis of a security transatlantic partnership for a long time, is often challenged in the modern world context. That definitely influences broader, regional, but also global security implications. As NATO transfers to the 21st century, its role, efficacy, and the purpose of its existence are often challenged.


Possible scenarios

Almost two decades after the end of the Cold War, such questions were understandable in a globalized world. The creators of security policy and its implementors definitely have no doubts whether NATO will continue to exist. However, the nature of its existence is definitely questionable. In that respect, this book offers a totally new approach to creating possible, well-argumented scenarios for the future of the Alliance.

The introduction chapter gives a contextual overview of history, pointing out NATO strategic evolutions and key issues which, in different historical contexts, had an impact on decisions within the Alliance. It includes the role, operations and capacities of NATO, NATO-EU relations, and the nature of partnership, expansion and other issues. Still, the key focus of the book is the transformation of NATO.

Professor Graeme explains:

“Each subsequent chapter follows the same broad tripartite structure: an examination of the historical context in which the given topic has evolved; an identification and characterisation of key policy-debates and drivers that shape current thinking; and, on that basis, a presentation of three possible future strategic pathways relating to the topic area.  When we consider alternative future scenarios, we might lazily conclude that NATO’s future by 2030 will be like the past, only more so.  While NATO at 2030 is not in danger of imminent decline, it will continue to transform and adapt in the face of serious challenges that generate stiff internal debates and partisan infighting, capability shortfalls will be a constant feature, despite the pressures of NATO operations in the 2030 equivalents of the Balkans, Afghanistan and North Africa.  NATO will support EU operations effectively, but mutual suspicion will continue, while Allies and Partners will continue to value NATO.”

Eleven chapters of this book continue all actual questions which, in a way, pose a possible weak point of the Alliance, whether it is the issue of expansion, cyber crime, antimissile defense or similar. However, the authors conclude that the analysis approach indeed offers only one of the possible scenarios for NATO to 2030. That is why they decided to incorporate at least two possible scenarios for the same problem in their book. Hoping that this book will help those who make decisions within the Alliance in their strategic planning and thinking, the last chapter offers other solutions. It synthesizes thoughts about all eleven chapters of the book and presents additional possible scenarios for the future, also analyzing premises that some moves could be fatal for NATO. Therefore, Professor  Graeme points out:

“There are at least three benefits from adopting such an approach.  First, scenario planning is an aid to decision-makers today – it encourages dialogue amongst strategic thinkers and assists them in the process of selecting strategies.  Second, the process of creating scenarios makes strategic planners aware of uncertainty – they must consider what could be rather than what has been.  Third, by challenging sacred cows, orthodox received wisdom, cherished ideas and assumptions, the process offers fresh perspectives and new frameworks.”