On May 14-15, BASIC joins the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, NATO Watch, and Strategy International at the Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, DC for a Shadow NATO Summit. Experts and senior officials will grapple with the tough issues facing the Alliance ahead of next week’s summit in Chicago.
On the agenda will be Afghanistan, Libya, relationships with partner countries, decisions about investing member resources during austere times, and how, and to what extent, the Alliance should emphasize in its strategic planning conventional and nuclear weapons, and missile defense. Also up for discussion, and the main theme running through-out the two-day conference, will be how to inject the voices of civil society into the NATO project, something particularly topical these days characterized by rising demands of accountability across Europe, North America and the Middle East. The conference is the third Shadow NATO summit after similar events in Brussels in 2009 and 2010.
Public engagement with NATO has always been a tough topic. On the one hand, NATO has been guarded and often content to avoid public debates—as in the instance of controversial arrangements over tactical nuclear weapons. On the other hand, the wider public, at least in the United States, shows little interest in international affairs, much less in the specific workings of a military alliance.
NATO was born during a tense and nervous time—not long after World War II. The threat of all out massive nuclear war with a powerful and growing ideological enemy presented its own horrifying dynamics. Yet conditions now pose different challenges and necessities. Prolonged deep economic crises in member states, soldiers serving in long-term violent conflicts, and an alliance stretched by financial demands and varied interests among 28 states, all serve to pull NATO in different directions.
Likewise, globalization and increasing inter-dependency mean that member governments and citizens must work more closely together to resolve problems—whether they like it or not. This Shadow Summit will be a good opportunity to share insight and build new connections in an effort to move this process forward.
For more information on the Shadow NATO Summit III, visit:
These are the views of the author.