In The Media

Panel urges NATO to step up dialogue with China

by David M. Herszenhorn (feat. Julian Lindley-French)

POLITICO Europe
November 27, 2017

NATO must adapt for futuristic warfare and seek partnerships with emerging powers, especially China, if the alliance hopes to respond to renewed threats from Russia and a fast-changing security landscape, according to a panel of military and diplomatic experts.

In a detailed report published Monday, the experts, who were convened by Bratislava-based security think tank Globsec, put forward a constellation of dozens of proposals to upgrade NATO, which they hope will be taken under consideration by political leaders at a summit next July.

The panel was led by retired U.S. Marine Corps General John R. Allen, who served as commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Allen this month became president of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

While much of the report focuses on the security landscape drastically altered by Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and military incursion in eastern Ukraine, the authors also called for a stepped-up partnership with China, India and other rising powers.

Allen, in an interview with POLITICO, said that the alliance would benefit from a NATO-China Council akin to the NATO-Russia Council that facilitates dialogue with the Kremlin.

“NATO needs to take note of the enormity of China’s influence,” Allen said.

n the interview, Allen noted that technology in many cases was the decisive factor in armed conflicts of the last 200 years, and the report urges NATO not to be caught flat-footed as innovations like artificial intelligence are applied to warfare.

The report was the result of a year-long analysis of the alliance and its future needs. Other experts on the panel included former NATO deputy secretary-general, and former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Alexander Vershbow; former Italian defense minister, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola; and former NATO ambassador to Slovakia, Tomáš Valášek, who is now director of Carnegie Europe. The principal author was Julian Lindley-French, vice president of the Atlantic Treaty Association.

In the interview, Allen said the group’s goal was to look decades into the future. “We’re talking about NATO thinking out a generation,” he said.

In the report, which was submitted to Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the experts warned of the consequences should the alliance fail to act. “NATO risks falling behind the pace of political change and technological developments that could alter the character of warfare, the structure of international relations and the role of the Alliance itself,” they wrote.


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