Cold war era fades further as Russia, NATO agree to 'reset' relations
Russia accepted NATO’s decision at a two-day summit in Lisbon, Portugal to develop a missile defense system to protect Europe’s territory and population from ballistic missile attack.
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As Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush said after the summit, “The purpose of the new strategic concept is to answer the fundamental question: ‘Why does NATO exist?’ By agreeing at 28 nations,” he added, “that the Alliance has three tasks – collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security – the strategic concept has answered the question and made clear NATO’s determination to be much more than a cold war relic.”Skip to next paragraph
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Among the 21st century threats NATO will turn its attention to are the growing proliferation of ballistic missiles – thus the missile defense program – cyber security, terrorism, piracy, and the threats posed by failed or failing states like Afghanistan or Somalia.
Shrinking budgets, growing indifference
But as General Scowcroft suggests, perhaps the biggest threat to NATO’s survival as a meaningful collective-defense organization is to be found within NATO’s own borders in the falling defense budgets in many European countries and a growing public indifference towards the military and relevance in the 21st century.
“The key test for NATO now, for … the nations and NATO’s military leaders, is whether they will provide the resources, forces, equipment, and training the concept makes clear are required to carry out the three tasks” the Alliance adopted, says General Scowcroft, who is also chairman of the international advisory board of the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank focused on North Atlantic affairs.
Obama promotes START treaty
Obama said the American people should take great pride in the fact that an Alliance born under American leadership 60 years ago and following the sacrifice (in World War II) of so many young Americans has “resulted in a Europe more united than ever before.”
But he also alluded to the politics of today, saying that the Atlantic security the US built is now threatened by the dangers and cost of maintaining a cold-war era nuclear arsenal. And he called out directly to Republican senators back in Washington to consider that reality and drop their opposition to ratifying the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia in the current lame-duck session.
Noting that failure to ratify a treaty he signed with Medvedev in April threatens the new spirit of cooperation with Russia, Obama said “It would be a profound mistake for us to step back into mistrust.”
Reaching back into that relative ancient history himself, the president added, “With the cold war over, it’s in everybody’s interest to [reduce] our nuclear armaments.”