NATO shadow summit: Moral, muscular, multilateral

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

“Amidst the hoopla over 60th birthday parties, there is a crying need to involve citizens in determining what NATO should stand for,” wrote Gerald Loftus, a former diplomat, on his blog after a two-day ‘NATO shadow summit’.

The shadow NATO summit took place in Brussels on 31 March-1 April. This event, “the first of the name […], was a perfectly-timed prelude to the real thing about to unfold in Strasbourg,” Loftus writes.

“The elaboration of a new direction has taken the form of a ‘Citizens’ Declaration on Alliance Security,’ which was presented in draft form at the shadow summit and will undergo further iterations based on input from participants,” he explained.

“It would take NATO in a general moral direction (R2P, ‘Responsibility to Protect’ civilians in conflict zones). Muscular, in that NATO’s quasi-monopoly in the world’s political-military alliance game should mean something. And multilateral […] because after George W. Bush gave unilateralism and the ‘coalition of the willing’ such bad names, collective security is back in play,” he wrote.

For Loftus, “tough love” for NATO was the reigning mindset of the shadow summit. “This was not the ‘NATO Game Over’ collection of pacifists of a few weeks ago, nor the inevitable civil disobedience, ‘Block NATO’ movement converging on Strasbourg. Far from it,” added the diplomat.

On the contrary, “the conference attracted a wide variety of observers and actors in the security community,” he explained. “There were NGO veterans of Afghanistan, who may be against war and who may not appreciate Taliban targeting of soldiers and aid workers alike, but who recognise that organised, civilised peace enforcement is often a necessity.”

NATO is “still in crisis [and] still posing existential questions,” but “now, at least, there is the beginning of a citizens’ forum to help the summiteers along,” Loftus concluded. 

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