Issues Navigator

Global Challenges

Strategic Regions

Domestic Debates

Tag cloud

See All Tags

June 1, 2012 |  2 comments |  Print  Atlantic Memos  

Memo 41

Looking Beyond Chicago: How to Revitalize NATO

Memo 41: NATO’s Chicago Summit left many observers disappointed. Going forward, the Alliance should focus on concrete and achievable policy objectives. This Memo offers recommendations from members that could strengthen the Alliance’s unity and overall ability to deal with a changing world.


The NATO Summit in Chicago left many observers disappointed over the lack of concrete policy proposals for strengthening the Alliance. In this context, Atlantic Memo #41 offers recommendations that would help NATO in three critical areas: Values and Community, Partnerships after the Arab Spring, and Smart Defense.'s "Your Ideas, Your NATO" competition already produced Atlantic Memos addressing these areas. However, we received many good ideas that could not be used in those memos. Here we incorporate those ideas to create a comprehensive Memo aimed at forging a reinvigorated Alliance.


1. Values and Community

A recurring theme from our members was the need for youth and student programs. This calls attention to the fact that NATO should not only expand such programs, but also better promote the existing opportunities. NATO should offer expanded youth programs. The Alliance could offer summer youth camps and summer schools for adolescents. NATO should also enlarge its student programs. The structure of NATO internships limits the number of participants. Instead, the current framework for internships should be geared toward graduate students, and a new internship program would be focused solely on undergraduate students. (Hatter, Ness, Peschau)

NATO should amplify its presence in the intellectual world by having greater ties with academia and museums. NATO could coordinate more with universities. This would entail the creation of NATO centers at universities across North America and Europe. Such NATO centers could have scholars-in-resident, who produce relevant work concerning pressing Alliance issues. In addition, the Alliance should work with museums in NATO member states to produce traveling or permanent exhibitions related to Alliance history. NATO could even set up its own museum to display shared history and values. (Altunkaya, Greene, Kostadinova, Whyte)

2. Partnerships after the Arab Spring

The Alliance must help build civil-military relations in Arab Spring countries. In Libya, NATO needs to implement a post-conflict disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) program accompanied by Security Sector Reform (SSR). The Alliance could complement this initiative by reaching out to Arab youth through cultural dialogue. To augment NATO's Arabic YouTube channel, NATO could create official accounts in Arabic for other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. (Anuta, Mallia, Mattox

NATO must offer advice on post-conflict constitution drafting, democratic governance and methods to address the role of the military in the country’s political structure. In addition, rule of law initiatives led by NATO, similar to the Rule of Law Field Support Mission in Afghanistan, should provide the essential technical assistance needed to strengthen the capacity and ability of criminal justice authorities. NATO could also provide the possibility for current or next-generation leaders of regional partner countries to train in NATO capitals and learn about democratic governance.(Harriger, Hurd, Schill)

3. Smart Defense

Such a pooling of defense resources requires Members to set aside some concerns over a loss of sovereignty. Overcoming such fears will only occur when Members truly agree on NATO's overall purpose and strategic goals. Only with widespread strategic agreement will Smart Defense become a reality. (Eckert, Shah, Toal)

Gradualism is a critical part of Smart Defense. Limited cooperation amongst smaller groups of nations would make Smart Defense flexible and more likely to be implemented. NATO should build on existing co-management military mechanisms that have proven their worth in recent years. The strongest model for this is the multilateral European Air Transport Command (EATC). Operational since 2010, the EATC comprises four NATO Members (Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands) pooling and co-managing a fleet of over 200 logistics and transport aircraft. (Minzarari, Pannier, Dowdall)

Abdulhakim Altunkaya studied Political Science and International Relations at Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul and Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal.

Costinel Anuta graduated the Program in Advanced Security Studies (George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies) and he holds an MA in Public Relations.

Jonathan Dowdall is a Brussels-based journalist and researcher.

Moritz Eckert studies political science at Freie Universität Berlin and currently works at the Institute for European Politics in Berlin.

Daniel Green is a graduate student at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Karen Harriger is an undergraduate student at The Master's College in Santa Clarita, California.

TJ Hatter is an MSc International Relations Student at the University of Edinburgh.

Rob Hurd studies International Relations and Human Geography at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Tonka Kostadinova PhD works as Associate Researcher at the Institute for Security and Defence Analysis in Athens.

Elizabeth Mallia is a student at the University of Malta. She is currently enrolled in law, but remains passionate about international relations.

Yasmin J. Mattox has a Master's degree in International Studies.

Dumitru Minzarari is a PhD Candidate with the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, United States.

Marielle Ness is a third year Political Science and German Language double major at the University of Florida.

Alice Pannier is a postgraduate student in International Relations at Université Paris 1.

Julika Peschau is a German student at the French-German European Campus of Sciences Po in Nancy (France).

Sarah Schill is currently living and working as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs from Miami University, Ohio.

Tabish Shah is a PhD Candidate at the University of Warwick in the Department of Politics & International Studies.

Zachary Toal, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) North America.

Christopher Whyte is an MA candidate at George Mason University in Virginia studying international security affairs.

                                                                                       Written by Joshua Clapp

  • 10
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this Article! What's this?

Unregistered User

June 29, 2012

  • 0
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
Good to see " Transatlantic Youth Debates" constantly revitalized in the hope for more hearing and listening. (1) 'Values and Communities', and (2) 'Partnerships after Arab Spring', are both contemporary. The contemporariness of "Smart Defense" on the other hand is relatively more challenging and indeed urgent. How to structure priority-lists against background of demands and challenges might need "a-thinking-out-period": an interlude; part also of the post-Chicago dynamics to sort out things and issues and be clear on range of priorities.

One thing captures my immediate attention, however! And that has to do with known outlines of NATO's history, which many fortunately or unfortunately have to be traded in-betweeen in the interest of how new values, possibly aimed at advancing progress, often very complex in the light of present-day demands and challenges must be formed. I am well aroused here, due to contents of the sub-heading: Values and Communities" due particularly to the array of senses behind the educational: "Youth Camps and Summer Schools, etc.,", which 'Cultural Dialogue' as Arab Spring implied extended "educational" arm, also belongs.

That I am aroused, is a function of an achieve paper titled: United STates-Western Europe relationships as viewed within the present world-wide international environment". Itself, the paper is one of the arms of the history of NATO, issued in August 1951, by the American Assembly, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University. The paper is rich on history and questions many of which still pulsate today, depending on the depth in which those taking time to think and go through documents, old and new, spare time to find connections.

My point is, for the "youths" that have seen many other historical papers, but not this particular one, it could pay to look for and go through, in a world that things keep playing themselves out. The purpose is to be increasingly informed and that indeed is not bad at all. On the theme of Summer School, I find the paper in its orginal form - even if played out in several other forms and documents very useful and dynamic, thinking of the immediate and remote debates, questions and the answers to them still looked for today within, but a diffferent NATO's frame, world hence era! I do not know if others would be as impressed as I have been with the methodologies, objectives, and questions even in the light of the contemporary time we are in. The 'all embraciveness' of the paper is a pointer for our time NATO discourses and dialogues within and across.

The openning reads "The American Assembly is a program of continuing conferences which brings together representatives of business, labour farm groups, the professionals, political and government. The aim of the Assembly is to throw impartial light on the major problems which confront America, so that our citizens can take effective steps toward solving these problems". A very special and rather general though, but particular openning!
That the purpose sits in the belief that a better informed public is fully capable of making up its mind on important national and international issues. THIS IS WHERE WE ARE AND ABOUT WHICH ALL, INCLUDING YOUTHS ARE ON THIS NATO MATTER! In doing so it does help if the information provided, or lifted to trim and wake debates are unbiased to the extent that they promote formation of own opinions and arrival at sound conclusions. IT IS ALL FOR DISCUSSION USE.

Transatlantic burdens and progress, multiple they are, need reasuring concerns and also balance understanding and appreciation. Many like me surely believe that youths are to be taken seriously and for that educational facilities and activities are most welcome. That is however, not to say that Chicago was a failure .... it was not!
Unregistered User

November 27, 2012

  • 0
  • No rating possible
  • No rating possible
I like this comment! What's this?
That's a smart answer to a tricky qsuieton

Commenting has been deactivated in the archive. We appreciate your comments on our more recent articles at


You are in the archive of all articles published on from 2007 to 2012. To read the latest articles from our open think tank and network with community members, please go to our new website