For many people, NATO represents a distant organization with no significant role to play in their lives. Many Americans view the Alliance as a European entity while Europeans see NATO as the American presence in Europe. The key to strengthening NATO is fostering a true collective identity. Atlantic-community.org's policy workshop competition already produced an Atlantic Memo addressing these concerns. However, we received many good ideas that could not be incorporated into the memo. The following article integrates those ideas in addressing how to rejuvenate the Alliance and encourage ownership and identification among NATO Members. The author's hyperlinked last name at the end of a sentence indicates from whom an idea came; if you wish to read the entire article from where the ideas originated, click on the author's name.
1. Publicize and Expand Youth and Student Programs.
A reoccurring 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 in place.
NATO should offer expanded programs that reach out to the youth in Member countries (Ness). NATO could also offer summer youth camps and summer schools for adolescents (Peschau). Such programs would bring together youth from different NATO countries and as such help build up camaraderie between the different nations. These enhanced youth programs could even be extended to non-NATO countries like Russia in an effort to counter anti-NATO feelings.
The Alliance should expand its student programs in order to offer more chances to interact with NATO. 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). In this fashion, NATO retains the highly competitive aspect of its internship program while also enabling more students to participate.
2. Expand Presence in Universities and Museums.
NATO should expand its presence in the intellectual world by having greater ties with academia and museums. NATO could coordinate more with colleges and universities in order to create better connections with students and faculty. Coordination in this case could entail the creation of NATO centers at universities across North America and Europe (Whyte). Such NATO centers could have scholars-in-resident, who produce relevant work concerning pressing Alliance issues (Greene).
In addition, NATO should also develop connections with museums. This could entail joint collaborations with museums in NATO member states to produce traveling or permanent exhibitions related to Alliance history (Kostadinova). NATO could even set up its own museum to display shared history and values (Altunkaya).
3. Refine NATO's Role in Economically Difficult Times.
Encourage Financial Stability
Today's financial troubles highlight how important economics is to the stability of NATO. While economic policy does not come under the direct purview of the Alliance, NATO still has the ability to make its own contribution to economic and financial stability by encouraging more efficient defense spending. In this spirit, the Alliance should reiterate the importance of Article 2 of the Atlantic Treaty, which calls for Members to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and pursue economic collaboration amongst one another (Shainess).
Abdulhakim Altunkaya studied Political Science and International Relations at Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul and Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal.
Daniel Green is a graduate student at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is currently studying American foreign relations, alliances and international political economy.
TJ Hatter is an MSc International Relations Student at the University of Edinburgh. He is an alumni of the University of Tennessee College of Law and a former Brookhaven Town Official.
Tonka Kostadinova holds a PhD from the Department of History, University of Sofia, Bulgaria and currently works as Associate Researcher at the Institute for Security and Defence Analysis in Athens.
Marielle Ness is a third year Political Science and German Language double major at the University of Florida, who is currently completing her exchange year at Universität Bonn in Bonn, Germany.
Julika Peschau is a German student at the French-German European Campus of Sciences Po in Nancy (France).
Joshua Shainess is an undergraduate student of International Affairs at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Christopher Whyte is an MA candidate at George Mason University in Virginia studying international security affairs.
Written by Joshua Clapp