The winners of our policy workshop competition "Your Ideas, Your NATO" presented the Atlantic Memos on NATO Values and Community, NATO Partnerships after the Arab Spring, and Smart Defense to US Ambassador Philip D. Murphy and Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Defense Christian Schmidt in Berlin on May 21, 2012. The decision makers paid tribute to the engagement of this generation of future leaders and gave detailed feedback on the policy recommendations.
This exchange of ideas between atlantic-community.org members and transatlantic decision makers was the culmination of our unique Web 2.0 policy formulation process. The competition challenged students with the difficult task of developing policy recommendations to address some of the most difficult challenges facing NATO today. This article looks at what the three winners had to say at the event.
Category 1: Values and Community
First Lieutenant Stephanie Baulig presented the first Atlantic Memo, which argues that to encourage more ownership and identification with NATO among Member states, the Alliance must become more transparent and support stronger engagement between citizens. As Stephanie put it, the Alliance should initiate a points system "in order to publically and quantifiably measure Member contributions". Another important aspect would be NATO Academies. The Academies would be geared not only towards high-ranking officers but all Alliance soldiers. Speaking as a military member herself, Stephanie stated that such Academies would "foster a feeling of togetherness and improve inter-military relations."
Category 2: Partnerships after the Arab Spring
The second Atlantic Memo from the competition, presented by Geoffrey Levin, outlines how NATO must reach out to countries in North Africa by restructuring the Mediterranean Dialogue and partnering with other institutional actors to provide comprehensive assistance in building democratic institutions. Geoffrey emphasized that the Alliance must take advantage of its window of opportunity: "Lessons of history indicate that NATO cannot wait for security to deteriorate." The Alliance must help reform the security sector of emerging governments. The Arab League, with NATO's help, could "become a credible guarantor of regional security, fostering a sense of local ownership over future challenges."
Category 3: Smart Defense
Samuel Erickson presented the third Atlantic Memo, which shows how Smart Defense can be successfully implemented by fostering more cooperation amongst like-minded members and also incorporating non-NATO actors. Samuel described his team's idea for NATO Pioneer Groups, which are "efficient, project-specific working groups that strategically address the development and procurement of a particular asset." Such groups would address concerns over sovereignty by not imposing initiatives from the top but by taking a bottom-up approach. In discussing the inclusion of non-NATO states in Smart Defense, Samuel emphasized the need for "realistic areas of cooperation". For example, NATO Members could collaborate with Russia in procuring conventional weapons.