Thank you to everyone who participated in this Q&A with Jamie Shea by submitting questions through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and comments on atlantic-community.org. We received over 60 questions from participants in 9 different countries on a range of interesting emerging security issues.
Below, you will find Dr. Shea’s answers to 5 questions on some of the most popular topics. While we forwarded all of your questions, due to time constraints, Dr. Shea could not answer them all, so he picked 5 that covered a variety of different issues.
We encourage you to let us know what you think of the answers and to contribute your reactions, comments, and ideas in the comments below.
You can find the original article, with background on the Emerging Security Challenges Division and Dr. Shea, here.
Matt Shearman, writer for Europe & Me online magazine, UK: Does the placement of cyber security in the same division as non-cyber security, such as nuclear proliferation, under the umbrella term 'emerging threat' not risk conflating two very different and unique security foci? Which area of your competency do you see the greatest emerging threat to NATO countries coming from?
Jamie Shea: No. What we are seeing is that the new security challenges are increasingly inter-connected. An offensive cyber weapon, Stuxnet, was used to disrupt and even destroy parts of Iran's nuclear programme. Narcotics in Afghanistan help finance the Taliban insurgency in the same way that piracy in Somalia is currently funding the al Shabab terrorist organization. There are obvious links between terrorism and weapons of mass destructions (at least in the terms of terrorists’ aspirations) and between cyber security and energy and transportation security. As a result, at NATO we talk increasingly of "hybrid threats." So, to my mind, it does make eminent sense to have an Emerging Security Challenges Division in NATO that can deal with the issues separately but also understand how they can impact on each other. Policymaking depends on the correct analysis of these inter-connections.
Robin Tim Weis, MA student in American Studies at University of Heidelberg, Germany: The Süddeutsche Zeitung back in 2010 reported on an internal memo sent out by NATO’s secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen in which the possibility is highlighted that NATO would invoke Article 5 in the case of an cyber attack. How viable do you think this option is, especially considering the contemporary possibilities of "laundering" (false flagging) a cyber attack?
Jamie Shea: It is true that any retaliation by NATO following a cyber attack against its own command structure or one of its members would need a high degree of confidence that NATO can identify the source of the attack. This is admittedly difficult in present circumstances, but cyber forensics are developing fast and verifying users’ identity in cyberspace is a leading area of investment for the private sector IT companies and governments alike. In the mean time, countries suspected of launching cyber attacks can be put under a legal obligation to cooperate with an investigation on behalf of the victim. At that same time, Article 5 applies as much to NATO's willingness to assist one of its members to survive a cyber onslaught and recover quickly as to a retaliation or counter attack.
Ed Atkins, University of Kent, UK: It is known that Hezbollah possesses approximately 100 long-range missiles, some of which have the capacity to carry warheads. How could NATO deal with the difficulties that would surround the potential problem of WMD's in the possession of non-state-actors, such as Hezbollah?
Jamie Shea: Organizations such as Hezbollah have not developed these weapons themselves. They have been supplied by states. NATO's non-proliferation policy makes clear that NATO will hold states that facilitate aggression by substitute actors (including terrorist groups) accountable for the actions of the latter. Hopefully, this will be a reason for states supplying weapons of mass destruction to these groups to make sure - in their interest - that they do not use them. The UN-approved military action of the US against the Taliban government in 2001 for harboring al Qaeda is a case in point. WMD proliferation is the main reason why NATO is intensively developing a missile defense system to protect its territory and populations.
Aleksandr Blagin, postgraduate student in Cold War History at Yaroslavl State University, Russia: Is NATO going to develop different relationships in the field of counter-terrorism with non-members of NATO, especially with the Russian Federation? One year after Lisbon 2010, we haven’t seen huge results in that part of the Strategic Concept.
Jamie Shea: Counter terrorism is an area where Russia has recently shown a genuine interest in cooperating with NATO, notwithstanding differences in other areas such as missile defense. For instance, NATO and Russia are jointly developing the STANDEX project to detect suicide bombers and explosive devices in mass transportation systems. We have also approved earlier this year an ambitious work plan on CT (counter terrorism) cooperation which allows us to exchange intelligence and share best practice in, for instance, transport security and critical infrastructure protection.
Mark Rotenstein, MA student in International Relations at University of Groningen, Netherlands: In view of many current and emerging security challenges to which a military response may no longer be the most effective answer, how do you see the future of NATO? Will it remain an effective and a reassuring instrument for its members?
Jamie Shea: NATO can provide added value in dealing with the new security challenges. This said, and contrary to military operations in Libya or Afghanistan where NATO is by far the leading player, the Alliance cannot provide 100% of the solution in dealing with these challenges. As a result, a comprehensive approach in which the efforts of all the major international organizations are fully joined up and support each other is NATO's goal. The Alliance has something concrete to offer in all these fields based on its proven military capabilities, its extensive network of partnerships, and its role as a conveyor or forum for international action. NATO's role is particularly strong in areas where the military has invested heavily in state of the art capabilities (such as technologies to counter terrorist explosives, cyber infusion and detection, and missile defense). Yet even in areas (such as energy security) where NATO's role is less self-evident, there is much that NATO can potentially contribute (for instance in the area of critical infrastructure protection and maritime operations to keep vital sea lines of communication open). It will be important, however, for NATO to have more interaction with interior ministries, police forces and intelligence services, which are often in the lead nationally when it comes to tackling these challenges.