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[Brussels e-briefings] NATO’s challenges: from Kabul to Lisbon. Lessons from the Summit

Host: Richard Werly
Date: 24 November 2010

The PowerPoint presentation from the webinar (in PDF format) can be viewed here.
The video recording can be viewed here.
Related articles by Richard Werly on
Le Temps can be viewed here.

From Kandahar and Kabul where he met with crucial political and military players in Afghanistan, Richard Werly flew to Lisbon where he attended all press conferences and briefings given by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Barack Obama and other Heads of State. Richard is in a unique position to join the dots between what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan and what happened at the Lisbon Summit last weekend.

The webinar focused on two key questions:

  1. NATO’s promises:
    Can the most powerful military alliance deliver more than a strategic concept?
  2. Is NATO losing Afghanistan?

Part 1: Is NATO still relevant as a military alliance?

Key facts:

  1. The Lisbon Summit has validated NATO’s new strategic concept. What can be expected?
  2. NATO, under the leadership of its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has invited Russian President Dimitri Medvedev to attend the Summit in Lisbon. Does this mean the Cold War is really over, despite all the tensions with the Kremlin?
  3. More than ever, NATO depends on US vision and leadership. The US defence budget is still above 4.5% of its GDP while defence budgets elsewhere are plunging. Can Barack Obama provide such vision and leadership?
  4. NATO is a military alliance designed to contain a soviet invasion of western Europe. But new threats, from cyberspace to terrorism, do not fit within the alliance capabilities. Is Europe still protected by NATO?
  5. NATO is embarking on a new anti-missile shield for Europe, under US leadership. Is it for real? Or are we seeing from NATO a similar bluff to strain Iran’s – the designated enemy – military resources?

Part 2: Is NATO losing Afghanistan?

Key facts:

  1. NATO is officially leading the International Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. But in reality, the war is American-led. Is this fiction sustainable?
  2. The new war doctrine in Afghanistan, to counter the Taliban offensive is counter-insurrection (COIN). Is it working? Who is waging those COIN military operations and how?
  3. Has Gen. David Petraeus, the US Military Proconsul in the country, succeeded in boosting morale and providing vision? He abruptly replaced Gen. Stanley Mc Crystal. What are the differences?
  4. Can the coalition rely on the Afghan government? There are numerous tales of corruption, criminal elements, and drug trafficking. Where does President Hamid Karzai now stand?
  5. The Lisbon Summit has confirmed a way out, with a transition starting in 2011 to end around 2014. Is it realistic? Can the Afghan population feel more secure in five years’ time?

Questions? Post a comment below, or e-mail Richard Werly at richard.werly@letemps.ch

19 November 2010
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