NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR DISCUSSES NATO SUMMIT, CAPABILITY GAP AMONG ALLIES

March 31, 2008

HARRISONBURG— Today, in an “Inside Track” feature for National Interest online, the web edition of the foreign policy journal The National Interest, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, discusses the meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member-states and representatives of various partner countries and international organizations which will assemble in Bucharest, Romania, this week for the largest summit in the alliance’s history.

Dr. Pham writes, “But diplomatic etiquette may well preclude bringing up the one topic whose public discussion, insofar as NATO is a military alliance, needs greater attention: the growing gap between members with respect to capabilities, a deficit which threatens the very future of the transatlantic partnership.”

Citing the fact that lack of investment in personnel and equipment as well as lack of political will on the part of some members of the alliance undermine its ability to operate, the column warns that whoever is elected president of the United States this year “will have to take the lead in forging not just a new consensus concerning the strategic vision for an alliance whose sphere of action is quasi-global rather than aimed at mutual defense against a common foe, but also in convincing allies and partners to undertake comprehensive transformation—without which the “coalitions of the willing” summoned into being by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will recede into fond memory, to be replaced by even-more-limited ‘coalitions of the able.’ ”

The full text of Dr. Pham’s feature, “Coalition of the Unable,” can be accessed by clicking here.