Skip to content

The NATO Summit: Symbolism or Substance?

By Wyn Rees

It is the purpose of press officers within international organisations to convince the publics of their member states that each summit is of lasting importance. In reality, most summit declarations are full of symbolism and struggle to find ‘deliverables’ of substance to make them memorable. However the NATO summit in Wales will truly be of historic importance.

This summit was pre-destined to rank amongst the substantive meetings of the post-Cold War era because it preceded the withdrawal of NATO combat forces from Afghanistan. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, assumed by the Alliance in 2003, has been its first ever ‘Out of Area’ mission. It has been a microcosm of the tensions within the organisation: between a superpower and its regional allies; a group of European states unwilling to pay for credible expeditionary forces and of a growing inequality of risk taking amongst its members. The impending withdrawal of those combat forces raised questions about the future orientation of the Alliance. It was the task of the Summit in Wales to wrestle with these issues and chart the future course for NATO.

But the Ukrainian crisis has overshadowed that debate and added an urgent dimension. A NATO-Russian relationship that, over the last two decades, has been characterised by limited patterns of engagement and periods of friction has been thrown into reverse. NATO is confronted with a crisis that has implications both for the future security of Europe and for transatlantic relations.

The summit must start by acknowledging NATO’s limitations in the face of Russia efforts to de-stabilise the government in Kiev. Ukraine is not an Alliance member and despite sympathy for its predicament, no one envisages extending to it military assistance. Rather, NATO is committing itself to reassuring its members who share a border with Russia and contain sizeable Russian minorities. Exercises and the forward stationing of troops and equipment are designed to send a clear signal of resolve to President Putin. Plans for a rapid response force are designed not to provide a meaningful military defence but to symbolise that all NATO countries would be engaged if Russian aggression were to be directed at a member state.

That is not to say that Russian actions in Ukraine will go unpunished. The Alliance is taking steps to isolate Russia diplomatically, removing it from interaction with NATO’s headquarters and mobilising international organisations against the Kremlin. Through the EU European states are imposing targeted sanctions that will cause pain and dislocation to the Russian economy.

The Alliance must also focus on its own weaknesses in the face of Putin’s challenge. NATO’s strength derives from the values that are shared between the United States and its European allies. The glue of that relationship has been weakened over recent years by transatlantic disputes and the weariness from the counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan. The summit in Wales provides an opportunity to reassert the underlying values of the West and obtain agreement on greater burden-sharing in defence. The Alliance needs to be reinvigorated if it is to stand up to a reassertive Russia. The summit in Wales provides an historic opportunity to do just that.

 Wyn Rees is a Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations. He teaches and researches in the broad field of International Relations and specialises in International Security. 

 Image credit: NATO

Published inConflict & Security

29 Comments

  1. Stevie Stevie

    Yes. The N.A.T.O. summit is in Wales but why is the media reluctant to state that it’s happening in ” Newport ” South Wales. When the Ryder cup came to us, Newport was frequently mentioned. This Summit is much bigger so come on worldwide media put “Newport” , Wales in the frame.

  2. After looking into a handful of the articles on your site,
    I seriously like your way of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back
    soon. Please visit my website too and let me know what you think.

  3. This is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  4. Thank you, I’ve just been searching for info approximately this subject
    for a long time and yours is the best I have came upon so far.
    But, what about the bottom line? Are you certain in regards
    to the source?

  5. It may very well turn out that the gloves won’t
    make any difference, but for now it’s worth our speculation, which is what fuels every match.

    Maidana also had his moments in the second and third rounds, in which Mayweather landed the more impressive howitzers.
    Not only could he not KO him (as I thought he
    would be forced to ala Ricky Hatton), he could not stop Maidana
    from pressuring him with abandon and essentially bullying him.

  6. Howdy! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against
    hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve
    worked hard on. Any suggestions?

  7. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Taking the time
    and actual effort to produce a good article… but what can I say… I
    put things off a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  8. I was more than happy to discover this website. I wanted to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it
    and i also have you saved to fav to see new things on your site.

  9. My relatives aall tthe time say that I am killing my time here
    at web, except I know I aam getting know-how all the time by reading such pleasant articles.

  10. Max Max

    Definitely consider that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be at the web the
    easiest thing to take into accout of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed even as other
    folks consider concerns that they plainly do not
    know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined
    out the entire thing without having side effect , folks can take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  11. The cloud disperse and the self shines much like the sun. Must
    you be an empath for being able to send your feelings out strongly toward other
    people. Easy when you know what you are looking
    for in a product and difficult whenever you don’t have something for choosing the
    top Clickbank products.

  12. Andy Reid has the potential in his lineup to create a team that finds even more
    success than the Eagles of the last decade. While this is true in every generation, since our
    time is quite toxic towards boys we need to
    be very careful about the influences and values being taught
    to them. Well, I don’t sit right down, first
    I go through my ritual.

  13. You are so cool! I don’t suppose I have read through something like this before.
    So nice to find someone with a few original thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that’s needed on the internet,
    someone with a bit of originality!

  14. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I will
    bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I’m quite cetain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  15. hey there and thank you for your info –
    I have definitely picked up anything new from right here.
    I did however expertise a few technical points using this
    website, as I experienced to reload the web site lots of times previous to I could get
    it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your web
    host is OK? Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement
    in google and can damage your quality score if advertising and
    marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and could look out for a lot more of
    your respective exciting content. Ensure that
    you update this again soon.

  16. Gold can be bough to hire helpers who will keep the
    game alive and well. To the classical hermeneutician, reason was functional, not magisterial, subject to either biblical or ecclesiastical authority.
    After pausing the battle to bring up the menu, players
    can select their allied generals and give them specific objectives, attack a certain base or general,
    defend a base, or move to the aid of a particular ally.

  17. When you search for such websites, you must join those websites that charge annual membership to let you watch and download movies.
    Now theoretically speaking, simply because someone knows your IP
    address, i am not saying they know your identity. The absolute best approach to make long-term profits on the web is through getting
    the own email list.

  18. I am really thankful to the holder of this web site who has shared this wonderful post at at this place.

  19. Excellent post. I will be experiencing many of these issues as well..

  20. For hottest news you have to pay a visit the web and on web I found this web page as a finest web site
    for most up-to-date updates.

  21. Also, there are rumors and theories. There are almost 38000 people wkrking
    in nursing, you may want to find. The $12 abc These studs are
    specially made for running without opponents chase.
    Simple Shoes are an impressive deck shoe that is being distributed.
    There’s plenty of internet vendors. Manolo also gained a pound or two, shoes were highly popular.
    In lots of shoes. The best footwear for children.
    And if you just have fun with both the designs are even better.

  22. I do consider all the concepts you have presented for
    your post. They’re really convincing and will certainly work.
    Still, the posts are very brief for starters. Could you please extend
    them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

  23. I’ll immediately seize your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service.
    Do you have any? Please let me realize so that I could subscribe.
    Thanks.

  24. Thanks , I’ve recently been looking for information about this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve
    found out till now. But, what concerning the bottom line?
    Are you positive in regards to the source?

  25. This is all you need to do, now just open the application on your phone and use it.

    APK applications are basically Android package applications.
    Now that we’ve talked about the major changes, here’s a brief rundown of the game.

  26. Howdy are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to thhe blog world but I’m trying to get started and create
    my own. Do you require any coding expertise tto make your own blog?

    Any help would be really appreciated!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *