NATO's new Strategic Concept: Five key questions


What is the purpose and fundamental security task of NATO? The leaders of the Alliance are currently updating its Strategic Concept for the first time since 2010. In this Clingendael Spectator dossier, 12 international experts answer 5 key questions on NATO’s future.

Question 1
What conclusions should NATO draw from recent political disputes with Russia? Should the Alliance reach out to Ukraine (and Georgia as well), offering a clear path to full NATO membership?

Question 2:
Will Russia’s invasion of Ukraine encourage NATO members to boost their defence spending to 2% of their GDP? How will enhanced defence capabilities impact the Alliance?

Question 3: 
How should NATO make the most of its security partnerships? Some partners (e.g. Sweden, Finland, and Australia) have moved closer to the Alliance over the past decade. Is the recently initiated AUKUS security pact (between Australia, the UK and the US) dividing NATO, or a sign of how geopolitical alliances will be struck in the future?

Question 4:
The secretary general of NATO Jens Stoltenberg argued in November 2020 that the Alliance "must devote much more time, political resources and action to the security challenges posed by China". How should NATO deal with China?

Question 5:
The final episode raises the question whether NATO should add countering hybrid threats as a fourth core task to its mission. Ranging from cyber to disinformation and climate change, hybrid threats are also a core issue to the EU. What would be the impact on NATO-EU relations if the Alliance would focus on hybrid threats as well?

Final thoughts
NATO’s new Strategic Concept will be seen as a landmark document that sets the direction of travel for the Alliance in an “age of strategic competition”. Yet, the Strategic Concept tells only half the story of the awakening of NATO’s European allies. Julian Lindley-French (lead author of the 2022 Shadow NATO Strategic Concept) provides his final thoughts.

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Since 1947 the Clingendael Spectator is the Dutch magazine for international relations. It is free of charge and accessible for all those interested in world politics. The Clingendael Spectator is an independent publication of the Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’. Follow all Clingendael activities here. Stay updated on the Dutch language Spectator items via TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn, or subscribe to the Spectator Newsletter.

ISSN 2405-8319