NATO after Brexit

WARSAW – The upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw comes at a moment when, in the wake of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, the West is facing an unprecedented threat to the unity it has built over almost seven decades. As history has shown, the best way to meet this threat is with more unity. And that means more NATO.

In 2008, at a meeting in London, NATO defense ministers agreed to begin a debate on strengthening the Alliance’s common defense and deterrence capacity. Two years later, in Lisbon, NATO adopted its new Strategic Concept, which obliged its members to reinforce collective defense as the Alliance’s first core task. Now, a stronger commitment to such cooperation is badly needed, with leaders advancing the conclusions reached at the 2014 summit in Newport, Wales.

The agenda should include, first and foremost, the completion of all elements of the strengthened NATO Response Forces agreed in Newport. These include the Force Integration Units and the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, as well as the just-certified Multinational Corps Northeast, needed to command operations. The pre-positioning of American weapons and equipment along NATO’s eastern flank must be completed, with the United States coordinating with the host countries.

But there are even more fundamental issues that NATO leaders must address in Warsaw – issues that will shape the future of the Alliance. The first stems from the need for NATO to follow different development trajectories on its eastern and southern flanks, in order to respond adequately to the different types of threats coming from each direction.