Afghanistan Success Hinges on Solidarity
February 23, 2010 – NATO's success in Afghanistan will rely on the solidarity of its 28 North American and European nations and cooperating countries, the alliance's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a Georgetown audience on Feb. 22.
"Making Afghanistan inhospitable to terrorism is a huge challenge. It is complicated and expensive and often painful," Rasmussen said during his speech in Gaston Hall. "No one country, not even the United States, could do this alone."
Rasmussen's remarks came one day after a NATO air strike mistakenly killed 27 Afghan civilians. The secretary general apologized for the deaths and predicted that security responsibilities would begin to transfer to Afghan forces this year.
United Against Terrorism
Citing NATO's reputation for cooperation, the secretary general pointed to some ways in which the intergovernmental military alliance has shown solidarity in addressing terrorism and cyberattacks.
"If we want to be secure in a world of global risks and threats, like-minded and democratic nations need to cooperate," Rasmussen said.
NATO countries gathered in support of the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, patrolling U.S. skies and putting their ports and airfields at U.S. disposal for American operations into Afghanistan.
And when Estonia experienced 2007 cyberattacks that used more than 1 million computers to jam government, business and media Web sites, NATO also stepped up to the plate.
"Cyberattacks can't be stopped at the border. You need sustained international cooperation between countries that trust each other, and that certainly includes NATO," Rasmussen said.
Strengthening Strategy Concepts
As the security environment changes, NATO officials are working to adapt the alliance's response.
Madeleine Albright, Mortara Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy and former secretary of state, chairs a group of experts formulating NATO's new Strategic Concept.
"The stakes are high because NATO is not just the world's most successful military and political alliance, it is also the only organization of its kind," Albright said as she introduced Rasmussen. "NATO is a unique and indispensable contributor to global security, and its continued effectiveness should be a matter of great concern to us all."
NATO is soliciting comments about its vision and goals, something that impresses Erica Pincus (SFS'13), who attended the speech. She said Rasmussen's support of a multilateral approach will benefit both NATO members and cooperating countries.
"I appreciate the fact that they are remembering to consider the wishes and opinions of the people who they are representing," Pincus said. "After all, that is why we have organizations such as NATO in the first place."