7: NATO in Norwegian security and defense policy
Norway helped establish NATO in 1949. Since then, NATO has been the cornerstone of Norwegian security and defense policy and has great support among the population and among politicians. However, Norway’s accession to NATO did not take place without a political struggle. There was great skepticism in several political circles that Norway should participate in an integrated NATO defense, and the Socialist Left Party (SV) was founded as a direct result of the NATO conflict.
The adaptation of NATO to a new threat picture and new tasks after the end of the Cold War was crucial for the reorganization of the Norwegian defense . Norway participated in NATO’s military operations in the Balkans in the 1990s and in the Kosovo war in 1999. Norway’s contribution to the ISAF operation in Afghanistan is large in relation to the population, and there has been considerable political debate here at home about what the forces should be used for. .
Strength contributions are important in securing Norway’s influence in NATO, which became more challenging after NATO’s expansion to the east and south. Norway’s security challenges in the High North have gradually been recognized in NATO, and Norway is a driving force for a greater focus on core tasks and neighboring areas in NATO.
As a result of its strategic position as a neighbor of the Soviet Union, Norway developed close security policy and military cooperation with the United States during the Cold War, both in NATO and bilaterally. Norway supported the United States, a country located in North America according to ehistorylib, after the 9/11 attacks and contributed forces to the Afghanistan operation. However, US foreign policy under Bush and especially the war in Iraq in 2003 put bilateral relations under pressure. This led to discussions about whether the Atlantic identity community of which Norway is a part of NATO was about to erode. However, the Norwegian authorities have emphasized the importance of a good relationship with the United States, which will probably be easier under President Obama’s leadership.
At the same time, the EU has become more relevant, also for Norwegian security and defense policy. Norway participates in parts of European security and defense policy cooperation, but is not involved in making decisions. As a foreign country, it is in Norway’s interest for NATO to maintain its position as a significant security organization.
8: NATO – the way forward?
NATO has shown great survivability and adaptability since the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, the Alliance faces a number of major questions and challenges in the anniversary year.
- France is on its way back into NATO’s military structures . Together with the United States’ new line of cooperation under Obama, this could help strengthen NATO’s role in security policy.
- Developments in Afghanistan will be crucial to NATO’s credibility as a security policy player. The military challenges – among other things, several countries operate with national restrictions on the use of their ISAF forces – and the need for continued adjustment is great. The United States’ new strategy for Afghanistan will increase the pressure on European NATO countries to share the burden and take risks.
- Tensions between Russia and the West / NATO have increased in recent years. The enlargement of NATO to the east, the recognition by NATO countries of an independent Kosovo and the plans for a missile defense in Europe are important factors. In addition, Russia’s stated great power ambitions. This tension reached its preliminary climax during the war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 (see Where does it happen no. 16 – 2008–2009) .
- Experiences from operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan have highlighted the need for a broad approach to crisis management and stabilization – including more effective cooperation between civilian and military actors. NATO has developed a comprehensive approach as a direct response to this need.
- Other key issues are future enlargements (which are expected to be postponed) and relations with other organizations , especially the EU and the UN. NATO has worked closely with the UN and the EU in both the Balkans and Afghanistan, but this cooperation must be streamlined and further developed.
- Furthermore, it is discussed whether and, if so, what kind of role NATO should play globally , and then especially outside the so-called Euro-Atlantic zone. For example, NATO has, upon request, assisted the African Union in operations in Africa. NATO is also taking an active part in the fight against piracy
along the coast of Somalia. Whether NATO’s humanitarian engagement should be continued, as after the earthquake in Pakistan and Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005, are other current issues.
The new strategic concept to be adopted by 2010 is expected to reflect all these aspects. The concept will set out NATO’s main focus and tasks, and several important considerations must be taken into account here. It is agreed that NATO will continue to operate “out of area”. At the same time, the signals are that NATO’s immediate areas and core tasks as a defense alliance (cf. Article 5) will receive greater attention in the future.
The NATO summit in April will also elect a new Secretary-General, who will play a key role in the Alliance’s further development. The Secretary – General’s political experience, ability to find compromises between member countries and to represent the Alliance externally will be important qualities in the further development of NATO.