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'Europe and Beyond: A Broader Mission for NATO', US Ambassador
to NATO R Nicholas Burns, December 19
'NATO Ambassador Burns on Expansion of NATO Role Beyond
Europe', U.S. NATO Ambassador Nicholas Burns op-ed in The
International Herald Tribune, December 19, 2003.
(This byliner by R. Nicholas Burns, U.S. Ambassador to NATO,
first appeared in the International Herald Tribune December 19,
2003, and is in the public domain. No republication
Europe and Beyond: A Broader Mission for NATO
By R. Nicholas Burns
Brussels -- This month at NATO's Defense and Foreign Ministers'
meetings in Brussels, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld challenged the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization to assume a more prominent role in the peacekeeping
forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. They proposed some of the most
ambitious initiatives in Alliance history, reflecting U.S. interest
in using NATO for the most vital security operations of the
With more troops committed to more missions at greater distances
from Europe than ever before, NATO notched impressive
accomplishments in 2003.
Most notable is the mission in Afghanistan, NATO's first ever
operation beyond the treaty area. Assuming command of the
International Security and Assistance Force in Kabul in August put
the alliance on the front lines of the war on terrorism.
In addition, NATO ministers agreed to expand the force beyond
Kabul to enlarge the sphere of security in the country and speed
reconstruction. Rumsfeld and Powell proposed that NATO take over
most, and eventually all, of the "provincial reconstruction teams"
that provide security and assistance to far-flung provinces of
Afghanistan. They also issued a more ambitious challenge: that NATO
consider merging its Afghan security force operations with the
U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom under a single NATO command. By
the time NATO heads of state meet in Istanbul in June, the alliance
will likely have expanded peacekeeping activities across
The United States has also suggested a similarly decisive NATO
effort in Iraq. Eighteen of the 26 NATO nations have soldiers on
the ground as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Powell, supported by
our coalition partners, urged NATO to examine how it might do more
to support peace and stability in Iraq.
Closer to Europe NATO is justifiably proud of ending two Balkans
wars, stopping ethnic cleansing, sending war criminals to The Hague
and bringing peace to the region. We ought to accelerate efforts to
apprehend the two worst war criminals in Europe since 1945 --
Radovan Karadic and Ratko Mladic -- who are charged with massacring
thousands of Muslims during the Bosnian war. A remaining challenge
is to nurture stable and democratic societies by integrating the
Balkans into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
NATO's 17,000-strong peacekeeping forces will stay in Kosovo for
the foreseeable future. NATO is giving Kosovo's multi-ethnic
population the security and stability it needs while democratic
institutions grow, displaced people return and a dialogue is opened
Progress in Bosnia has been more dramatic. Eight years after
stopping the bloody Bosnia war, NATO expects to complete its
military mission by the end of 2004 and is considering the European
Union's offer to lead a follow-on force. NATO ministers agreed the
EU mission will employ NATO's planning, hardware and command and
control assets to execute the mission.
As we look to 2004, the United States remains committed to a
strong strategic partnership between NATO and the European Union,
firmly anchored in the agreements collectively known as "Berlin
Plus." A stronger European Security and Defense Policy is good for
all of us in an increasingly dangerous world. We hope EU efforts
will lead to more vigorous European military capabilities. We also
expect these European efforts to be NATO-friendly and that our two
institutions can work in genuine harmony.
NATO in 2003 added vital new military capabilities that will
revolutionize our strategic reach. On Dec. 1, NATO inaugurated the
new Czech-led chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear
battalion designed to safeguard our civilian populations from a
weapons of mass destruction attack.
On Oct. 15, the alliance launched the new NATO Response Force,
which will give NATO for the first time in its history a
quick-reaction force for hostage-rescue, peace interventions and
combat operations far from Europe.
In its new missions, structure and advanced military might, NATO
personifies the "effective multilateralism" President George W.
Bush has championed to meet the challenges of our time. At the
conclusion of a momentous and often difficult year in
trans-Atlantic relations, that is good news for Europeans and North
(The writer is U.S. ambassador to NATO.)
Source: US State Department, Washington File, http://usinfo.state.gov.
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© 2003 The Acronym Institute.