A half-finished mission in Afghanistan, a half-hearted response to the Ukraine crisis and no-show in the Syrian/Iraq catastrophe might lead one to conclude that NATO is perilously close to irrelevance. Yet NATO’s strengths are often overlooked or misunderstood. The Alliance remains the principal body of security cooperation within Europe and between Europe and North America. Its problems are, ironically, the product of success. NATO survived the end of the Cold War then went on to increase its membership, engage with new partners, and undertake a number of combat missions. In the process it updated its doctrine and strategy, reformed its command structures and oversaw defence reform among the allies. Its historic mission of keeping inter-state peace in Europe, ensuring a balance of power on the continent and constructing a security community among its members also remains. Yet in pursuing these policies, NATO has experienced four debilitating problems: task proliferation, over-reliance on US leadership, capability shortfalls, and a divisive relationship with Russia. The continuing heath of the Alliance requires addressing these problems through task discretion, greater European responsibility, the pooling of capabilities, and a new, realistic approach toward Moscow.

Speaker: Professor Mark Webber (University of Birmingham)

Mark Webber is an International Relations specialist. Having begun his academic career specialising in Russian foreign policy, he has spent the last ten years teaching and researching foreign policy analysis, security studies and international organisation. The specific focus of his current research is the politics of NATO and European enlargement. Professor Webber worked for nearly twenty years at Loughborough University before moving to Birmingham in January 2011 as the Head of the School of Government and Society.

Recorded: Monday 18 January 2016 (16:00-17:30)

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