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Robin Niblett, a leading foreign affairs commentator, discusses the need and opportunity to strengthen NATO

Robin Niblett speakerWriting in The World Today, a bi-monthly magazine presenting authoritative analysis and commentary on current topics, Director of Chatham House Robin Niblett argues that in a world of flashpoints and European defence cuts NATO needs strengthening, and now is the chance to do so.

In early September, a NATO summit in Wales is expected to offer a decisive response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, while preparing to confront a more dangerous and unstable world from the Middle East to the South China Sea. NATO members must also ensure that they have the resources and the public support to make a reassertion of their alliance’s strategic purpose meaningful. Robin believes that “drawing these threads together will be difficult” due to these expanding threats and NATO’s own identity crisis.

That being said, Robin argues there are at least three ways in which NATO members could use the summit to strengthen their security outlook:

  1. “Adopt the idea of ‘framework nations’ which take the lead within NATO for coordinating smaller numbers of NATO partners to respond to specific challenges. Under this concept, Germany and Poland could help neighbours enhance their capabilities for collective defence, for example, while the UK and France could bring together NATO members’ expeditionary capabilities.”
  2. “NATO leaders could further develop the partnerships built with non-members during recent operations in Afghanistan and Libya. The UN Security Council is likely to be increasingly paralysed and ad hoc coalitions, sometimes operating under a UN mandate and sometimes not, may become more common.”
  3. “NATO could agree a new plan on how to deal with ‘hybrid’ types of threat that are likely to be far more common in the future. Russia’s actions in Crimea have revealed how tactically effective the use of special forces and intelligence operatives, the mobilisation of proxies, cyber-attacks, mass disinformation campaigns and economic coercion can be.”

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To find out more about Robin Niblett, or to book him as a speaker, please call Leo von Bülow-Quirk on 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

John Hulsman: “the West can still best a crumbling Russia”

John HulsmanFollowing his hugely popular pieces on Russia’s takeover of the Crimea, John Hulsman, prolific foreign affairs commentator, continues to offer his sought after analysis of the situation.

In this morning’s City A.M. article, John argues that although Putin has won the Crimea, he should lose the long game. Over just a few days the Russian President has “weakened Western standing, crippled the new Ukrainian government…and secured primary Russian interests.” In comparison, President Obama’s less measured response shows a discrepancy between his real world options and his “maximalist Wilsonian rhetoric.”

In other words, the threat to place economic sanctions on Russia would be a dramatically terrible idea. John explains that this is because we now live in a world of interdependence advocated by leftish foreign policy, which in this case is a great handicap when considering that Russia supplies one third of Europe’s gas supply.

However, despite this state of affairs John demonstrates that like Putin, the West too has the ability to demarcate spheres of influence:

  1. First, make specific threats – that the US is prepared to fight a war for all the exposed members of the alliance.
  2. Second, Nato should forward deploy troops to the Baltic states and Poland, as a physical gesture of the West’s continued solidarity.
  3. Third, a new missile defence system should be deployed in Poland. This physical reinforcement, coupled with rhetorical clarity, would go a long way towards calming our allies’ fears.
  4. Lastly, the West must be prepared to play a long game, all the while calmly seeing that we hold most of the geopolitical cards.

The last point pertains to the fact that Russia is solely dependant on oil and gas to survive. With the US now embarking on its shale gas revolution, the opportunity is rife to imperil Russia’s great power pretensions.

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