Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Despite Its Flaws, I Still Believe in NATO

Patrick Stephenson, Former speechwriter, NATO Secretary General, Huffington Post

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It's [NATO] not the kind of place that inspires awe. The antiquated Headquarters in Belgium resemble less a political-military nerve center than a high-end trailer park. A British observer is said to have called it a 'Soviet discotheque'. A hideous sculpture in front has long been compared to the Death Star. Indeed, the overall impression is not that it's a redoubt for the Rebel Alliance, but a lair for Darth Maul. ...
Where I worked -- in NATO's Public Diplomacy Division -- 'reform' meant savage budget cuts that seemed divorced from balanced considerations about what worked, and what didn't. Insulated insiders tended to protect themselves, while a poisonous work environment drove away talented people. The result was, and remains, a pervasive institutional fear within the Alliance's corridors that strangles any real innovation, risk-taking or creativity. ...
Russian propaganda benefits from NATO's stilted tone. Slick and supple, it feeds on the idea of an isolated and humiliated Russia surrounded by an arrogant and overbearing Alliance that cannot talk with Russia, but only down to it.
NATO's not going to convince this guy of its good intentions. A subtler and more elegant strategy would be to speak past him, directly to the Russian public, to convince ordinary Russians that the Alliance isn't a threat. In today's NATO, such subtlety is almost impossible, although the occasional valiant staffer can attempt it. ...

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