Joint US-EU-NATO security body mulled

Retired military commanders call for unified directorate - without Israel's participation.

NATO IDF 248.88 (photo credit: IDF [file])
NATO IDF 248.88
(photo credit: IDF [file])
While rejecting the idea of Israel or other countries in conflict joining NATO, five former Western defense chiefs called Wednesday for the alliance and the European Union to create a joint security "directorate" to address global terrorism and the challenges posed by Iran and China. In a report presented in Brussels, former military commanders of the United States, Germany, France, Britain and the Netherlands laid out a new strategy for NATO designed to create stronger ties between the US and its European allies. The authors of the report included Gen. (ret.) Dr. Klaus Naumann, former German chief of staff, and Gen. (ret.) John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. "There is a great mismatch between the interconnected list of dangers and the international and national capabilities to respond to them - capabilities that are weakened by their disunity," the authors wrote in the report, titled "Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World." "No institution and no nation is capable of responding to these dangers and risks on its own; and just a cursory glance at our international organizations leads us to ask whether we have a proper basis for coordinated action. Unfortunately, it would appear that we do not," the report concluded. The report's authors recommend the establishment of a US, EU, NATO "steering directorate" to coordinate operations when common interests are in danger. "The point of such a directorate would be to better liaise for the common good, to coordinate who takes the lead on which issue, and to ensure that the three entities support each other," the report reads. The proposal comes ahead of a NATO summit set for April during which leaders of the 32 member states are expected to discuss the alliance's post-Cold War future. While Israeli defense officials were not familiar with the report they were not surprised by its recommendation that the Western alliance undergo a major restructuring. "For years now, NATO has been looking for a new purpose," said one Israeli official. "With the Cold War over, they are looking to preserve their strength, and a new directorate uniting the US, NATO and the EU could do that." While the report does not specifically mention the issue of Israeli membership in NATO - for years debated within the IDF and the Defense Ministry - it does recommend not accepting as a member any country that is engaged in conflict or territorial disputes. Outgoing Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman has over the past year pushed for Israel to ask for full membership in the military alliance. "NATO should state that it will not extend membership invitations to countries in which the standards of NATO members - such as democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance - are not fully adhered to. It should also be agreed that the alliance will not accept any country as a member which has unresolved territorial claims or which is involved in ongoing armed conflicts," the report reads. The report's authors also referred to the Second Lebanon War, citing it as an example of non-state actors involved in asymmetric warfare and saying that Hizbullah engaged in "war crimes" by positioning its fighters and launching rockets from within civilian population centers.