Alliance Looks East: NATO’s Pacific Future

If the doomsayers are to be believed, the Atlantic alliance has been in an almost perpetual state of crisis since its conception in 1949.

Certainly, NATO has had its fair share of crises, from France leaving the integrated military structure in 1966 to the split over the 2003 Iraq War and, most recently, the 2011 intervention in Libya. Yet time and time again, the alliance has not just survived but flourished.

The NATO we see today is unrecognizable from the NATO of 1949. The alliance has swelled to 28 member states from an original twelve, encompassing many of their former Warsaw Pact adversaries. NATO has evolved from a static collective defense alliance into a dynamic, out of area operating entity. With the Soviet nemesis long gone, NATO has taken on a new set of tasks that has led it to retain its relevance in the post-Cold War world.

So why has NATO survived when by all rights its raison d’etre died with the Soviet Union? The answer is simple: NATO is much more than a military alliance. Read more “Alliance Looks East: NATO’s Pacific Future”

Why the Arms Trade Treaty Won’t Be Bulletproof

This week sees the start of negotiations on a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that will aim to regulate and monitor the unruly global arms industry.

Last year’s “Arab Spring” uprisings have given particular salience to these negotiations as in many countries where demonstrations took place, imported weapons and armaments (often from Western exporters) were used against civilians in acts that contravened international human rights.

The ATT aims to create global standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, covering a full spectrum of weaponry, from small arms to tanks, advanced missile systems and fighter jets.

The talks are the fruit of a long and protracted international diplomatic battle that stretches back years, with the tireless work of civil society advocacy groups, such as the NGO Control Arms, playing an instrumental role in raising the issue up to the forefront of the United Nations’ agenda. Read more “Why the Arms Trade Treaty Won’t Be Bulletproof”