NATO 2.0: A Cyber Alliance
In order to understand the transatlantic relationship, it is vital to remember the context under which NATO was founded. By 1948, the nations of the North Atlantic were facing greater military pressure from the USSR. The Soviet Union had instituted the Berlin blockade and effectively blocked Western Allies’ railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under allied control. Nations of the North Atlantic responded to the increased Soviet aggression by signing the North Atlantic Treaty and establishing a new alliance of 28 states across North America and Europe. The new member states agreed that all parties would consult together whenever, in the opinion of any one of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any of the parties was threatened. More importantly, members agreed that an armed attack against one or more of them would be considered an attack against all of them. In my opinion, the transatlantic alliance was a response to Soviet military aggression, an alliance based on the values and fundamental ideas of the circumstances that created it. Today, NATO members are responding to new and evolving threats to their collective security, most recently the threat of cyber attacks to information and communication systems. NATO has responded to this danger by bolstering its cyber defense efforts, assisting individual allies, and cooperating and collaborating with partners and international organizations.
In a changing world, a question arises as to how we can preserve NATO and make it even stronger for future generations. In the past, military aggression called for a military alliance. Armed conflict consisted of aggression that was easily observed, and had specific targets in mind. Cyber warfare, on the other hand, is not easily defined, is not easily observed, and transcends traditional borders; therefore the type of alliance required is fundamentally different. NATO and the transatlantic relationship were founded on the grounds of deterring Soviet and foreign military aggression. In order to preserve NATO and make it stronger for future generations, an emphasis needs to be placed on the conventions of a new cyber alliance. NATO must define new tenets of member relations and determine how allies will react to unconventional acts of cyber aggression. In the twenty-first century, this is how NATO will reinforce and grow its existing transatlantic partnerships.
Jason Fierman is a MPA Candidate at George Mason University.
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.