Rethinking Transatlantic Action on the Southern Flank
On May 18, 2016, the Paris office of The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted a breakfast roundtable with Manuel Lafont Rapnouil, senior policy fellow and director of the Paris office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, to present his recent policy paper, “Not At All Quiet On The Southern Front,” and discuss the questions these challenges in Europe’s Southern neighborhood pose to the transatlantic security partnership.
This publication is part of the latest report from the Transatlantic Security and the Future of NATO initiative, entitled “Solidarity Under Stress in the Transatlantic Realm,” which gives an account of the discussions that took place in Paris, on December 4, 2015. Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, senior transatlantic fellow and director of the Paris office the GMF, gave a brief presentation of the paper and the related policy briefs.
Dr. de Hoop Scheffer highlighted three complementary aspects of NATO’s expected adaptation on the way to the Warsaw Summit, such as solidarity between transatlantic allies and within Europe, credibility associated to the question of leadership and capacities, and flexibility to tackle issues on the Eastern and Southern flanks, and enhance transatlantic burden-sharing.
Lafont Rapnouil presented his views on transatlantic security interventions in the Southern neighborhood. He highlighted the failure of direct interventions in Iraq and Libya, as well as non-intervention in Syria, to provide much-needed stability and peace, and presented four key issues raised by this failure. The first one is the question of expectations: transatlantic military interventions have changed from a state-building objective to a “good enough doctrine.” Secondly, the multiplication of partnerships with local and regional actors is not always an efficient solution, especially because of the complexity of political tensions in the region. In his third argument, Rapnouil underlined the need for “strategic patience,” which is a determinate posture to develop long-term strategic thinking. Finally, he called for a broader definition of security that would go beyond the military dimension and a purely quantitative logic.
After these presentations, participants discussed the future of U.S. leadership in the Middle-East, the role of NATO, and the implication of terrorism for transatlantic security. The event was attended by French and European experts, officials, journalists, and representative of the corporate sector.