In a lecture in Gaston Hall yesterday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reflected on NATO’s current role in today’s globalized society and how the organization will continue to evolve in the future.
Rasmussen and Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state and Mortara distinguished professor of diplomacy in the School of Foreign Service, spoke to the Georgetown community at an event titled “NATO – Delivering Real Security in an Age of Uncertainty,” co-sponsored by Georgetown University and The Center for a New American Security.
Rasmussen, dubbed “NATO’s Reformer” by Time, discussed the purpose of NATO in the post-Cold War world and outlined his idea for the future of the organization. He stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation among member NATO countries.
“If you want to be secure in a world of global risks and threats, like-minded and democratic nations need to cooperate,” Rasmussen said.
He cited the war in Afghanistan as the prime example of the cooperation that exists among NATO member states. He reminded attendees that as President Obama announced a troop increase, 35 other countries also announced a troop increase.
“NATO is and will remain the gold standard for military cooperation for this country and all the allies,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen also addressed the recent NATO air raid in Afghanistan, in which 27 civilians died.
“I just spoke to President [Hamid] Karzai [of Afghanistan] and expressed a deep regret and condolences for the latest [incident] where Afghan civilians have lost their lives,” Rasmussen said. “We have to continue our efforts to minimize civilian casualties. . I don’t think you can be too careful. Every life lost is one life too much.”
According to Rasmussen, NATO is the trusted framework through which nations with similar notions of freedom, individual liberty and religious tolerance along with interconnected economies are able to come together to preserve their identities. “Today more than ever, when you are looking for security in an age of uncertainty, it is precious. You can find it in NATO today, and you will be able to rely on NATO tomorrow as well,” Rasmussen said.
Aside from discussing the ways in which NATO has succeeded in its mission, Rasmussen introduced Albright, chair of the Group of Experts for NATO’s New Strategic Concept, who was appointed to explore ways for the organization to continue to develop. “[NATO’s] continued effectiveness should be a matter of urgent concern to us all,” Albright said.
Rasmussen added, “The development of the New Strategic Concept is the most open and inclusive process ever in the history of the alliance.”
The process encourages input from non-experts, such as Georgetown students.
“I would encourage you to take a moment to go to the NATO Web model on the strategic concept. Have a look and let us know what you think,” Rasmussen said. “And let me assure you, we really do look at [the comments].”
The event did not proceed without protest. Before the event, several protesters handed out falsified programs critical of NATO.
“The list of NATO war crimes is long and will continue to grow as long as the organization continues to operate without a clear mandate, justifying its militarily aggressive actions by professing an adherence to human rights,” the fake program read.