The Cable

Get ready for NATO 3.0

When 29 countries meet in Lisbon for the NATO summit on Nov. 19, the goal will be to define what the future of the alliance -- built to fight the Cold War -- will be, in the less defined but arguably more dangerous world of the 21st century.

"We're launching NATO 3.0," Ivo Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, told a group of foreign policy wonks Friday morning at the New America Foundation. (Version 1.0 began after World War II; version 2.0 spanned from the end of the Cold War until today, apparently.) "It is no longer just about Europe… It's not a global alliance but it is a global actor."

In addition to unveiling the new "strategic concept," which will include new focuses on missile defense and cyber security, the summit will tackle thorny issues such as NATO's relationships with rising world powers, and how the alliance should conclude its current non-Europe mission, the war in Afghanistan.

"We need to look for opportunities to work with countries we haven't worked with before, like India, China, and Brazil," Daalder said. "The question of whether NATO will be operating globally is solved. It's done. We're there."

With the recent announcement that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will attend the summit, the focus on Russia will be front and center. There will be some kind of an announcement of NATO's intention to resume cooperation with Russia on missile defense that was scuttled after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

There's no decision yet whether that will be a formal agreement with detailed plans for cooperation, but there will be definitely be a separate announcement that NATO will institutionalize and expand its missile defense activities on its own, Daalder said.

"NATO will be in the business of defending its territory from ballistic missile attack," he said.

Of course, reports today note that Turkey is standing in the way of that agreement, but that's one of the things the summit is meant to address.

Daalder was optimistic about the progress of the war in Afghanistan, saying that although the formal evaluation of the current strategy is forthcoming, he already sees great progress in battling the Taliban and in the training of the Afghan security forces. He expects the transfer of provinces to Afghan control to begin in the first half of 2011.

"We are seeing the corner and we can peek around it. The strategy we have embarked upon… that's beginning to work," he said. "The Taliban has been hurt significantly by the introduction of 30,000 additional troops… We've been quite successful in hitting them quite hard… We see a beginning of a change in the fight in most places."

As for NATO expansion, an administration official said that NATO's position on adding new countries has not changed, meaning that the door is still open for Macedonia and Georgia, although the official didn't identify any signs that there would be movement on those applications. Ukraine, which had wanted to become a member, no longer seeks to join NATO.

The official said the sessions will also address the issue of whether to keep some 200 nuclear weapons stationed in Europe, a debate that is not yet resolved.

"Stay tuned. This will be an issue that will be discussed up until the last minute," the official said.

The Cable

Briefing Skipper: Syria, Iran, Israel, Angola, Burma

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. These are the highlights of Thursday's briefing by spokesman P.J. Crowley:

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Honolulu Thursday still on the first leg of her 13 day, seven country whirlwind trip around Asia. Friday she'll give a major speech on U.S.-Asia relations before moving on to Guam.
  • Crowley doubled down on U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice's strong statement about the increasing danger of an increasing well armed Hizbollah and what it means for the stability of Lebanon. "We continue to have deep concerns about Hezbollah's destructive and destabilizing influence in the region, as well as attempts by other foreign players, including Syria and Iran, to undermine Lebanon's independence and endanger its stability," he said. Rice also said that Syria has shown has "displayed flagrant disregard for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon." The secretary-general's office has released its latest report on UNSC Resolution 1559.
  • Clinton met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in New York and his deputy Faisal Mokdad was in Washington this week, but neither of those meetings produced progress. "We expressed during that meeting our deep concern for Syrian interference with Lebanon's sovereignty. We also expressed in that meeting hope that Syria would make progress, you know,  in its thread of the Middle East peace process," Crowley said. "We do not hesitate to express our concerns publicly and privately about, you know, Syria's ongoing behavior... The arms that Syria provides Hezbollah undermines the ability of the Lebanese government to be the principal protector of the Lebanese people."
  • Israeli chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho was in Washington earlier this week, Crowley confirmed, without addressing a report that the administration thinks Molcho is not negotiating in good faith. Special Envoy George Mitchell was in New York so did not meet with Molcho but they talk on the phone all the time, Crowley said. No movement on the U.S. effort to get both sides back to the table. "And I don't really have a progress report, other than to say that this is something that we are working as aggressively as we can," Crowley said.
  • Responding to the New York Times report that the administration has prepared a new proposal for Iran involving the Tehran Research Reactor, Crowley said, "We have not arrived at a consensus yet in terms of how to update the TRR proposal that we put on the table just over a year ago. I think there is a recognition that an updated TRR proposal can be helpful as a confidence-building measure." The new proposal would be more onerous on Iran than the one they rejected last year. "And crucially, it would have to be updated because we have to take into account Iran's ongoing enrichment over the the past 12 months," Crowley said.
  • Crowley expressed U.S. condemnation of sexual violence in Africa, referring to new allegations of the gang rape of 30 women as they were being deported from Angola. "We encourage Angolan officials to investigate these allegations and determine who perpetrated the alleged human-rights violations against Congolese women before their deportation," he said. "And we encourage Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo to use bilateral mechanisms set up last year to address migration issues along their shared borders, but most importantly to protect both of their populations, particularly women and children." Meanwhile, the Obama administration is not going to sanction the DRC for its use of child soldiers.
  • Crowley rejected the Burmese Junta's statement that it might release Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi from her house arrest, but only after the upcoming severely flawed elections. "This is a craven manipulation by Burma. How convenient that they're hinting that she might be released after an election that is unlikely to be fair, free or credible," he said.