European Security and Defence at a Strategic Crossroads
The global response to September 11, 2001, led by the US, gave rise to a sudden and profound shift in Europe’s strategic environment, the first since the end of the Cold War. 2012 and the years either side of it will perhaps mark a second major shift. The US declared the end of its mission in Iraq at the end of 2011 and NATO will hand control of security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces in 2014, bringing to an end more than a decade of wars. The US has also pledged that it will ‘of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region’, while making clear that it will continue to look to Europe, and NATO, as partners in providing security. Meanwhile, NATO has a new strategic concept that reaffirms the importance of collective defence; CSDP continues to be a divisive entity with an uncertain future; and, in the wake of the financial crisis, European defence budgets look set to remain strained for many years to come. This second shift, born of several factors rather than a single defining event, will be less abrupt, but its impact may be just as profound.
ABCD 2012 examined the implications of these changes for Europe’s security and defence policies. We surveyed the past decade of wars and considered its lessons, and the way it has shaped our armed forces and international organisations, as well as our appetite for intervention. We also considered Europe’s role in security and defence in the coming decade, its options to continue providing security, the possibility of retrenchment, and the impact of these factors on transatlantic relations. Finally, we examined the problems that remain in our own ‘backyard’, which have perhaps been neglected during the past ten years.