Address on NATO's New Strategic Concept
delivered 7 July 2009, Palais d’Egmont, Brussels Belgium
[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Mr. Secretary-General, thank you so much for that introduction, and I'm delighted to be here; Mr. Secretary-General designate and Excellencies, and special guests, it's wonderful to be here on this afternoon.
This is such a distinguished audience. I can only include -- conclude that Atlanticism is alive and well. And, I really would like to begin by thanking the Secretary-General [Jaap de Hoop Scheffer] for inviting me and also congratulate him for his years of outstanding leadership.
Mr. Secretary General, you have guided this organization brilliantly and will leave to your successor an alliance that is strong, cohesive, and as central to global security as it has ever been. The world owes you a debt, and I hope that in years to come you will continue to share your wisdom with all of us.
When I was Secretary of State, I often came to Brussels to present the official policy recommendations of my government. And today, I am here in an unofficial capacity, but my enthusiasm could not be greater -- for NATO has always been very much a part of my life.
It's birth was hastened by the Communist takeover in 1948 of my native country of Czechoslovakia. From then until the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO had the dual role of shielding freedom in the West while preserving hope in Europe's East. And as a daughter of Prague living in America, I had one foot on each side of the divide.
A decade ago, I had the privilege of welcoming
Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic into our alliance and of working with many of you to end the terror and
ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. As these events reflect, NATO has been the most
successful alliance in history. As current events dictate, it remains a
preeminent actor on the world stage. So I'm delighted to join with you in launching an effort to revise and update
NATO's Strategic Concept. Our goal should be a statement whose meshes is clear to
audiences, both within and outside the alliance, a text that will serve equally
as an internal guide and as a constructive signal to people of all ages and
cultures around the world.
Drafting a new Strategic Concept, therefore, is less a question of reinvention than of refinement. We have a firm foundation upon which to build. This does not mean that our job will be easy or that NATO’s future is assured. Almost 20 years after the break-up of the Soviet Union, our alliance is still in the process of adjusting. The Cold War was bitter, but also fairly stable -- with relations kept in place by an Iron Curtain and a concrete Wall.
political dynamics are more fluid -- and so are the dangers. Serious threats
emanate from viral ideologies, failed states, irresponsible leaders, dangerous
technologies, and environmental neglect. This toxic blend demands a
multi-faceted response: the NATO of the 21st century must combine political
wisdom with military clout and diplomatic skills; it must be versatile and adept
at preventive action; and it must be counted on to deliver whenever
Euro-Atlantic security is on the line.
objectives are not tied to any calendar, nor are they dependent on any
particular adversary. They will survive as long as we have the courage to defend
them, but defend them we must, for in the future as in the past, our interests
and ideals will surely be opposed.
The good news is that the Afghan people know what living under the Taliban is like and do not wish to repeat the experience. But to capitalize on that, Afghanistan’s government must provide an effective alternative. Through its presence and by its training, NATO can help the country’s legitimate leaders to provide the security and the opportunity their people so desperately need.
If we're patient in our approach and wise in our strategy, we can improve the prospects for stability in Afghanistan and throughout the region.
But if we grow frustrated or fail to make a maximum effort, we may witness the rise of yet another generation of terrorists, and see a nuclear-armed Pakistan pushed to the brink.
Elsewhere around the world, NATO must cope with the danger posed by nuclear activities occurring outside the safeguards established by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea and Iran especially merit our concern. Few developments would be more troubling than the emergence of new nuclear weapons states.
three-part response is required.
core purpose has been and must remain to make attacks against its own Members
unthinkable. We should also work through the United Nations to see that, in any
place at any time, aggression does not pay.
planning for the future, we must bear in mind that although NATO is a leader, it
must also be a partner. As we have learned in recent years, most security crises
have political, economic, social, and sometimes religious dimensions. An
effective response may therefore depend on a pooling of talent and a sharing of
The NATO story is a proud one, and even glorious, but it is has grown more complex as new chapters have been written. Each year, across the globe, there are fewer people who recall NATO’s creation, fewer who remember its Cold War resolve, and fewer who have a clear sense of why NATO’s survival and success should matter to them.
So as we think about our Strategic Concept, we should bear in mind how such a document will be read not only within the Euro-Atlantic community but in every region. And as we prepare to implement that concept, we must include a plan for explaining our policies and our actions persuasively and in real time, making full use of modern information technology.
this room today because we believe in the ongoing importance of NATO’s mission.
But our challenge is to reach and to teach the billions of people who are not in
this room. We must convince them that even while protecting the rights of
alliance members, NATO will uphold the rights of all.
Of course, much of our thinking in recent times has focused on the scope of NATO’s activities and missions. A consensus exists that, to protect our interests, we must sometimes act outside our borders, as we have done in the Balkans, and as we are doing now in Afghanistan and through our maritime operations. Some suggest that these external missions have opened a fault line within the alliance, placing on one side those who believe that NATO should assume the role of global police and on the other those who insist that NATO stay close to home.
truth, I see no such fault line but instead a sensible search for a reasonable
balance. There are limits to what NATO can do and also to what we should
attempt; we are a regionally-based security alliance and cannot be all things to
A similar sense of balance is necessary when contemplating another potential source of division within NATO -- and that's Russia. President Obama has just been -- and is in Moscow; and if you've all watched the news he has had a remarkable meeting not only with President Medvedev but with Prime Minister Putin, and has just delivered a great speech.
On both sides, there are expectations mixed with uncertainty. Russia and the Euro-Atlantic community have an armful of shared interests, but we also have a handful of significant differences. And that’s why our Strategic Concept must be flexible enough to embrace Russia as a partner and firm enough to hold the Kremlin to its obligations. Ultimately, only Russia can define Russia, just as only NATO can define NATO.
Our alliance must make decisions about future members based on qualifications alone -- neither asserting nor recognizing a sphere of influence, neither opposing nor appeasing the government of any other country. No nation can dictate to another what alliance that country may or may not join. When I was Secretary of State, we agreed then, when discussing security in Europe, that Russia was entitled to a voice but not a veto. And I believe that principle still applies.
Years ago, during the Cold War, NATO’s main objective was to defend freedom from the threat of aggression by the Communist Bloc. When the Berlin Wall fell, we set our sights on a Euro-Atlantic community that was whole and free. And today, we understand that neither the defeat of Communism nor our own freedom is sufficient to guarantee security. NATO must strive for a world in which differences are resolved without violence; where people are allowed to live without fear of aggression or attack; and in which the rule of law is legitimately-constituted, broadly-recognized, and widely-enforced.
By its nature, this is an enterprise to be waged on many fronts, simultaneously and continuously. And it will lead not to some climactic or universal triumph, but to the hope that our children can grow up in a world more peaceful, free, and humane than it has been. And for that to happen, NATO must operate in the future with all the energy and focus it has shown in the past. And each member of the alliance must meet its obligations fully and without fail.
back, we can see that many of the threats we faced in the past have vanished or
shifted in shape.
must not happen to NATO.
So let's begin the task of charting NATO’s future with confident hearts, bearing in mind our responsibility to those who preceded us, and to all who are among us, and to future generations.
1 Anadiplosis to be catalogued
Original Text, Audio, Image Source:
Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement
Page Updated: 7/18/21
Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement
Page Updated: 7/18/21
U.S. Copyright Status: Text, Audio, Images = Used in compliance with these terms.