On November 19 and 20, NATO leaders meet in Lisbon for what is billed as a summit on “NATO’s Strategic Concept”.
Among topics of discussion will be an array of scary “threats”,
from cyberwar to climate change,
as well as nice protective things like nuclear weapons and a high tech Maginot Line boondoggle
supposed to stop enemy missiles in mid-air.
The NATO leaders will be unable to avoid talking about the war in Afghanistan,
that endless crusade that unites the civilized world against the elusive Old Man of the Mountain,
Hassan i Sabah, eleventh century chief of the Assassins in his latest reincarnation as Osama bin Laden.
There will no doubt be much talk of “our shared values”.
Most of what they will discuss is fiction with a price tag.
The one thing missing from the Strategic Concept summit agenda is a serious discussion of strategy.
This is partly because NATO as such has no strategy, and cannot have its own strategy.
NATO is in reality an instrument of United States strategy.
Its only operative Strategic Concept is the one put into practice by the United States.
But even that is an elusive phantom.
American leaders seem to prefer striking postures, “showing resolve”,
to defining strategies.