America’s Alliances Working Group Featuring: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
January 13, 2021
Purpose of the Working Group: In an effort to reaffirm America’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance, as well as other global partnerships that have waned, the McCain Institute convenes the action-oriented and forward-looking America’s Alliances Working Group. It includes high-level American, Canadian, and European political and thought leaders that will assert longstanding alliances and create fresh partnerships to ensure that the close transatlantic relationship endures for future generations.’
- On Russia: NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) needs to have internal cohesion when facing up to the Russian threat. Since Vladimir Putin looks to exploit weakness and division, he must be met “collectively and robustly.” Accepting the illegal annexation of Crimea would lead to a slippery slope. “The U.S. non-recognition of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states proves that resolve on such issues is by no means a fool’s errand.” Russian cyberattacks need to be addressed with clear investments across the Alliance. “We should also not be afraid to prove to Putin that two can play this game.”
- On China: China poses a clear challenge to the Alliance. The Belt & Road initiative is a strategic foray into Europe. We can have a working relationship with China without being naïve enablers. The rules of engagement must therefore be made clear. Allowing Chinese tech companies such as Huawei to make investments in critical infrastructure like 5G networks is “a price too high.”
- On the role of the U.S.: America must retake the seat of leadership but “do it with humility.” A new administration should reaffirm its assurances to NATO but also to other global treaties and commitments. The recent troop withdraw from Germany was done without any strategic review or discussion within the Alliance. Since this is now seen as a punitive action against Germany and sends a message of disunity to Russia, the decision should be reversed.
- On NATOs Open Door policy: Eastern Europeans believe that “America disappeared strategically from the region since the failure of the Bucharest 2008 summit.” The vision of a Europe “Whole, Free, and at Peace” was left incomplete. NATO PA needs to send a clear signal of recommitment to NATOs Open Door policy to Georgia and Ukraine. The Eastern Europeans have great experience on how to deal with Russia but America’s strength is needed to back the policies up.
- On democracy: The recent democratic backsliding among some NATO member states needs to be acknowledged. NATO works because it’s a community of values. “It will not survive simply as a transactional security arrangement.” NATO should create a Center of Excellence on Democracy to fortify the principles the Alliance is based on.