Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

The Complexities of Int'l Security Environment & Strategy Formulation

Wed 03 Apr 2024 | 03:15 PM
Dr. Abdelhak Azouzi
Dr. Abdelhak Azouzi
Abdelhak Azouzi

The current international security environment is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, more so than ever before. These characteristics often leave strategic experts confused when it comes to diagnosing the present and anticipating the future. However, incidents like the one involving French President Emmanuel Macron can provide valuable insight.

Before the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Macron made a statement about the "brain death" of NATO, which sparked strong reactions from his allies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized the ruling as "inappropriate," while Moscow welcomed it as an "accurate definition of the current reality of NATO." Donald Trump also criticized the statements, calling them "insulting" and "extremely dangerous."

At that time, Macron believed that the Americans could not be relied upon to guarantee European security, and felt that Europe needed to take defense into their own hands. However, after the Russian intervention in Ukraine, the French President changed his stance and all European countries rushed to American protection under NATO.

Macron's earlier statements were seen as unstrategic and unwise, and the consequences of the war in Ukraine led to other countries changing their defense policies, such as Germany. 

* Sweden and Finland also joined the alliance after decades of military non-alignment.

Recently, Sweden became the 32nd member of NATO after raising its flag at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels. The decision came after challenging negotiations with some alliance members, particularly Turkey and Hungary, and after more than two centuries of neutrality and non-alignment. Sweden has not been involved in a war since its conflict with Norway in 1814, and during the Cold War, it preferred to remain peaceful and stay away from any military alliance against the Soviet Union.

Similarly, Finland has joined the NATO alliance. This Scandinavian country shares a 1,300-kilometre border with Russia, making this move a significant turning point for Finland, which had previously maintained a policy of military non-alignment with any party.

Finland was also under the control of its neighbor for a century until the Russian Revolution in 1917. Russia has attacked Finland twice, in (1939-1940) and (1941-1944), and Finland lost both times. After World War II, Finland adopted a policy of neutrality, which later evolved into the principle of military non-alignment following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This policy was always seen as a protection against Russia, due to the fear of a new conflict with its neighbor. However, with the war in Ukraine, new war strategies were developed and the alliance began to be seen as a semi-reliable security source.

The total length of the border between Russia and the defense alliance will almost double. Stockholm and Helsinki will benefit from the protection provided by Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which states that if a member state is attacked, other states will consider it an attack against all members and will take measures to provide assistance.

No one can accurately predict what might happen in the future, especially with the possibility of a change in administration in the US. However, the role of the strategist is to understand the strategic environment, and build a strategy that is consistent with it. The strategist should exercise influence to control volatility, manage concerns, simplify complexities, and uncover ambiguity.