The leaders of NATO's member nations open a two-day summit in Lisbon focused on finding ways to keep the Cold War alliance relevant in the 21st century with revamped roles (AP) including ballistic missile defense, anti-piracy patrols, and counterterrorism. The meeting is overshadowed by the war in Afghanistan. NATO members plan to announce a three-year phased, conditions-based timeline to transfer security responsibilities by 2014 (CNN) to the Afghans, beginning early next year. But many troops will go to Afghanistan in noncombat roles, placing a greater fighting burden on U.S. and British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama's test will be to urge NATO allies to stay the course in Afghanistan despite mixed results, increasing public frustration, and the beginning of a drawdown of U.S. troops in 2011.
CFR's Micah Zenko says the United States should consider removing its nuclear weapons from Europe, because its tactical nuclear umbrella over NATO is no longer vital to European security.
In a CFR interview, NATO expert Robert E. Hunter says in addition to an Afghan withdrawal plan, the summit could see the beginning of a cooperative relationship between Russia and the alliance.
Ahead of the summit, the Economist ponders the evolution of the alliance's "strategic concept" and its future in a world of increasing unconventional threats.
This Council Special Report argues that NATO should expand cooperation with non-European democracies.