Chicago Summit – a meeting of commitments

Major agreements were reached at the May 20-21 summit in Chicago, the US, including those on the hand-over process in Afghanistan, the deployment of the EU missile defense shield, and the enhancement of NATO’s military capacity.

Yet, the critics said these commitments prove that NATO is confused about realizing its dream of globalization.

NATO leaders made strong commitments at the Chicago summit (Photo: Reuters)

Afghanistan topped the agenda of the summit that brought together 28 NATO leaders. The war in Afghanistan has lasted for more than a decade and NATO and the US are now designing a scenario of withdrawal from this country that has become a quagmire of disappointed hopes.

Summit participants pledged to support the roadmap for pulling NATO troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and after that to continue to assist Afghanistan’s government and people. The roadmap calls for NATO to train Afghan military and police forces to take over local security. NATO hopes its departure will convey the message that it has succeeded in its mission despite its losses.

Although NATO has agreed to spend US$1 billion supporting Afghani security forces, this is less than the US President’s request of US$1.3 billion and much less than the US$4.1 billion the US Government plans to spend maintaining Afghani military and police forces from 2015 to 2017.

According to political analysts, this financial commitment should be considered a success as most NATO members are currently facing severe economic difficulties at home. In fact, except for the US, all the NATO members are trying to minimize their contribution. Luxembourg is the only country that has specified its modest amount of contribution. Germany has announced only that Berlin will contribute a ‘significant’ amount of money while the UK is promising ‘about’ US$110 million a year.

Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the Chicago summit has attempted to demonstrate a unified, long-term commitment to Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal.

Participants reached a consensus on the kick-starting of the first phase of the EU missile defense system despite Russia’s objection. The US and its allies intend to send a US warship carrying interceptor planes to the Mediterranean and set up an early warning radar system in Turkey controlled by NATO from a base in Germany. The missile defense shield is divided into 4 phases and will be fully operational by 2018.

At a press briefing, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance has invited Russia to cooperate on missile defense and this invitation is still valid. Rasmussen said that NATO will continue to hold dialogues with Russia and expressed the hope that Russia see that cooperation will bring benefits to both sides.

The public is doubtful about NATO’s plan as the organization is facing a wide range of economic and foreign relation difficulties.