Visualizing the NATO Strategic Concept: Five ways to look at the Alliance’s future

At the upcoming NATO Summit in Madrid, the Alliance’s attention will be on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and illegal war is transforming how the Euro-Atlantic—not to mention global—community views its security environment. The war is having a profound effect on NATO’s strategy, which is due for a refresh at the summit with Alliance members set to agree on their new Strategic Concept—a critical document that will guide NATO’s political and military development for the foreseeable future

Yet even before the invasion, NATO faced a dramatically changing security landscape. The systemic challenge from China, the existential threat of climate change, the emergence of disruptive technologies, the use of cyberattacks as a core instrument of power, supply-chain problems, democratic backsliding among allies and partners, questions about adequate defense investment, and more all combine to present a complex and unsettling future for the Alliance.

NATO’s forthcoming Strategic Concept will need to grapple with all of these issues while finding commonality among the diverse perspectives and priorities of its thirty members (with two more likely on the way).

So we asked our experts: With so much happening in the global arena, what critical but underappreciated topics will be featured in the Strategic Concept—and how should NATO think about addressing them?

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