Peace researchers challenge NATO 2030 project: Reflection Group proposals risk twin cold wars with Russia and China

For Immediate Release: 16 February 2021


Contact: Dr. Ian Davis | +44 (0)7767 686145



NATO Defence Ministers meeting tomorrow via a virtual conference are expected to discuss the next steps in the NATO 2030 project and review an expert group report, NATO 2030: United for a New Era. This is a process that will ultimately lead to the alliance’s first new Strategic Concept since 2010.

The co-chair of the NATO report, Wess Mitchell, described its main message as being that “NATO has to adapt itself for an era of strategic rivalry with Russia and China, for the return of a geopolitical competition that has a military dimension but also a political one’’. This approach will help entrench a systemic three bloc rivalry between China, Russia and NATO-EU-US, with all the attendant risks – from nuclear war to weakening cooperation when addressing the existential threat of climate change and future pandemics.

Concerned by these developments and the group-think mentality of the NATO 2030 process, NATO Watch asked a group of 10 peace researchers to assess the NATO expert group report. Their analysis is published today in a new report, Peace research perspectives on NATO 2030: A response to the official NATO Reflection Group. This report argues, among other things, that:

  • The NATO expert group’s analysis of past events and future trends, especially in relation to Russia, arms control and violations of international law, are riddled with biases and omissions;
  • Concepts like ‘human security’, as well as the ‘women, security and peace’ and ‘climate change’ agendas, have been co-opted by and reshaped by military actors like NATO;
  • Adopting a pre-occupation with great power competition will lead to a costly and dangerous arms race and risk a nuclear war with either China or Russia; and
  • NATO’s partnerships in the South are largely based on self-interest and military security rather than being rooted in the complex mix of problems faced by countries in North Africa and the Sahel.

Among the alternative proposals are strengthening dialogue and the search for common ground with China and Russia, de-collectivizing the nuclear sharing policy in NATO and withdrawing all remaining US tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.

The pandemic has revealed fundamental flaws in the strategies many states employ to provide security for their people. New efforts are needed to reduce the chances of nuclear war and achieve nuclear disarmament, address climate change and strengthen defences against future pandemics. “Based on the expert group report, NATO is not up to this task”, said NATO Watch director Dr. Ian Davis. “Instead, NATO is doubling down on the militarist approaches to security and conflict that have not worked. A more comprehensive and honest reflection of NATO is necessary by all of its members”, he added.

The report is available here

NATO Watch conducts independent monitoring and analysis of NATO and aims to increase transparency and accountability within the Alliance.

Sign up to receive Press Releases and other content from NATO Watch