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Professor Influences Human Interests Through NATO

The director of the Notre Dame College Center for Intelligence Studies is part of a multinational commission making a case for the role of human understanding in international peacekeeping missions—and redefining the role of NATO on the global stage.

Greg MooreA. Gregory Moore, Ph.D., professor of history and chair of the history and political science department at Notre Dame, is one of about 30 international experts serving on the NATO Human Interest Centre of Excellence Human Aspects of the Operational Environmental (HAOE) project. 

The commission will present its recommendations on humanitarian and cultural protocols for military interventions to NATO leadership later this year, and the group will publish a book on their findings. Moore is serving as lead editor and headed the panel that contributed a chapter on history to the publication.

Overall, the HAOE project has found that a greater understanding of religious, cultural, historical, language and psychological concerns and perspectives of native populations can help alleviate much of the distrust political emissaries, as well military personnel, may encounter during NATO outreach and peacekeeping operations.

The commission’s book proposes a framework for the collection of this human intelligence in order to more effectively enhance cultural awareness should NATO be called upon to conduct future peacekeeping or stability missions outside of Europe.

“Cultural awareness is so important to peacekeeping missions because if you do things to offend or anger native populations in operational environments, these populations are less likely to support the efforts. That increases the likelihood the mission will fail and puts people—the natives themselves as well as ambassadors and peacekeepers—in harm’s way,” Moore said.

In the forthcoming book, Moore writes about the importance of historical interactions between the West and non-Western worlds in terms of how to prepare for possible peacekeeping or stability operations in places such as the Middle East or North Africa, where imperialism has had a significant impact. He imparts the importance of dealing with questions such as how populations in these regions might react to having peacekeeping forces from nations that were once colonial powers enter their countries today.

“The lessons of history can have significant influence on how local populations may respond to situations where a stability or peacekeeping mission may be underway,” Moore said. “A greater appreciation of this on NATO’s part can enable the organization to develop methodologies to build support for and measure the attitudes of the local population toward the mission as it is being carried out.”

In addition to helping peacekeeping forces better prepare to operate in the human environment, Moore and the commission’s work also likely will re-establish the post-Cold War NATO alliance as a relevant partner in current and future world politics—and extend its influence in non-European countries.

“This project begins the process of helping NATO determine what its role in the 21st century will be. We believe the work could have significant impact. What that impact is—how the world will respond— remains to be seen,” Moore said.

Because many of its 28 member countries were previously under USSR control, NATO has a history and perspective that could translate to greater understanding of and, therefore, better relationships with other nations that were parts of former colonial empires. The commission contends this commonality, among other elements, may mean that in some situations forces selected for peacekeeping or stability missions should include troops from these particular NATO members. These nations may have a greater appreciation for the local population’s natural concerns about the presence of foreign military forces in their country.

As part of the commission, Moore took part in meetings and workshops over the past year in Romania and Austria, and he was one of seven presenters who delivered the project’s preliminary findings and recommendations to HAOE military leaders at NATO’s conference in Romania, in December 2012.