THE upcoming Nato summit in Madrid will be a landmark moment for the alliance – and Scotland can play its part too.

My friends in the SNP’s Westminster Defence Team on Monday published the party’s contribution to Nato’s Strategic Concept. If we are serious about Scotland being an international actor, then it’s crucial we engage seriously with our friends and allies, which is exactly what this paper sets out.

For those who don’t know, the Strategic Concept is a key document which reaffirms Nato’s values, defines the security challenges facing the Alliance, as well as outlining the political and military tasks that Nato will carry out to address them. It is reviewed every 10 years or so, with the last review taking place in 2010, a year which feels like a lifetime ago.

Back then we were embroiled in the aftershocks of the Great Recession whilst the Arab Spring had not even begun. Swine flu was the global pandemic rather than Covid-19. Meanwhile, Brexit was a largely unclear concept – so at least some things don’t change.

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The world has dramatically changed over the past 12 years, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically redrawn the security map of the Euro-Atlantic area. It has exacerbated problems such as food and energy insecurity and exposed the deficiencies of going it alone. In response to all of this, our Defence Team have produced an excellent paper which outlines what exactly Nato should focus on and how it can evolve to meet new threats.

The paper breaks down where Nato should focus on: the levels of society, the state and the international system. Something which is often lost in analysis by the Tory government is that defence requires a whole of society effort. The threat is more than just bombs, bullets and tanks; it is also disinformation, diseases and destruction of infrastructure.

Twelve years of austerity has broken communities across these islands; if we wish to defend ourselves, we must have a society capable of defending itself. That can only be done through developing national resilience through effective infrastructure investment, protecting our communities from disinformation, and in our energy and food supply through support of our domestic industries.

Nato, of course, plays an important role in the military realm. It is a welcome sight to see Nato members invest further in defence capabilities and take their duties seriously.

In complete contrast, the UK has cut the size of the army to its smallest size since the War of the Spanish Succession more than three centuries ago.

But beyond defence, Nato also plays a crucial role in shaping the international rules of the game. This includes working towards nuclear disarmament. As Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg pointed out: “Nato’s goal is a world without nuclear weapons. And the Non-Proliferation Treaty is the only way to achieve this.” Perhaps the UK Government should take more direction from its international allies in this area?

It also extends to governing the rules of the international system. As the Defence Team points out, breaches of international law must have consequences and those consequences should be made clear in advance. Whether it be the use of explosive weapons in populated areas or blatant aggression against another state’s sovereign territory, Nato must make clear where its red lines are.

Fundamentally, Nato is a defensive alliance between liberal democratic states. Defence requires a whole of society effort, as our Nordic friends in Finland have demonstrated. As Putin’s blatant invasion of Ukraine as well as his malicious disinformation operations and funding of dodgy actors in our democracies have demonstrated, none of us are immune.

The UK has, to its credit, done well to support Ukraine during the current crisis – but it must also look to its own borders. Scotland lies at the gateway to the North Atlantic, and Nato’s vital sea lines of communication have a key role to play.

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Without Scotland in the North Atlantic, there is simply no North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – we are too strategically important to be bystanders.

It is crucial then that if Scotland is not only to survive but thrive as an independent country in the world, it will need to work with like-minded partners. Collaboration with our friends in Europe and across the Atlantic will not only lead to economic prosperity but also societal security.

Nato has evolved with the times, and Scotland can play a role in this evolution through our progressive values, our innovative research, as well as our commitment towards seeing a nuclear-free world.

The Defence Team’s paper is a welcome contribution to this debate and I am eager to see how our Nato friends and allies take it onboard.