The NATO summit convened during September 4-5 to act on a broad range of crises—the threat to Ukraine posed by pro-Russian separatists, the need to continue to support a fragile Afghanistan, deficiencies in defense spending by some NATO countries, and the threat from the so-called Islamic State (IS) organization. Of these major issues, IS was not a formal agenda item, yet the issue ended up dominating the summit and producing perhaps its most significant outcomes.
For the Obama Administration, the summit proved particularly productive in that a comprehensive strategy to defeat IS began to emerge. The emerging strategy involves using a combination of military action, support for partner forces in Iraq and Syria, diplomacy, intelligence sharing, and financial actions to try to progressively shrink the geographic and political space, manpower, and financial resources available to IS. President Obama is to further lay out the strategy in a speech on Wednesday, September 10. At the NATO summit, President Obama asserted that a similar strategy has worked against core al-Qaeda, al-Shabab in Somalia, and other terrorist organizations. The summit conclusion coincided with a major counter-terrorism success—confirmation that al-Shabab leader Ahmad Abdi Godane was killed by a US airstrike a few days earlier.