Geopolitical crisis : A moribund NATO

trump

As we have explained on other occasions, NATO is still there, of course, but only because there are no better options at hand. Everyone wants to be rid of it – the Europeans who want a common European defence[1] and Donald Trump who wants Europeans to participate more in their own defence. They are all contributing to a slow process in which NATO continues to get in the way whilst Europeans dither between several strategies:

  • To increase their share[2] and thus acquire an equal say with that of the US within NATO (with the long-term aim of separating off to form a European NATO[3]). Problem: For this strategy to have a chance of success, much greater cohesion is needed in the European camp – something that is still a long way off at the moment.
  • To advance a European defence project beside NATO with the support of a few member countries and plan a gradual cessation of contributions to the Alliance prior to an organised exit. This strategy is currently more realistic, but likely to create greater tensions among Europeans on one hand, and between European and Americans on the other.[4]
  • To Europeanise national armies, as some think Germany has been tempted to do.[5]
  • To opt for the Russians, rather than the United States, as protectors! Whilst this option is provocative, we believe that including such a perspective may help towards a better understanding of the US-Russian confrontation in Europe. Russia has little interest in a Europe at war. In fact, even less than the distant United States. As with China in the South China Sea, they amass troops and armies on the border with Europe, probably not so much to attack as to defend themselves and to maintain peace within their vicinity. In the multipolar world of the twenty-first century, the United States will no longer be the only ‘cop’ in the world. And we believe that, even if they are in the minority, some Eastern European countries are beginning to think that, since a European defence still seems far away and since a US defence imposes a harmful confrontation with Russia, why not change umbrella after all? We are thinking of Hungary, of course, but also Greece, Italy and Austria. Clearly, we will not see any clear statement on this topic for a long time – and, hopefully, Europe will find more adult ways to protect itself before then. But with this idea in mind, we can better understand certain events, such as the meeting between Putin and Van der Bellen in Vienna on 6th June,[6] or that between Putin and the Bulgarian president,[7] both referring to ‘strategic’ links … in the energy sector, at the very least. After all, changing umbrella is exactly what Turkey did![8]

Whilst waiting for the EU to find a way to decide, the moribund NATO is brooding one last ember…

Read the entire confidential report in the GEAB No 126 (June 2018)

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[1]    Source: Telegraph, 03/06/2018
[2]    Source: DefenseNews, 07/06/2018
[3]    Source: err.ee, 11/06/2018
[4]    Source: Le Soir, 06/06/2018
[5]    Source: Foreign policy, 22/05/2017
[6]    Source: Politico, 05/06/2018
[7]    Source: Memri, 12/06/2018
[8]    Source: IISS, 15/02/2018