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NATO 2006 – The year of global dilution and of EU/US decoupling

Riga, November 28-29, 2006 – The upcoming NATO summit, which chose to take place on former soviet soil in order to symbolize the success of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, is likely to be remembered  as the Summit where two opposite trends thrust the Alliance into the ongoing global systemic crisis, and as the symbol of « the end of the western world we have known since 1945 ».

The  economic,  financial  or monetary  aspects  were  only  three  of the  seven  facets  of the  crisis described  by the LEAP/E2020  research team, and announced  in the February 2006 “GlobalEurope Anticipation Bulletin”. A first class strategic and military crisis is also triggered this year, via the Iran nuclear problem plus three other key-factors: the financing and development of the “21st-century air- fighter”, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF); the divergence between Europeans and Americans in terms of threat  perception;  the confidence  crisis  among  European  public  opinion  and decision  makers  as regards US capacity and skill in handling an efficient and responsible leadership of the Alliance.

The Alliance is ill. This is a commonplace, hardly concealed by official statements knowing that the re- launch of NATO and the redefinition of its missions have become recurrent topics of all transatlantic meetings.  The illness results from the disappearing  of the Alliance’s  main reason-to-be:  the fight against a lethal enemy, common to Americans and Western Europeans: USSR. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, NATO no longer knows what it stands for. It is called upon to protect the Olympic Games of Athens or Turin, to transport third world aid and to intervene on limited crises (Kosovo, Afghanistan security  enforcement…);  but  on  the  two  major  military  operations  of  the  past  decade,  it  was dismissed. The United-States  rejected it to attack Afghanistan after 9/11 (despite European offers). The Europeans  refused  to activate  it when  Iraq was invaded  in 2003  (despite  US demands).  A strategic alliance which is inoperative in case of major military events, because either one or the other partner refuses it to be activated, is an alliance with nothing left of strategic. The question now is whether it has anything left of an alliance, or if little by little NATO is turning into something else.

According to LEAP/E2020, the transformation « into something else » is already on the go. In 2006, because of the Iran crisis – but also due to a whole range of factors out of which three in particular (JSF, threat perception, global distrust) are described in this “GlobalEurope Anticipation Bulletin” -, the Alliance will experience a political expansion of its geographic territory and turn into a “global alliance of democracies”;  while the military  organisation  will have to leave the Europeans  accelerate  the creation of a common defence independent from the Alliance…

These trends will be seen as positive ones by a large number of players within NATO itself and in the rest of the world. The geographic enlargement results from Washington’s assertive will; meanwhile the acceleration of an independent common European defence has been expected by a large majority of Europeans for many years already…

Read more in the GEAB No 4 / 16.04.2006

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