What has been the role of NATO?
During cold war, NATO has been the critical factor for the security of western European countries. So far the most successful military alliance. It played critical role in establishing USA’s hegemony in the western Europe. NATO has been dominated by USA, NATO is an institution where the European countries outsourced their security, but now they are realizing the strategic gaps exist.
The end of cold war and dissolution of Warsaw Pact led to the question mark on the continuation of NATO. In fact NATO’s actual military operations took place after the end of cold war. 1st in Bosnia and 2nd in Kosovo. The 3rd in Afghanistan.
NATO has modified its strategic concept. As suggested by John Lewis Gaddis, the disintegration of USSR meant not the end of threat of USA’s security, it only meant the diffusion of threats. It has made threat management more challenging. Hence NATO has gone for new approach to crisis management.
Now NATO is oriented against nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, terrorism, piracy, ethnic conflicts. In the immediate context of end of cold war, NATO operated beyond borders. Now at present as Russian threat is rising in context of its actions in Crimea, NATO is coming back home. Now NATO exercises in Europe has deteriorated the security environment. There has been criticism of NATO by USA. 1) According to USA European countries are not spending as per the requirement and there is an unfair burden on USA. 2) USA is the biggest contributor in NATO, spend 4% of its GDP. USA expects Germany to fast increase its NATO budget. Minimum 2% of its GDP. According to USA, the real advantage of NATO is for European countries. According to Trump, it is difficult to convince American taxpayers as to why they should be spending more on European security than European themselves.
Attitude of European countries
1] European integration has strengthened the position of Europe, challenging the hegemony of dollar. Even USA has huge trade deficit with EU.
2] EU countries feel that USA’s policies in middle east and towards Russia are actually not in the interest of Europe. USA has put Europe in a situation, where they have been used by USA to fulfill USA’s ambitions at a huge cost.
A) There was a complete disagreement between USA and Germany with USA’s war with Iraq in 2003.
B) The crisis in Syria has huge repercussions for European Union’s integration project (Migrant crisis/Refugee crisis). Brexit is the first fallout.
New members of EU are having extremely adversarial relations with Russia. Instead of being pro Europe, they are being pro USA. They are brought by US to weaken EU. Now EU is feeling the heat of USA’s containment policies.
They are getting disillusioned towards NATO.
They have made themselves vulnerable to the security threats from Russia as well as non state actors.
In a very explicit terms, Trump has mentioned EU trade foe.
1] Germany itself has been instrumental in rapprochement with the east. As a economic powerhouse, it looked at the end of cold war as a opportunity. Germany shares the approach of Russia to have cooperative security in Europe. It developed economic interdependence with Russia. It has been the biggest trading partner with Russia in Europe.
Germany didn’t favored
Continuous expansion of NATO
Expansion of EU also.
New approach of EU
Efforts to build their own defence
Strengthen partnership with China. China has already made indoors in entire Europe.
The latest being China’s integration with central and east European countries through the platform known as 16+1.
EU is also talking about multipolar world and has recently brought a new strategy, aiming to strengthen relations with India also.
Future of NATO
Though the distancing is growing, yet in immediate context, NATO will continue. With no other region EU countries can have as much ideological and political symmetry as USA. They have overlapping values and interests. They have historical comforts. They continue to suffer security dilemma from Russia. They have structured differences with China. Everyone knows China itself is to be blamed for the destruction of liberal international economic order.
It will take long time for Euro to become a global currency. Hence Europe’s outreach to China, Russia, India, strategic divergences with USA on Iranian issue seems to be EU’s policy to tap institutionalized Ruso-phobia found in USA to gain some bargaining points to build more balanced relationship with USA.
USA’s approach towards NATO.
One of the distinctive feature of Trump’s foreign policy is to play the game of Bad cop and Good cop. If trump criticized NATO the defence secretary of USA Mattis, mentions that USA has ‘iron clad commitments to NATO and European security’.
Current state of trans-Atlantic relations.
Current trend. The future of NATO has become uncertain. Why? According to US president, NATO is also one of the worst agreement ever. It is harming USA’s interest. French president Macron at EU summit held that Europe can no longer rely on USA for its security. German Chancellor Angella Merkel held that we will not let ourselves to be pushed around time and again, we will act. European union has started creating PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation). PESCO is an attempt to created a defence force of European countries as a part of growing defence and security cooperation to gain strategic autonomy. EU is deepening its partnership with China. Germany already had strong interdependence with Russia and French president is strengthening relations with Putin. Recently Europen union has decided to create an alternative channel to buy oil from Iran, avoiding the use of dollar. This will grant protection to EU banks as they are not going to use dollar. This non American monetary channel to Iran includes China as a party. There is a huge resentment in EU with respect to Trump’s decision to come out of the nuclear deal with Iran, Paris Climate Change Agreement, Attempts to undermine WTO and starting a new phase of cold war with Russia.
NATO is a collective defence pact formed in 1949. Art 5 of NATO mentions that armed attack against one shall be considered as armed attack against all. As of now, NATO has 29 members. The last one to join was Montenegro in 2017, Bosnia Herzgovain, Macedonia, Georgia and Ukrane are the prospective members.