- NATO Splits Reveal Alliance is Redundant
If the NATO summit this week marking the 70th anniversary of its foundation in 1949 was meant to be a resounding celebration, it backfired spectacularly, more as a resounding farce. Amid all the pomp and ceremony afforded by an official reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by the British Queen, the two-day gathering descended into squabbling, sneering and back-stabbing.
For an organization that declares its mission to be about “maintaining peace and security”, the infighting between NATO leaders showed an organization virtually at war with itself. The culmination of comedy was when US President Donald Trump stormed off before the closing session on Wednesday after he found out about video footage showing other leaders mocking him for his rambling press conferences. The video recording of a “hot-mic” discussion went viral, appearing to show Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Britain’s Boris Johnson and France’s Emmanuel Macron making jokes about Trump. Trump hit back by slamming Trudeau as “two-faced”.
The next day’s front-page headlines captured some of the farce. The London Times: “Trump leaves NATO meeting as leaders are seen laughing”. The Guardian: “Trump leaves NATO meeting after ridicule from allies”. The Financial Times: “Disunity mars NATO summit”. A New York Times’ online briefing edition headlined: “Squabbling and uncertainty cloud NATO’s future”.
NATO’s problems are not just about a clash between personalities. The arrival of Trump as US president has merely brought long-simmering structural and strategic tensions to the surface.
In a nutshell, NATO’s problem is that the US-led military alliance has continued to enlarge when it does not have a credible cohesive purpose. When it was founded in 1949, four years after the Second World War ended, the Atlantic alliance was nominally purposed for defending Europe from alleged aggression by the Soviet Union. In reality, it was the other way around. NATO was founded to harry the Soviet Union. Hence the Russian-led Warsaw Pact was established in 1955, six years after NATO was formed.
Be that as it may, when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 that was supposed to herald the end of the Cold War. Instead of disbanding, however, NATO continued to expand as an organization. Over the past three decades it has added 17 new members, many of them proximate to Russia’s borders.
While "brain dead" @NATO annual #military budget exeeds 💲1 trillion, #Russia spends on defence 23 times less (only 💲46 bln). Neretheless, #fake Russian threat is used to justify even more waste of taxpayers'💲. Good for business strategy, dangerous for intl. peace & security pic.twitter.com/6M91HVbwPt
— Russia in Canada (@RussianEmbassyC) December 4, 2019