NATO has become obsolete because it no longer enhances security
President Donald Trump has once again highlighted the question of Europe’s relationship with NATO, as the alliance had only a single purpose previously: to protect Western Europe from a Soviet invasion.
Published: February 13, 2017, 11:21 am
What is the commitment of European countries to the United States? And what is the US commitment to Europe?
If NATO becomes “obsolete” as Trump has suggested, it is because it no longer supports American interests. US current wars fall outside of this area, so from an American point of view, having an alliance with a region where large-scale warfare is unlikely, makes little sense, George Friedman form MauldinEconomics.com, argues.
This fact leads to two important questions: With the Soviet Union gone, what is NATO’s purpose, and secondly, how would NATO serve the American national interest?
Professor Horst Teltschik, a former national security advisor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, told Sputnik Germany, that the bloc should not necessarily be seen as a means targeted against someone else.
“Germany is the reason why we need NATO. We are located at the center of Europe. We are the largest country and the leading economic power [on the continent]. If you take a look at history, you will understand that other nations have not forgotten it. It is easier for our neighbors, including Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Demark and Poland, to live with us if we are part of a single union. NATO should not always be viewed as an instrument targeted against someone. It can be viewed as an alliance which has brought us together,” he explained.
Berlin is said to be contemplating nuclear weapons for the EU over fears the United States will leave NATO. The leader of Poland’s ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he would “welcome an EU nuclear superpower” shortly before meeting Angela Merkel in Warsaw.
Roderich Kiesewetter, a senior foreign policy spokesman from Merkel’s CDU party, has also called for Germany to take a leading role in the EU: “Europe must start planning for its own security in case the Americans sharply raise the cost of defending the continent, or decide to leave completely.”
Surprisingly the basic structure of NATO never changed when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Instead it expanded to include the former Soviet satellite states and the Baltic countries.
The expansion in bringing these countries into the framework of the Western defense system, was ostensibly done in “support the development of democracies” and to enhance their economies, the same motivation given for expanding the EU.
The bloc was primarily an economic union, and membership was said to guarantee prosperity, But as with NATO, EU expansion had less to do with the EU’s primary mission than with political and ideological factors, according to Friedman.
Teltschik, believes that European nations need to devise their own strategy to deal with Russia, without closely following what US leadership says or does.
“We, Europeans, need to understand what we want right now. We need our own agenda. There is no need to keep an eye on what Washington says. This refers to Europe’s relations with Russia among other things,” he noted.
The EU has almost as large a GDP and some 200 million more people than the US, but its collective contribution to NATO’s military is negligible.
European countries only participate in a US-led war if it is in their self-interests. Nations have the right and obligation to carry out their foreign and military policies as sovereign nations, Friedman concurs.
The wars that currently matter to the US, are being fought in the Islamic world. Those wars have wrought chaos in Europe. An alliance is obsolete if it demands that the US act as the guarantor of Europe’s security when Europe is quite capable of incurring the cost of self-defense, Friedman notes.
NATO has become obsolete because it defines its responsibility mainly to repel a Russian invasion, while at the same time contributing to a deterioration in relations with Russia, something the EU can ill afford.
It no longer functions as an alliance. It is a group of sovereign nations that will only respond to American requests that are in their own interests, paid for by the American taxpayer, says Friedman. Especially more so, since European countries refused to create a military force capable of doing that and do not unanimously support NATO operations.
“Trump wants NATO members to spend more on defense. NATO forces have been deployed close to Russia’s borders. Moscow is likely to respond in kind,” Teltschik said. “Will it enhance security? I doubt it.”
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