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NATO collapse coming closer

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 NATO- ON VERGE OF BREAKDOWN

NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a collective security alliance between 28 European states and 02 North American states. It was established in 1949. Article 5 of the treaty states, “The parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against all”. 

The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine and lack of united response from NATO members especially from Germany has opened a new round of speculation about fault lines inside the organization and its possible dissolution.

WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR THE POSSIBLE COLLAPSE OF NATO?

1. US withdrawal from Afghanistan: US sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan and Taliban seizure of power within hours of withdrawal does not go well between US and NATO members. The collective security clause was invoked for the first time in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Bloods shed, Money spent by NATO allies went in vain due to the ‘disgraceful departure’ of the US from Afghanistan. It not only created mistrust but also doubt US security commitment in Western Europe as the Taliban through Central Asia can get hold of the European region. 
further, it is a diplomatic loss for European members as well, as the power void created by the USA in Afghanistan was filled by NATO adversaries Russia & china through ‘closed door’ talks with the Taliban. It is considered to be a ‘shameful loss’ of the security organization as they were neither able to eliminate terrorism nor became successful in the establishment of Democracy.

2. Loss of Solidarity: During the Trump administration, the rise of protectionism and America’s first policy and continued Donald trump’s threat of pulling out of the organization created deep fault lines. He continuously reminded NATO allies that the US has been loaded with the “Burden of Defence” and it may go its way if defense expenditure by member countries did not increase to 2% of their GDP. It was mainly resisted by Germany as the ghost of Hitler still haunts the nation. 
On the other hand, Internal conflicts like France & Turkey’s confrontation over the turkey invasion in northern Syria, turkey’s conflict with Greece over Cyprus & Britain’s exit from the EU & aim of creating ‘anglosphere’ have created a deep strain in the organization which eventually reflects in differences of opinions & loss of solidarity.

3. France-Russia Relations: Relations between the two historical arch-rivals have been on the positive side for the past few years. Trade between them is increased by 26% in 2017 skyrocketing to € 13.2 billion. France is the second highest investor in Russian stock and a leading provider of Foreign Direct Investment to Russia. France time and time again reiterated that “lack of rapprochement from the western side has pushed Russia towards China which will become a dire threat in future”. Macron’s participation in the Minsk agreement and playing the role of intermediary between Ukraine and Russia is an attempt to change historical dynamics of relations and to do away with china’s threat. 

On a larger level, France aims to resurrect itself as individual power rather than being part of collective security. Its increased defense expenditure to 3% of GDP is proof of that. Macron in 2019 called Nato ‘Brain dead’ and appealed for the creation of a ‘European army’ to not depend on external hegemonic powers treating Europe as the center of rivalry. It also aims to gain leadership of western Europe through its closeness with Russia and shuttle diplomacy.

4. Pacifist Germany: Germany, a country known for its ruthless military has turned into a Pacifist spectator. Bundeswehr, {German military} condition is catastrophic due to meager expenditure, just 1.2% of GDP. Readiness of the military rate below 50%. Two plus four agreement turns this injury into an assault which barred Germany from the acquisition of nuclear weapons & limited armed forces personnel to 3,74,000 of whom no more than 3,45,000 are allowed to be in navy or airforce. It lacks cutting-edge technology, and it might be difficult for the nation to even defend itself on its own.
Germany-Russia relations is designated as ‘Best of Freinds & Wrosts of enemies”. Relations between them have got better in the past few years and currently, Germany is the leading foreign investor in Russian stock. Angela Merkel {former chancellor of germany} regular meeting with Russian counterpart, involvement in the Minsk agreement are evidence of growing relations between nations. Its dependence on Russia for gas supplies and Nord stream 2{$11billion gas pipeline project} were the main reason behind its softer approach towards Putin amid the Ukraine crisis.

5. Turkey-Russia closeness: As turkey aims to balance its relations in the diversified world order, it shuffles towards Russia to meet its geopolitical interests. Both backed each other in their respective disputes with the United States. Russia condemned US sanctions against turkey & turkey stated its opposition to US sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea. It also abstained from voting on Russia’s suspension from the ‘Council of Europe’. On other hand, Russia suspended its news agency ‘Sputnik’ in the Kurdish language amid a turkey confrontation with Kurds in Syria.  
Turkey recently purchased an S-400 missile system, Sukhoi S-35 and 5th generation Stealth fighter SU-35 from Russia. The purchase of the S-400 attracted CAATSA sanctions from the USA. Erdogan {Turkish president} continued suppression of dissent and resistance towards ‘Power abandonment’ goes against the democratic ethos embraced by the USA.

6. ‘Strategic De-coupling’ between USA & Western Europe: NATO, since its inception has worked on the principle of ‘common understanding of the threat and common action against it’, but the rise of china and recent Russian invasion of Ukraine have completely changed these dynamics. USA annual strategic vision has underlined ‘china’ as a major threat which can be seen in its actions, formation of Quad, coinage of term Indo-pacific and arming Australia with nuclear submarines. On other hand, slow decoupling with western Europe can be seen in the USA breaking of deal with France over submarines, CAATSA sanctions on Turkey and withdrawal from Afghanistan which is a major security compromise concerning western Europe. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has reignited the Russian threat for the west, Germany skyrocketing its spending on defense to €100bn and EU sending of arms and ammunitions can be seen as a realization of a threat. It is important to see that at this ‘critical geopolitical juncture’ which major power US sees as a major potential threat, china or Russia. The selection of Russia will give a free hand to china, which is eager to trigger down USA hegemony. De-coupling with western Europe, where countries have realized the Russian threat and are eager to work at the individual level and focusing on china seems to be a viable option. Angela Merkel predicted this in 2017 when she said ‘Self-reliance for security & reduce of dependence on US military must be the goal of West European region’.

The sudden collapse of NATO without proper militarization of western Europe will be a ‘gift in a decade’ for Russia as it aims to revive its prowess in Europe. It will further ignite the possibility of WWIII and make internal conflict for leadership more frequent in western Europe.

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