NATO’s seventy years birthday will be celebrated at the London summit in
December, but not in a festive atmosphere as it will appropriate and given the
criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron as to how he sees NATO’s
Of course, President Macron particular criticism that NATO is
“brain-dead” is based on the ever-increasing autonomy of the US from
NATO, and the acceptance by the US of Turkey’s new role in the Alliance (NATO)
which Turkey although participates as a full member in NATO but on her own
In fact, Turkey operates semi-autonomous in relation to the Alliance,
allowing it to work closely with Iran and to cooperate with Russia, without the
other members of the alliance being able to exercise autonomous criticism and
pursue a corresponding autonomous policy and are not in a position to limit
The USA and given the powerful geo-strategic area of the Pacific and Indian Ocean equally and due to China and since this area is the richest area on the planet gradually began to turn that way away from Europe.
This US stance on its external and geostrategic policy did not begin under the Presidentship of Donald Trump but under the Presidentship of Barack Obama. But this policy became evident under the Presidentship of Donald Trump with the implementation of the ‘America First’ election slogan.
President Trump has a negative view of the EU by supporting the Brexit and
cauterizing the tendency of European allies to flee from their defense and
financial obligations to the Alliance.
The Americans believe that NATO has a future if the allies can give NATO
the means it needs to ensure the benefits of the security it provides.
Otherwise NATO will become obsolete. In fact, the United States considers that
the American taxpayer cannot have to protect those countries of the Alliance
who do not want to protect themselves.
The Americans are right in expressing this view, but Europeans by not
deliberately paying their obligations to the Alliance may do so because they want
other more equal roles with USA within the alliance to apply.
The US focuses more on China and the Indian-Pacific Ocean region because
East Asia is the most important economic region in the world and why China is
now a superpower. Gradually, American policy towards Europe will increasingly
become part of the general perception of whether this policy can help or
undermine the American attitude towards China.
In other words, anything that takes place in areas of the world such as the
Middle East, the Black Sea in fifteen or twenty years from today will be about
the type and state of the Sino-American relations.
The wrong strategy of Presidentship Trump is based, in that US competes
with China by keeping its distance if not a hostile attitude towards the EU.
EU‘s View of NATO
A possible approach to the wants of Europeans begins with Germany’s stance
where it considers that it should be upgraded as an equal partner with the US
within NATO and given that Germany itself is a global economic and political
superpower and regardless that it is not allowed until today to develop
powerful armed forces such as other forces of the West, e.g. the US, the UK and
France (WWII winners). In this case, Germany would be a military, political and
economic superpower such as the United States and would have an equal role and
influence in NATO.
The France of Emmanuel Macron while having the political will and the
military force in relation to the other European member-states of the Alliance
to star in the military arm does not have the economic power to develop on its
own the EU defense with the goal through the EU common defense of making the EU
an equal member with the US into NATO (only Germany has the economic power
among the member-states of EU to serve this purpose).
At the same time, this position of France and Germany in relation to the
USA is putting them in a very difficult position when they see that the US for
purely geostrategic reasons allow Turkey to be virtually detached from the
Alliance’s common line, while the other members of the Alliance should follow a
common line on all issues, which a common line is largely determined by the US.
Alliance common line not only on the Middle East issues but on the issues of
Russia, Iran and China.
On the other hand, Germany, through its energy dependence on Russia, has begun to form a common line in its Foreign Policy, with France agreeing that Russia should also be involved in a new security framework under consideration for Europe, resulting in an ever closer rapprochement between the EU and Russia, gradually moving the EU away from US positions and views.
At the same time, both Germany and France, seeing Turkey to operate as
autonomous in its behavior regarding NATO’s common lines, have substantially
responded to any imposed common lines that the United States is trying to
achieve in NATO.
In fact, Turkey’s stance and its geostrategic importance forcing the US to
allow the “autonomy” of Turkish behaviour towards the common lines
both of NATO and the US. This US stance will slowly and steadily
“decompose” the Alliance by triggering a more general “guerrilla”
among the established common lines between West-European countries which are
member-countries of EU and US within NATO.
The “division” among Europeans which is causing by NATO
The EU has shown that it can exert great political and economic influence
on Ukrainian society. But it has failed to give Ukraine’s economy that
necessary growth and to relieve it from the corrupt oligarchic establishment
which, based on its selfish interests, is moving between Russia and the EU-US.
On the other hand, NATO failed to make it impossible either the annexation of Crimea from Russia or the autonomy of Russian speaking regions in Ukraine. One could, of course, say that Russian intervention in Ukraine would be even greater if NATO were not there to support Ukraine. In general terms, however, Russian intervention in Ukraine has achieved its objectives.
But NATO has succeeded in drastically limiting Russian intervention in
Poland and the Baltic countries, and today these EU member-countries enjoy the
security of their participation in NATO.
The EU’s imposed economic sanctions against Russia as a result of the
Crimea’s annexation proves that the EU can influence developments due to its
international economic size. Both France and Germany mediate as an intermediary
link between Ukraine and Russia to find a compromise solution.
Russia’s aggression in the Ukrainian issue was the fear that Russia has
historically caused, which feared reappeared with the annexation of Crimea and
forced Poland and the Baltic states to turn to the arms of NATO and the EU.
The current outcome of this geo-strategic turn of Poland and the Baltic
countries was the stifling embrace of these countries with NATO. That is why
the leaders of these Eastern EU member countries have sharply criticized the
criticism of the President of France about NATO, who said that “the
Alliance is brain-dead”.
The harsh criticism of the leaders of these Eastern EU member-countries is
based on the view that the US and NATO are the main guarantors of their
territorial integrity towards the aggression of Russia. So, until the EU has
its own credible defense which ensures the territorial integrity of all its
member-countries, there will be this ‘division’ among Europeans in terms of the
perspective of what NATO means.
EU military arm as NATO’s autonomous pillar
EU defense spending could be more effective with goal to create all those conditions for the creation of a common European defense and common European armed forces, respectively, which together with the US armed forces would be the main two pillars of NATO.
At this time, where the US is withdrawing (e.g. Syria) the vacuum is
occupied by Russia’s armed forces, accepting Russia the political cost of
casualties to its soldiers, a policy that EU member-countries do not want to
hear about for their selves.
This makes the political costs for the EU prohibitively high in the event of any new engagement involving anything outside the framework of EU and NATO. The fact that US President Donald Trump has led the US to a peculiar type of isolationism does not help co-operation with the EU and “dazzes” the value of any allied guarantees within NATO.
As a result, the dysfunctions and problems that Europeans should include in their plans are exponentially increasing. In addition, the US is continually demonstrating a tendency to degrade if not to mock any cooperation they have with the EU.
EU malfunctions will exacerbate the EU’s planning to create a common
defence since geopolitical developments are not on their side. The Brexit will
leave the EU with a very large gap, given that the UK is one of the two
strongest military forces in Europe. In fact, the EU only stays with France,
the only member-country which has a serious power projection in other countries
and generally internationally.
Germany, and given the new emerging political power of the European Greens
both in the EU and in Germany, want to implement an EU autonomy policy from
NATO on security issues and a reduction in Germany’s defence spending. This
policy alone will bind Germany and will not be able to participate in the
creation of a common European defence.
The EU, because of the aforementioned geopolitical developments, will
either seize the opportunity so that with its country leaders such as France,
Germany, Poland and the other EU member countries, they will all create a
strong military pillar that will be an equal member within NATO with the
corresponding US military pillar complementing each other’s own military pillar
by burdening each pillar with its own expenses or the EU will be sidelined in
relation to the US defence capabilities and of China.
The EU will have to cover huge territory in many areas in order to reach a
level of defensive operation comparable to that of the USA and China equally.
This is due to the technology of artificial intelligence and the digital
economy that is constantly being applied to the defence sector. Such areas are
the management of data in the areas of defence and security, the digital cloud
services (Cloud) with the corresponding developing service of the EU to be
Gaia-X, the control of space for telecommunications, information, military and
economic reasons correspondingly etc.
The EU will have to spend huge sums in all these areas to strengthen the
common European defence and the creation of common European armed forces. For
the EU, the issue it faces is not its military autonomy within NATO, but it is
addressing the challenge of China, which will require close cooperation with
the US in the future.
Otherwise NATO will slowly and gradually lose ground in the eyes of the
Great Western European powers by continually downgrading its role by making it
an outdated security organization.
Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis is an economist-researcher in the fields of economic research/business planning and strategic planning. His work experience moves in a wide professional field between managerial and advisory roles. He holds a degree in BSc (Econ) in Financial Economics, Birkbeck College, University of London and a postgraduate degree in MSc in Economics & Finance, University of Warwick (UK)