Kevin Baron, editor of Defense One (a leading US defence publication, funded by the defence industry) explains his anxieties about NATO’s future:
“NATO’s external threats, and internal leaders’ divisions are not what worries me the most … I expected panelists I spoke with over the past month to raise familiar issues … but I was surprised by their serious concern about the very fabric of the alliance: ‘This time it’s different’, many insist: “The philosophy on which this whole institution is built is profoundly challenged,” opined journalist Bobby Ghosh of Bloomberg Opinion (“in our pre-summit conversation at IISS”). [Emphasis added].
“His point was – that if leaders such as Trump and Erdogan continue to cosy-up to Russia – then what’s the purpose of this Cold War-era alliance? That’s a fair point. But I believe NATO’s biggest threat [comes from] its own inward-turning electorates. To global security leaders, from think tanks to the secure ‘tank’ inside the Pentagon, NATO is an essential organization and tool for the West’s ‘way of life’. It’s not even a question … Those leaders believe: How could anyone want to harm that?”.
Yet that is exactly what is happening. Political leaders no longer want (or can afford, politically) to go where US Defence Establishment points.
“Perhaps the biggest threat to the alliance” Baron suggests, is precisely “the gap between those political leaders – and the national security community [sic] leaders, gathering on the side lines, begging to be heard.”
President Macron appeared to pinpoint this gap exactly, when he said, “what we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO”. Some observers saw this as Macron grandstanding, as he seeks to seize the political leadership of Europe from a fading, Chancellor Merkel (which to an extent, he probably was). But the attention-grabbing point, more likely, was intended to underscore how the world has changed: Both France and Germany are experiencing grave internal political protest, as Europe’s economies slow.
The EU needs to re-position geo-politically, Macron asserts, “and secondly, we need to reopen a strategic dialogue with Russia – which without being naïve – will take time,” Macron said this week.