The summit that marks the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is bringing the members to discuss new challenges. The most critical problems that the NATO members will be struggling with are China and cyber security. Contrary to the organisation’s principle of “one for all, and all for one”, cracks in NATO are visible. The sharp exchanges between the Presidents of the United States (US) and France tell us the deep divisions that NATO is experiencing.
While the French President Emmanuel Macron is calling the alliance “brain dead”, President Trump shot back by calling the French leaders words “nasty”. However, these words wars constitute just the tip of the iceberg. Considering the verbal fight that the two leaders have entered into, is there any room for overcoming the differences?
The two issues that the summit attendees will address and find a solution for include defence spending and Turkey’s recent adventures in Syria and its growing ties with Russia. As far as defence spending is concerned, the US President wants the European nations to contribute more. He has been arguing for some time that the US contributions to the organisation are more than its fair share.
However, the European members see no reason to contribute more to the organisation, especially since there is no more visible threat from Russia nowadays. Containment of the then Soviet Union was more American leaders’ desire than that of the Western European ones. This was the main reason that the US joined forces with the Western European nations and formed NATO. Since then till this very day, NATO has turned into an imperial watchdog. It defends US interests anywhere whenever the US wants. However, the US still has enough power in coercing the European members to increase their defence shares.
As far as Turkey’s relations with the members of NATO are concerned, they are indeed strained, especially after Turkey launched a military offensive in Northern Syria against the Kurds. While the US abandoned the Kurds midway, France still feels bitter over NATO’s inability to stop Turkey from going against Kurds.
Nevertheless, both Macron and Trump are united against Turkey’s multi-million dollars deal with Russia to buy the S-400 missile defence system. However, the real question is whether Erdogan will give in to the pressure considering the fact that being a member of NATO does not mean membership of the European Union (EU)? Given the complexity and number of issues that the on-going summit is to deal with, it is fair to say that the organisation is experiencing an existential crisis.