Does NATO have a future?

NATO Chief Rasmussen yesterday outlined what NATO hopes to accomplish at Wales this week. These include:

  • Creating a “Readiness Action Plan”;
  • Enhancing “the responsiveness of our NATO Response Force”; and
  • “possible upgrades to national infrastructure”.

Rasmussen is also proposing a “high-readiness force” of 4,000 troops able to react within 48 hours.

If the West were not confronting the threat of Russia, and its further inroads into Ukraine, then these policy suggestions and goals would make sense. However, NATO is facing this threat, and it is too politically weak to act in any meaningful way. If NATO is politically unable to confront the current realities on the ground, what good is a force that is incapable of acting?

The key Rasmussen quote today was “But readiness requires resources.” But who is going to provide those resources? Rasmussen is requesting more money, and it is unclear if all the NATO members would be willing to make that commitment. Only 4 countries currently meet the spending target of 2% of GDP: Britain, Estonia, Greece, and the US.

Georgia meanwhile has been offered nothing but a bunch of maybes and mights, and no Membership Action Plan (MAP). Ukraine must pass a referendum on membership before a MAP is offered to them. That may happen at the next elections in October, but it is not a guarantee of future membership.

Meanwhile, rumours abound that Finland and Sweden are getting nervous about Putin & Russia’s moves, and may seek NATO membership for themselves. They are certainly moving closer into NATO orbit.

But the truth is that unless NATO is willing to commit to training and technical support (at a minimum) for Ukraine, then I am very much afraid it will have made itself obsolete. Poland, and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania do not feel secure with the current trajectory. Article 5 is no longer the guarantee that it was previously believed to be. NATO lacks the political will to act as a whole. And there may be very good reasons for that, but for better or worse it is the reality.

In many ways, NATO was not designed to work. The loose confederation of nations with common interests has become even looser. The common interest it was initially designed to counter (the Soviet Union) no longer exists.

What does a post-NATO world look like? Putin may have just single-handedly brought us to the point where we are forced to ask that question and confront that reality.

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