Is it me, or is 21st century NATO beginning to look a lot like the 20th century Warsaw Pact?

P Cast, December 2016

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An era nearing its end?

As NATO’s top officials convene for the NATO 2016 Summit in Warsaw tomorrow, in a bid to address the escalating threat from Vladimir Putin’s Russia, it would be safe to say that the deployment of four «robust» battalions (the sum total of approximately 4000 troops) in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland serve as little more than a symbolic act, even if it doesn’t even begin to describe the trouble in which the alliance – and the world – finds itself.

With all probability nationalism, as we know it from the 20th century’s interwar period, has yet to peak, both in Europe and America, with an ensuing dissolution of international solidarity, as we’ve already seen in several former East Block countries, refusing to take their share of responsibility, as refugees pour into Europe, and, lately, with the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, fuelling far right parties everywhere. Neither of which bode well for international cooperation, such as NATO, the EU or the United Nations.

Also, we need to acknowledge that most of the former East Block countries, now full NATO members have limited experience with democratic procedures, none whatsoever when it comes to a Western mindset, which, in all honesty, poses a bit of a problem, in terms of NATO’s policymaking – at least if all member states are supposed to have a say.

Natoland Nato
European (except most of Turkey) NATO countries between 1949 and 2009. Source: Wikipedia

This blogger, of a certain age, needs only go back a quarter of a century to revive vivid memories of Polish intelligence officers in their diplomatic Ladas, prancing around us as my Home Guard company assembled for its annual manœuvres, with poles (hah) resembling fishing rods in hand. To think that the same operatives may still be active, albeit in NATO’s service, makes you realise how quickly, and easily, allegiances may shift (insofar that they indeed have).

Which is also why I’m reluctant to approve of the NATO expansion between 1990 and today (the green countries in above map). They may very well be NATO countries in name, but in truth, I fear they are very much eastern, in body as well as soul, although just as afraid of Mother Russia as you and I.

But you know what they say about alliances forged in fear, with fear their only common denominator. Let me rephrase, as I actually do not know what they say, but I think we can safely say they’re weak.

During the two-day NATO summit in Warsaw, new and hitherto unnamed declarations are to be signed.

May I suggest the «Warsaw Pact»?

What ever the outcome, there’s much cause to fear the ultimate breakdown of NATO, as well as the European Union (the latter, too, as a result of the eastward expansion).

On the whole, things simply do not promise very well.

P.S. Of course I’m equally doubtful with respect to Turkey’s NATO membership, granted solely on the basis of the Bosphorus strait’s existence.

Trump, Putin at the helm – NATO in disarray

The Obama administration has already set wheels in motion, in order to force Europe to take more responsibility – financially and otherwise – for international military operations, as well as for the defence of Europe itself, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, with U.S. protests looming for years.

In all fairness we Europeans need to appreciate the reasonability in America’s demand – and rise to the occasion, with outlooks becoming gloomier by the day, and threats, not only from terrorists, but also from Russia, hovering, quite literally:

Norwegian F16 fighter intercepting a Russian Tupolev TU-160. Photograph: Norwegian armed forces.
Norwegian F16 fighter intercepting a Russian Tupolev TU-160. Photograph: Norwegian armed forces.

It is generally understood that, in terms of security, Europe needs America more than the other way around, which of course is why we, unlike America, depend on NATO.

In spite of America’s continued disgruntle a U.S. withdrawal from the alliance has been considered far-fetched, until recent months, as these two gentlemen at the helm seems an ever-likelier outcome:

Consider, then, the potential threat levels, as well as the Trump administration’s lack of motivation to remain in NATO, if said candidate’s declared intention to reduce America’s defence contributions in Europe should be put into effect.

Then consider this possible consequence of a U.S. withdrawal:

You may like it or not, but Europe awaits America’s presidential election in fearful anticipation, with Trump emerging the victor a distinct probability.

Should it come to that, Europe needs to take a hard look at its own wound up WEU (Western European Union) as well as EUFOR.

As for us Norwegians, neither EU members nor (no longer) members of the potentially disbanded NATO, I’d say that our, nay the world’s, prospects seem rather bleak.

With that said, of course we all hope to see NATO pass the test with flying colours, but we would all be well-advised to realise that a Trump victory doesn’t exactly help. Let us at least agree that a NATO lead by Donald J. Trump (let’s admit it; NATO is U.S. lead, after all) does not bode well for the alliance’s future.

Also, we should remember that other than the cold war, Russo-Norwegian relations have been amicable for centuries, with no sign of Russian aggression.

Then of course, Norwegian oil and gas reserves weren’t factors to be considered at the time …