NATO Must Reform – Conservative Article
NATO must reform, or it risks a slow death.
Macron has proclaimed NATO’s “brain-death”, and in retort, Erdogan has proclaimed the same of Macron. Erdogan has also bought material from Russia and has subsequently been kicked from the F-35 program. The US is carping about funding, most notably taking aim at Germany. That’s not to mention the China issue, either. Jens Stoltenberg (the NATO Secretary General) has his work cut out for him. NATO risks crumbling at the seams.
A compounding factor to all of the above is that, in my opinion, Trump will win the 2020 election. Despite the fact that Biden is up in the polls at present, there are many months of campaign and debates ahead. Biden is the embodiment of the establishment – the very thing Trump beat in 2016. He is 77 years old already, and there is plenty of evidence as to his cognitive decline. The democrats had far better options.
Should Trump gain another term, this will calcify NATO’s need to adapt. The US is the key to NATO, and it will take NATO to task for the next four years.
Why does it matter?
For me, the weakening of NATO is very, very alarming. There is great strategic importance in having a multilateral presence in Central and Eastern Europe: the resurgent Russia.
The Russian Federation, to date, has subsumed: the Crimean peninsula, the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine, and areas of Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia). All in the last 12 years. Many dismiss the capacity of Russia, but I see President Putin as a highly effective operator. He also has time on his side: extending his leadership term for another 16 years.
The deterrent NATO offers is crucial for two reasons: helping prevent conflict from ever arising, and there being a force in the region. The first reason is self-explanatory; the best conflict is one that doesn’t happen.
The second is more complicated. In sum, if Russian forces were to take a Baltic country, for example, it would be nigh-on impossible to get that country back. The reason is “nuclear deescalation”. If NATO puts troops on the new ‘Russian’ soil, Russia will tactically strike (nuclear strike) NATO member states. This is why there has to be a competent force, with the backing of a unified political body, in the immediate vicinity.
International politics is a game of equilibria & momentum. NATO reform should not inflame relations with Russia, but it should strengthen itself internally to maintain the current balance in Eastern Europe. If NATO dissipates (without replacement), the Ukraine and Baltics are on a platter.
So what can NATO do?
Firstly, stop accepting irrelevant new members. At present, there is very much an open-door policy to NATO enlargement, allowing militarily incompetent countries to enter a military alliance. Growth for growth’s sake only further aggravates Russia for no real strategic benefit and further bloats the trend of sheltering under the American umbrella. Something that very much aggravates them. An example would be the joining of Montenegro (2017), a country with only 2,000 military personnel and a GDP over 500 times smaller than that of the UK.
Furthermore, Europe needs to stand on its own two feet. Trump is right to criticise the lack of spending. Only 7 of the 30 NATO member states are currently spending the promised 2% of GDP on defence. The lack of spending puts a huge burden on the US, who spend more than all of the other members combined.
Pressure from Trump has started to remedy this, but there is a long way still to go. Also, the principal adversary of the US right now is China. If NATO continues to act like a ball-and-chain around the ankle of the US, one can expect diminished American committal.
What would not be a good idea, however, would be to raise tensions with Russia or China (as NATO looks to Asia with its 2030 plan). Cooperative projects on infrastructure, asteroid defence, counter-terrorism and space exploration should be undertaken so as to cultivate shared interests and decrease tensions.
At no point have I tried to dress China or Russia up as ‘the enemy’, and NATO as the ‘good guys’. Rather, at present, the two have conflicting interests, leading to an adversarial relationship. Of course, we should be strong enough to defend our interests, but we should also look to find olive branches wherever they may be.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Alexander Dennis
Point of Information
NATO Must Reform to Protect Our Freedoms – A Liberal Response
The West’s self-indulgent and reckless soul-searching, with distractions like Brexit and Trump’s border wall, has undoubtedly allowed authoritarian powers (namely Russia & China) to gain an upper hand on the world stage. This must stop.
I agree with Alex that we must reform NATO urgently, but this must be one part of a wider attempt to reassert the Liberal West’s position in the world. Continue along our current path, and the freedoms we hold dear, will without question be under threat.
Nonetheless, I disagree with Alex on the issue of enlargement. Bringing more states under the NATO umbrella, particularly states under threat of incursion by Russia and China, can only be a good thing. We must welcome states who choose a more liberal path, as opposed to an authoritarian one.
On the issue of spending, however, I am in complete agreement. The 2% of GDP must be enforced in a more arbitrary manner for NATO to properly serve its purpose. States who fall behind the target regularly should be appropriately reprimanded.
Finding common ground, as Alex suggests, is also imperative. However, we must not shy away from more stringent measures where this is not possible. Working on joint infrastructure projects, as suggested, is not necessarily in the interests of these aforementioned states. Where collaboration is not possible, a revived NATO will allow for a more coordinated sanctions regime that could have significant effects.
Above all, Alex is completely correct. Without reform of NATO, Liberal society is under threat.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Jeeves Sidhu
Is this more of a concern for NATO’s global reputation? – A Labour Response
There is no doubting NATO’s significance on the world stage. Since 1949, it has made “lasting contributions to global peace and security”. This can easily be witnessed through its peacekeeping missions such as in the Balkans and Kosovo, and its expansion across Europe and Northern America.
Having said this, I had never truly considered the inherent issues with NATO. More often than not, is presented in such a glorified light. I am grateful Alex has detected and disclosed some of these.
Naturally, expansion is not always a good thing. But with NATO, I feel as though their concern for expansion stems from the potential damage for its global reputation. The twelve founding members were arguably some of the world’s most dominant powers in 1949. Now, with fear of offending, Alex’s example of Montenegro does not quite fit the same bill.
So, Alex is not wrong in suggesting NATO needs reform. His two suggestions seem strong. But, I do question the intentions behind such. Are concerns of NATO’s reputation taking precedent over genuine questions of security? Quite possibly.
I also do not see the relevance of such suggestions in relation to Trump’s likelihood of gaining a second term. I respect that the US is a vital member of NATO. This is obvious. Of course, the US’s political state will affect NATO in some way. But, if there is a true concern for NATO at its core, this surely exists regardless of November’s election result.
Alex’s flippant comment regarding Joe Biden’s so-called “cognitive decline” is also rather irrelevant to the rest of the article. But, I could not ignore it. While I understand this is an important belief and potential voting factor for many American’s, the PJ Media article (linked by Alex) is not all that convincing. Many of the clips within this appear to make something out of nothing. Perhaps another shameless right-wing attempt to sway voters towards the already scarily powerful Trump.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Abi Clargo
Hello, I’m Alexander Dennis, and I am going into my third undergraduate year at the University of Exeter. I study Politics & International Relations, with a possible year abroad hanging in the balance. My particular interest in politics really started in early 2016: yes, it was ‘Brexit’. I was at once intrigued, and confused, by something so critical. From that baptism, I have become somewhat addicted to political discussion, intrigued by issues ranging from drugs policy to taxation. So I followed my nose: I applied for a degree in the subject.
Hello I’m Jeeves, one of POI’s new Liberal Political Writers and currently a final year politics student at the University of Exeter. For the past two years I’ve also served as Founder & President of Model Westminster Exeter, a branch of national political engagement charity Model Westminster.
I’m Abi! I am a liberal, political enthusiast from the Welsh valleys. Since I was young, I have been captivated by politics. I used to spend so much time watching the morning news before school, and have paid close attention to political campaigns for as long as I can remember. It was a lot later that I decided I wanted to pursue politics academically. Now, I have just finished my second year studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Exeter.