Monday, February 10, 2003
NATO is no longer a military alliance - 10th January 2003, 23.30

Many commentators will probably intone that the latest block by France, Germany and Belgium demonstrates that NATO is at death's door. Some will note that the support of Vladimir Putin and Russia essentially reverses the Cold War relationships, giving Moscow a temporary veto over NATO's policy.

The actions of those slurred as 'Old Europe' are a blessing. They have demonstrated that NATO can no longer act as a military alliance or provide the protection that its treaty endorses. France, Germany or Belgium are unlikely to provide forces if another NATO member is attacked, specifically Turkey, in this case. The neoconservatives in the Bush administration were already aware of this. They viewed the security guarantee conferred by membership of NATO as a strategy to bind the countries of postcommunist Europe to the west and, as a consequence, devalued its credibility. Nevertheless, 'Old Europe' has demonstrated that the security guarantee will not be honoured, since a consensus is required to support military action.

Europe is an issue that will climb the Bush administration's agenda. NATO's usefulness as a tool to bind potential allies to the West has diminished after the damaging vetoes of 'Old Europe'. The current policy of building 'coalitions of the willing' may not prove sufficient to allay the fears that Central European countries probably entertain after viewing Putin, Schroder and Chirac shoulder to shoulder as such a grouping can ride roughshod over their interests.

It is clear that whilst NATO remains a talking shop, the Bush administration may start to develop new ties binding the more useful allies in Europe together in support of US interests. Economic ties may have to be included as an incentive in order to prevent economic pressure from other quarters.

Given Britain's muted response to this diplomatic crisis, it is clear that the government is still attempting to ride and steer Atlantic co-operation and European integration. Both objectives are moving apart.


Post a Comment

Blog Archive