What is the Future of NATO?

  • NATO expanding in the Baltic Region.
  • France and Germany want to create their own European Union defense alliance.
  • US is a leader in defense equipment.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949. It was one of the first defense unions. The main reason for the creation of NATO was a need for a western unified alliance against the threat of the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1991, NATO integrated some former communist block Eastern European nations into the alliance.

Currently, NATO is involved in organizing training exercises in case of Russian aggression. Recently, NATO also created a joint special forces unit that includes non NATO members: Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and possibility Austria. NATO is also expanding forces in Poland and in the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The alliance is also planning to welcome North Macedonia as a new member at the end of this year.

From a strategic prospective, due to location alone, NATO can’t feasibly expand into Asia or the Middle East.

Due to Turkey entering Syria, it is possible Turkey will be leaving NATO in the near future. Also the warning signs of Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 antiaircraft equipment shows Turkey’s disregard of NATO. The first shipment of the missile system was delivered this summer.

At this time, there are renewed discussions by French and German leaders pertaining to creating their own European Union defense force. The discussions intensified due to US President Trump’s nationalist agenda. Germany and France do not want to further US interests on the geopolitical spectrum over their own. Yet, they are required to increase their financial contributions to NATO under Trump.

The closest alignment for the US is with the UK and Canada. The US had very close defense relations under the former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He provided military support during offensive operations in the Middle East. Another significant contributing issue is the recent withdrawal of US forces from Syria. It created a domino effect for the safety of French and German defense forces, requiring immediate evacuation.

NATO has been aggressively promoting US made defense equipment. US defense corporations produce the best defense equipment in the world. There isn’t truly an equal competitor to the US defense sector on a global scale,  However, the EU does have its own products and companies that contribute to EU members economies. Therefore, the US product push has been disadvantageous for German, French and Italian defense companies for some time. Now, they see an opening with Trump pushing American-only interests and wanting to contribute less to NATO, including possible jobs losses due to manufacturing moving back to the US and the closure of joint-ventures in the defense sector between US and European companies.

The creation of their own defense forces would create opportunities for European defense firms to have exclusive contracts supplying defense equipment for any EU unified force and will create new jobs.

Nevertheless, EU forces alone would never be able to defend themselves, if Russia and Putin decide to launch an offensive in Europe. The US is needed and NATO provides that security on the continent. Also, the Kremlin’s strategy to modernize their defense equipment and forge ahead is a dangerous sign for many European nations, especially smaller nations in the former Eastern Block.

What will happen to NATO in the future? One plausible scenario involves NATO creating regional groups and alliances such as the R-SOCC. A lot will depend on if US President Donald Trump is reelected. On the geopolitical spectrum, what can break up NATO is the possibility of conflict with Iran. Even though it would benefit Israel and Saudi Arabia in one way, it would be catastrophic for Western European nations.

NATO continues to be a strong alliance and is still needed at this time.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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