And a helluva week it has been! (This is a lot to take in but it is all very informative)
Our dear leader has pissed off NATO and then went on to the UK and in his wake are so many questions about NATO and for NATO……
At least the US Congress is trying to save the organization as best they can…….
Hours after Trump landed in Brussels, the Senate passed a non-binding measure, 97-2, that expresses support for NATO, its mutual self-defense clause and calls on the administration to rush its whole-of-government strategy to counter Russia’s meddling in the U.S. and other democracies.
With the established global order on shaky footing, Trump’s weeklong trip to Europe will test already strained bonds with some of America’s closest allies, then put him face to face with the leader of the country whose electoral interference was meant to help put him in office.
The presidential rhetoric has many foreign policy wonks and international relations is holding their breath…….
These days, Europe’s NATO observers are a bit like members of a doomsday cult waiting for the end of times. Many are bracing for this week’s NATO summit with grim determination, all the while counting down to the apocalypse by collecting the insults that President Donald Trump is lobbing at NATO. Within a week, he has proclaimed that the alliance is “as bad as NAFTA” (the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump loves to hate), that “NATO is killing us” and that the European Union is “as bad as China.” And, of course, there was his already infamous statement at a rally in North Dakota late last month: “Sometimes our worst enemies are our so-called friends and allies.”
Only the most devoted NATO fans are likely to know the alliance’s official motto, “animus in consulendo liber” – a phrase so obscure that even NATO admits it doesn’t have a satisfactory translation (what does “man’s mind ranges unrestrained in counsel” even mean?). But almost everyone is familiar with the alliance’s unofficial motto, coined by the first NATO secretary-general, Hastings Ismay: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Today, however, European attitudes are much more complex than Ismay’s tripartite formulation. In April and May, the European Council on Foreign Relations sought to track the views of political elites in European Union member states through a survey of researchers that incorporated interviews with more than 150 policymakers and analysts, along with extensive research into policy documents, academic discourse, and media analysis. This scorecard suggests that stakeholders in the EU member states, 22 of which are NATO members, – disagree – in some cases with one another, but almost always with Trump – on each vector of this once-unifying narrative: the role of the United States, Russia, and Germany.
If NATO is to survive there are those that think there needs to be a reset….
President Donald Trump will undoubtedly criticize allies for not spending enough on defense and for pursuing their own economic wellbeing, in part at the expense of the United States. The president has been lambasted for criticizing U.S. allies and indeed, our alliances are important and represent some of the greatest achievements of U.S. foreign policy. However, Trump’s criticisms are justified. NATO must reform; it is not sustainable in its present form.
The alliance is ill-structured, ill-equipped and ill-financed to deal with the European region’s two major security problems—an aggressive Russia and the spillover of instability and terrorism from the Middle East and North Africa—leaving aside emerging global security challenges. Worse, at times some members can even be said to have enabled the threat. One example being the massive German purchase of Russian gas, which provides Putin with ongoing financing. To deal effectively with these challenges on an equitable and sustained basis among allies, the terms of the partnership must be renegotiated and its common ground redefined. This is in Europe’s best interest too.
Will NATO survive? I think it will but the best question should be will the US remain a member?
NATO is always looking for new members to expand its reach and the newest is a country that has just settled a long running dispute……Macedonia.
NATO leaders agreed on Wednesday to invite Macedonia to begin accession talks to join the Western alliance, extending its reach in the Balkans in defiance of Russia following a landmark accord with Greece over the ex-Yugoslav republic’s name.
Macedonia will become NATO’s 30th member state, though its people must first back the deal with Greece in a referendum. Under the accord, the official name of the country will become ‘Republic of North Macedonia’.
“We have decided to invite the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join our alliance,” the leaders said in their summit communique.
The invitation to the small Balkan state of two million people comes despite opposition from Russia, which sees its influence in the region diminishing. A small pro-Russian party in Macedonia also opposes NATO membership.
And Ukraine waits…..and speaking of Ukraine…….
Hungary’s efforts to block Ukraine from the NATO Summit play into the hands of Russia. Hungary stated that it will block the NATO-Ukraine Commission from meeting at the upcoming NATO Summit on July 11 – 12 due to Hungary’s opposition to a recent language bill that Hungary asserts infringes on the rights of Hungarians in Ukraine. The Kremlin is pursuing a comprehensive campaign to target Ukraine via Hungary as outlined by the Institute for the Study of War in 2017. The Kremlin has attempted to influence a wide range of decision-makers in Hungary and fostered separatist narratives among Hungarians in Western Ukraine in order to destabilize Ukraine and distance it from the EU. The Kremlin is actively pursuing a broader region campaign aimed at driving a wedge between Ukraine and its neighbors such as Poland.
The U.S. and NATO allies should pressure Hungary to support the membership of Ukraine in NATO. Russia will continue to seize similar instances of bilateral friction as opportunities to distance Ukraine from NATO and erode the overall cohesion of NATO. The U.S. and NATO should use the upcoming summit to pressure Hungary to find an alternative venue to resolve its disputes and support Ukraine as a strong signal of united resolve towards Russia.
Now we go to Helsinki (a beautiful city) and the big meeting between spy and handler…..Trump and Putin…..and good time will be had by all.