The Gendarme of the free world

Nato after the Biden summit

Nato is increasingly becoming the gendarme of the (free) world. The USA wants it to contain China and monitor the Indo-Pacific. In doing so, the North Atlantic Alliance is overstepping its mandate – and breaking official promises.

In the words of its Secretary General, Nato has “neither the political ambition nor the armed forces nor the money to be the gendarme of the world”. There will never be a “global Nato as a kind of second United Nations”, he said a few days before the Nato summit in Bucharest.

That was in 2008, when the Secretary General was still Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. Only thirteen years later, “global Nato” has become reality after all. And Scheffer’s successor, Jens Stoltenberg, acts as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

Nato has always been active “out of area”, the Norwegian explained – and referred to the Balkans or Afghanistan. So now it could also take care of China and the Indo-Pacific. Or space. Or climate change.

But it is not that simple. After all, Nato is a North Atlantic alliance, not an Indo-Pacific one. And the 30 Nato states have neither the strike forces nor the money to keep China at bay, Scheffer was right. Only the US could do that – it alone has the necessary power.

So why do the EUropeans allow themselves to be drawn into this deviation from the “North Atlantic Treaty”? How can they overlook the fact that Biden is reaffirming the mutual assistance obligation under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, while at the same time fundamentally changing the content of the treaty?

Neither Chancellor Merkel nor President Macron can explain. Merkel talks about “dialogue” with Beijing – while that has just broken down because of EU sanctions. Macron at least recognises that China is not located on the Atlantic Ocean – but he cannot say no.

None of this is convincing. The European Union has allowed itself to be taken to the cleaners by the USA. They are following the dangerous obsession with China that already characterised Donald Trump’s policy and are allowing themselves to be led onto the slippery slope of bloc formation and confrontation.

It would be in the well-understood interest of the EU to continue cooperation with China – in case a Trump II comes to power after Biden or something else goes wrong. The EU should strive for a multipolar world order and emancipate itself from the US instead of following it.

And it should make NATO – a relic of the Cold War – superfluous by building a system of collective security in Europe. This is what Russia was promised after the end of the Cold War, and it used to be good German policy.

But that is just as forgotten as the words of Nato General Scheffer…

P.S. It is also remarkable that Nato now presents itself as the guardian of the “rules-based international order”. With members like Turkey, Hungary or even the USA (under Bush Jr. and Trump), this is not particularly credible…

This post was first published on the Blog “Lost in EUrope”. More English posts here

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