In anticipation of a meeting of NATO heads of state scheduled for July at 11, experts launched forecasts for the future of the North Atlantic Alliance. The most radical of them predict that at the summit in Brussels, US President Donald Trump will generally go to the elimination of the military bloc, they say, this is a costly thing for today's America - to protect Europe, which is swimming in fat, from mythical threats. Such a scenario is now hardly realizable, but the fact remains: the NATO bloc is in a systemic crisis caused by the geopolitical confrontation between the United States and the European Union.
Donald Trump picks up the stakes
Many people in the expert community associate this confrontation with the personality of US President Trump and the peculiarities of his foreign policy. Such an understanding greatly simplifies the situation. Trump, perhaps, became a kind of trigger that opened the gateways for the accumulated problems, but obviously more.
In the eyes of a generation in the Old World, a new interstate entity has formed - the European Union. It continues to be built. However, recently its development and the formation of supranational defense, investment, financial and other structures have seriously stalled. The root of the problem here is that the solution of all these issues comes up against the incomplete sovereignty of the European Union, whose independence is limited by the military-political ambitions and administrative influence of the North Atlantic alliance, where the United States plays the main role.
On the other hand, the United States themselves have lost their economic opportunities. If in the years of the so-called “cold war” their economy was 40 percent of the world, but now the US GDP fell to 15-17 percent of the global. It is not by chance that President Donald Trump began to carefully consider the expenses of America and demand from its partners to jointly share the costs of joint programs, primarily defense.
As you know, Trump set the Europeans a condition: to increase their contribution to the NATO budget to 2% of the GDP of the participating countries of the bloc. Amounts counted impressive. For Germany, for example, it is about 70 billion US dollars (an increase in 1,7 times). One and a half times more than today the budget of Germany allocates to all investment programs. Chancellor Merkel assessed the announced amount and began to bargain, promising to reach the check figure only for the 2024 year.
Raised rates and Donald Trump. In May, at a meeting in Washington with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, he said: “We are still waiting for 20 countries to increase defense spending to 2%. But 2% is very small, actually it should be 4%. ” The new demand has greatly puzzled the Europeans. It turns out that they will allocate huge money for defense, and the Americans will continue to control these funds, as well as the security of the EU itself.
In Brussels, they again talked about creating their own armed forces. Statements on this topic were noted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. Moreover, they even proposed to stop funding NATO. True, they linked their statements with the US withdrawal from the “nuclear deal” with Iran.
What are the experts arguing about?
This reservation is not accidental. Indeed, in the minds of Europeans, the NATO matrix is still quite firmly seated. It remembers times when the North Atlantic bloc could raise an alarm in Europe to 700 of thousands of military men with equipment and weapons, take them to the border with the Warsaw Pact countries in two days and deploy a steady line of defense there.
Now the scale of the military forces of the alliance has subsided, but the stereotype of “defensive NATO” has remained in the minds of politicians. To this should be added the special relations of the United States with Eastern Europeans, and it will become clear that today the European Union will not be able to come to a consensus on the creation of its own armed forces.
So far, EU leaders are probing political ground, linking their proposals with problems of current importance for Europe, such as the withdrawal of Americans from a multilateral deal with Iran. However, talking is not limited. Little by little, began the movement to implement the stated goals.
At the end of June, at a meeting in Luxembourg, the defense ministers of nine European countries of the NATO bloc (Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, France and Estonia) signed an agreement on the formation of a European rapid military response force.
An important feature of this agreement is that the new structure is conceived as separate from the military system of the North Atlantic bloc. Some experts admitted that the de facto establishment of the first component of the new European army had occurred.
Others rated the agreement more restrained, like a rate hike for the upcoming political race at the July NATO summit. After all, the European Union, although it began to be divided into countries of different speeds, nevertheless, adheres to the established rules, by which the EU position is determined by the consensus of all its participants. Nine countries here do not make the weather.
There is a grain of meaning in this statement, which is confirmed by a note in the German magazine Focus Online, published late last week. As the newspaper writes, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Lyayen "decided to repel the head of the United States, Donald Trump, and create a new military alliance." Thus, the pressure of Europeans is increasing.
While experts are arguing, and politicians are plotting their intrigues, the Americans are also preparing surprises for the NATO summit. On Friday, in a conversation with journalists on board the presidential airliner Air Force One, heading to New Jersey, Donald Trump reiterated his demand for Europeans to increase NATO’s financial support.
“Germany should transfer more funds,” he told the presidential press pool and added that similar requirements apply to France and Spain. As a follow-up to the next day, on Saturday, The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon was considering the possibility of withdrawing its military from Germany in whole or in part.
According to the newspaper, we are talking about the analysis of the cost of maintaining American troops stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as the costs of their withdrawal. The Pentagon calculates two scenarios: the return of military units home to the United States and their redeployment to Poland.
Sources of The Washington Post say that the initiator of this initiative was President Trump, who at one of the meetings with his military advisers expressed disapproval of the "scale of the presence of US soldiers in Germany." According to Trump, while the Germans spare money for the needs of NATO, 35 thousands of American military men serve in the FRG itself.
Press Secretary of the US Department of Defense Eric Pachon has denied any plans for the withdrawal of troops to a newspaper's clarifying request. He stated that the Pentagon is busy with routine events. Such analyzes are carried out regularly. However, even if this is so, the very fact of the leakage of such information into the public space on the eve of the NATO summit can be viewed as a way to put pressure on European leaders.
This pressure fits well with the already well-known rhetoric of Donald Trump that "the EU was created to use the United States .. to gut our piggy bank" and "NATO is as bad as NAFTA" (North American Free Trade Agreement, about which there is a big dispute between Trump and Canada and Mexico. - Ed.)
Thus, two weeks before the meeting of the leaders of the NATO countries in Brussels, the parties agreed in an information clincher, and this is clearly not the last exchange of blows. Must wait News about the mutual increase in rates. Does this situation threaten the existence of the North Atlantic Alliance? Of course not. It is only a question of redistribution of forces in the NATO bloc against the general background of a weakening of America.
Europe and the USA: surprises for the NATO summit
- Gennady Granovsky
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