When a political alliance is attempting to demonstrate its stability, it usually ends up highlighting existing fault lines, often in a quite shocking manner. This is exactly what happened at the NATO summit in London on Dec. 4.
The celebrations were hosted by the country which is on its way out of a European Union and led by a prime minister who is on excellent terms with U.S. President Donald Trump. And this means a lot, at least from a military perspective.
The reason is very simple: NATO is essentially the United States’ domain and is largely financed by Washington, but in the year 2019 it no longer works the way it did in 1958. The U.S. feels that it is paying way too much and that the others are just along for the ride, secure in their knowledge that America wants to maintain and, if possible, further expand the alliance.
Meanwhile, medium-sized NATO member states are wondering whether this system is actually to their benefit or a standalone national defense will serve them better.
Interests have changed, the Cold War is history and while there are and will always be joint interests, no European country is willing to give its strategic position in the name of a fancy ideal.
The French president called the alliance “brain-dead” and is seemingly sticking to this evaluation. Paris is about as enthusiastic NATO member as Great Britain is one of the European Union. So much so, that in 1966, France left the military cooperation side of NATO and has only rejoined it on its 60th anniversary.
It is painfully obvious that on account of too many diverging interests, NATO is in urgent need of a reform.
But the question is, who should decide the future direction of the alliance? In today’s media-driven world, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stole the show at NATO summit during a hot mic moment where he was caught mocking Trump along with French President Emmanuel Macron, but should Canada really be the one to decide where to take NATO?
Title image: NATO flag