The Fragile Alliance - Cracks in NATO

In addition to Germany siding with Russia over a gas pipeline, Turkey is also at odds with the rest of NATO

President Trump has been making news this week during his meetings with NATO Alliance members in Brussels, calling upon NATO members to pay more for their defense. Some news reports also claimed that Trump had threatened to pull the U.S. out of NATO, but French President Macron disputed this version of events. Regardless, the once solid NATO Alliance seems to have lost its cohesiveness with the removal of the threat of the Soviet Union over two decades ago. While Russia ostensibly remains a threat to regional peace and Western interests, it does not have quite the same capacity to unite Alliance members as the Soviets once did. Indeed, Germany has recently sided with Russia on plans for a new Russian natural gas pipeline to Europe (more information about this here).

A bigger issue for NATO, however, is Turkey, which has been pulling closer to Russia's orbit even as the country's government has slipped deeper into Islamic and heavy-handed rule by its increasingly Putin-like president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey is buying Russian military equipment and building a nuclear power plant with the help of the Russians. In the past it has also bombed US-backed Kurdish allies in Syria and roughed up protesters against the regime in the U.S.

From the Russian viewpoint, tying Germany to it economically via the gas pipeline and Turkey to it militarily with defense systems makes sense as it would further weaken NATO and degrade U.S. power in the region. How could NATO fend off Russia's growing influence if two of its own member states have conflicts of interest with Russia? Would either country, or the rest of the Alliance, be able to counter future Russian actions in Ukraine? What about Syria after the Islamic State is no longer the unifying threat that it has been (and its power is rapidly waning)?

For all of Trump's oftentimes clumsy statements, such as saying that Germany is "captive" to Russia, his words do beg the larger question of just what is NATO's purpose? If Russia is really the international threat it is, then why are NATO members working with it and why did NATO not defend Ukraine when Russia annexed Crimea or helped start a rebellion in eastern Ukraine? Or, if Russia is not a threat, for what other purpose does NATO exist? Is it to run training missions, like Canada just announced they will be leading in Iraq?

It would behoove the U.S., though, to help NATO find its reason for being, rather than writing it off as a lost cause. That means, however, that the U.S. will have to continue to do the heavy-lifting with regards to NATO spending and military deployments. The alternative is that NATO members do increase their defense spending and then are left wondering what benefits a U.S. alliance gives them when Russia is so much closer and is supplying them with the fuel that their countries need.

(Image: NATO flag, public domain,

Comments
phantonym
phantonym

@Jules* - Oh come on now, who are you trying to kid?

We know you don't believe in fossils!

Jules*
Jules*

We all recognize the value of natural gas as an energy source, particularly after Nancy Pelosi praised it as a clean fuel, reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

No, YCMTSU

I am tired of "But.....Trump" and thought it might be more fun to play "But......Nan"

Secure-Defend
Secure-Defend

Actually, Norway is the 7th largest producer of natural gas. Last time I looked Norway is both in Europe and is NATO's northern flank. If Germany bought natural gas from Norway, not only would they get an energy supply from a friendly government but also would help to solidify and strengthen NATO by having Euros go to and ally and out of the hands of Putin.

Turkey, is basically a lost cause. It keeps overrunning western Europe by allowing middle eastern refugees to transit the country as they become more of a burden on the economies of the rest of Europe and eroding the value system of western civilization and transplanting Islamic culture instead. Also Turkey is flooding Germany with workers who have become a problem inside of the republic. However, NATO still needs Turkey as a chokepoint for the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine was a calculated gambit by Putin that has paid off dividends. First, he was able to see that NATO, being led by a feckless and fearful Obama, basically did nothing. Sanctions, Germany just showed its hand on what it is willing to do. Second, it gave Russia a basically ice free naval base in Sevastopol. With Turkey coming under more Russian influence, it would allow him to project more naval power by having access through the Dardanelles and Bosporus, after transferring parts of the Northern and Baltic Fleets to the Black Sea. So it would no longer be necessary for lengthy voyages through NATO held waters to support Syria or any other puppet in the region. They could just steam through the Dardanelles and create havoc.

Should we continue to support NATO? The answer is yes. We still need trading partners and strong economies in Europe. Europe needs to step up to the plate and take on more responsibilities and we need to continue to show strength; otherwise Putin wins.

And just to give a bit of insight into Putin's thinking, in 2004 he said "We showed weakness and weak people are beaten." This was after the Beslan school siege and massacre, however, Putin has never backed down from this statement politically nor militarily, and we should take notice and stay strong, both the United States and NATO.

Subvet72
Subvet72

If Europe blows up it will be of their own doing. They ignored Ukraine when Russia invaded even though there was a treaty for us to defend them since they had agreed to give up their nukes.

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