Western European Allies and NATO’s Future
NATO remains the most important contributor to peace security and stability in Europe since its establishment in 1949. The alliance was created to maintain peace and protect Europe from nuclear and conventional attacks (Warren, 2010). The coalition represents the most reliable and most extensive military alliance of democratic states globally. However, NATO currently faces various challenges and internal disagreements that threaten its existence. In this case, the problems and rifts between the member states are likely to lead to its dissolution. The main challenge arises from the allocation of resources to the alliance by the member states. The issue raises serious arguments that fail to produce positive results. The American leadership also challenges NATO’s future due to continued criticism of the alliance. Since its inception, NATO and the United States have always worked closely in ensuring peace and stability in maintained globally. American soldiers have participated and continue to participate in several conflicts with NATO, such as in Afghanistan and Syria. President Trump, however, questions the commitment of NATO’s member states in maintaining the security of Europe (Lute & Burns, 2019). In this instance, the criticism arises from the President’s perception that the alliance takes advantage of the US by contributing limited funds. Donald Trump argues that the member states of the coalition should contribute about two percent of their budget to the alliance. The other challenge is that Trump views the EU as an economic competitor rather than a partner of NATO and the US. Various leaders in the European Union continue to question the Presidents credibility and his ability to maintain peace and stability. In essence, the future of NATO and its western European allies is at risk due to its deteriorating relationship with the United States and limited defense spending.
NATO is an essential alliance because it maintains peace and ensures that a balance of power exists in the world. The likelihood of a conflict occurring in Europe significantly reduced since the end of the cold war because of the alliance. In this instance, the long-standing policy of the coalition is that an attack on one country of the alliance represents an attack of all the NATO members (Warren, 2010). Therefore, in case one of the member countries is attacked, all the other members of the alliance will aid the attacked country. Consequently, it is crucial for the alliance to be maintained to keep the status quo. Also, the United States might be the most powerful country in the world, but it still needs NATO to ensure its security. Maintaining cooperation in defending democracy and the rights of people in various countries is paramount. It is accurate to argue that NATO and the United States need each other to be effective in championing their interests. For example, the US and the alliance have participated together in various conflicts around the world, such as in the Middle East and Afghanistan (Simón, 2014). It is thus critical to analyze and find solutions to the issues likely to adversely affect the cooperation of the two. The disagreements between the member states are expected to paralyze the routine operations of the alliance, including its core objective of defense. Failure to address the fundamental issues facing the coalition creates a risk of it becoming obsolete and losing public support. Therefore, it is vital to find solutions to problems such as ensuring sufficient budget allocation and maintaining cooperation with the United States.
The first significant issue affecting the future of NATO and its Western European allies is the eroding cooperation with the United States. NATO is stronger with the backing and leadership of the United States. Currently, while the United States is committed to the defensive pledge of Article 5, the President raised doubts about the commitment (Lute & Burns, 2019). In this case, Donald Trump noted that the alliance is ineffective questioning whether the United States would commit to the Article. For example, in May 2017, he refused to acknowledge the nation’s commitment to the pact while at the alliance headquarters. The current state of affairs regarding Trump’s commitment to the alliance weakens its strength (Lute & Burns, 2019). Some see Donald Trump in society as an unpredictable president who hinders the deterrent posture of the association. The potential adversaries of NATO would be deterred from attacking if they knew that there is a collective political will. However, while the President’s statement signals an end of cooperation, the country still sends representatives such as military leaders and senior diplomats to NATO meetings. Also, the House and Senate resolutions in 2017 illustrated continued commitment to the pact by the US (Lute & Burns, 2019). The President’s, pressure and threats to quit the alliance has some advantages because he has pushed the member states to increase budget spending. Therefore, the President’s remarks have helped in trying to find solutions to the other challenge of increasing the defense budget. For example, in the NATO summit of 2014, the member states agreed to spend at least two percent of their budget on defense (Lute & Burns, 2019). NATO faced an increased decline in defense spending for several years, weakening its defense capabilities. Therefore, the current policy of increasing the budget is favorable in safeguarding the future of NATO. In this instance, investment in new technology in defense requires more funds from the member states. European countries should, therefore, increase their commitment by spending more to tackle the latest threats. For example, the alliance faces a new challenge from resurgent Russia, which is believed to influence the political situation in democratic countries.
The legislature is the only house that can guarantee the commitment of the United States in the alliance because of the Presidents unpredictability. Therefore, it is critical for Congress and the Senate to continue expressing bipartisan support to the coalition. Besides, to prevent any unilateral actions by Donald Trump, the legislature should enact a law that prevents the President from leaving the pact without approval. In this instance, NATO is not only crucial to the security of Europe but also to the US and the world. Next, transparency on how member states contribute resources for use by the alliance should be ensured. Each member state should provide sufficient funds to cater for innovation in security. Security issues continue to evolve primarily in intelligence gathering and cybersecurity. Besides, the alliance should maintain public trust by publishing how the funds are spent. The last recommendation is that President Trump should provide practical suggestions to the coalition rather than criticizing it. The US also stands to benefit from a strong NATO that is capable of confronting various security threats. In essence, NATO needs both political and financial support to remain relevant to Europe’s security.
Lute, D., & Burns, N. (2019). NATO at Seventy: An Alliance in Crisis. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Simon, L. (2014). Assessing NATO’s Eastern European” Flank.” Parameters, 44(3), 67.
Warren, P. T. (2010). Alliance History and the Future NATO: What the Last 500 Years of Alliance Behavior Tell Us about NATO’s Path Forward. Foreign Policy at Brookings, 21st Century Defense Initiative.