After the world coming to an absolute halt for over fifty days, no one is sure what will be North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) next step.
In an exclusive Interview of Richard Milsom, Executive Director of European Conservatives & Reformists Party (ECR) by EU Chronicle Special Correspondent, he brings forth his party’s take on NATO & its future.
Excerpts of the Interview:
What’s the future of NATO?
We should be optimistic about the future of NATO. Whilst some might try to claim that judging by the American presidents rhetoric that the United States might be looking at the exit, the reality is the country has never been more committed to the Alliance. There are currently more American troops on US soil than in previous administrations, with a special focus on protecting Eastern Europe through NATO’s Advanced Forward Presence.
It is clear that NATO now has several different objectives. On the one hand is the continued defence and support to countries in Eastern Europe against the threat posed by Russia. In particular from disinformation and from attempts to undermine the stability of the Alliance.
Secondly, NATO is still involved in the war on terror. Just because Daesh has been pushed back in Iraq and Syria doesn’t mean that it can’t re-emerge somewhere else in another form. As a result NATO must continue to be vigilant in the fight against radicalism.
Finally there is the new threat posed by China, and the opening up of cyberspace as a theatre of war. We have seen both China and Russia launch sophisticated cyber-attacks in the past, but we know that they could be capable of much worse. We need to see NATO build up its capacity in this area.
What are the main threats?
The main threats to NATO, as said earlier, come from Russia and China. It might not be a military threat at this point, although Russia has obviously carried out direct attacks against Eastern neighbourhood countries like Ukraine and Georgia in recent years. But we are seeing a increase in the spread of misinformation and propaganda from these countries. Take for example during this crisis – there has been a huge amount of fake news spread across Europe, most of it originating from Russia. Its caused a huge amount of problems for governments – including protests in Germany and France. And the vandalization of 5G masts in the UK, Belgium and France.
Russia and China both have an active interest in undermining the trans-Atlantic alliance and splitting America away from Europe. They know that Europe can’t defend itself and is heavily dependent on support from America, Canada, Turkey and Britain. Because of Brexit, 80% of NATOs military capabilities now come from outside the European Union.
What about an Independent EU Defence Capability?
The EU is trying to push for this – the so called EU army – but the reality is that it would just undermine the NATO alliance. There is no way that such a force wouldn’t simply duplicate the existing capabilities of the Alliance. It poses a real threat to the coherence of the Alliance, especially if the EU was to turn around and say that it didn’t want to follow Article 5 – which is possible given that some countries are members of the EU and not of NATO, such as Sweden, Austria and Ireland.
The better solution is for EU Member States to start paying their fair share to NATO. President Trump sort of had a point when he said that many EU countries don’t pay their fair share for membership of NATO. Germany and France can surely spend 2% of their GDP on defence if Estonia and Poland can. The reason they don’t and Eastern European states do is probably down to the fact that they think that they’re sheltered. They don’t live with the threat of Russia on their doorstep in the same way that Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia do. But the simple fact is that in an age of cyber-attacks and misinformation campaigns, distance doesn’t protect you anymore.
What about NATO expansion?
NATO turned 70 last year and for a 70 year old organisation it’s doing well. It admitted it’s 30th member earlier this year when North Macedonia joined and Montenegro joined in 2017. There is certainly plenty of room for the Alliance to grow – especially with countries such as Ukraine and Georgia looking to join. The only caveat should be that NATO stays true to its values. It should be about the promotion of democracy and the defence of our common values – we can’t start to risk undermining it by letting in countries that aren’t democracies or have uncomfortably close relations with our adversaries.