6 June 2024

It should be a time of celebration for the world’s most powerful military alliance as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization marks its 75th anniversary this week. But this is not to be because of the myriad of uncertainties looming large in the coming months.

Issues at stake are the future of NATO and its perceived security role in the current geopolitical landscape.

Most importantly, NATO has to ponder a future long-term plan on what the Western military alliance will do next as the Ukraine-Russia war shows no sign of abating. Another critical issue is whether NATO has outlived its usefulness.

The most often cited forecast is the outcome of the upcoming US presidential election in early November. If former president Donald Trump is elected, the future of NATO will be at the very edge of a precipice.

He has said time and again that the US will withdraw from the alliance, which it helped found after the end of World War II.

Its main purpose was and still is to contain the Russian influence. Just look at Europe today: the failure of NATO is there for all to see.

At the Brussels meeting on Wednesday among the NATO foreign ministers, they decided that the time has come for NATO to be less dependent on the US military assistance for Ukraine.

The US Congress has withheld the Biden administration’s plan to provide US$60 billion of military aid to Ukraine.

Lobbying efforts continue to push through this controversial bill. As frequently stated by President Volodymyr Zelensky, a protracted delay will mean that the Ukrainian armed forces will be subject to defeat because of a lack of ammunition.

Now NATO is getting ready to fight Russia outside the current domain by getting involved directly. French President Emmanuel Macron even tested the waters by suggesting that troops could be dispatched.

The reality on the ground in Europe is simple—there is direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.

With this trajectory, a direct war is inescapable because of the increasing levels of funding needed to provide ammunition to keep the war going until Ukraine can win or be in a stronger position to negotiate. It will take years.

NATO should have a good opportunity to evaluate its role when the NATO leaders meet in Washington DC in July for the summit. If NATO’s intention is to fight the Russians and contain their influence, it would be a lost cause.

After 75 years, Russia remains the security and strategic factor that Europe cannot abandon. Bringing Russia into the broader European community, even superficially, is a much better approach.

For the military warmongers, without enemies, real or imagined, the alliance such as NATO will lose its purpose.

That is the reason why strategic partnerships of various kinds are proliferating today, as they are more suitable for the current security circumstances. They cover all issues that would strengthen peace and stability.

NATO with its expansion and assistance to Ukraine will further put Europe in harm’s way. Already, the Europeans are suffering due to the isolationist efforts and sanctions by the West against Russia.

Obviously, Russia’s behaviour in international politics and its invasion of Ukraine must not be condoned.

But to make sure Russia will be defeated and reprimanded for its behaviour is a hollow dream. Other Western countries have done the same and got away scotch free.

Finally, the idea of having an Asian NATO, even a representative office, must be discarded. Expansion of NATO coverage to include Asia would endanger the region’s stability and security.

Strategists in Brussels and Washington must be clear in their minds that security in Asia can still be managed by the Asian powers even when China and India are rising.

Kavi Chongkittavorn