FROM THE ECONOMIST - MARCH 16 - 2019
The Atlantic alliance has proved remarkably resilient, says Daniel Franklin. To remain relevant,
it needs to go on changing
Reaching 70 is an extraordinary achievement for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Most alliances die young. External threats change; national interests diverge; costs become too burdensome. Russia's pact with Nazi Germany survived for only two years. None of the seven coalitions of the Napoleonic wars lasted more than five years. A study in 2010 by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank, counted 63 major military alliances over the previous five centuries, of which just ten lived beyond 40; the average lifespan of collective-defence alliances was 15 years.
“NATO is the strongest, most successful alliance in history", says Jens Stoltenberg, the organisation's secretary-general, "because we have been able to change." It has expanded from 12 members at its birth to 29—soon to be 30 when North Macedonia joins, its dispute with Greece over its name now settled. Of the eight countries that made up its erstwhile rival, the Warsaw Pact, seven have become part of nato, as have three former Soviet republics. The eighth one, the Soviet Union itself, has ceased to exist.
For its first four decades nato was busy deterring the Soviet threat. Its role was to keep "the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down", as its first secretary-general, Lord Ismay, put it. But after communism collapsed, the alliance did not proclaim victory and shut up shop; instead it reinvented itself, helping to stabilise the new democracies of eastern Europe.
Realising that it needed to go "out of area or out of business", it then embarked on a period of far-flung crisis-management, from the Balkans (with interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo) to the Horn of Africa (where an anti-piracy mission ran from 2009 to 2016) and Afghanistan (where it still leads some 16,000 troops in Operation Resolute Support), nato's founders would have been stunned by such mission creep—as well as by the circumstances in which Article 5 of its treaty, which says that an armed attack against one member will be considered an attack against them all, was put to use. The only time the allies invoked this pledge was on September 12th 2001, the day after al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks on America.
After Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 the alliance moved swiftly back to its core business of deterrence against its eastern neighbour. Now for the first time it is having to juggle invigorated collective defence and crisis management simultaneously. At 70, it is hardly settling for an easy life.
Its birthday celebrations will be modest: just a one-day gathering of foreign ministers on April 4th in Washington, dc, where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949. nato wants to avoida repeat of the bruising confrontations that took place at its summit in Brussels last July, where America's president, Donald Trump, berated his allies for not pulling their weight on defence. If they did not shape up, he said, his country might go its own way. Another damaging row is the last thing the organisation needs as it struggles with intimations of its own mortality. "We don't have a guarantee that nato will survive for ever," says Mr Stoltenberg.
At times Mr Trump has seemed to suggest that he would be happy to see it die. On the campaign trail he called it "obsolete". Once in office, he initially avoided backing its collective-security pledge; instead, he seemed to regard NATO as just another deal, in which American taxpayers were getting ripped off. In January the New York Times reported that several times last year he privately said he wanted to pull the United States out of NATO. Such reports only fuel fears that he might be doing Russia's bidding. Mr Trump calls these suspicions "insulting".
If he were to decide to abandon NATO he would face resistance in Congress, where bipartisan support for the alliance remains strong and control of the purse strings powerful. A record number of more than 50 senators and representatives attended the Munich Security Conference last month to show solidarity. Last July the Senate voted 97-2 to back NATO. In January the House of Representatives voted 357-22 in favour of the NATO Support Act, which would prohibit any use of federal funds for withdrawal. Though heartening for NATO, these votes highlight the sense of threat hanging over it.
Yet its pharaonic new headquarters on the outskirts of Brussels projects the permanence of an organisation preparing for its next 70 years, not one about to perish. Opinion polls show solid public support for NATO in its member countries (with the significant exceptions of Turkey and Greece). Even in America, despite Mr Trump's attacks, 64% of those polled by Pew Research Centre are favourable towards nato, up from 49% in 2015, and a survey last year by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs showed that more Americans than at any point since polling began in 1974 favour increasing their country's commitment to the alliance.
NATO optimists offer three reasons for not fretting too much over Mr Trump.
First, NATO is no stranger to crises, from Suez in 1956 to France quitting the integrated military command in 1966 and splits over the Iraq war in 2003. It has a record of resilience.
Second, they point out that since becoming president, Mr Trump has said that the alliance is "no longer obsolete", that he is "committed to Article 5" and that America will be "with NATO 100%". True, he continues to lambast his allies for failing to pay their fair share of their own defence, but on this matter his bullying is justified and useful: the allies do need to spend more.
Their third and strongest argument for remaining sanguine about Mr Trump is based on his deeds rather than his tweets. On his watch America has increased, not decreased, its defence efforts in Europe, with more equipment, more troops and more money. Funding for America's military presence in Europe, under what is called the European Deterrence Initiative, has risen by 40%.
This is part of NATO’s determined response to the increased threat from Russia. At summits in Wales in 2014, Warsaw in 2016 and last year in Brussels—even as the world focused on Mr Trump's bolshiness— the allies took a series of decisions designed to restore robust territorial defence. They created a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, prepared to move within days, and put combat-ready multinational battlegroups into the three Baltic countries as well as Poland. They committed themselves to a costly "Four 30s" initiative, with the aim of having 30 mechanised battalions 30 air squadrons and 30 warships ready to move in no more than 30 days by 2020. To ensure swift movement of forces, they planned two new commands, in Norfolk, Virginia, and Ulm in Germany, Last autumn NATO tested its capabilities in Trident Juncture, its biggest exercise
since the end of the coId war, which involved some 50,000 people in and around Norway. Gaps remain, but the erosion of defence capacity that NATO had allowed as a peace dividend after the collapse of communism is being reversed. This special report will run a health check on NATO. It will assess the alliance's chances of surviving through its 70s and consider how it needs to change in order to remain vigorous to 100…………..
BIBLE PROPHECY TELLS US EUROPE WILL, IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, MOVE TOWARDS A MIGHTY MILITARY FORCE, EVENTUALLY EQUAL TO THAT OF THE USA AND RUSSIA.
EUROPE IS YET TO RISE AS THE 7TH, AND LAST, RESURRECTION OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE. IT WILL BE THE “BEAST POWER” AND THE “BABYLON MYSTERY RELIGION” OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION. IT SHOULD BE EASY TO SEE WHICH CHRISTIAN RELIGION DOMINATES EUROPE. AND GOD CALLS IT “BABYLON— MYSTERY RELIGION” THAT IS FULL WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS, AND HAS COMMITTED SPIRITUAL FORNICATION WITH THE NATIONS OF EARTH.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS EUROPE HAS YET TO MOVE AND DEVELOP TO FORM THIS LAST HOLY EMPIRE.
IT WILL TAKE SOME YEARS TO FORM INTO THIS END TIME POWER; WHEN HER TIME COMES, GOD SAYS IT WILL HAPPEN QUICKLY AND HER ULTIMATE DOWNFALL AND DESTRUCTION WILL ALSO BE QUICK.
THE BOOK OF REVELATION WILL YET BE FULFILLED.