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The relevance of NATO

The future of NATO and its relevance is once being questioned just as leaders gather in London to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the military alliance. The meeting will ensure that NATO remains fit for the future.
The latest controversy comes as French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview that NATO is ‘brain dead’ and European countries can no longer rely on the US to defend its allies. He said that there is no coordination on strategic decision making between NATO and US allies, particularly in the military offensive in Syria.
NATO was founded on the stipulation of ‘collective defence’ where an attack on one member is considered an attack against all members. Macron appears unsure whether this was still true and called on reassessing the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment by the US.
Macron also criticised NATO’s inability to react to Turkey’s offensive in Syria and said it was time Europe stopped acting like a junior ally of the US when it comes to the Middle East.These comments did not go down well with Turkish President Erdogan who accused Macron of being inexperienced and in state of ‘brain death’.
US President Donald Trump also entered the war of words between Macron and Erdogan. He lashed at Macron for trying to shake up the agenda of the conference saying NATO serves a great purpose and that Macron’s comments were very insulting.
NATO was formed over seventy years ago largely over Cold War fears and Soviet aggression Today, it has deployed thousands of troops and equipment against new threats and cyberattacks by Russia, while also fighting terrorism in Middle East and Afghanistan.
The biggest threat NATO faces are from within. The election of Trump raised fear over the death knell for the alliance. Trump had warned to reduce contributions to NATO projects and criticised European allies for not doing enough and depending on the US for military spending. It was even reported that Trump has privately said several times that he would like to withdraw from NATO.
There seems to a shift in Trump’s standing on NATO now as leaders of the 29-member alliance lock horn over the spending and how to deal with Russia. Only one member of the alliance spends two percent of their GDP on defence, and even economic powerhouse Germany falls short. This will be a big test of unity as NATO seeks to assert its relevance, particularly when they see Trump as the most difficult problem.
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