Republican front-runner Donald Trump would go farther, having described the 28-state alliance as “obsolete” more than once during his push for the GOP presidential ticket. Members don’t pay up their fair share, or at all, and the clunky security organization is ill-suited for the war on terror, according to Trump.
In the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks on Brussels, which just happens to be NATO’s homebase, and moves by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine and elsewhere, others have also raised questions about the relevance of the alliance in a shifting world order.
But this week while hosting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House, President Barack Obama declared NATO “…a linchpin, a cornerstone of our collective defense and U.S. security policy.”
Still, influential pundits and columnists have raised legitimate concerns about NATO’s lack of agility, bloated bureaucracy and lopsided financing that leaves the military bills largely in the hands of the United States.
And the criticism isn’t new. There have been other public figures (former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for one) to voice dim views of NATO, originally created in 1949 after the Second World War—a time when the Soviet Union was fully intact and on a mission to expand.
Which raises yet another set of questions: has NATO evolved along with the world? And is the alliance equipped to respond to modern threats?
NATO Isn’t Obsolete. But It Could Be More Vital.
The Editorial Board – Bloomberg View
NATO remains vital to European and global security, as Obama and [NATO Secretary-General Jens] Stoltenberg noted — particularly given Russian aggression in Ukraine; Europe’s refugee crisis; the persistent threat from Islamic State; and recent terror attacks in Ankara, Brussels and Paris.
But the alliance is insufficiently prepared to meet the threats to Europe that can be expected in coming years….
To address the Russian threat directly, NATO should consider making permanent the additional armored brigade that the U.S. plans to rotate through Poland and the Baltic states. A new airbase in Eastern Europe may also be needed…
Obama holds bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg:
Is It Time for America to Quit NATO?
Ted Galen Carpenter – The CATO Institute
Today’s Europe is at least as different from the Europe of 1949 as that Europe was from pre–World War II Europe. Yet the institutional centerpiece—NATO—and much of the substance of U.S. policy remain the same….
Although they [EU members] are troubled by the turbulence in the Middle East and the occasional growls of the Russian bear, they are capable of handling both problems. Indeed, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a pale shadow of the threat once posed by the Soviet Union. The European Union has three times the population and an economy nearly ten times the size of Russia.
The primary reason that the EU countries have not done more to manage the security of their own region is that the United States has insisted on taking the leadership role—and paying a large portion of the costs….That disparate economic burden is only one reason why we need to conduct a comprehensive review of whether the NATO commitment serves America’s interests any longer, but it is an important one.
The NATO That Trump Doesn’t See
Jackson Diehl – The Washington Post
Donald Trump’s recent rhetoric about an “obsolete” NATO alliance has surely disturbed Germans and French who think about their nations’ security. But their anxiety level is probably low next to that of a dozen Eurasian nations that Trump has probably never considered — including a few that are not even members of NATO.
One of them is Georgia….
Georgia shares its potential dilemma with a larger region. Trump’s complaints, and those of President Obama, about the “free riders” of NATO such as Germany and France ignore the critical role the alliance has played for a host of smaller and far less prosperous nations since the end of the Cold War. Under the alliance’s tutelage, countries that might have lapsed into dictatorships or chaos instead became functioning democracies. To earn NATO security guarantees, or even a looser association as “partners for peace,” they granted rights to ethnic minorities, tolerated opposition media and cracked down on corruption.