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NATO

In the prelude to the NATO summit in London commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the alliance, discussions were overshadowed by a now-infamous Economist interview with French President Emmanuel Macron. In the interview, the French President claimed that NATO is experiencing a “brain death” – a ‘mort cérébrale’ resulting from a lack of institutional capacity to prevent, mitigate, or effectively respond to unilateral action from individual allies which could be disruptive to the alliance’s agenda. President Macron’s remarks precipitated a debate concerning NATO’s relevance (or irrelevance) in the post-Cold War international system, its (potentially failing) adaptation to new security and strategic circumstances, and the constraints imposed by NATO’s seeming lack of institutionalisation and ability to prevent unilateral action …

As expected, the recent NATO Summit was dominated by President Trump’s blunt criticisms of allies. He accused European member states of taking advantage of the United States, of failing to follow through on the 2014 agreement to raise defence spending to a minimum of 2% of GDP, and cozied up to Russia, perhaps most shockingly given the accusations levelled at his own campaign, of colluding with Russia. The basis for these accusations should be taken seriously, even if the latent threat of the United States withdrawing from NATO and the capricious means of delivery seem designed more to appeal to American domestic political interests than to truly illicit reform of the organisation. Cutting through the hyperbole, we see that there …

To quote C.S Lewis, ‘What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.’ And, one’s point of view on energy security is certainly very different depending on whether you are standing in Washington DC, Ukraine, or Germany. NATO cannot avoid discussing energy security. As both the international scene and the alliance evolves, it becomes increasingly important and relevant to do so: clear and direct links exist between stable energy supply and the security of NATO member states. Energy security can be approached from different angles. An editorial in The Financial Times quoted the energy implications in the Ukrainian crisis: ‘It is incumbent upon us to support our partners in difficult times,’ said a …

At his first press conference following the election, the president reiterated statements made on the campaign trail that NATO – the Western alliance defending Europe and North America for decades – was “obsolete.” The year was 1966, and the president was Charles de Gaulle of France.  De Gaulle followed these statements with concrete action, expelling U.S. and NATO forces from French territory and removing French forces from NATO’s integrated military command structure.  It was perhaps the greatest crisis in the now nearly seventy year history of the Alliance. But this critical juncture in NATO also opened the door to wide ranging reforms in the organization and strategy of the Alliance.  Many of these adaptations proved so successful that they endured …

The pillars of Europe’s security are damaged beyond repair and Europe’s leaders are in denial. Expect very heavy turbulence starting next year. The peaceful post-1989 order on the old continent rested on three key pillars: NATO, the EU, and the ruling mosaic of centre-left-and-right parties. NATO provided the hardware, the EU delivered the soft-ware, and the ruling parties offered legitimacy. All these three pillars are now damaged beyond repair. Donald Trump’s victory has buried NATO. Collective defence and deterrence can only work if they are not subject to speculation. Trump has made it clear that he wants to keep his options open. The everything-goes policy is a recipe for anarchy, not security. I am not even talking about Trump’s links with …

Dr Hylke Dijkstra has recently published a new book entitled International Organizations and Military Affairs (Routledge, 2016). This book represents the first comparative study of the politics behind the scenes at the United Nations, NATO and the European Union concerning the use of military force. It is also the result of a research project carried out at the DPIR in Oxford. DPhil candidate Dana Landau interviews him on the most pertinent questions that arise from his work.

Last week saw the first convoy of trucks carrying NATO containers, which first travelled the road to Afghanistan eleven years ago, making their return journey through Pakistan. This was a sober reminder of a harsh reality: The West is finally quitting Afghanistan in spite of their failure to militarily win the war; a war that has been expensive in both human and material terms.

On the first of October, 2012, Georgia held parliamentary elections. In Western capitals and analytical circles, it was widely believed that Mikheil Saakashvili’s ruling United National Movement (UNM) would be returned to power. Most polling on political rankings supported this expectation. Some analysts had suggested that the highly unequal impact of Georgia’s impressive growth record was generating significant social discontent, undermining the ruling party’s position. Deepening inequality, sporadically high inflation, persistently high unemployment, and deepening poverty might translate into opposition votes. These people were dismissed as misinformed or deluded cranks, me included.