Nato’s new-found relevance

Malavika Kamaraju

The message in the bottle washing up on Nato’s shores is clear: All members will have to work together to contain the spreading political rot in the world.

Says Bloomberg on Nato’s newfound purpose: “Say this for Russian President Vladimir Putin: He has ended Nato’s decades-old existential crisis. The alliance has been divided over how sharply to respond to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and the new Nato states that border Russia have begun to wonder whether the alliance will protect them. To prove their commitment to the alliance’s collective security pledge, Nato leaders are expected to create a new rapid reaction force, rotating troops through Poland and the Baltic states.”

For their part, it says, Nato’s members have to spend more money. “Last year, only four of the 28 members spent the 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence they have agreed to spend. The Cold War that Nato was founded to fight ended a quarter-century ago. The new kind of war that has emerged since Putin began to challenge the borders around him is murkier and messier, lacking the harsh but clear lines of the Iron Curtain.” writes in its editorial: “During the peak of the Cold War, US military spending represented approximately half the total defence budgets of all Nato countries. Today, Nato is much bigger, but America’s share is now more than 70 per cent. Some US commentators have taken to suggesting that countries not pulling their weight — all members have pledged to spend at least two per cent of GDP on defence, although only the US Britain, Estonia and Greece do — should be tossed from the organisation.”

The Calgary Herald is in synergy with its contemporary media. Its editorial says: “Defence spending is an art and not a science, and (Canada’s) Conservative government did increase defence spending to $23 billion (Dh84.59 billion) last year from $15 billion in 2005. Still, when Islamic terrorists attempt to create a modern version of an ancient theocratic caliphate, and a modern-day Russian czar violates the borders of European countries, it is overdue to think hard, and fund well, the National Defence Department. Canada must be a full partner in Nato, funding what is reasonable and possible, but above all, what is necessary to prepare for the future, whatever that future may be.”

The Economist refers to the years of fiscal prudence that resulted in shrunken budgets for many Nato members. It writes, “Nato’s European members should show their serious intent … Fiscal austerity and a false sense of security have resulted in years of defence-budget cuts, whereas Russia has doubled its military spending (in nominal terms) since 2007. The complacent assumption in European capitals has always been that America would fill any capability gaps. In 2006, all member countries pledged to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence. In Europe only Britain, France, Greece and Estonia come even close (although Poland is getting there). What Nato needs above all is more deployable and better-equipped forces.”

Courtesy Gulfnews


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