Washington says it is worried about Moscow’s deployment of Iskander air defence missiles in Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad in response to new US cruise missiles being placed just across the border.
Tension with Moscow is not the only thing bothering the military alliance.
With a new US president soon to enter the White House, Western media is raising concerns over his plans for NATO. The European elites are growing increasingly worried about what any changes Trump may bring to the NATO alliance.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Stoltenberg urged NATO members to follow the British example and contribute two percent of GDP to the military alliance.
Besides the UK, Poland, Estonia, Greece, and the United States are the only members of the 28-country alliance meeting the two percent threshold. The US contributes the highest proportion of its GDP to the military block, some 3.61 percent, according to NATO’s 2015 Annual Report.
RT: What do you make of Western media raising fears over Donald Trump’s plans for NATO?
Jim Jatras: When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact were out of business in 1991, NATO should have gone out of business as well. That didn’t happen. Unfortunately, NATO doesn’t have any particular function as a defensive organisation – as we saw in Bosnia and Kosovo – it has behaved as an aggressive organisation. It is an organisation in search of a mission. Right now, we have Donald Trump who said that it is obsolete because it is not really defending its members’ territory against Islamic terrorism which is the only real threat Europe suffers. So frankly, what good is it?
NATO is a product of the Cold War. It does not fit into our time anymore. My party and other parties; we can imagine a treaty which is for defense but not against Russia but more or less against another kind of threats, for example, terrorism…We should rearrange NATO and give NATO another structure and philosophy. In NATO there are still a lot of people in power who are attached to this old philosophy.– Joachim Paul, from Alternative for Germany Party (AfD)
RT: Why are the European elites concerned about changes Trump may bring to the NATO alliance?
JJ: It seems that there is still a very strong consensus for NATO in the American political establishment. Part of this is simply inertia that it is something that has been around forever. And let’s keep in mind: NATO is essentially a tool of Washington to maintain control over Europe in security affairs. Remember back in the 1990s, the EU indicated it wanted to develop its own defence capability, and that provoked near panic in Washington. The Washington establishment moved very quickly to quash any such independence from the Europeans and to insist that security affairs must be governed by NATO and only NATO as the premier security organisation in Europe. The Europeans could help out if they wanted to, but they were not in control of the process.
RT: If we imagine that NATO breaks up one day, what could be the consequences?
JJ: If NATO actually breaks up, then we would see the assertion of more national interests based policy of its various member-states who will be promoting their own sovereign state interests and not basically subservient to a bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels and even more so in Washington. I think it is also very interesting to see what is happening to NATO’s twin – “Euro-Atlantic organization” – the EU, which is under threat of a break up with the British withdrawal, with the hopeful election of Marine Le Pen in France next year. I think we have many Europeans saying that ‘We want our country back.’
RT: The US claims that NATO is a “defensive alliance” that is not threatening Moscow. Is that true? Is it defending Europe?
JJ: Defend themselves from whom? One of the criticisms that Donald Trump has made of European countries and NATO is that they don’t spend the two percent threshold on defense which he considers rightly to be free-loading on the US. Why don’t they spend that much? These are wealthy countries. They can spend that money if they want to. Even Greece, which is not in a very good position, is actually one of the countries that does spend more than the threshold because they do perceive the threat, but from Turkey, a fellow NATO member. The reason these countries don’t spend the money is because they don’t feel threatened. For all the hype of a so-called Russian threat, with the absence of maybe Poland and the Baltic States, nobody in Europe feels threatened by Russia or any other external threat. The only real threat they face is the threat of terrorism. And NATO doesn’t seem to know what to do about that.