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It's Time for NATO to Find Another Raison D'etre or Dissolve. Why Won't It?

© AFP 2023 / SVEN HOPPE / DPADemonstrators take part in a protest titled "There is no Peace with NATO" in front of the venue of the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany (File)
Demonstrators take part in a protest titled There is no Peace with NATO in front of the venue of the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany (File) - Sputnik International
Commenting on the recent remarks of President-Elect Trump that NATO had become an obsolete alliance, political scientist George Szamuely explained to Sputnik why Trump is only too right, and why he risks facing serious resistance both at home at in Europe.

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German’s Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier recently said that Donald Trump’s statement that NATO had become obsolete sparked concern among the alliance's EU members.

Germany's top diplomat, who recently held a meeting with the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said the view of the businessman-turned-politician contradicted that of his appointee for Secretary of Defense – James Mattis.

Donald Trump is set to be sworn in as the 45th US President on January 20th.

During his election campaign, he repeatedly questioned the role of NATO and criticized Washington’s European partners, saying they failed to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

More recently, the real estate mogul said NATO was obsolete because it had not defended itself from terrorist attacks.

Trump also criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying her policy on migrants had opened the door to terrorism.

Radio Sputnik discussed NATO and the alliance’s relations with the US with George Szamuely, Senior Fellow of the Global Policy Institute of London Metropolitan University.

"It is time for NATO to be reformed, maybe even abolished. After the Warsaw Pact disappeared more than a quarter of a century ago, there is almost no serious reason for NATO to continue to exist. However if it is to exist, which is what Trump is saying, then it should actually have some strategic purpose," he said.

Szamuely further explained that the original strategic purpose of the alliance, to protect Western Europe from Stalin's Red Army horde, nowadays makes absolutely no sense and has not made sense for many, many years, even before the end of the Cold War.

"There needs to be some new raison d'etre for NATO or my preference would be just to let it dissolve altogether," he surmised.

However, he went on, recently NATO has adopted an extraordinary belligerent stance: it has expanded, swallowing countries up. Every single member of the former Warsaw Pact (except the non-Baltic former Soviet countries) is now a member of NATO. They have now moved their forces right up to Russia's borders.

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A few days ago, he reminded, they moved troops into Poland and they are promising to be rotating these extra troops throughout Eastern Europe.

"This upsets the Russians to no end. It would have certainly upset the Americans to no end if suddenly Russians started deploying their troops in Mexico and in Canada, right on America's borders. And yet NATO pretends to be astonished, asking why the Russians should be so upset about this, don't they know that NATO is a defensive alliance? So, if it is defensive, what is it doing on Russia's borders? Why is it antagonizing the Russians if it is so defensive?" he asked rhetorically.

NATO keeps trotting out this banal mantra from its charter that it is "entirely defensive", he then answered. But it has not been defensive for decades now.

He then went on to explain that the bombing of Yugoslavia was "entirely an aggressive act." Yugoslavia was not a member state, it posed no threat to any member state, it posed no threat to any state, he said. And yet NATO went ahead and bombed it.

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Libya was no threat to anyone either, the expert said. Besides, NATO has been involved in Iraq and in Afghanistan. NATO is continually seeking new missions as a justification for its continued existence, he explained, saying that it has become a very dangerous enterprise as a result: if NATO keeps seeking justifications for its existence, it is going to get itself into a very nasty little confrontation at some point.

So far, Szamuely said, NATO has been quite skillful at picking on small, weaker states that it can bully quite handily. Antagonizing the Russians, however, is a very dangerous enterprise, he warned.

The political analyst further warned why it might also become very dangerous for the president-elect.

Trump is going to come up against lots of resistance in the US, even within his own Republican party, Szamuely said, which is extraordinary bellicose and Russophobic. He has generated enmity among the intelligence services and within the Pentagon. He has created alarm within Europe, which basically has been getting a very nice little deal for many years: European countries have been paying very little for military upkeep, because the Americans were only too happy to continue to underwrite NATO.

"There are all sorts of ways in which the military, intelligence, national security apparatus will hit back once they realize that they are suddenly being undercut by the president," he told Sputnik.

"Once way that is through impeachment, another way – through some kind of a constitutional ouster, it could be within the administration, there could be a palace coup against him and Vice President Pence will be installed as President. And there is always the ultimate weapon of assassination. So, Trump faces a considerable and very serious resistance," he finally stated.

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