75 Years Of NATO: US, Europe ‘Spat’ Over Russia, China Conflicts; Time To Break Free From US Hegemony? OPED

Cracks in the NATO alliance have started appearing, with France and Germany unwilling to be drawn into the US hostilities with China and Russia to some extent. It is time that European nations – especially those in the NATO alliance – shake free from the dictates and clutches of the USA, the ‘Global Policeman?’

Sweden became the 32nd member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The third decade of the 21st century has witnessed a radical change in the policies of Nordic nations.

These nations were known for their non-alignment with any military pact until recently. However, US advice (read pressure) convinced (read forced) these nations to shed their non-aligned tag and join NATO. While nothing can be said or predicted about their future in the event of any Russian offensive, their indiscretion has led to hitherto dormant borders becoming highly active – perhaps even volatile in the future.

The Russia-Finland border, for instance, was merely a wooden fence to prevent animals from wandering, but it has become a sensitive and active border with Russia already planning to deploy its artillery.


Former US President Donald Trump had made a categorical assertion that all NATO members must contribute at least 2% of their respective GDP for NATO. If they did not, he (the USA) had threatened to pull out of NATO.

Trump’s threat led to the US Senate passing the Kaine-Rubio Amendment on July 19, 2023. The amendment prohibits the POTUS (President of the United States) from unilaterally deciding to withdraw from NATO until it is approved by a two-thirds majority in the US Senate.

“The bipartisan amendment to the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act would not allow the president to withdraw from NATO without congressional approval, requiring two-thirds of senators to vote for withdrawal.” 

Fissures In NATO

President Emmanuel Macron of France has been most vocal and critical about US hegemony over NATO affairs. During an interview in July 2018, ahead of the NATO London Summit, Macron had said, ‘The bloc was undergoing ‘brain death’.

Russia praised his remarks as ‘golden words’. His outburst followed the US decision (under the Trump regime) to unilaterally withdraw from Syria. Macron went on to add, “European countries could no longer rely on America to defend NATO, both strategically and politically.

We need to recognize that we have a problem. We should reassess NATO’s reality in light of the United States’ commitment. There is no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making between the USA and its NATO allies.”

Macron said NATO should not expand its reach beyond the North Atlantic and added, “If…we push NATO to enlarge the spectrum and the geography, we will make a big mistake”. He said: “Asia lies beyond the geographical scope of the North Atlantic…However, we have seen NATO bent on going east into this region, interfering in regional affairs and inciting bloc confrontation,” he said at a press conference on June 6, 2023.

Macron made waves in April with his comments in a media interview that Europe should not be a “follower” of either the United States or China. He cautioned against being drawn into a crisis over Taiwan amid the rivalry between the two countries.

NATO Expansion In Asia?

The French President’s outburst about the proposal (which is at the moment a thought) of ‘inviting/including’ Asian nations in NATO and an open invitation to India to join the bloc are two most notable events related to the expansion of NATO globally.

Macron was reacting to the proposal of opening a NATO liaison office in Tokyo. If Asian nations are also included, the first and foremost issue would be a change in the nomenclature of this military alliance. The term ‘NATO’ will not represent its true structure. What will it then be?

Core Issue

The ongoing Russian offensive against Ukraine is being touted by all and sundry, including geo-political analysts of repute, as a war between Russia and Ukraine. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Russia has openly challenged the might of an indecisive and unreliable USA as well as EU nations.

Putin’s doctrine, enunciated in early 2020, clearly states that Russia will not hesitate to use nukes against a huge conventional attack. It has taken the wind out of the sails of the USA and NATO. Ever since the disintegration of the USSR and the automatic emergence of the USA as the only Superpower, the Western world was basking in the glory of global supremacy. Today, it is an open war by NATO nations against Russia.

Control Of NATO

The US has controlled not only NATO but also the European Union (EU) nations as its fiefdom and desired/coerced them to act on the bidding of the USA. A notable example of such abuse of wealth and military power was the attack on Iraq in 2003 to destroy the non-existing nuclear weapon capability.

Western intelligence agencies had categorically confirmed that such a capability did not exist. The only accomplishment of the self-styled international policeman, the USA, and its cronies (the EU) was the capture and subsequent ‘judicial killing’ of Saddam Hussein. In doing so, the USA ushered in instability in the Middle East, which was till then in a reasonably stable state.

China and Russia were mere onlookers of the domination by the US. China, then was a growing economy and nearly at the same level as India. Russia was trying to gather the torn bits left over by numerous erstwhile states of the USSR breaking away, Ukraine included.

Expansion Of NATO

The Ukrainian design to join NATO was seen as an offensive action against Russia, with NATO borders moving eastwards. Russia could not have attacked Ukraine after it had joined NATO, hence the timing of the offensive. The USA and its cronies in the EU merely provided assurances to Ukraine, hoping that Russia would not take military action. Putin, however, had other plans.

The Russian offensive against Ukraine has proved to the rest of the world that the USA and NATO cannot be relied upon for timely assistance. The USA has ceased to be a Superpower. Instead, it has emerged as the most unreliable ally. The term, USA standing in ‘pole position’ among the comity of nations, is not only indicative of a myopic and tunneled vision but also clear proof of a total lack of understanding of the prevailing geo-strategic scenario.

US As A Reliable Ally?

The large-scale destruction of infrastructure in major Ukrainian cities will take decades to rebuild. Future historians will certainly evaluate if Ukraine’s inclination to join NATO was worth it. After watching Ukraine being destroyed, Taiwan must surely be having second thoughts about expectations of US military assistance in the event of a Chinese offensive.

The Russian onslaught against Ukraine has brought out into the open the fact that the USA cannot be considered a Superpower because of its $24 trillion economy and huge stocks of modern weapons.

The US leadership cannot assimilate international trends and the consequences of those moves. However, the US’ accomplishment in one area remains unmatched by any other nation: the US’s adaptability to fight fire with gasoline.

Future Of NATO

NATO (read EU) must have realized the futility of the US calling the shots and projecting an anti-Russia and China stance. They ought to realize that a future Russian offensive in Europe is a reality and that the USA may not/will not come to their aid in time.

It is about time European nations decided to take care of their national security themselves. NATO ought to be dissolved, as was the Warsaw Pact. Military alliances are primary sources of initiating a conflict. The USA deserves to be left alone to fend for itself. Both Germany and France are not too happy with the USA on various issues. UK’s influence is no longer valid in EU/NATO.

If Europe fails to move out of the clutches of US hegemony over NATO decisions, Europe might get involved in the China-Taiwan crisis as it has in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.


Ukraine’s concerns:  Ukrainian President Zelensky exposed the brittleness and fragility of the alliance by stating that Ukraine was suffering Russian aggression due to the inappropriate political decision taken by NATO stemming from the opposition to Ukraine’s NATO membership request by the then German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008.

Both leaders were instrumental in blocking Ukraine’s entry into the NATO military alliance held in Bucharest, Romania. President Zelenskyy called out both former leaders for reportedly blocking Ukraine’s admission to the NATO military alliance.

Vilnius Summit

The recent summit at Vilnius, Lithuania, was notable for what it failed to achieve rather than what it achieved. At the end of the summit, NATO issued a few thousand-word communiqué. But it failed to address the most important and burning issue of embracing Ukraine in the NATO fold, if at all.

There was a vague statement that mentioned Ukraine’s NATO membership would be considered when ‘conditions’ were met. What those conditions were remained unspecified.

Fragile & Brittle Coalition

Fragility, brittleness, and uncertainty among NATO nations are evident due to:

  • Although all NATO members agreed to spend at least 2% of their respective GDP on defense (as demanded and directed by POTUS Donald Trump in 2018), the current spending by European Allies is about $ 375 billion.
  • Today, 20 alliance partners out of the total 32 do not meet the above criteria. The communique clearly states that allies will have to spend more than 2% of their GDP on the modernization program essential to meet emerging threats.
  • The next summit due in Washington in 2024 will discuss the issue of 2%. The burden-sharing of NATO expenses will be high on the agenda. Quite a few alliance partners have categorically said that details of the burden-sharing model should be shared with all members.
  • No timeline has been given for considering Ukraine’s application for NATO membership.

Effects Of Russian Offensive

The Russian offensive against Ukraine continues unabated. Russia has already called it a war against NATO. In their latest communiqué issued a few days ago, Russia has unequivocally stated that all shipping bound for Ukrainian ports would be considered as potential carriers of military cargo and added that Russia reserved the right to attack these ships.

Nuclear war Russia Ukraine
Nuclear War/Representational Image

Moscow has already pulled out of the UN-brokered deal that allowed Ukrainian ships to be used for grain exports. Such a Russian decision would mean a blockade of shipping in the Black Sea, which would have worldwide ramifications on the availability and price escalation of food grains.

NATO Alliance Members’ Views On Taiwan

In June 2023, NATO headquarters in Brussels issued a document on a new strategic concept. NATO described China as a challenge to the alliance’s interests, security, and values. It referred to China as an economic and military power that maintains opacity about its strategy, intentions, and military build-up.

The above statement reflects the paradigm shift in NATO’s view about the threat perception from China. NATO views China as a greater threat than Russia. This issue has caused visible fissures among NATO alliance countries.

While most have chosen to remain silent, French President Macron has been vocal and to the point. Regarding the sensitive Taiwan issue, he said: “The question we need to answer, as Europeans, is: Is it in our interest to accelerate a crisis about Taiwan? No. The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the US agenda and a Chinese overreaction.”

Although Washington has no diplomatic contact with Taiwan and supports the ‘one China’ policy, it also supports Taiwan’s existence as a separate entity outside China’s domain. In the past 12 months, the situation has worsened, especially after the then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and chances of a military conflict cannot be ruled out.

File Image

USA has upped the ante by permanently deploying a US Navy’s nuclear submarine near South Korea on the pretext of protecting South Korea from a possible nuclear threat emanating from North Korea. The USS Kentucky, an Ohio class submarine capable of carrying up to 32 nuclear surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs), arrived at the South Korean port of Busan on July 18y, 2023. Incidentally, the last such visit by a US nuclear submarine to South Korea was in 1980.

France categorically states that Taiwan is an internal issue of China. It does not want to be involved in any tension between the USA and China on the Taiwan issue. President Macron advocates a Doctrine of Strategic Autonomy that is outside US influence.

The AUKUS treaty — a trilateral security partnership for the Indo-Pacific region between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — and the cancellation of the submarine deal between France and Australia are extremely significant aspects of divergent views between the USA and France.

Only recently, President Macron visited China. His prophetic words after concluding his visit to China must not be lost sight of by the world, NATO in particular. He said, “Europeans cannot resolve the crisis in Ukraine; how can we credibly say on Taiwan, ‘Watch out, if you do something wrong, we will be there?”

Europe is unlikely to support the US agenda of being a ‘global policeman.’ European nations will have to take care of their security. Any escalation of hostilities with China and/or Russia will invariably affect Europe.

Are the European nations ready to suffer on account of US hostility towards China and Russia, irrespective of the reasons? The emergence of dissent among the major European nations stemming from the US hegemony on NATO policies has made the NATO alliance fragile and brittle.

  • Gp Cpt TP Srivastava (Retd) is an ex-NDA who flew MiG-21 and 29. He is a qualified flying instructor. He commanded the MiG-21 squadron. He is a directing staff at DSSC Wellington and chief instructor at the College of Air Warfare.
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