Xinhua Headlines: NATO leaders gather amid political uncertainty, questions on relevance-Xinhua

Xinhua Headlines: NATO leaders gather amid political uncertainty, questions on relevance

Source: Xinhua| 2024-07-10 19:48:31|Editor: huaxia

* NATO is one of the "institutional frameworks" in the U.S. military-security apparatus that underpin the U.S. grand strategy, which aims for U.S. global hegemony, Jeffrey Sachs said.

* "The rigid, consensus-based decision-making process of NATO, designed for a world with a singular threat, is ill-suited for the fast-paced, dynamic environment of a multipolar world," said a U.S. professor.

by Xinhua writer Xiong Maoling

WASHINGTON, July 10 (Xinhua) -- As leaders from more than 30 nations gather in the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C. to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the ongoing Ukraine crisis continues to be a key topic, with the prospect of peace still appearing distant.

NATO member countries are endeavoring to expedite the delivery of weaponry and military assistance to Ukraine, when confidence in U.S. leadership is waning and major disagreements remain within the alliance.

Established during the early stages of the Cold War, NATO is now confronting a changing global landscape characterized by multipolarity, prompting discussions about its continued relevance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) chairs a meeting of NATO defense ministers at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2024. (Xinhua/Zhao Dingzhe)


NATO, which has grown from 12 members in 1949 to 32 in 2024, is a central pillar supporting the United States' extensive reach and authority in international security matters, reinforcing America's position as a dominant security power.

NATO is one of the "institutional frameworks" in the U.S. military-security apparatus that underpin the U.S. grand strategy, which aims for U.S. global hegemony, Jeffrey Sachs, a professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, told Xinhua.

The United States has been trying to strengthen NATO in three ways: expansion to Ukraine, Georgia, and even Central Asia; increased NATO engagement in East Asia; and increased weapons procurement and buildup, Sachs noted.

"The only short-term winners are the military contractors, who are making a lot of money," said the renowned economist.

Despite pledges to provide further military support for Ukraine, NATO leaders will likely refrain from making tangible progress towards its membership in the Western bloc. Some are concerned about integrating a country currently engaged in conflict with a nuclear-armed superpower.

"NATO will offer some kind of 'bridge' for Ukraine to join, but membership is unlikely until major combat operations there subside or end," William Courtney, a retired U.S. ambassador and adjunct senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, told Xinhua.

Yet, more than two years into the Ukraine-Russia conflict, peace still appears distant, serving as an example that the coalition is not promoting peace but rather threatening it.

NATO's actions have sparked protests worldwide. Just recently, hundreds of anti-war organizations and activists gathered in Washington, D.C. during the weekend to protest the summit, scheduled to take place from July 9 to 11.

"The United States continues to have a foreign policy that is profoundly misguided and dangerous, based on the goal of hegemony, and with the consequence of confrontation with China, Russia, and most of the developing countries. NATO is part of this misguided and dangerous foreign policy," Sachs said.

This photo taken on April 23, 2024 shows the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)


The summit is taking place as several key NATO member states are grappling with domestic political shifts at a time of political uncertainty.

A new British prime minister has just taken office, after the Conservative Party was voted out following 14 years in power. France still faces a political stalemate as no party or coalition won an absolute majority in its parliamentary elections. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is in a weakened position following losses suffered by his party and coalition in the European Parliament elections.

In the United States, President Joe Biden is facing mounting pressure to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race due to concerns about his physical and mental fitness, after his poor performance in a presidential debate with former President Donald Trump in late June.

"Every step Biden takes, every gesture he makes, and every word he utters will be under intense scrutiny, especially in unscripted moments after the image of an aged and at times incoherent commander in chief was burned into the minds of 50 million viewers at the CNN debate in Atlanta late last month," said an analysis by CNN.

This image provided by CNN shows U.S. President Joe Biden (R) and former President Donald Trump taking the stage at CNN's Atlanta studio for the first presidential debate of the 2024 election on June 27, 2024. (CNN/Handout via Xinhua)

"Biden also seized on the upcoming summit as proof of his leadership skills and success as president, while his campaign sought to use his turn on the global stage on U.S. soil to reset the comparison between him and Trump," it said.

With Trump leading Biden in election polls, NATO countries are concerned. "Most allies see Trump as anti-NATO and isolationist-inclined," said Courtney, adding that most allies think Trump has a strong chance of winning and they fear this will weaken the alliance and put in jeopardy U.S. support for Ukraine.

In an opinion piece, Kurt Volker, a distinguished fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, who also served as U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations from 2017 to 2019 and U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2008 to 2009, highlighted the uncertainty about the future of U.S. leadership.

"The United States is the alliance's most powerful member. It is indispensable. There is now deep uncertainty over the future of American leadership, its future interest in Ukrainian victory and even in the alliance itself," Volker said.

This photo taken on March 11, 2024 shows a flag raising ceremony for Sweden's accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. (Xinhua/Zhao Dingzhe)


NATO is now facing a shifting global environment marked by multipolarity, prompting debates on its ongoing significance.

The situation today is markedly different from previous moments of intra-alliance tension, and the forces threatening NATO's future go beyond the personal inclinations of individual leaders, Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, wrote in an article on Foreign Policy.

"The most obvious source of strain is the shifting distribution of world power," Walt argued, stressing that "the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact are no more, and Russia no longer has the capacity to conquer and subdue the European continent."

Noting that most of the new endeavors after the Soviet Union broke up didn't work out that well, the professor said NATO is "in trouble" because the familiar cliches about shared values and trans-Atlantic solidarity do not resonate as powerfully as they once did, especially for younger generations.

"There are powerful structural forces gradually pulling Europe and the United States apart, and those trends will continue regardless of what happens in November, in Ukraine, or in Europe itself," he said.

"Will NATO still exist in 25 years?" asked Andrew Latham, a professor of international relations at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy, and a non-resident fellow at Defense Priorities in Washington, D.C.

"The Soviet threat, which served as a unifying force for the Alliance, ended long ago. The European and Canadian members of NATO, having been on the team that 'won' the Cold War, lost much of their resolve to maintain robust military capabilities and contribute their fair share to collective defense," Latham wrote in an article published by The Hill.

"NATO was conceived in a bipolar world to address the reality of superpower competition," Latham said. "But the unipolar moment has definitively passed and we have entered a new geopolitical era -- one defined fundamentally by multipolarity."

"The rigid, consensus-based decision-making process of NATO, designed for a world with a singular threat, is ill-suited for the fast-paced, dynamic environment of a multipolar world," Latham said.  Enditem

(Matthew Rusling contributed to the article.)

(Video reporters: Hu Yousong, Xiong Maoling; Video editors: Lin Lin, Zhao Xiaoqing, Zhang Yichi, Li Qin, Hong Ling)