Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: It's a no-brainer that Nato is alive

Filed on December 3, 2019 | Last updated on December 3, 2019 at 09.11 pm

Yet the bloc's successes have outweighed its failures - chiefly that of averting a conflict with the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Nato is ageing with no clear foe or an ideology to play defence against as it celebrates its 70th birthday in London. In a splintered world its members are divided. Host UK is calling for unity when Brexit and a national election are tearing the country apart. Meawhile, French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump have fired opening salvoes ahead of what could be a doomed birthday bash. Macron said the grouping is brain-dead; Erdogan retorted that the French president was brain-dead. Trump, never one to miss an opportunity and who views Macron as his bete noire, jumped into the fray and said the French president disrespected the bloc when he himself has done so in the past. London is bracing for a showdown between the alliance's top guns - a sorry spectacle that could greatly hurt decades of stability and prosperity in Europe.

Yet the bloc's successes have outweighed its failures - chiefly that of averting a conflict with the erstwhile Soviet Union. The group set up bases, missile batteries and air combat squadrons to prevent any Soviet aggression which didn't happen even at the peak of the Cold War, with no side keen to strike first. When the bloc came into being in 1949, the spectre of communism threatened the largely Western ideals of capitalism and democracy. The military grouping was to provide an umbrella for countries in Europe that were threatened by alleged communist expansionism piloted by the Soviet Union - that does not exist anymore.

The 29-member alliance did what it was supposed to do in the Cold War era but has nothing new to offer in the modern age of fighting robots, long-range ballistic missiles and cyberwarfare. It lacks direction as the original ideological foe has mutated into a new avatar. Russia, however, has its limitations militarily and economically though it would serve President Putin's geo-strategic interests if Nato is dismantled. Besides, the US under President Trump, is going soft on Moscow. Turkey remains an irritant while France and Germany have much to lose if the umbrella is withdrawn. At 70, the West is safer with Nato than without the security cover provided by the alliance. It's time to say 'thank you, Nato'.


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