Nato imploding? With America’s retreat this 70 years old transatlantic alliance is facing a crisis
Not all’s well with Nato. The transatlantic alliance that has underpinned the post-World War II Western order is no longer pulling in one direction. This was apparent in the recent public sparring between US President Donald Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in London where both leaders had convened to mark seven decades of the transatlantic alliance. Trump jibed at Macron by asking him if he would like to take back some Islamic State (IS) fighters the Americans had captured in Syria. However, Macron hit back saying that the project of defeating IS hasn’t been finished, contrary to what Trump has been claiming.
The tense exchange was preceded by Macron declaring in an interview that Nato was suffering from brain death over the many differences wracking the alliance. Issues like Syria, the role of Turkey, the Russian challenge, China and trade protectionism no longer elicit a joint position from alliance members. This could well be the result of the unipolar world order coming to an end. With the dramatic rise of China and resurgence of Russia, geopolitical competition is increasing and Western coherence is becoming a rare commodity. Trump himself may have precipitated this situation with his America First policy, constant chiding of European allies for not doing enough to ensure global security, and loosening of erstwhile iron-clad strategic partnerships.
All of this has created a fluid international situation where America can no longer be fully counted upon as a guarantor of the international order. But this also creates opportunities for countries like India. Irrespective of whether Nato survives in its present form, India must now shed its traditional diffidence and seek strategic partnerships with Western democracies while leaving room for flexibility in its foreign policy.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.