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Issue #1780      June 7, 2017

NATO feels new turbulence

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election campaign speech over the weekend of May 27-28 confirmed that fractures have widened in the Western alliance of leading imperialist powers.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out,” Chancellor Merkel

The G7 and NATO summits have exposed significant differences of emphasis and perhaps even of perspective between, in particular, the US, Germany, France and Britain.

First of all, we had US President Donald Trump in Brussels ticking off those NATO member states – including Germany, France, Italy and Turkey – that are failing to meet their 2014 commitment to spend at least 2 percent of their national GDP on the military.

Last year, NATO countries spent approximately £728 billion compared with China’s £215bn and Russia’s relatively puny £55bn.

Even more alarmingly, in his Brussels speech, Trump failed to explicitly confirm his commitment to Article 5 of the NATO constitution, which obliges member states to come to the assistance of a fellow member under military attack.

This worried those right-wing governments in eastern Europe and the Baltic states who want US backing for their ongoing scaremongering among the electorate about non-existent Russian plans to invade their territory.

During his presidential election campaign, Trump suggested that NATO members that didn’t pay their dues could not expect automatic assistance against aggression, while also referring to NATO as “obsolete.”

Since then, he has been pulled back into line by the US military-industrial complex, so Trump aides now insist that “of course, the US president backs NATO and its doctrine of collective defence.”

Other divisions within NATO include those over member state Turkey’s authoritarian government, its role in Syria and its growing rapprochement with Russia; the extent to which NATO should involve itself as a body in combating terrorism and cyber-crime; and whether NATO missions such as that in Afghanistan should be replicated elsewhere outside Europe.

Then, at the G7 summit in Sicily, Trump refused to sign a communiqué supporting the Paris Accord on climate change, having claimed in the past that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

He now tweets that he will decide “some time this week” whether or not to participate in the agreement at all.

Meanwhile, the drive by US ruling circles to prevent any Trump departure from their anti-Putin, anti-Assad line continues in the Congress, the Pentagon and the intelligence services.

Here in Europe, Chancellor Merkel declares after her experiences with Trump at the two recent summits that “the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out.”

She almost certainly had in mind Britain’s vote to leave the EU and the election of pro-EU Emmanuel Macron as French president when adding that “we Europeans have to take our destiny into our own hands.”

She shares the same vision with Macron and overbearing EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker of a thoroughly neo-liberal EU with its own integrated military structures, pursuing its own single common foreign policy.

While the trio would want to maintain alignment with NATO, as set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and its protocols, notably to “contribute to the vitality of a renewed Atlantic Alliance,” Merkel understands that a Trump presidency might make this very difficult.

With NATO and the EU now in a period of unprecedented turbulence, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal that Britain should follow an independent foreign policy based on co-operation, solidarity and the peaceful resolution of conflict wherever possible appears more attractive by the day.

Morning Star

Next article – Elephant in the Tory room

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