Importance of NATO
The US has been a long time member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, pledging support to other members when threats to member security arise. During the Cold War, NATO held a pinnacle of importance and recent global developments have thrust NATO back on to center stage.
The recent EU Inter-Parliamentary Conference (8 April 2016) discussed the Common Foreign and Security Policy along with the Common Security and Defence Policy. The NATO Deputy Secretary General had some interesting comments regarding NATO’s current role in protecting EU members.
He said EU members share identical life values such as freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights, along with the rule of law. He believes the EU members stand together making them “stronger, safer, and more prosperous . . .” He noted the war in Syria, ISIS, growing instability in North Africa, and the continuing multiple conflicts in the Middle East pose serious threats to “our own security, stability, and cohesion.”
Current Threats to European Union Security
As the EU (European Union) countries continue to feel threatened by multiple sources, e.g., terrorists, NATO has regained its close relationship to its members. Some global observers even believe that NATO is more important than ever before. The NATO alliance covers 22 EU member countries — nine of every ten people in the EU receive NATO protection.
In addition to growing terrorist actions, e.g., France, Russia is making intrusions in Eastern Europe once again, as they did at the close of World War II. Once again, Russia has become involved in the Ukraine. However, some of the EU countries, particularly Germany, are less than pleased with US aid to the beleaguered Ukraine.
US Congress and White House Controversy
This dispute is escalating as the US agreed recently agreed to give $75 million in nonlethal assistance to Ukraine by providing over 200 armored and unarmored Humvees to the country. This aid is in addition to the $120 million already given to the Ukraine military.
Germany is particularly perturbed with the US Congress and US Administration. The White House Press Secretary stated the new $75 million is a “substantial supplement” to the former US aid.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is frustrated with this massive aid as she fears it may torpedo diplomatic initiatives to the Russian intervention problems, leaving only military solutions. Her office calls the latest aid “dangerous propaganda.” She may believe the US is sabotaging the unified European efforts at mediation in the conflict.
Fortunately, there is a cease fire, however tenuous it may be, in place this Spring 2016. The NATO supreme allied commander, a US Air Force general, for Europe, and the assistant secretary of state for Europe, have been accused of exaggerating the depth and seriousness of Russian intervention.
The basis for the European concern: the NATO supreme allied commander’s estimates for Russian troop and tank numbers in Ukraine. His numbers are often higher than other intelligence agency estimates. After he called the conflict “incredibly alarming,” EU members escalated their skepticism on the threat situation.
Yet, NATO is the EU’s best hope for protection from getting militarily involved in the Ukraine situation. While Germany takes the role of spokesperson for the EU in finding diplomatic solutions, it appears that Europe favors a nonmilitary solution in the war-weary Ukraine as the US avoids sending its military into the fray.