WHAT IS NATO TODAY?

NATO was little more than a political association until the Korean War galvanized the organization's member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The course of the Cold War led to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact, which formed in 1955. Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defense against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO's military structure in 1966. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization was drawn into the breakup of Yugoslavia, and conducted its first military interventions in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999. Politically, the organization sought better relations with former Warsaw Pact countries, several of which joined the alliance in 1999 and 2004.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the 11 September 2001 attacks, after which troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF. The organization has operated a range of additional roles since then, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations and in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.

 

An increasingly prevalent ‘new Cold War’ narrative is impairing Western understanding of today’s Russia and its role in European security

The war in Ukraine suggests a new era of competition between the West and Russia. It has (again) revealed both fundamental differences in how European security is understood, and increasing friction in values. Together, these problems suggest an emergent ‘clash of Europes’ that pits the West’s relatively liberal vision for the region against a more conservative ‘Russian Europe’.

A ‘new Cold War’ narrative, increasingly popular, interprets this competition as a resumption of the Cold War. Many Western political figures and observers have asserted that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is trying to turn back the clock, even to rebuild the USSR, and therefore that the experience of the Cold War could offer useful lessons for politicians today.

This narrative, though seductive, is misleading. It too often frames the discussion in a repetitive and simplistic polemic that inhibits understanding of Russia and its relationship with the West. This makes it harder for the West to craft realistic policies with respect both to the Ukraine crisis and Russia generally.

The use of other sensationalist historical analogies – such as comparing modern Russia’s actions to those of Nazi Germany in the late 1930s – further detracts from the understanding of a complex international crisis. It is an abuse of history in which political myths and abstractions obscure informed arguments about Russia and blur the differences between the presumed and the known.

The ‘new Cold War’ debate traps Western thinking about Russia in the 20th century. It reflects, and encourages, a dangerous tendency on the part of politicians and military strategists to prepare for past wars. It also offers a misleading sense of familiarity and predictability about Russia that does not take into account either the different international situation today or Russian adaptability to changing geopolitics.

Dr Andrew Monaghan, Senior Research Fellow, Russia and Eurasia, Chatham House

FRAGMENTATION IN THE WORLD MATTERS

In addition to Russian and American mess for influence, jihadism (ISIS), has caused havoc in near East and with its terror attacks round the world. Increased fear and despair has resulted in heavy immigration and dangerous reactions between armed forces.

Leadership of the West is lost when the old pattern with the USA as a world police is gone and the EU is toothless with its own problems. This all means a loss of hegemony and intellectual and ideological influence.The US is just now toothless when countries’ election campaign is at the hottest and international affairs are left on the back ground.

Eastern counterpart, Russia, and its president have a clear concept how to move forwards when rebuilding Russian influence with citizen’s support. In its new strategy Russia sees NATO, and its expansion, as the main threat for the country.

In the West, people feel safe when the rule of law, access of information, freedom of speech and human rights are universally recognized. In the East all that is true only in controlled circumstances. The concept of free world and free media contradict with the Eastern one.

Islamic tradition builds on premises constructed of Muhammed’s scripts following the law of Saria. Over the years, Sunni–Shia relations have been stressed and intensified during power struggles, such as the Bahraini uprising, the Iraq War, and most recently the Syrian Civil War and ISIS.

Far East is constructed of civilizations where the truth follows cultural heritage and is tied to the holy symbols. Old traditions don’t follow western life style and the perception of right and wrong. One party China has become a major power in Asia both economically and militarily.

Lars-Olof Fredriksson, Master of Politics, International affairs