NATO is "delicate matter", albeit can be easily seen through
The two-day summit of NATO leaders, starting in London today, promises to be perhaps the most scandalous in the history of the alliance. Of course, the alliance, caught in a severe crisis, will not fall apart, but claims against each other can put an end to the organization's reform, pushed by the European leaders - Germany and France, but which has not even begun.
The essence of the proposal by Paris and Berlin can be interpreted as the creation of an "elite club" inside the North Atlantic bloc "to discuss the reform in the alliance and address concerns about its future." But, perhaps, behind this there is a desire to subjugate new and very noisy members of the alliance and reserve the right to decide on the adoption of vital issues.
If this assumption is true, then it may turn out that the attempt of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel to breathe new life into NATO will bring the opposite result - this may turn out to be not oxygen for the alliance, but much less useful gas. It's hard to imagine that, for example, obstinate Turkey or proud Poland will be ready to "march" in step with someone’s bravura march without question. Especially considering what was announced: the leaders of 29 member states will try to demonstrate unity at the London summit.
Therefore, it is possible that the Paris-Berlin initiative may be delayed for some time or presented in a form that will be suitable for all alliance members. But it seems that there is no getting away from discussing the U.S. policy line. Europe accepted Washington’s demands - NATO funding was redistributed as America generally wanted - the U.S. aid was cut.
But the United States itself aggravated the issue of unity, withdrawing its troops from Syria in its sole discretion. That's when President Macron's scandalous statement about NATO’s "brain death' was made, Washington’s caustic retaliatory rebuff, and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s advice to Macron to check his own head. And all subsequent diplomatic scandals at the level of foreign ministries with summoning of ambassadors, notes and protest letters.
But this is still half of NATO’s misfortune. Inside the alliance itself, perhaps for the first time in its 70-year history, "several general lines" can be seen, the implementation of which is supported by various states.
Thus, France made it clear that recent U.S. actions have make it incapable of perceiving this state as the main and most powerful guarantor of security and now almost recommends that all NATO members recall "strategic autonomy."
Germany, expressing solidarity with France on major issues, nevertheless, advocates the approach of "strategic patience" - work to eliminate internal roughness and contradictions, while maintaining unity in achieving specific and important goals.
For example, Poland stands for the development and strengthening of bilateral relations with the United States in order to ensure its own security. It will be supported by the Baltic countries with their surging Russian phobias.
Thus, one can probably say that only Paris and, possibly, Ankara will risk expressing discontent openly. Although Erdogan's aforementioned sharp rebuff to Macron indicates that Turkey demonstrates a tendency to alliance with the United States under certain conditions. However, this is logical - Ankara noticeably worsened relations with European capitals, this would not be the most reasonable move to intensify the confrontation with Washington, when Greece is going to speak again about threats to its sovereignty from Turkey at the summit. Especially when the alliance considers Turkey, which indicated a sharp tilt towards Russia, one of the main culprits of NATO's gloomy situation. There was even such a term as Turexit in the Polish media by analogy with the British Brexit.
France, in addition to claims to U.S. actions in Syria, has accumulated discontent over Washington’s overly tight trade policy as part of the military alliance. On the eve of the summit, Defense Minister Florence Parly told the French weekly newspaper that Washington is turning the NATO Charter Article 5 on collective security into a kind of obligation to acquire F-35 aircraft by members of the alliance. At the same time, the minister rather straightforwardly continued Macron’s thought that it is up to Europe to build its own sovereignty. And sovereign Europe and NATO should mutually reinforce each other, Parley explained.
Thus, summarizing, one can get a list of the main contradictions brought by the NATO leaders to the summit in London: the position of France, in which one can find a tendency to strengthen their own positions, a reduction in Washington's funding of the NATO defense budget, Turkey’s military operation in Syria, sharply criticized allies in the alliance, and a qualitative change in its relations with Russia, and possibly with China, to the detriment of relations with NATO partners. And a lot of smaller claims to each other and resentment against each other. Nevertheless, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the alliance, the leaders of its member-states will find the strength to adopt a kind of general reconciliation resolution. For some time, it's not it's just the East being "a delicate matter", as the famous movie hero used to say, but also the West.