Nato turns 70: cause for celebration?

Nato's 70th anniversary celebrations are marred by discord. The foreign ministers of the member states gathered in Washington and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the alliance's achievements. But before the meeting got underway the White House took Germany to task for its low defence spending. The row over money is by no means Nato's only problem, commentators point out.

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Mediapart (FR) /

Alliance just a puppet of the arms industry

Russia can no longer serve as Nato's raison d'être, write Hervé Hannoun and Peter Dittus, authors of a book that is critical of the alliance, in Mediapart:

“It is highly unlikely that a demographically weak country which is not a big economic power and for that reason struggles to invest roughly 50 billion dollars per year in its defence can pose a military threat to the European Union. The main function of the 'Russian threat' from the point of view of the military-industrial complex is to preserve the current allocation of public resources in the West, which gives overwhelming priority to military spending over humanitarian priorities such as the ecological transition and the fight against epidemics, water shortages, poverty and malnutrition.”

Népszava (HU) /

Important to focus on the real enemy

Népszava also criticises the focus on Russia as the enemy:

“Since Nato's last round-number anniversary the situation in Europe has changed radically. Russia has annexed Crimea and provoked an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine - it has shown its aggressive side once more. ... Yet nowadays rather than Russia China is the main global rival. But for Vladimir Putin it's important - also for securing support at home - that Russia be perceived as a vital major power. That is why the Russian president is eager to provide those who stress the importance of Nato with good arguments in order to divert America's attention from the Far East, which is becoming increasingly important.”

Kommersant (RU) /

Posing for group photos

Nato long since ceased to be a united alliance, Kommersant observes:

“Once Nato state, the US, is twisting the arm of another member, Turkey, to force it to give up its plan to buy the Russian S-400 [missile defence] system. ... The US, which sees the S-400 as competing with Patriot, its own missile defence system, describes the Turkish plan as a threat to its own security and that of the Allies. Against the backdrop of this emerging conflict of interests, leading EU states are thinking about creating a European army. ... It is becoming clear that Nato long since stopped playing a team game. It only appears to by declaring its resolve to restrain Russia with its joint forces and underlining this with group photos.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Budget obsession no coincidence

Nato isn't cutting a good figure at its anniversary ceremony in Washington, US correspondent Federico Rampini concludes in La Repubblica:

“Donald Trump opened the summit with praise and recriminations. He patted himself on the back for forcing the Europeans to pay more for their joint security - while at the same time complaining that they're still not doing enough. But he'll force them to cough up more, he said. Many US presidents, Democrats included, have condemned the military parasitism of their allies. Trump is upping the ante with a virulence all of his own. But above all: this is his hobby horse. The obsessive attention being devoted to accounting matters makes it clear that something has gone lost.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Germany as the problem child

Lidové noviny agrees with the criticism of Germany's military budget:

“The automatism with which Germany relies on the US security guarantee is a risk. Only a few Germans are warning that such a successful country can't keep on refusing to spend two percent of its GDP on its military. This is not about resistance to Trump. It's about Germany asserting itself as a Western nation. At a time when Brexit is serving as a symptom in the diagnosis of the EU's problems, the German stance on Nato can be seen as a symptom in the diagnosis of the problems with the North Atlantic Alliance.” (DE) /

Alliance is and remains indispensable

Anyone who believes that Nato is obsolete should take a look at a map, advises:

“From the perspective of someone who lives in Warsaw, Bucharest or Sofia the world looks a little different. The hybrid war that has been smouldering for the past five years in eastern Ukraine and which has already claimed several thousand lives, as well as the lightning annexation of Crimea in the spring of 2014, have provided the young democracies in the east of the EU with dramatic examples of how quickly self-determination and territorial integrity can be ended. However, not just Vladimir Putin's newly aggressive Russia, but also the rapidly arming China should be a warning to us all. ... Nato is indispensable for our security for the foreseeable future.”

Der Standard (AT) /

EU needs its own army

Seventy years after Nato's founding it's time to replace it with a proper European army, Der Standard puts in:

“Within Europe the values are more homogenous than within the transatlantic alliance. The EU can focus on implementing this system of values in those regions that are important to it. The US and post-Brexit Britain will no doubt remain on peaceful terms with Europe and support it in an emergency. But the EU member states must finally consolidate their military forces and distribute their tasks efficiently - and stop relying on the US.”