75 years of Nato: what challenges lie ahead?

Nato was founded on 4 April 1949 in Washington, D.C. with the ceremonial signing of the North Atlantic Treaty. Initially composed of twelve member states, it nowencompasses 32. On its 75th anniversary, Europe's press takes a look at the challenges the alliance now faces.

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De Standaard (BE) /

Many tasks ahead

On its 75th birthday Nato is forced to confront its weaknesses, De Standaard comments:

“Unity in diversity has its price. What's more, almost all of the member states have forgotten how to wage war, their industries have not been adapted to it. Finances remain a problem; too many cutbacks have been made in defence spending. Turning this situation around will prove difficult and cannot be achieved without more effective cooperation to optmise investments. Nato also faces new geopolitical challenges: the Middle East is becoming a powder keg and the alliance is baffled by the behaviour of its ally Israel. The African continent is losing stability with the growing influence of Russian mercenaries. ... And China also remains a cause for concern.”

Petro Oleshchuk (UA) /

Red lines as a sign of weakness

In a Facebook post, political scientist Petro Oleshchuk calls for a firmer stance from Washington:

“We all understand that Nato is basically the US. And there are currently major problems with the US, not just regarding the potential re-election of Donald Trump. ... With its constant striving for 'de-escalation', the Biden administration has already brought the danger of escalation to Nato's doorstep. ... It's obvious that the alliance's 'red lines' are simply a sign of weakness for the Russians. ... For the time being, every now and then a Russian missile or Shahed drone penetrates Nato airspace. Next it will be sabotage squads and then perhaps the tanks will start rolling in. But so far only the Baltic states have grasped this.”

Protagon.gr (GR) /

US would gain nothing from quitting

The web portal Protagon publishes a text which first appeared on Project Syndicate by Carla Norrlöf, professor of political science at the University of Toronto and Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council:

“Americans need to understand that Nato is not just a mechanism for protecting allies. It is an essential component of a comprehensive strategy that both advances American interests and maintains their country's global leadership role. The US would gain nothing by withdrawing from the transatlantic alliance. On the contrary, its withdrawal would reduce its influence without significantly limiting its military spending.”

RFI România (RO) /

Shared values are key

Nato must not allow itself to be divided by Moscow, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on the alliance's anniversary. But according to RFI România Russia is aiming for more than that:

“It wants guarantees that Ukraine will never join Nato - guarantees that the alliance will never be able to give, for the simple reason that it would be violating its own treaty. ... Ever since Nato was founded, Moscow's (declared) goal has been to destroy it. Perhaps - say some military experts - by testing the famous Article 5. Will all the allies really rush to the aid of one country? ... At the very least, Donald Trump has sown doubts here. But one thing is certain: Nato will endure as long as its members remain committed to its values.”

IQ (LT) /

Right of veto is a security risk

IQ warns against unnecessary intrigue within the alliance:

“Democracy, international law and the rule of law constitute the core of the world's most powerful alliance. But countries that have forgotten these values have long been trying to assert their mercantilist interests in important Nato decisions. This was demonstrated by the example of Sweden's delayed accession, when the selfish motives of Turkey and Hungary overshadowed the alliance's common security interests. ... The right of veto is one of the biggest challenges in these key Western organisations. The best example is the United Nations, which has become completely ineffective due to the same right of veto.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Beijing as the big challenge

China in particular will become a threat in the future, Welt warns:

“The country is steadily building up its military and arms capabilities and becoming more and more assertive. Fifteen years from now China will probably be the big issue for Nato. The Alliance must finally prepare for this scenario: a few partnership dialogues with Pacific neighbours and small-scale military exercises in the Pacific region are not nearly enough. Berlin must stop applying the brakes here. After all, the Chinese threat also concerns the Europeans: if Beijing is able to block the trade routes in the South China Sea, European goods traffic will be at risk.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

US help not to be taken for granted

Europe must do more to keep its most important partner in Nato, The Daily Telegraph urges:

“Lord Ismay, the first secretary-general of Nato ... was characteristically forthright in setting out its principal ambition. It was 'to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down'. ... The threat to Nato's future comes from within, and especially if Donald Trump is re-elected US president later this year. His ambivalence towards the alliance derives partly from a resentment that America contributes so much more to Europe's defence than the continent itself does. ... The country's help cannot always be taken for granted, which is why one of Ismay's aims was to 'keep America in'. That will require the European members of Nato to step up and stump up.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Dramatic military staff shortages

Europe needs more soldiers again, writes Večernji list:

“Benefits for the whole family to facilitate a better work-life balance, more money, the conscription of women and the potential reintroduction of compulsory military service are some of the makeshift measures that, it is hoped, could halt the worrying decline in the number of active soldiers in the armed forces of Nato member states. ... In the light of the new geopolitical situation and the war on Europe's borders, this problem is becoming relevant in almost all member states. ... The Nato states must concentrate their efforts on internal problems as well as external ones.”

La Tribune (FR) /

Strengthen democratic resilience

Efforts should not be focused solely on the armed forces, writes Anne Genetet, member of the National Assembly for President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party, in La Tribune:

“The defence of the Euro-Atlantic area means not only military defence, but now more than ever also the defence of a set of shared values. ... That is why I support the idea of our country promoting the debate on the creation of a NATO centre for democratic resilience. ... The creation of such a centre has been under discussion since 2019, but the hybrid war waged by Russia makes it important and urgent, and therefore a priority. In this way France would strengthen its influence within Nato, which more than ever must be our shield against the enemies of freedom.”