'Cracks Beginning to Show': Why NATO is Not as United as It Seems

© REUTERS / Jonathan ErnstNATO Summit leaders gather for a family photo before a working dinner at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland July 8, 2016.
NATO Summit leaders gather for a family photo before a working dinner at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland July 8, 2016. - Sputnik International
High-ranking NATO officials did their best to present a united front at the bloc's summit in Warsaw, but experts have said that cracks are beginning to show since not every member of the North Atlantic Alliance is happy with its ever-increasing military buildup, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region, and its anti-Russian stance.

James Carden, a contributing writer at the Nation, named Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French President Francois Hollande and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as "prominent dissenters from NATO's new Cold War consensus."

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Perhaps not surprisingly, the same countries want to see restrictive measures imposed on Moscow removed in the foreseeable future. "Italy, Spain and possibly France are losing enthusiasm for keeping EU sanctions against Russia in place for much longer," the Economist confirmed. The media outlet also said that "cracks are showing" behind NATO's "facade of unity."

The main reason behind this trend, according to Carden, has to do with the fact that NATO's strategy is based on a false premise that supposedly "aggressive" Russia poses a threat to its neighbors and beyond.

"NATO is addressing a phantom problem of Russian revanchism rather than an actual one: Ukrainian civil war," the former advisor to the US-Russia Presidential Commission at the US State Department said. "Increasing NATO troop levels in Poland will neither put an end to the fighting nor help the millions of non-combatants most in need."

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Carden was referring to the bloc's decision to deploy four battle groups (approximately 4,000 troops) to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to protect their stability and sovereignty. This is one of NATO's key measures aimed at sending a message to Moscow that the bloc, particularly the US, is committed to upholding European security.

However, this is not what these steps have achieved. In fact, the bloc's latest activities have caused tensions unseen for decades. "We have not been in such a dangerous place since Europe 1913 or 1939," Tony Kevin, Australia's former ambassador to Poland and Cambodia, wrote for the Guardian.

"NATO commanders say this can be safely managed. But I have no confidence in this. Hostilities could begin by design or accident, or local provocation by warmongering idiots that could quickly go nuclear," he added.

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Western countries, in Kevin's opinion, "sleepwalked into "these new and unnecessary east-west dangers, supported by a false narrative of Russian aggression." France, the UK and the US, he added, "are now hostage" to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, "the maturity and judgment of whose leaders I have no great confidence in."

Elites in the four former Soviet states have been particularly vocal about the non-existent threat emanating from Moscow. Along with hardliners in Washington, they have largely been the driving force behind NATO's increasing assertiveness. 

As a result, the bloc "has become an insuperable obstacle toward the formation of what Europe needs most, an inclusive security architecture that takes into account the national-security interests of all parties on the continent, from Lisbon to Vladivostok," Carden observed.

For its part, Moscow has always maintained that it is open for a dialogue and prefers to sort out differences solely through diplomatic means.

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