In a series of bilateral meetings in London, Trump has pressed his counterparts to increase their countries' military spending by up to 2 percent of GDP - reportedly the crucial sticking point in Trump administration policy toward the alliance.
Rick Rozoff, US-based investigative journalist and manager of the organization "Stop NATO", comments on the future of the organization, the US role in it, shedding a light on a variety of internal issues.
Sputnik: During the summit we have witnessed some kind of an argument between Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump, in the context of recent statements from the French President about the “brain dead” NATO. President Macron has stressed that he’s glad that his statement fueled the discussion. What does this tell about the cooperation within the bloc?
Rick Rozoff: Emmanuel Macron’s statements are a bit difficult for me to decide. I'm not quite sure what he is alluding to, but we have to remember it's been a policy and very often a pose of French presidents in an effort to portray themselves as somewhat independent of Russia, not completely subservient to Atlantisism, to take on NATO in words, when frequently cooperating in action.
We have to recall it was French President Charles de Gaulle removed NATO headquarters in France, after which, of course, he went to Belgium and that withdrew from the military command of NATO, only to have President Nicolas Sarkozy reintegrate France into that.
And we also have to recall that recently France, I believe the French foreign minister, pretty sharply rebuke the United States for not taking military action in the Persian Gulf. So that to portray Macron as a pacifist or as somebody really prepared to challenge US domination, NATO, I think, would be a mistake.
Sputnik: In your view, what is the future of the block itself and how viable is its existence?
Rick Rozoff: There's a lot of questions about its viability. And I think that's perhaps what French President Macron was alluding to.
However, we've had similar discussions, let's be honest, since the collapse or the dissolution of both the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Warsaw Pact, which is 28 years ago - and for 28 years, journalists and political pundits and so forth have talked about NATO being antiquated and NATO being ineffectual, NATO being archaic and essential, like more or less academic discussions.
Keep in mind, in that period, it expanded from 16 full members to now 30 when North Macedonia joined, and 40 some other partners around the world.
So it's hardly become antiquated, I would argue - it's become increasingly expansionist and dangerous.
It's also in that interim waged, three full-fledged wars on three continents. I'm talking, of course, about Yugoslavia in Europe, Afghanistan in Asia and Libya in Africa. So, for all the talk about NATO going out of business, I think we should actually look at what came out of the summit.
The general secretary of NATO, Stoltenberg, boasted of the fact that over the last three years NATO members outside the United States have expanded military spending by 130 billion dollars, which is pretty substantial.
That means with the U.S. current military budget, officially at some 730-740 billion dollars, plus what other NATO countries contribute - NATO countries arguably spend something like 20 times what Russia does on their military - 20 times.
Yet they claim that Russia from the very beginning, 70 years ago, that Russia, then Soviet Russia, now a Federal republic of Russia is the raison d'être for its organization. It's the reason they exist. Some country that is threatening nobody with the military spending 1/20th of what the NATO countries collectively spend.
And I just want to be clear, because in the midst of all the sort of tabloid journalist discussions about Trump's unkind comments towards Macron or Trump and Justin Trudeau's conflict or whatever it is, maybe it's the sort of things we expect from British tabloids, but not from serious political analysis.
And what's behind all this is the fact that as Stoltenberg mentions, NATO has increased its spending by 130 billion dollars per year - behind this also last month, a NATO foreign ministers gathered and reiterated the fact that NATO supports the US plans for the militarization of space, that is space war, that it supports all - which they referred to as the fifth battleground in addition to land, air, sea, cyber warfare, which they support - they were completely with the Pentagon on that as well.
But then NATO is committed itself for being part of the kind of son of Star Wars, a militarization of space. Russian President Putin is quoted today stating that they're very concerned - Russia is very concerned about the US militarizing space and seeing it as yet another zone of war.
So keep in mind, that NATO has just put its stamp of approval on that and will be participating in that program.
Also, to dig a little beneath the headlines to get into what's going on in the world, truthfully - there is an article in the Atlantic Council - the Atlantic Council is the major pro-NATO think tank in the world, based in the United States.
They setup during the early 1960s. It has spawned dozens, if not scores of sister organizations around the world, including throughout Eastern Europe and former Soviet space. One can argue, especially now in the United States over the last couple of three years with the emergence of the deep state mechanism, the military industrial complex writ large.
You'll note that most of the major figures surfacing are members and often leading members of the Atlantic Council. This is a major think tank and planning body for global NATO expansion.
And they have an article up now at the top of their site with the revealing title of - Don't be fooled, Russia is still NATO's greatest challenge. So it's pretty clear, even though NATO, for the first time they say has openly identified China as a potential adversary.
They're analyzing Chinese military spending. So now, more or less officially, NATO is also acknowledged that it's not only Russia, but China - they're challenging and encircling. There was a comment recently in the press by former Australian Prime Minister Alexander Downer, who's also in the news here for having played a role in setting up the whole Russia gate conspiracy hoax in the United States.
So this is the not only Transatlantic, but global western elite military industrial nexus. He's calling openly for countries like Japan and Australia to join NATO as full members. So the so-called North Atlantic Treaty Organization has expanded.
As I mentioned, you know, 70 some members and partners on every inhabited continent. But also at the NATO summit to bring it back to Russia for a moment - there was overt discussion about NATO would defend Poland and the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, should Russia invade them. That's lunacy.
That's such a grotesque fantasy. Yet they're preparing for precisely that. And your listeners and readers should really pay attention to this. In the midst of talking about NATO shoring up military presence in the Baltic Sea and in Poland, both in Poland and the three former Soviet Baltic republics, they openly invoke NATO's Article 5, which is a so-called mutual defense clause, meaning - if one nation is attacked or if they can portray one nation as having been attacked.
And several years ago, Estonia claimed to be the victim of a cyber-attack by a Russian entity, whether government or private is not clear, it probably never occurred.
So that if Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland claim a cyber-attack has occurred, NATO could respond with Article 5, which means full, out, the complete military response against the alleged perpetrator in this case, of course, being Russia. So this is what is really going on in the summit.
Sputnik: One of the key discussion points is the relations with Russia, following the US withdrawal from the INF treaty. In your opinion, will we witness any warming rhetoric towards Russia and efforts to create a working dialogue?
Rick Rozoff: That's a very good question. And I'll say this about Emmanuel Macron - not so much on the question of the brain death of NATO, but several days ago, within the last week, he made a comment to the effect that NATO ought to reorient itself from almost exclusively confronting Russia to addressing issues like international terrorism.
So there is an element of realism and realpolitik in his thinking. Turkey, similarly, as Turkey becomes closer to Russia in many ways, diplomatically and even with joint security concerns in Syria, there may be a counterbalance emerging within the NATO bloc that sees Russia not as its main adversary, if an adversary at all, and rather wants to deal with security issues that, frankly speaking, could and should be handled by coalitions and organizations other than the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
I don't think there are ideally situated, given their history, the foundation 70 years ago, to be dealing with terrorist attacks in South Asia or Southeast Asia - that's better left to the United Nations or to coalitions and regional nations, in my estimation.
But at least that statement by Macron and somewhat by President Erdogan in Turkey suggests that at least on the periphery of the Euro Atlantic military alliance, that there's saner or more reasonable voices emerging. Let's hope they become.
We also have to remember this, and I think it is very, very important that NATO was set up in 1949, as we know 70 years ago, was set up by the Harry Truman administration in the United States. And Truman was a Democrat. And NATO and the transatlantic elite that supports it are much more ideologically and otherwise inclined towards the Democratic Party here than the Republican Party.
So oftentimes when you hear other NATO leaders criticize American head of state or American policy, remember, they only tend to do this when there's a Republican in the White House.
NATO, for example, would not support George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003 and countries particularly France, Germany, Belgium, Canada refused to send troops initially, though they all ended up supporting the war effort in Iraq and compensated by sending more troops to Afghanistan under NATO's control.
So, keep in mind, a lot of the discussion - there are headlines today, where NATO leaders joke or talk about Trump in his absence. And this is, again, the kind of tabloid journalist approach to deadly serious political content.
But it also does tend to confirm that this is how they treated George W. Bush and the way they would treat any Republican head of state in the United States. So let's not make too much of this. There are serious internal differences within NATO members and we've talked about them just now with France and Turkey and perhaps with others. But there are also minor ideological differences between branches of the Atlantis.
As the Trump administration being the first time in a long time - certainly in my lifetime, the United States, an administration that could arguably be identified as protectionist, isolationist. His own slogan, make America great again and America first. So there's a tendency there for whichever self-serving political reasons to break away from subordination to the euro Atlantic nexus.
And in that sense, the other Atlanticists are going to see Trump in a negative light, as I'm sure they do. And then a lot of this is simply a matter of style. He is not acting the way a good Eurocrat in Brussels would act. He’s outspoken, he's crude, whatever it happens to be.
So these are oftentimes minor systems within the Western ruling elite. But the final analysis has to be - NATO is not going to be transmogrified into, not going to metamorphose into a kind, gentle, cooperative security partnership or something.
It is an aggressive military alliance. It has become demonstrably more so in the 70-year interim since its creation. It is an expeditionary military force that has waged war, as I mentioned, in three continents. And none of those instances - with Yugoslavia, with Afghanistan, by the way, over the border into Pakistan, in Libya - none of those instances were these in areas that are considered within areas, the responsibility of NATO.
And again, it's an organization collectively of almost 30 members, will be 30 members of North Macedonia, formally is inducted. That spends 20 times what Russia does, that spends - I don't know, eight times that China does on the military. So it needs to be abolished. I mean, that's the bottom line.
And we're not talking about how NATO can become the equivalent of OSCE or something of that sort. It has to be abolished. It's an aggressive military alliance that threatens Europe and ultimately the world.