13:23 GMT +319 October 2019
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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, front row from left, watch a fly-by during a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels Wednesday, July 11, 2018. NATO leaders gather in Brussels for a two-day summit to discuss Russia, Iraq and their mission in Afghanistan.

    German Media Wary of NATO's 'Existential Crisis', Blames Trump

    © AP Photo / Markus Schreiber
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    The NATO alliance is preparing to mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty next week, with the alliance evolving over the last three decades from a defensive Cold War bloc into a continually expanding force capable of waging wars around the world.

    Seven decades after its founding, NATO is in the middle of an "existential crisis", with German resistance to President Trump's demand that members commit 2 per cent of GDP to defence spending threatening to destroy the bloc, the Spiegel magazine claims.

    According to the publication, while Germany is pinching pennies and calling into question plans to raise defence spending even to 1.5 per cent of GDP by 2024, the alliance is facing issues in the south and southeast as well. Turkey, the magazine notes, is gradually moving away from the alliance and toward Russia, while Italy's authorities are "flirting" with Moscow and Beijing, the West's other major 'geostrategic adversary'.

    But possibly the biggest danger to the alliance is its "huge American problem", according to Spiegel, with the White House said to run by a man who considers international organisations redundant at best, and whose advisers seem incapable of persuading him not to call NATO's usefulness into question.

    According Spiegel, the worst case scenario is for the alliance to unravel altogether, with the US withdrawing and the Europeans blaming Berlin for the fiasco.

    Spiegel notes that if Germany's budgetary planning does not change, Berlin will not be able to fulfil even its 2017 pledge to create three additional fully equipped divisions for the army with about 20,000 troops each by 2031.

    Speaking to the publication, SPD lawmaker Rolf Mutzenich suggested that NATO's problem stems partly from its lack of political function. "An alliance which justifies its existence only by the Russian threat has no future," Mutzenich said. According to the politician, the Western bloc will retain its right to exist only if it is prepared to contribute to the strengthening of the UN and the EU in security policy.

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was created in 1949, incorporating 12 founding members. In the years since, and particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, the alliance has swallowed up every member of the former Warsaw Pact, and the former Baltic republics of the Soviet Union. The bloc expanded to Russian borders despite verbal assurances to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that NATO would not expand east of Germany following the country's unification.

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    future, alliance, NATO, Der Spiegel, Donald Trump, Italy, Germany, Turkey, United States, Russia
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