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The world is returning to the two camps, so do we need NATO?

F-16 fighter jets of the Turkish and Polish Air Forces serve in NATO's "Air Policing" mission at 22nd Air Base Command in Malbork, Poland on August 27, 2021 [Cüneyt Karadağ / Anadolu Agency]
F-16 fighter jets of the Turkish and Polish Air Forces serve in NATO's "Air Policing" mission at 22nd Air Base Command in Malbork, Poland on August 27, 2021 [Cüneyt Karadağ / Anadolu Agency]

At the end of 1989, the end and death of the Cold War was officially announced. It had begun after World War II and the formation of the two camps, the eastern camp led by the Soviet Union and the western camp led by the US. The end of the war was announced by US President, George Bush Sr., and Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev, and with the end of the war, a new world order was formed with one pole led by the US, which leads the western camp. After the end of the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact no longer existed, but NATO remained, indicating the western military domination over the world, led by the US alone. Despite this, the question was raised, if there was need for NATO to remain after the collapse of the eastern camp, the Warsaw Pact and the western camp leading the world alone. However, this camp found "international terrorism" as its enemy to replace the Soviet Union and as a justification to keep NATO. Its intervention in Afghanistan after the September 2001 attacks confirmed the importance of NATO's remaining as a Western necessity.

However, from Afghanistan as well, the question was raised again, regarding the need for NATO to remain after being ignored by the US and its failure to consult with the allies when making the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. It then worked alone to programme the withdrawal process without the alliance having any role in this event, that is likely to end the one dominating pole, the US's domination. There is more than one event indicating the renewal of talk about this end with European countries, specially France and Germany, starting to question the importance of the alliance. This was after renewed calls to form a European force separate from the alliance and raising doubts about the American leadership. There have been other events related to America's tendency to abandon the alliance and its siblings in Europe and leading towards the far east, specifically towards Australia, accompanied by Britain. This was also done without going back to the alliance or consulting with traditional allies, to build a new partnership agreement to enhance military and defence cooperation in the Pacific and Indian oceans, depriving France of the submarine deal with Australia. This new alliance is openly directed against China, according to the unilateral directions of the US.

However, before all that, we were witnessing the beginning of the establishment of new alliances that weakened the role of NATO and the US leadership of the alliance, which weakened the latter's leadership of the world. During the presidencies of Trump and Biden, Russia's role in influencing the American elections emerged, along with its ability to manipulate the democratic and republican parties. Russia also threatened Georgia, Ukraine and the Crimea region as well, without any reaction from Western allies. Meanwhile, the Nord stream pipeline to supply Russian gas to Europe is quickly becoming a Russian strategic economic tool that Europe relies on to develop itself, at a time when China is succeeding in completing Its control over Hong Kong and Tibet against Western will.

China is no longer only competing with the Western camp in the economic context, but is a formidable and highly developed military power, according to the testimony of NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, when he confirmed in his last statement two days ago, that China is getting closer to threatening the borders of Western countries and is deploying missiles that can reach these countries. He also said that China possesses cyber capabilities that would seriously affect European security, which certainly affects the future of the alliance. This statement could be understood as confirmation of the need for NATO to remain in order to defend Europe against China. However, it is no secret to the European countries that China is interested in the specific confrontation with the US, which has come close to its borders, especially after the establishment of the new American-Australian-British alliance. It is in China's interest to keep the tension separate and focused on this alliance led by the US while, at the same time, establishing good relations with Europe, as the latter has no interest in any tensions with Beijing.

After the end of the Cold War, and the end of the US's monopoly as a dominating power following the development of Russia's role in America's crises and its position in the Mediterranean, as well as the fading of Turkey's role in NATO and its more solid relations with Russia, in light of this new situation, we are currently witnessing the formation of a new map of global powers. This is especially after a series of strong alliance steps between Russia and China at the security, military and economic levels. At the same time, we are witnessing the gradual drifting between the two sides of the Atlantic, between Europe and America. So, we can say that the focus of the new alliances is limited to the fact that the eastern camp and the Chinese-Russian alliance have become more powerful, while the western camp is no longer united, destabilised and fragmented. Its unity is surrounded by doubt and tensions, which represents the return to the two main camps that lead the world, an eastern one led by China and Russia, and an American camp with its alliances in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Meanwhile, Europe is confused looking for a place between these two camps. As for NATO, there is no longer a need for it to continue.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Ayyam on 19 October 2021

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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