Sir David Logan,
KCMG, Former UK Ambassador to Turkey
were asked whether NATO is a relic or a strategic actor for the 21st
century. I don’t think it is either of
these. But NATO has been around for more than seventy years.
Soviet Union had taken control of Eastern Europe and, we believed,
to turn the world communist.
United States regarded the defence of Europe as a vital national
led to the establishment of NATO and to extended US deterrence for
world was bipolar.
had twelve members.
is no longer a primary threat (more on this later).
stable and prosperous Europe is still an American interest, but
communism is not. Today’s challenge for the United States is not the
Europe, but lies primarily in the Asia Pacific region, in particular
and also from terrorists.
world is no longer bipolar and the era of American hegemony has also
has thirty members whose interests differ greatly. With the passing of
Soviet threat, would the invocation of Article V prompt a united
response? President Trump asked ‘Why
should American die in defence of Montenegro?
Everard has rightly said that NATO is a unique institution for
discussion. But as it has enlarged, that function has overshadowed it’s
a defensive alliance. Is the threat perception the same in Tirana as in
London? How can a Russian invasion of Lithuania be
like to take a look at some of the contemporary state actors.
the United States. It may be controversial to say that it is in decline. Perhaps it is a case of others levelling up
rather than United States levelling down. But toxic racialism and the
between the elite and the non-metropolitan dispossessed are serious.
declining economic competitiveness, these factors lead inevitably to
attention to the outside world. US
power remains huge, but there have been other Empires where military
been sustained at the cost of economic failure.
for Russia, Putin has shown extraordinary skill in disrupting Western
with military assets which are in fact limited. He will continue to do
he will not risk war with the West. Russia’s primitive economy depends
entirely on its energy resources, the price of which is inherently
demand for which will decline in the future. The Russian economy would
by war. It would destroy the global energy market on which Russia
is clearly different. It has challenges
of its own, but no-one underestimates its growing global dominance in
spheres, its regional ambitions or its military strength. There has
recent report of the testing of a world-girdling hypersonic
cruise missile which has shocked US intelligence. Every four years, the
navy increases in numbers by the size of the entire Royal Navy.
James Everard said, we need to regard
China as both a challenge and as a
partner. But when it comes to deterrence, it’s hard to see what
the European members of NATO could make or, therefore, the relevance of
the deterrence of the most potent state actor of the day.
that’s not the case for the United States or for other regional powers
Korea and Australia. They recognise the challenge and are responding to
and Korea have the fifth and sixth most powerful armed forces in the
Australia’s defence spending will rise by 4.4% next year and by $270
over the next ten years. The recent
announcement of AUKUS should be seen in the same context.
certainly has a role in combatting terrorists. But it’s unusual for
take control of territory which can then be held at risk by
such as NATO’s. ISIS won’t make that mistake again. So NATO may not be
means for confronting the kind of asymmetrical threat which groups such
present. In any case, the use of force can only be a small part of the
to a terrorist threat.
nature of warfare has also changed in ways which complicate deterrence
questions about the relevance of the forces which NATO has at its
have seen attempts to manipulate elections on both sides of the
external interference in the Brexit referendum; a major attack on the
financial system; and cyber-attacks of extraordinary variety and
on numerous Western political and financial institutions. NATO certainly has a role in cyber and hybrid
warfare, but this evolution in the threat to the West is another reason
need to look beyond our traditional tools of deterrence.
the future, therefore, NATO’s role as sole provider of defence for the
States and Europe will be negatively affected by a range of factors,
the changing nature of the threat; the decline in American commitment
capabilities in the global North; and divergences in the interests of
alliance’s European members.
Western Europeans increasingly look for a European solution to this
is nothing new about European defence.
The Western European Union predates NATO. Big
strides were made in the
development of European defence in the NATO framework at the end of the
War. British/French defence cooperation, particularly in the nuclear
a long history.
recently however, European defence has amounted to not much more than a
of acronyms. But the Europeans increasingly recognise that, important
NATO remains, there is a need to make it a reality because of the
the security environment which I have described.
does not mean abandoning NATO. Development of European capabilities
undertaken in a which continues to contribute to transatlantic security
through NATO. In other words, it must be a
against foreseeable change and not a wedge between Europe and United
about the UK in this situation?
effect of Brexit means the departure from the EU of a member state
accounts for 40% of the Union’s defence industry and 25% of its armed
forces. The UK for its part loses its
important role in defence industrial development, its influence on the
development European defence policy and capabilities and, of course,
multiplier effect of EU membership in this along with all other fields.
the EU and the UK will want to limit this damage. In the longer term,
geostrategic trends I have described should make the continued
isolation of a
European state with nuclear forces, the
highest defence budget in the continent and 40% of the defence industry
absurd to both sides. That will lead to reintegration. Meanwhile,
however, Brexit will damage both
British and European defence capabilities for years to come. This at a
when, for the reasons I have described, these will be more important