NATO: Great Power Politics

throughout its history NATO's

development has been influenced by the

actions of the great or superpowers

during the Cold War NATO was the main

institutional vehicle by which the US

and its allies faced down the Soviet

Union the end of the Cold War so NATO

repurpose itself the Alliance absorbed a

reunified Germany in 1990 and the

following year adopted a new strategic

concept it's first since 1968 which

force saw a relationship of partnership

with the former communist states

including Russia the Soviet Union's

continuing state that repurposing

occurred against a backdrop of two other

significant international developments

the consolidation of communist rule in

China and the emergence of the European

Union in this light the international

politics of the post Cold War period

might be characterized as having four

centers of power the United States

Russia China and the EU all are relevant

to NATO the United States remains the

world's foremost military power and

NATO's most important member the u.s. is

crucial to the defence of Europe and

NATO operations out-of-area

in Bosnia Kosovo Libya and Afghanistan

have all relied on American forces

politically to the u.s. is vital NATO

would not have survived the end of the

Cold War were it not for American

leadership that leadership has also been

evident in relations with Russia

NATO's policy of enlargement which has

seen the Alliance nearly double its

membership since the late 1990s and

decisions on allied defense spending the

last of these however illustrates some

of the tensions that have occurred in

the transatlantic relationship the u.s.

under successive presidents has called

upon its European allies and Canada to

spend more on defense the defense

investment pledge agreed at the NATO

summit in Wales in September 2014

committed all allies to spend at least 2

percent of GDP on defense by 2024

President Donald Trump has been

outspoken in reminding the Allies of the

importance of meeting that tar

it NATO's relations with Russia were

generally cordial in the first decade

after the Cold War then Russian

president Boris Yeltsin even entertained

the idea of Russia joining the Alliance

NATO dual-track approach with Russia

involves on the one hand a firm posture

of defence and deterrence and on the

other hand a continued openness to

dialogue with Russia as an important

neighbor to the Alliance and member of

the international community

NATO operates something known as the

nato-russia Council underpinned by

something called the nato-russia

founding Act while we continue to

support dialogue between NATO and Russia

we also believe that Russia has not

approached this dialogue in good faith

over several years and therefore the

dialogue with Russia has not been as

effective as we would have liked NATO's

intervention in Kosovo in 1999 however

proved a turning point Moscow objected

to the intervention even though NATO had

compelling reasons to act in the face of

Serbia's attacks on its Kosovan

population in an attempt to restore

relations NATO and Russia agreed in 2002

to the creation of a nato-russia Council

relations soured again however in 2008

following Russia's war with its neighbor

Georgia Russia's annexation of Crimea in


led to a more significant break NATO in

response launched the readiness action

plan designed to support its Eastern

members today NATO maintains an enhanced

forward presence in Poland and the

Baltic States along with a tailored

forward presence in the Black Sea region

further controversies have surrounded

Russia's role in Syria NATO's claimed

that Russia has violated the 1987

intermediate nuclear forces or INF

treaty and Moscow's opposition to

Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO while

the current NATO Russia standoff is not

as deep-seated as that with the Soviet

Union during the Cold War the

relationship is far from healthy both

sides view the other as a presumed

antagonist political dialogue is at a

low ebb and military and civilian

cooperation suspended

2014 is still frozen we still face

security challenges here in Europe of

the classic kind countries in particular

Russia that would potentially threaten

our security and harm us NATO is there

to make sure that we can deal with that

and defend and deter against it

NATO describes the EU as an essential

and strategic partner the joint

declaration of July 2018 is the most

recent expression of that partnership

NATO and the European Union cooperate in

several areas including the development

of defense capabilities countering

hybrid threats cyber security the

coordination of exercises

capacity-building in partner States

coordination of missions including

operations at sea and promoting the

woman peace and security agenda the

scale and effectiveness of cooperation

has increased in recent years prompted

in part by shared concerns over Russia

and instability in North Africa and the

Middle East that said the relationship

has not always been plain sailing the US

and Turkey are members of NATO but not

the EU and this situation is led to

certain difficulties the US has at times

been skeptical of the EU security and

defence role fearful that it might

duplicate NATO's functions differences

between Turkey and non-nato EU member

Cyprus meanwhile have been a constraint

on cooperation and with brexit the UK

will join the ranks of important non EU

NATO allies a development to watch these

challenges are signed the NATO EU

relationships still remains a very

productive one China has been almost

entirely absent from NATO's public

policy positions

none of NATO summit declarations mention

the country and China is not designated

as a NATO partner distance in this case

is not an explanation NATO after all has

partner relations with Japan South Korea

and Mongolia

the under development of relations

reflects in part a wariness on the part

of Beijing but it may also be because

the allies have tended to see issues

that relate to China trade intellectual

property infrastructural investment

climate change and so on as best aired

at all with the UN the World Trade

Organization the g20 and the EU but not

NATO that is a view that is recently

started to shift China's rise as a

military as well as an economic power

meaning that Beijing and not Moscow is

seen in the US as America's main

strategic rival similarly the NATO

secretary-general has spoken of China's

rise as having implications for the

global rules-based order and our

security this does not mean that NATO is

about to execute a reorientation toward

the asia-pacific

NATO's priority remains Russia and the

arc of instability to its south it does

mean however that NATO is likely to be

talking more about China and even with

China in the near future