this double threat hovering over the Atlantic Alliance – L’Express

this double threat hovering over the Atlantic Alliance – LExpress

The rest of the time, it is carefully preserved in the large neoclassical building of the American National Archives in Washington. After taking the plane, the Atlantic Treaty joined under escort the imposing Brussels headquarters of NATO, where it will be one of the attractions of the anniversary, this Thursday, April 4, of the 75th anniversary of the birth of this organization designed to defend Europe against Soviet aggression. Under the leather cover, the 12 signatures of the foreign ministers of 1949, including those of the Frenchman Robert Schuman and the American Dean Acheson.

Over the decades, the attraction of the alliance has not diminished. No member left it. And 20 other countries joined it, including the last one, Sweden (March 7), after two hundred years of non-alignment and military neutrality. A revolution ! Criticized for its apathy in the 2010s, NATO is indeed proving more essential than ever in the eyes of Europeans to face the growing threat represented by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

READ ALSO: In the Far North, NATO prepares to face Putin

By launching his troops to attack Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Russian president “awakened an Atlantic Alliance in bad shape”, specifies a diplomatic source. “Russia has created a shock of unity.” Rather than falling into the trap of division, member states have chosen to provide, together, substantial military aid to Ukraine. They also welcomed two new countries that preferred to stay away for the sake of appeasement with Moscow – Finland, in April 2023, and, therefore, Sweden.

NATO has come a long way. When he arrived at the White House in January 2017, Donald Trump did not hesitate to declare it “obsolete”, before abusing his allies during international summits, putting pressure on them to increase their financial contribution in threatening them with economic sanctions. “When I returned to NATO in September 2019, I found an organization suffering from post-traumatic stress,” he recently told the podcast. Collimator the current French ambassador to NATO, Muriel Domenach.

This numbness of the organization coupled with the fear of an about-face by the American ally led Emmanuel Macron to decree “the brain death of NATO” in November of the same year. Almost five years later, the brain of the Alliance is rather overheating, put on alert by the Putinian threat. Gone are the days of biannual ceremonial summits: “We have moved to one summit per year, with ministerial meetings two to four times per year,” explains a military executive. The last, on April 3, concerned a military aid plan of 100 billion dollars, over five years, for Ukraine.

READ ALSO: “Faced with Russia, Europeans feel a fear that they no longer felt”

To prove its credibility, NATO is also organizing its largest exercise since the end of the Cold War this semester. Baptized “Steadfast Defender” – “unwavering defender” – it mobilizes more than 90,000 soldiers in several countries and in land, air and sea environments. Enough to once again reassure allies put under tension by… Donald Trump. The Republican camp’s favorite for the American presidential election has threatened, if elected, not to protect states that have not spent enough on their defense in the event of an attack. A direct challenge to the famous article 5, which provides that each of its members must intervene in the event of an attack against one of them.

“Will there be a 76th anniversary of NATO? I’m not sure if Mr. Trump becomes president again, says François Heisbourg, special advisor to the Foundation for Strategic Research and who published the last year Lessons of a War (Odile Jacob). He could very well withdraw his country from an alliance based essentially on the guarantee of security provided by the presence on the continent of the American army and its nuclear weapons… However, without the United States, NATO and its article 5 would no longer exist.”

Ukraine can already measure the effects of this isolationist temptation. No more American shells are reaching him with the blocking of a new military aid package in Congress by a Republican Party under the control of the Trumpists. If an unblocking remains possible, NATO is not at the end of its troubles. The 75th anniversary summit, in Washington, with President Joe Biden as host, will precede by four days the Republican convention to inaugurate candidate Trump. At NATO headquarters in Brussels, there is fear that NATO will take the opportunity to further undermine the treaty signed in 1949 by Robert Schuman.

On the occasion of NATO’s 75th anniversary, a conference entitled “What security for the southern borders of Europe?” is taking place in Aix-en-Provence (Bouches-de-Rhône), on April 12 and 13. , organized by Sciences Po Aix, in partnership with L’Express.