Glen Ruffle: NATO submits to the EU

The recent NATO summit in Wales has variously been described as a meaningful statement of intent or as a lot of hot air. Regardless, the Wales Summit Declaration of 5 September 2014 clearly shows that NATO and the EU are closer than ever, and suggests that the US is now pushing for more EU integration. In combination with Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, it is a gift to the European Commission.

The Points

The Declaration near the start highlighted NATO’s Article 5, which is replicated by the Treaty of Lisbon’s Article 42. Similarities with the EU don’t end there: as noted here in ‘The European Journal’ before, most NATO missions end with an EU-led force taking over; and support from NATO for further EU integration was made explicit.

Points 14, 19, 27, 40, 67, 70, and 102-106 all strongly urge deeper integration between European states and strengthening of the Western-led international architecture. Point 14 states that NATO and EU defence is complementary, urging the EU to build defence capabilities; point 19 supports the EU’s sanctions against Russia; while point 27 lends support to the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy mission to assist Ukraine in reforming its police forces and enhance the rule of law.

Points 40 and 46 praise the “EU-facilitated” Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, while point 67 calls for NATO to integrate forces in the style of the EU. The European Defence Agency already coordinates defence purchases in Europe, and NATO is to follow suit with the Framework Nations Concept. This is similar to the Treaty of Lisbon’s ‘Enhanced Cooperation’, among other things. Germany is one of the leaders in rolling this out, and it can be safely assumed that all purchases will be made after consultation with the EU Commission.

It is unthinkable that the US would compromise its sovereignty and purchase equipment to enhance NATO capabilities if the equipment would not add anything to the US as a nation on its own. America is benefitting tremendously from urging greater cooperation within Europe and NATO. Individual states will lose all-round capabilities, depending more and more on each other; meaning that the US will entrench its superiority and gain access to the Galileo satellite system in addition to its own GPS system, acquiring even greater capabilities. Unless Brussels can actually become a super-state and exert authority over Europe’s varied peoples, Europe is embedding Washington’s leadership.

Point 70 states “…our (NATO’s) Smart Defence and the EU’s Pooling and Sharing initiatives are complementary and mutually reinforcing…”, and point 102 spells it out most clearly: “The European Union (EU) remains a unique and essential partner for NATO. The two organisations share common values and strategic interests….we will continue to work side-by-side…and promote complementarity of the two organisations….”

Point 103 states clearly that stronger EU defence leads to a stronger NATO, not the other way round; while point 106 gives Anders Fogh Rasmussen permission to spend his days angling for the top EU job he really wants.

Russian ruminations

For Moscow, the Declaration is both provocative and a gift. As argued here in ‘The European Journal’ before, Russia uses NATO as an external threat to help domestic harmony, and the promise to locate forces to Eastern Europe and in point 54 to resurrect missile defence is a gift to Moscow’s spin doctors. But it is point 29 that will have a deeper impact: promotion of greater interoperability between Ukrainian military forces and NATO. This effectively states that Russia is to lose Ukraine as an arms market, and will cost Moscow dear.

In response, Russia has beefed up its involvement with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the eastern NATO, and one of the various models Moscow is promoting to challenge US dominance of the international system. Large military exercises took place at the end of August 2014, and with the signing of the $400 billion gas deal with China, the West’s success in driving Russia to China and away from reform is complete.

There were moments to smile in the document as well. As point 18 called for Russia’s compliance with international law, the spying scandal – in which Germany and the US were found to be covertly reading each other’s mail – is supposed to be forgotten; as is, when reading the points concerning themselves with the Middle East’s instability, the West’s role in destroying the stability of, while unleashing full-scale Islamic extremism in, Iraq, Syria and Libya, as well as the failure to eradicate the Taliban in Afghanistan.

NATO seems to have become beholden to outside interests, be they American or from the European Union. The Russian crisis may appear to have resurrected the alliance, but the reality is that the Wales Declaration is another step towards the EU’s desired goal of replacing NATO with itself.

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