NATO’s “Reinvigorated Promissory Note”

  After announcing a “historic” outcome at the NATO summit in Madrid, U.S. President Joe Biden on June 30 wrapped up his second trip to Europe since the crisis in Ukraine escalated in February. Although the war was going in a direction unfavorable for Kyiv during the week of his visit to Europe, Biden could not hide his excitement at a press conference before returning home. He boasted that leaders on both sides of the Atlantic met him and said, “Thank you for leading America.”
  NATO, battered over the past five years by former President Trump’s “withdrawal” and diagnosed as “brain dead” by French President Emmanuel Macron, appears to have revitalized and found a new “common goal”: the first time in 12 years The “Strategic Vision” document, which was updated again in 2016 and determined NATO’s future priorities, abandoned the plan to become a “true strategic partner” with Russia, and instead used fierce words to attack the “special military operation” of the Russian army in Ukraine, and for the first time put the China is listed as a “systemic challenge”.
  What’s more, at the Madrid summit, the Western world reached a consensus for the first time that the war in Ukraine had “fundamentally changed the global strategic environment”. While the NATO summit was held in Madrid, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Turkmenistan and attended the Caspian Sea Summit. He told the meeting that Russia had given NATO “an opportunity to unite all its allies,” but that NATO’s new “achievement” showed that the military alliance was a “relic of the Cold War” and a “satellite” of the United States.
When will the “promissory note” be received?

  Some NATO officials disclosed to the media that when NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg announced the “biggest defense reform since the Cold War” and expanded the combat readiness force sevenfold to 300,000 people, what would most defense ministers do to 300,000 people? The apportionment knows nothing, and does not know whether his foreign colleagues have made commitments to the Secretary-General and Washington.
  In some US media comments, this is the beginning of “chaos”. Stoltenberg went on to announce a new “consensus” on defense sharing, saying that NATO members spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense “will be a floor, not a ceiling” in the future. However, only 9 of NATO’s 30 members currently meet this standard. Host Spain then said it would “fight” to achieve the 2% target first, but not until 2029.
  It is not surprising that a series of “outcomes” from the Madrid summit appeared rushed and elusive. NATO’s new strategic concept was formulated from the Brussels summit in June 2021, and was forced to be revised in February this year due to the escalation of the Ukraine crisis. During what Stoltenberg described as “extremely dangerous and radically changing”, the specific agenda for the Madrid summit was still being adjusted until the G7 summit in late June.
  A noteworthy detail is that although the new strategic concept mentions China, which is a “major update” compared to the previous version of the strategic concept 12 years ago, the specific expression of its China policy is no different from the Brussels summit in 2021. There is no mention of specific measures such as the “China Committee” that the outside world predicts may be established. “Obviously, countries focusing on the ‘hot war in Europe’ have yet to reach a new consensus on the issue of China.” Kolkhonen, a senior political scientist in Finland and professor emeritus at the University of Jyväskylä, told China News Weekly “Say.
  Gustav Gressel, an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, pointed out that in the context of identifying Russia as a “common enemy”, the summit was a series of “promissory notes” that seemed out of reach rather than “landing” In response to the situation in Ukraine and European security issues, it reflects that the policy preferences of European countries in the face of major changes are still inclined to solve problems through economic and political means rather than military means.
  On the “primary task” of military assistance to Ukraine, before the Madrid summit, Ukrainian presidential adviser Podoljak had listed to NATO a very specific list of military needs, including 1,000 large-caliber howitzers and 2,500 tanks and armored vehicles. However, except for a few countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, which announced additional aid to Ukraine during the summit, NATO members have made no progress on how to “substantially support” Ukraine. The “comprehensive aid plan” is nothing new and does not include escalating key sanctions such as “oil price caps”. The British “Guardian” sarcastically said: “To paraphrase Zelensky, he doesn’t need any new strategic ideas – he needs ammunition.”
  US President Biden tried to persuade allies to take more aggressive means, but the US Director of National Intelligence Haiti Enns revealed that the consensus was that the war would “go on for a long time.” Against this background, a few NATO members such as the United States pursued “fight for a decisive battlefield victory”, while some major European countries advocated “be more cautious when the domestic economy is affected.”
  With difficulty reaching consensus on supporting Ukraine, the Madrid summit focused on collective defense issues. Korhonen pointed out that the series of “promissory notes” issued by the summit are essentially to solve the persistent problem of “hollowing out NATO”. Before that, every eastward expansion of NATO since the end of the Cold War resulted in “a reduced likelihood of NATO achieving collective defense.”
  On the one hand, the addition of NATO members does not enhance the military strength of the alliance, but instead confronts NATO with greater collective defense challenges due to its proximity to Russia. At this summit, British Defense Minister Wallace admitted that although NATO’s “quick response” time is 15 days, if Russia really breaks out with the three Baltic countries, it will take 60 days for NATO to deliver armored forces to the battlefield.
  On the other hand, the willingness of major NATO members to protect “marginal members” is also questionable. In June of this year, when the border situation between Lithuania and Belarus suddenly became tense due to the “blockade” of the Russian enclave Kaliningrad by the Lithuanian authorities, NATO did not quickly decide to send more troops to Lithuania. Some US analysts even pointed out that “if the Russian army wants to get through the lifeline to Kaliningrad, NATO does not need to break out a full-scale war with Moscow”.
  With Finland about to join NATO and the alliance’s border with Russia increasing to 1,300 kilometers, Stoltenberg wants to prove to Moscow that NATO “can protect every inch of land”. In the new concept, NATO’s combat readiness force has been increased to 300,000, and the front-line rapid response capability has been reformed from “deployment of 40,000 people within 15 days” to “deployment of 100,000 people within 10 days”. In addition, NATO will pre-allocate specific “defense objects” and conduct targeted exercises to deploy military equipment in countries close to Russia in advance to further improve deployment efficiency.
  However, how will these reforms be implemented? Some NATO officials said that the ambitious plan will be allocated to countries, which can be completed as soon as mid-2023. How to carry out these large-scale deployments requires all parties to clearly define the evaluation criteria for potential “indications of attack and security warnings”, but this is still a matter of debate.
  Similar to what Biden faced when he pushed for aid to Ukraine: While Lithuanian and Polish leaders welcomed the troop increase, more leaders did not believe that Russia could actually attack NATO territory. “We can’t help but expect some ‘surprises’ from Putin, but I doubt he will actually attack directly,” said Estonian Prime Minister Karlas, who is also in the Baltic.

  ”Strategic stability” with Moscow is the third challenge facing NATO. Although White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declared that “there is no need to communicate with Moscow about the new military deployment,” the Pentagon is still carefully abiding by the agreement with Russia to “not permanently station combat forces in Eastern Europe”, emphasizing the so-called new “Permanent bases” apply only to “headquarters units” rather than combat units, while additional U.S. troops to Romania and the Baltics are deployed on a rotational and non-stationary basis.
  Jonathan Eyal, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, pointed out that when NATO tried to restart its “Cold War mission”, it only realized that Europe in the 2020s was already “very different from the situation after World War II”. Major European countries that have been in a state of peaceful development for a long time cannot bridge the “gap between economic and people’s livelihood priorities and military commitments”. Moreover, after experiencing “Trump’s betrayal of allies”, Europe still cannot trust the US government’s long-term defense commitments.
  ”As soon as Moscow signaled that it wanted a ceasefire with Ukraine, all these dissent within NATO would become public,” Jonathan Eyal said.
More “European”, or more “American”?

  On July 5, with Sweden and Finland signing the NATO Protocol, the only remaining step for the two countries to officially “join” is “all member states pass the parliamentary process”. European Commission President von der Leyen, who is bent on promoting “European strategic autonomy”, predicted that the new members would make NATO “more European”. However, Korhonen pointed out that, judging from the new trends of the NATO Madrid summit, “Europeanization” continues to regress, and the US’s dominance of the European security order continues to strengthen.
  Since the end of the Cold War, major European countries have been trying to push the decision-making center of the European security order from Washington back to the European continent through the EU’s defense coordination mechanism and NATO’s internal reforms. Before the escalation of the Ukraine crisis, in the long-term vision of French President Macron, a new European security order jointly constructed by Western European countries and Russia will become the guarantee of long-term stability and prosperity in Europe; Europeanization” is the first step.
  However, the EU has lost one of its strongest military forces since Brexit, and despite its many existing security and defence initiatives, there are “not many countries involved in all related initiatives”. Therefore, after the Ukraine crisis, NATO under the leadership of the United States became “the only mechanism that can provide collective defense for most countries in Europe”, and all efforts for “European autonomy” have returned to the original point.
  Against this background, the Madrid summit further weakened the defense cooperation between NATO and the EU. One detail is that “maritime security”, one of the seven major NATO-EU cooperation areas identified in 2016, does not appear in the newly released strategic vision. At the same time, the US Navy will send two additional destroyers to the Spanish base to join NATO’s joint maritime operations. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a U.S. think tank, pointed out that Washington is concerned about the EU’s greater role in defense, and the new strategic vision concluded by emphasizing that “avoiding unnecessary duplication” is the “key to joint efforts” between NATO and the EU.
  In addition, as the summit further pushes NATO members to increase defense spending, European countries have pledged to increase “additional defense spending” of about $200 billion. While French government sources warned that this “must not translate into wealth for U.S. arms dealers,” Korhonen pointed out that, under the unified NATO structure, buying U.S.-made weapons is a shortcut to rapidly improving the defense capabilities of European countries, even if it means fighting against The development of the European defense industry is “drawing from the bottom of the pot”.
  So, can Sweden and Finland join NATO as the only progress in NATO’s “Europeanization” after the Madrid Summit? European and American media have pointed out that although the two countries signed a memorandum and promised not to support the PKK-affiliated armed forces in exchange for NATO member Turkey no longer obstructing the process of joining the treaty, the change of the Turkish government is related to “the United States’ commitment to provide enhanced F-16 fighter jets. ” is more closely related.
  Mats Enstrom, a policy adviser to the Swedish foreign minister, pointed out that although Sweden and Finland are more neutral and moderate in their stance toward Russia, they have no interest in European strategic autonomy. Sweden’s ruling party also confirmed that it will continue to adhere to the “nuclear disarmament” stance, so the two countries will not be hard-core allies of the United States in the future, but it will also be difficult to form a united front with French President Macron and German Chancellor Scholz.
  On the other side of the Atlantic, the Biden administration is also worried about whether the United States can continue to strengthen its dominance of NATO after the Madrid summit. Biden’s pressure is mainly from domestic. Congressional Republicans have revived former President Donald Trump’s view of the Biden administration’s “overcommitment” in NATO and Ukraine as “a lie to deceive the American taxpayer.”
  The US media pointed out that considering that the total value of the US government’s military assistance to Ukraine from 2014 to February 2022 was only more than 6 billion US dollars, the amount that has increased since February 2022 has only reached 13 billion US dollars; therefore, The $40 billion “package” of security assistance to Ukraine passed by Congress in May has reached its “limits”. However, after the Madrid summit, not only did the U.S. military station in Europe increase by 20%, reaching 100,000 troops, but Washington also needed to lead the “Ukraine Post-War Reconstruction” plan with a total value of more than 500 billion US dollars. Against the backdrop of a sluggish domestic economy, the White House team is worried that the excessive budget will affect the outcome of the midterm elections.
  Another accusation against Biden is that he is too focused on European security affairs, which has affected the long-term U.S. strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region. According to Maya Novens, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), three years of Washington-led discussions on NATO’s China policy have not yielded significant results: NATO has neither established a specialized agency nor determined “in the Indo-Pacific region”. Which partners to look for.”
  At the summit, Biden made some “unilateral” efforts: the leaders of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, who participated in the NATO summit for the first time, expressed positions similar to those of Washington by accusing China or calling on Beijing to “condemn Russian aggression”. But at the same time, NATO allies are still engaged in a heated debate on China policy. Top Spanish and French diplomats revealed that the bottom line for major European countries is that China is a “challenge” rather than a “threat”.
  Some analysts believe that the US abandoning the construction of “Indo-Pacific NATO” in the Asia-Pacific region and choosing to set up different multilateral mechanisms in different fields and countries is a kind of “mini-multilateralism” idea, which differentiates one by one “discriminatory”. small group” to safeguard American interests in a diversified manner.
  Sayer, an emeritus professor of international relations at the University of New South Wales in Australia, pointed out to China News Weekly that Biden’s attempt to simultaneously adopt strategic deterrence measures against China and Russia in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region is actually very detrimental to the long-term interests of the United States itself, because This will trigger a global arms race that will eventually bring down the US and the world economy.

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