NATO legitimacy further questioned as Ukraine crisis drags on——Gao Jian
NATO legitimacy further questioned as Ukraine crisis drags on
（Director General of Songyun Forum, Shanghai Institute for International Strategic Studies）
During the recent NATO summit in Brussels, the organization once again symbolically "united" under the banner of the US-led "Western democratic bloc" and defined Russia as the common enemy of members of NATO.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has inhibited the EU and Russia from creating a bilateral relationship with healthy interactions. The question is, does NATO's fragile legitimacy based on warmongering truly have any realistic basis or sustainability?
NATO, under the leadership of Washington, is the real initiator and driving force behind the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, because what the US really needs is tense and conflicting Russia-Europe relations. It is NATO's eastward expansion that has triggered Ukraine's desire to join NATO and greatly triggered Russia's concerns over territorial security, which directly led to the current Russia-Ukraine conflict. Geopolitical crises in Europe over the past three decades have contributed to the long existence of NATO, a product of Cold War ideology. Washington can consistently lead the European security mechanism, and the secret behind it lies in the US' ability to effectively take advantage of past grudges and conflicts of interests both within and between European countries. In this sense, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict is just another trick where the US uses its same old tricks again.
However, the question is, do major European countries like Germany and France - also NATO members - really hold a stance over the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that is in line with Washington's interests? Unlike the past security crises in Europe, the EU will become the biggest victim of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It will have to bear the brunt of the conflict. Therefore, as the Ukraine crisis develops, the differences between the US and Europe will become inevitable once the public opinion in major EU countries changes. At that time, NATO, which seems to be united, will be put to the real test.
Can the US-led NATO really have a firm grip on the future direction of Europe's development? On the surface, the US has successfully provoked the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and achieved its strategic goal of further controlling Europe. NATO has once again become the fundamental guarantee for maintaining European security. However, that major EU countries seeking dominance in the European security mechanism will not change.
It should be noted that the US has always tried its best to obstruct Russia and Europe from improving relations. This is an indispensable strategic pillar for the US to gain a foothold in Europe. However, improving bilateral relations with Russia, an important neighbor, is in the fundamental interests of the EU, both strategically and in terms of practical interests.
In the past few years, the EU has made substantial efforts in this direction and has consciously planned an EU-led European security mechanism. The Russia-Ukraine conflict will delay the EU's pursuit of an independent security mechanism in a short period of time. However, the major EU countries represented by Germany fully realize that the EU must firmly grasp the European security mechanism in its own hands. Although the establishment of a European army is still a topic that needs to be discussed in depth, the current Russia-Ukraine conflict has indeed fundamentally stimulated and strengthened the EU's desire to pursue military security autonomy.
Fundamentally, the US-led NATO is a product of the Cold War. As a symbol of American hegemony in Europe, NATO is basically synchronized with American global hegemony.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the national strength of the US, which is deeply involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been relatively weakened, and the legitimacy of NATO has also been widely questioned. As the Russia-Ukraine conflict evolves, in order to maintain its right to speak on European affairs, the US did not hesitate to ease relations with some countries in the Middle East and Latin America, which they see as hostile, in exchange for a diplomatic situation of encircling Russia.
In an international architecture increasingly dominated by win-win cooperation, the US Cold War mentality with the fundamental purpose of pursuing US hegemony is destined to be a short-sighted strategic pattern. In this sense, how can NATO, which stands on the wrong side of history, guarantee its own legitimacy?
（First published in Global Times,March 27,2022）