At his first NATO meeting as US Secretary of State in Brussels, Anthony Blinken praised the work of the transatlantic defense alliance, promised his counterparts commitment and loyalty to the alliance – but also presented a long list of expectations.
For example in the matter of Nord Stream 2. The almost completed pipeline, which is soon to transport Russian natural gas to Germany, is a “bad idea”, said Blinken, the top US diplomat, quite undiplomatically. Even more: the pipeline is not even in Germany’s interest, the US would consider further sanctions against Nord Stream 2.
The US emphasizes its claim to leadership
The message is clear: With the new President Joe Biden and his administration, NATO should be what it had been for the United States for decades – a central component of foreign policy, the most important defense alliance. But also an organization in which the USA sets the tone. The US hugs its allies again, but the hug sometimes hurts too.
The doubts about the importance of NATO, which had already been quietly and then loudly sown by Donald Trump under ex-US President Barack Obama: For the time being, they are history. The NATO partners of the USA – Canada and 28 European countries – should be able to rely on the alliance in the event of a conflict without ifs and buts, should be informed and heard early on important issues, but should also recognize the USA as a leading power.
Of course, this does not mean that old conflicts disappear, and new ones are programmed. Because NATO, with its 30 members, has become confusing; wherever you look, rifts are opening up. For NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Russia is still the main threat – and therefore raison d’être – of the alliance. Nevertheless, Germany wants to buy more Russian natural gas with Nord Stream 2, and Turkey has ordered Russian weapons on a large scale.
NATO is looking for realignment
In general, Turkey repeatedly causes violent conflicts within NATO, and last year there was even a threat of a military confrontation with its allies France and Greece. There is a lot to cement for the old, new leading power USA. Especially since Blinken today emphasized the common values of the NATO states in addition to the obligation to provide assistance.
The heads of state and government want to work out a new strategy, “NATO 2030”, by the end of the year. If the US has its way, NATO should pay more attention to China in the future. The transatlantic alliance with the USA in a transpacific rivalry with China: not all NATO countries will be happy about this realignment.