The author is a journalist based in Turkey, who writes analysis on Turkish foreign policy.
The messages given by Heads of State and Government on NATO transformation at the 31st official meeting of the alliance on 14 June 2021 in Brussels have been implemented at this year’s summit in Madrid.
A paradigm shift at NATO
NATO, whose existence began to be called into question after the end of the first cold war, had already assigned itself a global role at the Washington summit in 1999. The terrorist attack targeting the United States on September 11, 2001, the effects of the global economic crisis and the optimism that gripped Russia as a strategic partner in 2010 delayed action towards alliance transformation.
The inertia has reached such a level that in 2019 French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that “NATO is brain dead”.
“Faced with the war in Ukraine, Turkey and France are more than ever attached to the unity and power of the transatlantic alliance”, declared the French president at the end of the NATO summit in Madrid on June 29 about the geopolitical climate modified by the Russian-Ukrainian war. .
If it was affirmed at the Madrid summit that there was a transition to a new strategic concept, it would not be out of place to say that it is a more radical paradigm shift than there was appears in matters of alliance.
With the participation of heads of government and state from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, it has been confirmed that the alliance will go beyond its transatlantic identity and create a flag in the transpacific geography by 2023.
The place occupied by the People’s Republic of China in the new strategic concept document is also proof of the target with which the trans-Pacific identity was created.
Russia, cited 17 times in the 16-page document, and the People’s Republic of China, cited 10 times, take the top two spots. While the term “terrorism” is used seven times, Africa is mentioned four times, the Middle East three times, the Balkans and Afghanistan once each.
NATO’s journey from Europe to Asia
When Washington created NATO in 1949 to stop the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), whose expansionist ambitions were detected, the shared goal with the public was that Western Europe would no longer face a threat totalitarian like Nazi Germany.
The threat materialized in a short time, first in the form of the USSR, then in the form of the Warsaw Pact. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 were not enough to end NATO’s mission. Developments such as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the Yugoslav Civil War served to preserve the belief in the existence of a global military alliance.
Although the September 11 attacks and the global fight against terrorism reinforced this need, the decisive turning point for the future of the alliance was the evolution of global economic competition which brought the United States face to face and China.
In messages given first by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011 and a year later by US President Barack Obama during their visits to Asian countries, Washington said the “honeymoon” with the Beijing’s administration was over.
Beginning in 2012, the United States Navy began to have a greater presence in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. The first step of the strategic concept change in Madrid was completed in May 2018. Visiting the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii on May 30, 2018, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced that the name of the “United States Pacific Command” had been changed to “United States Indo-Pacific Command”. This was the first concrete step in the construction of NATO’s trans-Pacific identity. The operation to encircle China had begun.
Sino-Russian strategic relations, Ukrainian war
The victory of Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, in 2020 has led the United States to declare that it will resume the lead in the fight for global leadership. While the Biden administration’s claim to leadership has inflamed the unipolar-multipolar debate, it has deepened the strategic relationship between China and Russia.
Growing tensions centered on Ukraine in 2021 caused China to enter the alliance’s radar at the NATO summit held in Brussels the same year. The Biden administration has not only targeted Sino-Russian strategic relations. Along with 2021, the policy of rapprochement with the Beijing administration, built by then US President Richard Nixon and national security adviser Henry Kissinger in 1972, by sidelining Taiwan, made history.
Another concrete step towards the containment of China at the military level was the declaration of the American-British and Australian alliance, AUKUS, in September 2021.
Although it was initially seen as a submarine tender launched by the United States to its ally, France, by the transfer of nuclear submarine technology to Australia, it was clear that the alliance’s target was China. Attempts by the United States and the United Kingdom to include Japan in AUKUS for a more effective siege against China were also reflected in the press.
The war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, has clearly drawn front lines. The sanctions put into effect after the war revealed that the West intended to defeat Russia not only militarily but also economically and politically, and to come to China’s doorstep by changing the Putin administration.
The parties delivered their final words in June 2022.
At the 25th International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that they will not allow the unipolar world order that the United States wants to establish and that European countries will be harmed by the sanctions imposed on the country .
Similar messages were echoed by Xi Jinping at the 14th BRICS summit, hosted online by China on June 23. Arguing that the reality of the multipolar world order cannot be prevented, Xi warned the US-led West, saying, “Those who try to politicize the global economy and use their dominance in financial systems and international currencies as leverage and weapons for themselves will eventually harm themselves and others, and bring disaster to the whole world.
Addressing the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa at the summit, Putin claimed the US-led Western world was trying to make the world pay for its macroeconomic mistakes . The Western world has responded harshly to calls from China and Russia for a multipolar world order, first at the G7 summit in Germany and then at the NATO summit in Spain, backed by new economic sanctions and measures military.
The NATO transpacification process has begun
In NATO’s new strategic concept, which includes a paradigm shift at its core, China was included for the first time as a source of “threat”.
Casting the Beijing administration as a state “trying to overthrow the rules-based international order” indicates that the alliance may implement several measures of unprecedented scale against the country.
A statement saying that “the People’s Republic of China’s hybrid and cyber malign operations and its confrontational rhetoric target allies and undermine alliance security” are among the accusations against China in the strategic concept document. In the strategic concept document, it was stated that cyberattacks and hybrid attacks could activate Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty for the full protection of allies.
2023 will be the start of a period where NATO will not be content to make an extraordinary rise in power in Europe.
We are entering a period in the Indo-Pacific region where NATO navies will fly the flag, regional military alliances such as AUKUS will engage more closely with NATO, and Cold War II will encompass the Asia-Pacific. and even the north and south polar regions. Regions.
*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Anadolu Agency.
*This analysis was translated into English by Gozde Bayar in Ankara.
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