NATO - not dead yet
Friday, November 08, 2019       22:57 WIB

Brussels, Nov 8, 2019 (AFP)
Emmanuel Macron's declaration that is experiencing "brain death" prompted angry rebuttals from across the alliance, but should be seen in the context of the growing debate about European defence.
Here are some key questions raised by the French president's interview with The Economist.
- Is 's Article 5 under threat? -
Macron asked what 's mutual self-defence pact, enshrined in Article 5 of its founding treaty, might mean in the future, and pondered whether it could be invoked if President Bashar al-Assad's forces retaliate against Turkey's military operation in northern Syria.
Under Article 5, members agree that an attack on one is an attack on all and commit to taking "such action as (they) deem necessary" in such an event.
This may include force, but Article 5 does not oblige allies to go to war -- they could choose to offer political, diplomatic or logistical support.
And, in any case, experts and diplomats say it would almost impossible to imagine it being used in the Turkey-Syria case because Ankara initiated the conflict.
"Article 5 won't be activated since you need unanimity (of the 29 members) for that. And of course Article 5 is designed for the defence case and not if a country invades another country," a diplomat told AFP after the operation began last month.
- What is Macron doing? -
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that "any attempt to distance Europe from North America" risks weakening the alliance and dividing Europe -- a striking rebuff to Macron's criticism of Washington for failing to coordinate strategically with allies.
France has shown ambivalence about US-dominated almost since its inception, notably withdrawing from its military command structure between 1966 and 2009 to maintain independent control of its nuclear weapons.
But French officials insist Macron's comments are not intended to undermine -- instead he is trying to wake allies up to the current strategic reality that the US under President Donald Trump will act in its own interests and Europe must learn to fend for itself.
"This crisis is real. It must be addressed. As messengers, we expect our president's message to be heard and taken seriously within our Alliance," Muriel Domenach, the French ambassador to , tweeted.
French officials say that works well at the military and operational level, but on the political, strategic side it needs work. Even so, after Macron's "brain death" comment, one French source insisted: "We believe in resurrection".
And the call found an echo from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who acknowledged in Berlin that " needs to grow and change, it needs to confront the realities of today and the challenges today."
- Why now? -
Some Brussels diplomats see a careful choice in the timing of Macron's comments -- a month out from a summit in London and as a new European Commission prepares to take office with a pledge to make the EU a more significant "geostrategic" player.
The London meeting has been billed as a celebration of 's 70th anniversary, but the run-up will now be dominated by debate about Macron's incendiary remarks.
Diplomats also see Macron as attempting to set the agenda for a debate just starting within the EU about the bloc's own strategic role, as it steps up military cooperation and defence initiatives.
France will seek to ensure Macron's call for European "strategic autonomy" -- a longstanding pillar of French diplomatic thinking -- takes a central role as the debate develops over the coming months.
France also wants more European help for its military operations against Islamist militants in the Sahel region of Africa -- a region where has not got involved.
- Can Europe manage without the US? -
Despite Macron's forthright argument that American unilateralism under Trump shows that Europe must stand on its own feet, there is deep scepticism among many Europeans that this can be achieved in military terms.
A report by the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies ( IISS ) earlier this year suggested that, if the US pulls out of , European members would need to spend between $288 billion and $357 billion to fill the capability gaps in order to prevail in a "limited regional war".
Elsewhere, diplomats point out that, despite Macron's claim that Europe "has the capacity to defend itself", the EU's civilian operation in Afghanistan was only possible because of security provided by forces.
And among 's Eastern European members, where memories of Soviet domination are still fresh, there was anger at Macron's comments.
" remains our absolutely most important instrument to defend ourselves from external threats and we should not give anyone on the outside the slightest doubt that it will remain so in the future," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said.

Sumber : AFP

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