“The Brussels Diary with Yana Toom”: Deepest Split in NATO


The Munich Security Conference has already identified not just a deep split, but the deepest split in NATO. Europe and America do not agree on almost anything – not on China, on Iran or on Russia. According to some journalists, the US and the EU “live as if in different universes”. This year’s conference picked up a strange and accurate motto: Westlessness. The West ceases or has ceased to be an ideal, a standard, a beacon. There is no uniform West. America and Europe have different development vectors.

Not only is the political elite split though. Not so long ago, the Pew Research Center in the US conducted a survey in 19 countries. The question: how popular is NATO? Partially, the answers are predictable. Estonia did not participate, but Lithuania is on the list, and NATO’s popularity there is growing only stronger. In my opinion, the picture is about the same in Estonia. But here’s what is interesting: in Germany and France, the alliance is losing its former popularity. In both countries – by about 20 percent in a decade.

What has happened? It’s easiest to say that Trump has “happened” – but attitudes towards NATO in Germany itself have been volatile before. I would venture to say that there is no single reason. But there is knowledge and understanding.

More and more people realise that NATO has been taken hostage by the United States. Yes, America spends more on defence than any other country in the alliance. But that is the issue: enemies and wars are necessary in order to justify the expenses of the military-industrial complex. Ideally, a new cold war globally, and within it hotbeds of heated conflicts. It used to be Korea and Vietnam, but presently, for example, it is Syria.

More and more people see that the United States as being committed to radicalisation. That not every military operation is conducted in the name of peace, and that the consequences of these operations lead to new wars and disasters. We know that they lied to us about the reasons for the invasion of Iraq. We know that they lied to us about a chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma.

And here is a recent story that The Washington Post just wrote about: it turns out that the Swiss company Crypto, a large manufacturer of encryption machines that supplied them to 120 countries, including Iran, India, Pakistan and even the Vatican, actually belonged to the CIA. Since the 1970s, the Americans and West Germans have had access to the most secret information on their opponents and allies. Germany dropped out of the game in the 1990s, and America listened to everyone until 2018. At the same time, the United States and Germany received millions of dollars in profit. The investigation is ongoing.

If you multiply all this by Trump’s Messianism, the result is scary. A country whose elite has appropriated the functions of ‘God’ is constantly looking for enemies – otherwise, its ideology and economy do not work. NATO’s dependence on the United States makes both NATO and the whole world vulnerable.

By the way, the Pew Center also asked with whom your country should be friends – with America, or with Russia, or with both. In Germany, 39% opted for the USA, 25% for Russia and every third German is sure that it is better to be friends with everyone. The option “let’s be friends” in Europe is popular: it was chosen by half or more Hungarians, Poles and Slovaks, by slightly less Italians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Lithuanians and Czechs.

But some continue to pray for the United States and look at the world through their eyes. But it is not worth it.

See you next week!