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US military experts break down NATO summit challenges and policy objectives for Al Jazeera

Washington – The President of the United States opens Joe Biden The summit officially begins on Tuesday evening NATO” exist Washington Announced massive military aid and provision of a major new air defense system to bolster Ukraine’s capabilities against Russia.

In his opening remarks, the US president sought to assure NATO countries of the absolute commitment of the United States to them in countering conventional threats, in addition to the possible threats posed by the arrival of his adversary. Donald Trump As the US presidential election approaches on November 5, head to the White House.

To understand the NATO summit and its significance for global security, Al Jazeera spoke to Robert Pearson, professor of international relations at the prestigious US military academy West Point and author of the forthcoming book, Russian Grand Strategy in the 21st Century.

Pearson, who holds a PhD from Yale University and a master's degree from Stanford University, is a non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute. Below is the full transcript of the conversation, with Al Jazeera cautioning that the views expressed therein reflect those of Professor Pearson and do not represent any official position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.

  • 75 years later, do you think NATO should continue to be the cornerstone of North American and European security?

There is no doubt that NATO is the main pillar supporting security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region and must remain so.

As Russia’s war in Ukraine has shown, the political, economic, and security landscape in Eastern Europe today would be very different if NATO had not allowed these countries to join. NATO has been effective in deterring Russian aggression against its allies, and will continue to be so as long as member states continue to invest in their defense capabilities and alliance relationships.

  • What are the main conventional challenges and threats facing NATO today?

First and foremost is the brutal war Russia is waging in Ukraine, and even if the armed hostilities are contained within Ukraine, as I believe they will be, a large-scale conventional war on NATO’s borders would place a huge strain on the ability to maintain European stability and security outside Ukraine’s borders.

But the president has made clear that what is more dangerous is what might happen if Russia is allowed to prevail in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin He has repeatedly been most aggressive and dangerous when he believes he has momentum in the favor of a weak opposition, and if NATO does not continue to strongly oppose Russian aggression, it will only further embolden Putin.

  • What are the main non-traditional challenges and threats facing NATO?

There is no doubt that populism, isolationism, rising nationalism and polarization are on the rise in many NATO countries today, including the United States.

All these phenomena tend to undermine the consensus among member states on the value and importance of NATO. This has the potential to weaken its inner unity. In an alliance that operates on the basis of consensus, lack of unity means lack of effective joint action.

  • Do you think a member state defence budget of 2% of GDP is sufficient to meet the growing challenges facing the Alliance?

The 2023 “Vilnius Commitment” adopted at the recent NATO summit stipulates that 2% is seen as a minimum, not a maximum, and it is unclear whether this will be enough to meet future challenges and security threats. Because we don't know exactly what will happen, but it seems that things will not get more difficult in the foreseeable future, and may get worse.

Therefore, I suggest that decision makers in NATO countries and their General Secretariat prepare for the worst and budget for it, which is a wise strategy, if the alliance is lucky, these allocations will enhance the deterrence objectives and countries will never be forced to use enhanced military capabilities, but if we happen to face the worst case scenario, then … at least NATO countries will be better prepared.

  • How would you differentiate between President Joe Biden’s vision for NATO’s future and that of his rival, former President Donald Trump?

President Biden has demonstrated himself to be a consistent supporter of NATO’s central role in ensuring America’s security, and if he wins re-election, I am confident he will continue to invest in the Alliance, consistent with the bipartisan U.S. foreign policy of the past 75 years.

Obviously, it is difficult to predict what Trump's policies would be if he wins the election, as his public statements do not always match his actions, and Trump has long been skeptical of the U.S. role in NATO, which could indicate an attempt by him to withdraw from the program if he wins the next election.

Trump also previously suggested that NATO should not provide aid to member states that do not allocate 2% of their defense budgets, which may indicate that he is still open to staying in the alliance, but on his terms, despite the contradictions between President Biden and Trump, he still… What things will look like after the election is highly uncertain.

  • Under what conditions can Russia and NATO establish a good cooperative relationship?

Many observers and experts believe that President Putin is the problem and that his departure one day would open the door to a possible thaw between the two parties. While Putin himself is a problem, the deeper divide lies in the control of Russia's authoritarian regime.

Until the entire regime (not just the president) is replaced and the Russian people demand and establish a functioning democracy, it can be argued that there is little hope for reconciliation with NATO, and unfortunately, I don’t expect to see meaningful democracy in Russia in the foreseeable future, and perhaps we never will.


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