NATO strength

Cracks in the Alliance

nato
The recent NATO exercises in Poland simulated a Russian attack on Eastern Europe.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Despite its military resources, it is questionable whether NATO could defend the West from Russian aggression.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was established in 1949 to ensure the “collective defense” of the West.
    • It now has 28 members, including the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.
    • The two-week Anakonda-16 military exercise in Poland, which started on June 7,  involved approximately 30,000 troops from over 20 NATO and partner countries.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

There are old houses whose beams and struts have become so bent and rickety that upon seeing them, architects ask why they didn’t collapse long ago. This state is called static instability. Sometimes a house is still standing only because wallpaper holds up the walls.

Something similar can be said about NATO, the supposedly most powerful defensive alliance in history, after the end of its most extensive military maneuvers since the end of the Cold War.

With regard to the deployment of several tens of thousands of troops in Eastern Europe for two weeks earlier in June, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany warned about “saber rattling and warlike howling” on the border with Russia. But if the Kremlin’s military experts actually felt the military exercises of recent weeks to be a threat, that was quite a generous assessment on their part. The noises that NATO actually made during the Anakonda-16 maneuvers in Poland were more like creaking and grating.

In both political and military terms, the promise of mutual defense seems extremely brittle. But if the credibility of its core promise is doubtful, then is NATO actually still alive? Or has it long been dead behind the political wallpaper?

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.