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NATO, a military alliance that is less and less political

NATO embodies the transatlantic link that unites the democratic nations committed to the promotion of freedom and an organised international order, especially in Europe. It is a vital balanced military alliance binding the two shores of the Atlantic, but it is less and less a symbol of the political dimension that it once hoped to be.

Within its fold advocates of "illiberalism" and especially autocratic regimes are now flourishing. It is striking to note that at the Munich conference on security the audience celebrated the liberation of a journalist, a citizen of a NATO country, Germany, by another NATO country, Turkey. The latter is also suspected of entertaining close links with Islamist terrorism, dealing with Russia and of attacking some Alliance members' Kurdish allies.

During its most recent ministerial conference, whilst the Europeans were demonstrating their work to increase their spending and the organisation of their collective security, they were challenged by the Secretary General himself and some allies who expressed concern about Europe's increasing autonomy. In all likelihood this annoyance was driven by sombre commercial interests. European defence industries might be profiting from this? Oh, how awful! And European money is being dedicated to those industries? Disgraceful! And yet it is the rule across the world and the power of great armies is of course inseparable from their industrial fabric. This is what Europe is about to do, because it has the necessary technological and industrial base, and because it has the right and even the duty to privilege it. And if it does not do this, efforts to create a European defence system will have been for nought. Let this be a warning to those who do not understand this!

France is proposing a European intervention initiative that may involve its partners in intervention capabilities, which are the only way to lend credibility to a true desire for collective defence that to date has been rather timid. It is a prerequisite for European defence, the proof of salutary awareness. It is a useful complement to the Alliance itself.

It would be counterproductive for NATO's leadership, because of its short-sightedness, to undermine the tentative progress made towards European defence. International instability have to be contained by a Europe, which is fulfilling its duty to protect its citizens, in an alliance that is still necessary and effective within NATO, but not by submission to interests that are less and less its own. Any other calculation would endanger our common security in the long-term, this might prove to be fatal.