NATO And The World By Imran Malik

NATO And The World By Imran Malik

The US’ obsessive compulsion to continuously reassert its global hegemony persists unabated. It now perceives newer, stronger, multi­domain and multidimensional se­curity threats and challenges to its pre-eminent global po­sition. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the mercurial rise of China have caused it to reassess its global policies and strategies, particularly for Eu­rope and the Indo-Pacific.

NATO is providing the organisational structure to devise, formulate and execute the new strategic concepts to that end.

NATO’s Strategic Concept 2022 thus reiterates its intent “to ensure the col­lective defence of its members through a 360-degree approach comprising three core tasks—deterrence and de­fence, crisis prevention and manage­ment and cooperative security”. Its key aspects are based upon the perception that Euro-Atlantic security is being un­dermined by strategic competition and pervasive instability. It considers the strategic environment in the Euro-At­lantic area as destabilised and the Rus­sian Federation’s “brutal aggression” against Ukraine violative of the norms and principles that contribute to a sta­ble European security order.

It further reckons China’s stated “am­bitions and coercive policies” as sys­temic challenges to its interests, Euro-Atlantic and global security and values. It fears that China is employing a broad range of political, economic and military tools to increase its global footprint and project power. It feels that China seeks to control key technological and in­dustrial sectors, critical infrastructure, strategic materials and supply chains. It thinks that China is subverting the rules-based international order includ­ing in the space, cyber and maritime do­mains. Most importantly, it believes the Sino-Russian strategic partnership to be at the forefront of an authoritarian pushback against the rules-based inter­national order. Cyberspace; emerging and disruptive technologies; the ero­sion of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architectures; and the security implications of climate change are the other threats that NATO per­ceives for itself.

The Sino-Russia Combine thus emerg­es distinctly as the major threat per­ceived by NATO. It has already expand­ed aggressively into Eastern Europe, subsumed the erstwhile neutral states of Sweden and Finland and now literal­ly sits on the Russian border. Crucially, it is increasingly bringing China into its crosshairs, too. Is NATO then undergo­ing a basic paradigm shift; graduating from a Euro-Atlantic regional alliance/organisation into one with global di­mensions, ambitions and pretensions? Will it now acquire a global avatar and a wider non-European, say Asian mem­bership as well?

NATO has essentially been primed to deter the erstwhile USSR/Russia, from threatening its core interests. Russia however moved quite imperiously, dis­dainfully and remorselessly into Geor­gia, Crimea and Ukraine to secure its vi­tal national interests. The US-led West/NATO could pay no more than vocifer­ous lip service to condemn its actions.

In the current Ukraine war, the US is applying its well-known Strategy of Off-shore Balancing, yet again. It has put Ukraine on the front lines against Rus­sia, mustered a rather nonplussed, con­fused and timid Europe to support and back it while it stays “off-shore” and re­inforces European and Ukrainian war efforts. It has supplied Ukraine with a measured, well calculated albeit limited economic and military capacity to keep prolonging the war.

The intention is ostensibly to weak­en, defeat and humiliate Russia rather than craft an unlikely Ukrainian victory. It will be a Pyrrhic victory, if at all, for the Europeans in general and the Ukrai­nians in particular.

If NATO is to acquire an Asian avatar (essentially against China) as well, then several geopolitical and geostrategic is­sues will have to be considered. What will NATO-in-Asia look like? Will it act independently in its current form, or build itself up around the already for­ward placed groupings like the QUAD, AUKUS, I2U2 etc and/or further cre­ate Coalitions of the Willing and then move as it did in the GMER, North Af­rica and Afghanistan, earlier on. Or will it be a combination of all these options? Is the concurrence of all NATO/Coali­tion members against China presup­posed? Do they not have their national interests to look after; their indepen­dent bilateral relationships and eco­nomic inter-dependencies with China? Will they willingly place their nation­al interests subservient to US diktat, as has happened to Germany, France and most of Western Europe in this Ukrai­nian war? Furthermore, do the mem­bers of NATO individually have the ca­pacity to venture into distant theatres of war like the Indo-Pacific, the South Pacific, GMER, SCAR etc?

All members of NATO/Coalitions (nu­clear and non-nuclear weapon states) could thus possibly become legiti­mate targets in a potentially fast evolv­ing and deteriorating nuclear environ­ment. Will these countries be willing to take the risk?

NATO has both non-kinetic and kinet­ic options in Asia. In the non-kinetic do­main, it could just continue projecting overwhelming diplomatic, military and economic power and threaten isolation, the disruption of supply chains, SLOCs etc to deter and/or coerce China into sub­mission. It could further exploit the tech­nological advances in AI, cyber, space, hypersonic weapon systems and the elec­tromagnetic spectrums to dominate and overwhelm it. These endeavours have re­mained unproductive thus far.

The recent multidimensional sanc­tions/embargoes against Russia have failed and are unlikely to succeed against China too. In this largely interwoven global village, economic and trade em­bargoes, particularly in China’s case, are likely to have deleterious effects for both sides—just like the rebounding oil, gas, food grains, fertilisers, etc crises now be­setting Europe and the world!

The US might be constrained to con­duct kinetic operations if its current co­ercive, non-kinetic endeavours fail. So, how will it respond if, hypothetically speaking, Taiwan becomes or is made to become the flashpoint? The US, as op­posed to NATO, is obliged to come to its rescue. Will the US somehow apply the Strategy of Off-shore balancing in the In­do-Pacific too? Taiwan could be the new Ukraine and India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and others in NATO/the Coali­tions, the new Europe! The most conse­quential unknown, however, will be the response of all its allies; even if it bites the bullet itself and leads the onslaught!

Any kinetic war between two of the world’s mightiest military-nuclear-missile powers, technological giants and economic behemoths will unleash an unmitigated Armageddon on the en­tire world!

Sanity must prevail. NATO must stay where it belongs.

Imran Malik
The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army. He can be reached at and tweets @K846Im

NATO And The World By Imran Malik


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