Is the NATO crisis between the Anglo-Saxon alliance and European members?

CAFER TALHA ŞEKER
Published 20.07.2018 21:54

Amid political contradictions, trade wars and social issues, the incumbent U.S. administration and European allies confront difficulties in reshaping future relations with each other as well as dealing with China and Russia for their commercial interests. Allegedly a new Cold War is already beginning as parties customize their conditions in this age of dilemma. In this transition period, Anglo-American relations are once again drawing attention after the NATO Summit. The policy both sides pursue towards the EU, the Middle East, the Far East and Russia apparently differs. It seems that U.S. President Donald Trump visited the U.K. and Britain welcomed the U.S. president, because both sides want to prevent financial rivalry between them, by using the historical "special relationship" context, ahead of U.S.–EU financial rivalry. After the U.S. president called the EU a financial "foe" for the U.S., the German foreign minister said they could not rely on the U.S. from now on. The Anglo-German dispute is not a secret in the Brexit process in recent years. So, now is Britain's special partner the U.S. helping the U.K. against Germany, as it did in the two world wars, on Brexit? Or is the West, as we know, being divided into two camps: the Anglo-Saxons and continental Europe? I think we have more questions than answers in these matters.Describing American-British relations as a "Special Relationship" was first mentioned by Winston Churchill in his visit to Washington in 1941 when he was stepping around American policymakers to draw the U.S. into World War II against Germany. Despite the phrase "Special Relationship" pronounced in this visit, it was of course representing a new stage in the long history of Anglo-American relations.

Robert Stewart, the British Foreign Secretary from 1812-1822, said "there are no two states whose friendly relations are of more practical value to each other and whose hostility so inevitably and so immediately entails upon both the most serious mischief than the British and American nations." Almost 200 years later British Prime Minster Theresa May said that "no two countries do more together than ours to keep their people safe and prosperous" whilst she was hosting the U.S. president in, the "special relationship's" founder, Churchill's birthplace after Germany was attacked verbally by the American President at the 2018 NATO Summit. Now it is worth to reason whether we have, either in NATO or in general, no two other countries to keep Europe down other than the U.S. and Britain? So, amid global controversies, can strengthening the special relationship between the U.S. and U.K. deteriorate the interests of the others as has happened before?

French annoyed by 'Special Relationship'NATO established top level state meetings between the U.S. and Soviets took place between 1955 and 1961. In that period the Soviets put down roots in Syria whilst the U.S. and U.K. were in competition for Iranian and Arabian oil, which would be followed by the Vietnam quagmire and the Yemen war later. Hence this Anglo-American rivalry caused two things: First, Syria came under Russian influence and the security of oil flow from the Middle East to Europe went into a crisis. Second, Britain and France, with Israel, occupied the Suez Canal for energy security but it resulted in a new crisis because such a war was a clash of interests with both the U.S. and the Soviets. The situation in Syria and Egypt would create the infrastructure of future crisis in the Middle East and cause more clash of interests with actors in the region.

In March 1957 Britain and the U.S. came to table in the Bermuda Conference to recover and strengthen the Special Relationship. The two deep allies believed that strengthening "interdependence" between two Anglo-Saxon countries was a necessity for rebuilding common Anglo-American responsibility in fighting global issues from Europe to the Far East. Those days in American and British media it was common to talk about "interdependence." Britain would have to keep an eye on the U.S. in order to not to be dependent on them heavily, and without having America more independent of Britain, to prevent coming under American influence. For British strategy, Britain would secure British interests by guiding America in global politics as Greek philosophy did the same to the Roman Empire. However soon after this "interdependence" era, France was disturbed by its exclusion in this Anglo-American common agenda, which was more dominant in NATO. In December 1957 the first NATO summit was held in Paris. Considering French disturbance, the Anglo-Saxon media depicted it a very crucial meeting of leaders for future of the block.In September 1958, France protested American and British dominance in NATO. Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle was firm on getting France equal to the Anglo-Saxons in NATO. Demands from Paris to London and Washington were declined because it would make concessions to French call of more. Upon this France, step by step, adopted a policy of withdrawing from NATO by the year 1959, when de Gaulle became president. The first step was withdrawing military assets in the NATO Mediterranean forces, and after that all NATO troops were expelled from French soil and finally in 1966 France left NATO's command structure, three years before the end of the de Gaulle era in French politics. Decades later when the Anglo-American alliance was preparing to invade Iraq in 2003, it was France, in a joint foreign policy with Germany, who objected to the invasion almost more than Russia did. France would actively return to NATO in a very surprising time, just one year before the so called "Arab Spring" started, in 2009. Hence this time, unlike the Iraq case, France would be in the field while allies launched attacks in Libya, Syria and other regions in the Middle East.

NATO after the Arab Spring, allies in dispute againThe NATO alliance was strengthened in April 2009 when President Obama visited the U.K., France, Germany and Turkey to persuade allies for the responsibility of common security. It was the year France rejoined NATO after decades, which would help the allies to lay a burden on the French army and open the way for French military operations by creating an area of interest for France in reshaping Middle East, after the "Arab Spring" started, mainly in Libya and Syria. However things seem different now as globalism failed to recover from the crisis.

Considering the Franco-German position towards Anglo-American stance and Russia keeping an eye on their deteriorating relations, has Britain manage to save financial and security "interdependence" for her own interest, to not be dependent on the U.S.? At the moment we don't know whether British policy has managed to find the wisdom of philosophy to guide the Trump administration. It is worth questioning if history repeats itself and if France has a new president in the near future like de Gaulle who may consider leaving NATO again due to the dominance of Anglo-Saxon relationships in the block against Europe. I do not think Trump's inconsistency in behavior and words have only to do with his administration's uncertainty, but have to do with the negotiations still going on among global powers, and it seems obvious now that the recent crisis is not taking place between the West and Russia, rather among the Western allies.

* Ph.D. Researcher at the Association of Researchers on the Middle East and Africa (ORDAF)

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