NATO’s identity crisis is on show in London

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This week London hosted the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of NATO, the pillar of Euro-Atlantic security and of the Western order shaped after the Second World War, that at the time of the new world disorder seems to go through an undeniable crisis of identity. This one is exacerbated by the strong disagreements between the US and European allies on different dossiers such as environmental protection, trade duties and rules, nuclear disarmament, the Middle East and Iran, Brexit and even multilateralism.

The crisis has been worsened by the dialectical style and the America First agenda of current White House tenant – although the gap between the two sides of the Atlantic was already in place at the time of the Obama presidency. Today the main problem of the Atlantic Alliance is the fact that Europeans and Turks no longer recognize the same urgency attributed by the US to common security threats. Not that the London summit lacked potential or actual enemies. The British conference was in fact the first in the alliance’s history to seriously consider the Chinese threat, both with regard to the potential menaces on TLC development (via Huawei and partners) and for the pincer network of infrastructures under construction on the flanks of Europe (Africa, Arctic, Middle East). Against Moscow, allies would be developing a plan to respond to Russian hybrid warfare, while Ankara held its stand against the defense of Europe’s eastern front given the absence of recognition of the PKK as a terrorist organization.

On the sidelines of the summit there was of course space also for the Trump-Conte bilateral meeting: Italy indeed boasts a very solid relationship with the US, supported by the consideration that the Americans have for Rome despite some recent developments have created a series of frictions. We are referring to the controversial Italian membership to China’s new silk road, as well as more recently to the absence of minister Di Maio from the G20 summit in Tokyo, or the “non-interference” calls with respect to protests in Hong Kong and some positions on the Chinese detention camps in Xinjiang by M5S intellectuals. Washington also wants Rome to increase its military spending, given that 1.2% of GDP is currently very far from NATO’s 2% target. A small diplomaticthriller came on the Chinese 5G case, with Trump arguing that Italy would have interrupted its collaboration with Huawei and

Conte instead to deny having treated the subject with the US president. The misunderstanding signals the complexity of a dossier that is strategic for the future of new TLCs, as well as for security relations between Western allies. Not to mention the danger of evaluating with mere economic criteria issues that are likely to affect the geopolitical trajectory of a Country.