NATO and its expansion—despite the fact that it was effective in the past—cannot provide answers to every transatlantic security issue.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was indeed one of the most remarkable events in the twentieth century.
The German reunification and retreat of Soviet forces in the 1990s did open a new era of reform in Europe as the German diplomat Mr. Wolfgang Ischinger stressed. Henceforth, the NATO of 1989 has proven to be stronger after surviving the Cold War and many agree that it helped the Western bloc succeed. Once the Warsaw Pact disappeared, NATO continued to prosper and was open to expansion even from former eastern bloc countries.
Furthermore, efforts to establish meaningful institutionalized cooperation between the European Union and NATO with Russia persist. NATO survived transatlantic security concerns, yet new problems challenge the alliance.
A question must be asked: “Is the state of global security today better or worse than it was the day before the Wall came down?”
Without a doubt, the simple and short answer would be “no.”
This answer will be followed by a list of security threats to approach global security issues such as terrorism, civil turmoil beyond state borders, environmental issues, and the importance of security energy and so on.
Today’s world might not be as bipolar as it were during the Cold War with the “Iron Curtain” dividing the world ideologically, but the tension of the five permanent members of United Nations Security Council increases global debates. Europe’s security framework, evolutions of European armed forces and the expansion of NATO represent some of the driving forces playing a leading role in global security. Yet, regional security challenges with the Middle East, Russia and the Balkans explicitly show the invisible bipolarity still present in world politics.
The case of Kosovo and the humanitarian intervention, which was not sanctioned by the UNSC, was one of the first events to highlight the rivalry between two former Cold War blocs. The differences in setting up the “world order” and dealing with international conflicts and security issues continues obstruct post-Cold War harmony.
For instance, East-West tensions resurfaced during the Georgian Conflict in 2008 followed by the UN observers leaving the country due to the Russian veto. In addition the Syrian Civil War has exacerbated US-Russian relations, and the conflict in Ukraine and Crimea demonstrate a lack of consensus among Russia and Western powers.
Western powers led by the EU implicitly started their efforts to keep the area stable by establishing contractual relations with Ukraine and Moldova, thus by using the “fast track used for Bulgaria and Romania.” Moreover, not invading/protecting Ukraine breaches the pact that the leaders of the US, Russia and UK made back in 1991 when Ukraine was stripped from its nuclear power, the promise to protect its sovereignty, and the inviolability of its borders. While evidently Russia did not keep the promise, the question remains what will happen with the US and UK? Undeniably these cases provided a tangible demonstration of systematic failure of the West to deal with Russia as well as lack of efficiency to sustain a peaceful and stable region.
Perhaps, Germany is not the place where both blocs show their political and military power.
However one can simply raise the question: Is the Baltic region becoming a new fort of a potential “Cold War” in which both Russia and NATO create a military “show off area?” We must be aware that NATO and its expansion—despite the fact that it was effective in the past—cannot provide answers to every issue. Yet NATO represents a key element, and the international community should seek 21st century reforms to ensure global stability.
Donika Emini is a fellow of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS Foundation). She previously worked as a researcher/project manager at the Balkan Policy Institute in Pristina. Emini is currently cooperating with the Kosovar Center for Security Studies as a part of the Think Tank fund for MA and PhD graduates. Follow her @donikaemini. Read other articles by Donika.