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NATO in crisis: report

Absence of strong US leadership, challenges from China, Russia undermine NATO’s strength, says Harvard’s Belfer Center

NATO in crisis: report

By Ayhan Simsek


NATO is in a crisis and the alliance is unprepared for new challenges from China and Russia, Harvard University's Belfer Center warned Friday.

A report by the center, written by two former U.S. ambassadors Douglas Lute and Nicholas Burns, was announced at the Munich Security Conference.

“NATO faces a crisis, with severe challenges from both within and beyond,” the authors said, listing U.S. President Donald Trump’s ambivalence about NATO, low European defense spending and slow decision making procedures by NATO as major challenges from within the alliance.

The report identified Russia’s military strength and China’s economic and technological power as two major challenges NATO faces beyond its borders.

“Russia — NATO’s largest, most military capable neighbor — remains NATO’s principal external challenge,” the report claimed, accusing Moscow of ignoring international commitments, conducting provocative exercises and conducting cyberattacks against NATO members.

It argued for a two-track approach toward Russia, consisting of deterrence and dialogue, and urged NATO allies to take urgent steps to address vulnerabilities, especially in the area of hybrid warfare.

The report underlined that China was not a direct military threat to most NATO allies, but it was emerging as “a global competitor” politically, economically and is seeking dominance in digital military technologies.

“The European allies need to focus more intently on the challenge from Chinese economic and technological power and industrial espionage. NATO allies should thus tighten restrictions on Chinese investments in key technology sectors on both sides of the Atlantic,” the authors said.

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