Neofunctionality for NATO

The philosophy of the formation of NATO after World War II was the confrontation with the military-security threat; the treaty was signed in Washington in April ۱۹۴۹. What has turned the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into a powerful regime in Article ۵ of this Treaty, in which a military attack on one of the members of this organization is considered equivalent to a military attack on all members of the organization, and all members must defend and attack the military for such a military threat and attack.
22 July 2023
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Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini

The philosophy of the formation of NATO after World War II was the confrontation with the military-security threat; the treaty was signed in Washington in April 1949. What has turned the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into a powerful regime in Article 5 of this Treaty, in which a military attack on one of the members of this organization is considered equivalent to a military attack on all members of the organization, and all members must defend and attack the military for such a military threat and attack.

In the structure of the Cold War bipolar system, especially from 1949 to 1971, when active confrontation was the dominant discourse of international security, NATO was considered the first embankment of the Western bloc against the Soviet Union.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the address of the big security threat changed from Moscow to the small Moscow. Ethnic crises in the Balkans, regional terrorists, Al-Qaeda, the rebel governments of Saddam and Gaddafi, etc., were considered a Moscow for NATO. Still, the United States and other NATO members know these threats are not generally a global threat to the Red danger scale. The magnification of their threat is merely justifying NATO's confrontation with these small Moscows.

The expansion of NATO to the east was also theorized with the same philosophy. America, England, Germany, and France, intending to maintain the existence of NATO and maintain its dynamics by exaggerating the threat of Russia, have defined NATO's eastward expansion as a strategic goal since the 1990s.

NATO was gradually dysfunctional. Some NATO members had doubts about its effectiveness in an era when security threats have changed from hardware to soft and intelligent dimensions. Therefore, Russia's attack on Ukraine had great benefits for NATO:

  1. Revival of NATO's function to deal with military threats from non-NATO members;
  2. America regained its traditional role as the locomotive driving NATO;
  3. The European countries, who had in mind the survival minus NATO and America, once again accepted that they depended on NATO and America for their security;
  4. The process of divergence in the European Union, which experienced a turning point with Brexit, again loosened and wanted to converge;
  5. The joining of Sweden and Flanders and possibly Ukraine to NATO.

Therefore, Russia's military attack on Ukraine as a (therapeutic) shock revived NATO. On the other hand, before the war in Ukraine, new international order was going through its 9-month period, and the new order was inevitably born. The second result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the dependence of the international future order on the outcome of the Ukrainian war. In other words, the Ukraine War has made the natural period of the birth of a new order rush and, more importantly, dependent on the outcome of the Ukrainian war. In these circumstances, NATO will also play an important role in the geometry of international order.

The main topic of the Vilnius summit and the headlines of this summit show that the issue of NATO's dysfunction or NATO's inefficiency after the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine is a concern that has already occupied the minds of NATO heads. They are trying to define new functions (new functions) for NATO in order to implement it as a pilot in the form of a hybrid war of the West against Russia. In this way, NATO will maintain its systemic dynamics after the Ukraine war. NATO's confrontation with cyber threats, financial threats such as cryptocurrency attacks, promoting democracy and human rights, countering cyber terrorism, etc., in Eastern Europe are the weak signs of America's determination to theorize new functions for NATO after the Ukraine war.

The answer to this question is important regarding the future role of NATO in the international security discourse. After the end of the war in Ukraine, what position will NATO have in international security? The answer to this question can be a research topic for studying the future of NATO.

Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, a senior expert at the IPIS

  (The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)

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