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On the Record

U.S.-Europe Relations: What Role for NATO?

Ivo H. Daalder

Ivo Daalder joins The Economist to speak about the evolving nature of NATO. The diffusion of American power and how the organization needs to handle the Kremlin are among several topics discussed. 

Host: Sitting in the Middle of the Atlantic, it’s hard to know where the uncertainty is greater. We don’t know who the Democratic candidate is going to be and we don’t know if he is going to beat John McCain. So, there is plenty of uncertainty about relations with Europe there. But looking the other way is not much better: NATO and the EU are divided perhaps as never before. NATO is unable to agree at its summit at Bucharest on how and when to extend membership to Georgia and Ukraine. And, the European Union is divided and decisionless on its relations with Russia.

To make sense of this we turn to Ivo Daalder. To start with, what’s his [Daalder’s] health check on NATO?

Ivo Daalder: If there is no agreement, even on the fundamentals of who should be members and when, what is it that this alliance is supposed to be about? The Bucharest summit sort of underlines the lack of the Western concensus on both what is happening inside Russia, and how Europe and the United States ought to position themselves with regard to Russia. You have this fundamental disagreement on the issue of ‘what is the nature of Nato and a security guarantee towards countries like Ukraine, Georgia, and others who live in the shadow of Russia.’ On the one hand, counties like France and Germany arguing ‘let’s please not do anything that might upset Moscow’ and certainly not by enlarging NATO or opening up discussions on enlargement of NATO. Then there is the United States as well as Eastern European allies saying ‘no, we should not have Moscow dictate what the nature of the alliance is nor its membership.’

Listen to the full interview »

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