Political Scientist Yakov Kedmi: NATO Is Redundant, Europe is Losing Its Power

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The loud statement made by the president of France Emmanuel Macron, who suggested to create a European army to defend against the US, China, and Russia aroused the indignation of the US President. Trump recalled that in the First and Second World Wars the country attacking France was Germany. “They were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along. Pay for NATO or not!” wrote the American leader on Twitter. “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” talked to the Israeli political scientist Yakov Kedmi, who headed the intelligence service “Nativ”, about whether Europe will obtain its own army or all these wishes of Macron are written in water.

Will Europe be able to defend at least the formal signs of its independence – defense and foreign policy?

“Europe isn’t capable of ensuring its defense neither today, nor tomorrow, nor the day after tomorrow without the help of the United States. An independent Europe has no possibilities to determine something. The deplorable condition of the French army and the once serious German army don’t give the grounds for optimistic statements about it being possible to create some united European army. A united European army without nuclear weapons is worth nothing. Only France and Britain have nuclear weapons. But they are completely useless in the event of a serious conflict between Europe and Russia. Whereas the US have enough bilateral agreements to defend Europe: between the US and Germany, between the US and Britain, between the US and France, between the US and Poland. Just like, for example, how there are agreements in the Middle East between America and Qatar, America and Bahrain. They allow the Pentagon to keep its largest military bases in these countries.”

The adviser to the US President John Bolton claims that the US won’t place new missiles in Europe after America withdraws from the INF treaty with Russia.

“Europe is afraid of missiles with a small and medium radius of action like the plague. Any of them. All of these missiles are intended for the European theater of operations. Europe least of all wants the territories of its member countries to become a theater of operations. Europe has no possibilities to quickly create medium-range missiles that will be able to compete with Russian ones. Such a Europe in terms of its defensive policy completely depends on the Americans.”

What future awaits NATO?

“NATO is a structure that was created at a certain time in certain circumstances by certain forces. Today it is a completely redundant organisation. From a military point of view it doesn’t represent anything serious. What is serious it not NATO, but the United States that stands behind the alliance. NATO is a bureaucratic structure that was created and now works for self-preservation. In order to prove its fighting capacity it shouts about the Russian threat and from time to time carries out these or those manoeuvres. But all of this is undertaken to preserve the alliance and so that it is given money. The US President understands this best of all. America doesn’t need NATO. The statutory documents of this organisation and the principle of collective responsibility underlain in them put the interests of the US at risk because of the actions of inadequate European politicians. But the United States is too serious a country to endanger its own interests because of some ambitious princeling. The situation with the former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, who started the war in South Ossetia, taught NATO and the Americans a lot.

The US will want to enter into a conflict with Russia because of who? Because of Latvia? Remember what happened during the first weeks of World War II, and what the French leaders said on the 11th day of the war. They said that since Poland already practically ceased to exist, there is no sense in starting military operations against Germany. If someone thinks that because of Latvia French or Americans will send their soldiers to die, they are mistaken. Or are the Germans ready to fight for the Poles, who have ardently ‘loved and respected them’ over the last 400 years?”

What, in your opinion, in the near future awaits Russian-American relations? Is it worth hoping for a breakthrough concerning a possible meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina?

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“If to look at the results of the mid-term elections in the US, they defined the following. Firstly, these elections, as such, were an inhibiting factor for some of the initiatives of Trump concerning Russia, for fear that his actions would affect the results of elections. Voting took place, which means that this constraining factor in dialogue between Russia and the US disappeared. The results of the US elections practically didn’t change the possibilities of the head of the White house to pursue this or that foreign policy. But at the same time, no matter how Trump acted, he will be always subjected to criticism from the Congress under the control of the Democrat party. Because the main objective of present composition of the Congress is to achieve other results in the presidential elections that will take place in two years. All the hopes of Trump’s opponents that they will manage to create a political situation that will lead to the impeachment of the head of state have finally disappeared. Behind Trump there is all of his Republican Party, as a unit, which wasn’t there before. The fact that the Republican Party held onto the senate is the merit of only Trump, and the members of his same party understand it. They also understand very well that in the next elections they have no other choice but to support Trump.

The situation that has developed in the US today allows Trump to pursue any policy that he wants. Judging by what happened concerning North Korea and what is happening concerning Iran, the ultimate goal of the head of the White House is to hold negotiations on terms that are more favourable to the US and to achieve results that are more favourable to Americans. Confrontation in the opinion of Trump is a ‘preface’, a necessary basis for revising existing agreements or the existing order. Trump will implement the same scenario concerning Russia.”

The abandonment of the INF Treaty is also part of Trump’s “conflict-shaping” strategy?

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“The US President wants to conclude new agreements, since the old ones don’t suit him. Even if the new agreement will largely be a repeat of the old one, Trump needs to show that it is his new agreement. This is seen in the example of Iran, which the head of the White House is not averse to reaching a new agreement with.”

Is it possible at all, from your point of view, to negotiate with Trump about something? And where is the guarantee that these agreements won’t be cancelled in the future?

“I think that Trump is a more negotiable person than his predecessor Barack Obama was. Attempting to give Trump a chance and to launch new negotiations with him is always positive. Negotiations will show just how well this will work. The US President’s purpose is to reach agreements under completely new conditions that are equitable to American interests. Russia has to define its interests in the same way.

The American administration and, first and foremost, Trump oppose global and ideological systems that oblige the United States to take certain actions. Trump is ‘pro’ bilateral agreements between America and other countries. He adheres to a strategy whereby the United States forms agreements with each country separately, ‘in private’. Trump considers agreements that go beyond two countries as unnecessary. That’s why the US President, without calling things by their proper names, opposes the European Union and NATO. He doesn’t want any Norway to define the policy of the United States. Norway can define the policy of the United States, in his understanding, only via a bilateral agreement between the United States and Norway. But not in a multilateral format.”

Russia stands for a multipolar world, but the United States is against it. Russia stands for strengthening the role of the United Nations, but the United States wants to reduce the role of the UN. Such a standoff threatens the destruction of the world order that developed after World War II?

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“The order that developed after World War II practically doesn’t exist anymore. It was destroyed when NATO forces bombed Yugoslavia, and when American and NATO troops entered the Baltics. It ceased to exist in connection with the actions of American troops in Georgia and in Ukraine. This order is still formally written down somewhere, but in reality the situation is such that it is impossible to restore it. It is necessary to establish a new order. Will it be more based on multilateral agreements or on bilateral agreements? I lean more towards the second option.”

What are the prospects for a new tripartite alliance – Russia, Iran, and Turkey?

“There is no such union. The quantity and quality of contradictions between Russia and Turkey, between Russia and Iran, between Turkey and Iran are enormous. There are certain common tactical interests in certain areas at certain times. But there is no union, there wasn’t and can’t be. And I in general haven’t observed somewhere that Russia, for its modern existence, aspires to make unions with certain states. There are certain agreements, but no union exists.”

Do you expect another new wave of the “Arab spring”, maybe, in other regions of the world?

“This pseudo-liberal experiment in the Middle East has ended. Democracy in the western interpretation can exist only in advanced economic countries. It can be more or less effective in countries with a competent population. It can be effective in countries where there is no religious dominance or strong religious parties. If there is a state in the Middle East that corresponds to these conditions, then at a certain stage elements of democracy can be effective there.”

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