Do you remember when, in 2018, then-U.S. President Donald Trump went against his country’s allies and demanded they pledge at least 2% of their economic output to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is supposed to keep them safe?
Unless more than five of the military alliance’s 30 members start doing this, NATO will be an insignificant force unable to deter potential attackers, Trump asserted.
What Trump failed to achieve was inadvertently brought about by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he invaded Ukraine. Such a slap in the face awoke dozens of European countries and jolted them into action. All of a sudden, they realized they might be the next target.
Countries that embraced neutrality for generations have come to realize that neutrality will only encourage Putin, so they have no choice but to be strong and strong together, because no European country can face Russia alone.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, NATO has gone through a renaissance. The same commentators that were ready to write off the “overly bureaucratic” organization, with its many officials, have done a 180.
The current crisis no longer allows for evading budgetary commitments, and member states have poured more money into NATO than Trump could have ever imagined. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because the alliance will also have access to each country’s national army, the budgets for which have also increased.
At the same time, NATO is beginning to address its decision-making pace, especially in regard to implementation. The decision to deploy 300,000 high-readiness NATO troops, which was made at a summit of member states last week, is already being implemented. By 2023, these troops will have been deployed to Eastern Europe.
Add to that Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO, which is becoming more relevant than ever, and the enormity of the paradigm shift becomes clear. Before the Russian invasion, philosophical discussions on the necessity of military power would have taken decades.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO emerged as the winner of the Cold War, although the communist regime’s fall presented another challenge: The military alliance now had no real enemy. At a time when NATO’s pursuits ranged from leading humanitarian aid missions to fighting Somali pirates, many were convinced the curtain had come down on the alliance. Today, it commands the stage.
Ariel Bulshtein is a journalist, translator, lecturer and lawyer.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.