Can NATO Survive the Afghanistan Debacle?

Dave Keating, american journalist based in Brussels

For the first time, the transatlantic alliance has lost a war. The trauma of that experience—and the sidelining of its European members—has big implications for NATO’s future.

In early May, as European countries were waiting for an answer from US President Joe Biden on whether he would stick to the Afghanistan withdrawal timeline his predecessor Donald Trump had agreed with the Taliban, European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss the situation. From the meeting notes, it’s clear they weren’t happy.

There was a consensus that a cast-iron guarantee was needed from the Taliban of their commitment to a ceasefire and political solution before withdrawal could take place. They noted that the consequences of a hasty withdrawal would be felt more by Europe than by the United States, posing a “direct threat to European key security interests” and “triggering mass migration flows to Europe.”

Yet despite these misgivings, the Europeans felt completely powerless in the situation. […]

So what action was decided in Brussels and London to respond to these grave concerns? Nothing. They simply waited to be instructed by President Biden on what they were all going to do. There is perhaps no more poignant and catastrophic illustration of the central problem confronting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. […]

This is the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding,” said Armin Laschet, the leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who is expected to replace Merkel as German chancellor after September’s election. “We will talk about the causes and conclusions drawn after this rescue mission—a no-holds-barred analysis of errors in Germany, with our allies and in the international community,” he said. Läs artikel