July 10, 2024 | New York Post

Only American leadership can rally NATO to fight the new axis of authoritarian chaos

July 10, 2024 | New York Post

Only American leadership can rally NATO to fight the new axis of authoritarian chaos

NATO leaders on Tuesday arrived in Washington to mark the 75th anniversary of the historic alliance that helped defeat the Soviet Union and secure an American-led century.

But diplomatic toasts and fond memories of winning last century’s Cold War will not be enough to win this century’s standoff with the Chinese Communist Party and its authoritarian axis of chaos.

For that, NATO needs American leadership, a plan to modernize — and a strategy for victory.

Democracies are not winning right now.

In the Indo-Pacific, China’s bullying of Taiwan and the Philippines is escalating with little Western response, while in the Middle East Israel is fighting a seven-front war against Iran as the West mostly attempts to appease Tehran.

In Europe, meanwhile, Russia’s war against Ukraine drags on without a clear strategy for Ukrainian victory — allowing Vladimir Putin to sow doubt inside the NATO alliance and prompt Western insistence that Ukraine capitulate prematurely.

European allies didn’t like it when former President Donald Trump pushed them to invest more in their own defense and unhook from Russian energy supplies.

And yet even now, more than two years after Russia’s invasion, with NATO allies like Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in Putin’s cross-hairs and a multilateral sanctions regime on Putin that looks more like Swiss cheese than maximum pressure, many of those same NATO allies — including President Biden —prioritize climate extremism over energy security.

Meanwhile, some of the largest economies in the alliance — like Italy and Canada — refuse to meet their NATO defense spending commitments.

We aren’t losing the West because of Trump’s former policies; we’re losing the West because of Biden’s.

And NATO needs to expand its focus beyond Eastern Europe if it hopes to defeat Putin, let alone the broader axis that supports him — from Beijing to Tehran to Pyongyang.

It’s true that handing Kyiv to Moscow would green-light China’s Xi to take Taiwan and Iran’s Khamenei to cross the nuclear threshold.

After all, it was Biden’s willingness to let an ally in Kabul fall and his steadfast commitment to accommodating Putin that encouraged the invasion of Ukraine.

But it’s equally true that accommodating Putin’s allies and shunning fellow democracies increases the likelihood of Russian victory in Ukraine and expansionism in Europe.

China is subsidizing Russia’s military campaign and keeping Iran’s economy afloat, while Iranian drones and North Korean ammunition are raining down on Ukraine.

Russian support of Iran’s missile program puts Europe at immediate risk of attack, with North America just a few short years behind.

Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen are threatening international shipping lanes, hitting European markets the hardest, as Israel, a democracy under non-stop attack by Iranian missiles and drones, faces all these threats while perfecting the tactics and technologies needed to defeat them.

Why then would any member of the NATO alliance favor sanctions relief for Iran, surrender to Iran’s terror proxy network and pressure on the one democracy — Israel — battling Iran on multiple fronts?

And how can any NATO member ignore the desperate need to promote western sources of oil and gas to develop true economic pressure options?

In the context of a Biden administration that coddles Iran, castigates Israel, accommodates Beijing and wages war on American energy, the outcome is sadly less than surprising.

Without a doubt, NATO needs a firm plan for ending the war in Ukraine on Ukraine’s terms, not Russia’s, with a series of steps that increase western leverage over Putin and change Moscow’s risk calculation.

Kyiv’s Western backers should provide the equipment and training necessary to help Ukraine go back on offense in 2025 and demonstrate to Putin that he stands to lose more than he’d gain by prolonging the war.

On both sides of the Atlantic, allies should continue to invest in greater production of key munitions.

A dramatic increase in military expenditures far beyond the now-outdated 2% of GDP commitment is needed — as is a buildup in US nuclear forces and its deterrence posture.

And while NATO remains a critical pillar of American national security strategy, the United States also needs a modernization plan to integrate Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, the Philippines and other democratic allies into strategic planning and execution to win the new cold war.

From Latin America to the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific, key partners are weighing their own strategies to navigate a new era of great power competition.

American leadership is needed for a NATO-plus to ensure those partners stay on the side of the West.

Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former National Security Council official and senior US Senate aide.

Issues:

China International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Russia U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy