NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told “Nerdshala on HBO” that the January 6 siege on the US Capitol was also an attack on the core values of the world’s largest military alliance.
Running news: “I regard this as an attack on the core democratic institutions of the United States and therefore on the core values of NATO,” Stoltenberg said in an interview recorded at NATO headquarters in Brussels last Monday.
- He also touched on Russia, Turkey, Afghanistan and China – but, notably, would not say what NATO would do if China invaded Taiwan.
big picture: Despite how restless he was to see the events of January 6, Stoltenberg said he continues to believe in America’s future as a liberal democracy.
- “I believe that our greatest ally … will remain a strong democracy,” he said.
- America “has gone through difficult times, crises before and has always emerged with a strong commitment to democratic institutions on the other end.”
- Russia-Ukraine: Stoltenberg said NATO was closely monitoring the movements of “unusual” Russian troops near the border with Ukraine. However, he defended the coalition’s reluctance to offer Ukraine the type of membership that would provide meaningful protection against Russian President Vladimir Putin, pointing out that membership can only be obtained if all 30 member states support it. We do. Stoltenberg, however, acknowledged the dismay of the people of Ukraine about the promise of NATO membership in 2008, which remains unfulfilled 13 years later.
- China: Stoltenberg has recently done much to expand NATO’s mission to include China’s “systemic challenge”. But he would not answer whether NATO would play any role if China attacked Taiwan – a non-NATO member, but a country whose fate is directly linked to US credibility and Western resistance to China’s ambitions. Is. “If I started answering all your hypothetical questions, I would only increase tension in that area,” he argued.
- Afghanistan: Pressing on US-NATO’s failure to anticipate the pace of the fall of Afghan security forces for the Taliban, Stoltenberg said, “There are some serious lessons to be learned. I have started a ‘lesson learned’ process in NATO.” “
- Turkey: Stoltenberg hesitated for a moment when asked whether he still considered Turkey, a NATO member state, to be a democratic government. “They have elections,” he replied after a pause. “The opposition was able to win an election in Istanbul recently. But I think it’s also fair to say that, you know, I know that … many allies have expressed concern about Turkey.”
Between the lines: Turkey has become NATO’s biggest problem child. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted on buying a major air defense system from the Russians, over strong objections from NATO allies.
- And Erdoan has ridiculed NATO’s commitment to “democratic values”. He is interfering in the judiciary, shutting down his political enemies and re-conducting elections.
- In 2016 and 2017, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Turkey as the world’s No. 1 jailer of journalists.
- Nerdshala pushed Stoltenberg on the hypocrisy of NATO, which as a member state had the world’s top jailer of journalists as well as demanding that nations that want to join the coalition clean up corruption and allow the coalition. Fix your democracy before you give in.
- Stoltenberg acknowledged concerns over journalists’ rights but did not address NATO’s inconsistent standards.
Bottom-line: Stoltenberg – who became general secretary in 2014 and is eliminated the following year – has led the coalition through arguably the most rocky stretch in its history.
- He previously faced threats to withdraw the US from NATO with former President Trump – a move that ended the military alliance that had kept peace in Europe since 1949.
- This year – with the debacle of President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan – Stoltenberg is embracing the sad reality that NATO’s 20-year mission there has failed.
- The US-NATO mission has left a catastrophe in Afghanistan: total Taliban rule, mass starvation, girls dropping out of schools. And now Afghanistan is once again emerging as a terrorist haven. Military leaders say al-Qaeda and ISIS could become a threat to the US homeland in six months.