The annual Nato summit is being held in London. It will be a two-day affair but this summit does not seem to have the same fire and sense of purpose like the earlier summits. One reason for this is the changing priorities of Nato and the difference in threat perception between the constituents.

With the UK set to leave the EU and French president Macron calling for a change of priorities for Nato, the alliance is a divided house. The East European nations still want to cling to the old Nato philosophy that Russia is the bigger threat. This is not shared by the second biggest power that constitutes Nato --namely France.

The French president has talked of Nato having become "brain dead." He would like the focus of the alliance to be shifted from Russia to anti-terrorism. The Washington Post has questioned whether the Nato powers will stand by Article 5 which promises joint Military action if one nation is attacked.

Trump and Nato

The United States, the other big member of the alliance has its priority. President Trump has repeatedly called on the Nato nations to pay up for the defence of Europe and the US troops stationed there. He has rightly pointed out that the days of freebies are over and the members must pay more as the troops and weapons deployed are for their security.

Another discordant note is struck by Turkey and this has irked the French.

President Erdogan has invaded the Kurdish areas of Syria without any consultation with its Nato allies. He has also opened a channel to Russia by buying the multi-billion dollar S400 missile system.


The Americans are concerned about China. Their priority at present is not Russia and the East European nations but China which by its Belt and Road scheme is making deep inroads in Africa and Asia.

The United States would like to focus more on China. This is easier said than done because the Eastern European countries are more concerned about President Putin and Russia.

There is no doubt that in 1949 when Nato was formed the situation was different. Europe was the hotbed of the Cold War. Joseph Stalin the Soviet leader was in an extremely belligerent mood against the western powers.

In 1948 he had enforced the Berlin blockade and the western powers were hard put to counter the Russian move. The situation has greatly changed now and Europe is no longer the main focus of the world. The fulcrum has now shifted East with the rise of China and the coming to the fore of Islamic terrorism personified by the ISIS and Al Qaeda.

President Trump has been reading the riot act to the Nato leaders. He would like them to pay substantial amounts for the upkeep of the US soldiers and weapons in the continent for their defence. The USA is also concerned with the growing influence of China.

Global view

The United States has a global view. It feels the Russian action in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea cannot be the main thrust of US foreign policy.

Their military doctrine is also veering around to the view that a bigger threat to the world emanates from China. It has already alarmed the nations around the Pacific rim from Japan to India. has reported that the meeting is a divided house.

The summit this time will not be a show of unity though the leaders may have a photo session and show that they are united.

Last Word

Donald Trump who recently cancelled talks with the Taliban in his election campaign had stated that Nato is obsolete. The president has not acted on his campaign statement, yet the fact remains that Nato will have to forget about the Cold War with Russia and take a global position against China and Islamic terrorism.

The French president has already sounded the bugle and there is a chance he could very well decide to go his own way. President Trump by repeatedly bringing the issue of financial contribution by the Nato members is driving the members into a corner.