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Paper Warns NATO Might Lack Will to Defend Baltics

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

NATO partners may lack the political will to defend Baltic nations, suggests a new and provocative paper published by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare.

Written by Maj. Zachary Morris, an infantry officer studying at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the paper describes eroding support to protect Baltic allies and active efforts by Russia to weaken the alliance.

NATO defense of the Baltics against a Russian attack would require a consensus among alliance partners to act, but Morris warns that a decline in strong champions for action, domestic political constraints and the potential for some nations to try to block the use of force could prevent NATO from acting fast enough to protect Baltic states.

He mentions France, Germany, Italy and Turkey as NATO members where there appears to be a popular majority of citizens opposed to defending an ally who is in a fight with Russia. “NATO likely lacks sufficient key leaders who support the use of force to defend the Baltics,” he writes in a paper that expresses his opinion but not the opinion of the U.S government or AUSA.

He also sees other problems. “Baltic allies’ culpability in instigating the crisis or conflict would likely dramatically reduce allied political will to defend the region. The speed of a crisis or conflict could also overwhelm NATO’s decisionmaking process. Finally, ambiguity or clarity of Russian threats and differing costs or risks facing allies could divide alliance will to act,” he writes in the paper, called “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization: Dubious Political Will to Defend Baltic Allies.”

Published as part of the Land Warfare Papers series on national security topics, Morris’ work can be read here: https://www.ausa.org/publications/north-atlantic-treaty-organization-dubious-political-will-defend-baltic-allies