NATO’s involvement within the Indo-Pacific has turn out to be a contentious and extremely politicized problem, notably with the mooted opening of a liaison workplace in Japan, which sparked a significant worldwide debate within the run-up to the NATO summit in Vilnius in July 2023. are six main myths in regards to the alliance’s growing involvement within the area. No matter your place on the difficulty, getting the information straight is necessary.
Fable 1: NATO troops are coming to the Indo-Pacific area
NATO as such just isn’t prepared or keen to ship troops to Asian disasters. There isn’t any curiosity on this within the NATO nations. It will merely be not possible for the alliance to invoke the collective protection provision of Article 5 in response to any eventuality involving Taiwan, for instance as a result of Taiwan is outdoors NATO’s jurisdiction. The main target of the partnership between NATO and the nations often known as the “AP4” (or IP4) – Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – is on sensible cooperation in areas similar to cybersecurity, standardization, maritime safety and humanitarian support.
Particular person European nations, not least Britain and France, and more and more Germany, have already deepened their interplay and interoperability with Japan, Australia and different US allies and companions within the Indo-Pacific. However NATO itself is not going to carry troops to the area.
Fable 2: Nations within the Indo-Pacific area will be a part of NATO
It’s legally and politically not possible for Asian nations to affix NATO. Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty says that the events can invite nations in Europe to affix the treaty. Moreover, and maybe even extra basically, no nation within the Indo-Pacific area – and this consists of Australia and Japan – is concerned about becoming a member of the alliance. NATO’s “transfer east” is subsequently on no account about extending collective protection preparations to the Indo-Pacific.
Fable 3: The NATO Liaison Workplace in Japan will have an effect on the stability of energy within the area and alter the character of NATO
NATO’s Liaison Workplace won’t ever change the stability of energy within the Indo-Pacific area, nor will it reform the character of the alliance as a Euro-Atlantic group. What’s being thought of is solely a one-person workplace to assemble data and coordinate partnership actions with Japan and different companions within the area. It’s supposed as an administrative innovation in the way in which NATO offers with these companions. The position that the proposed workplace may realistically play is subsequently inherently restricted. It’s primarily Beijing that extols the importance of the plan. NATO already has a liaison workplace on the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, and nobody is significantly arguing that NATO is now not a Euro-Atlantic alliance.
Fable 4: NATO’s involvement within the Indo-Pacific will create an arms race within the area
NATO’s involvement within the area is not going to trigger an arms race within the area. Once more, NATO’s involvement just isn’t about sending troops or extending its collective protection assure to the area. Extra importantly, it’s China that has persistently and unilaterally expanded its weapons in latest many years. No nation – not even the US – has been in a position to match this, with the end result that the regional stability of energy has more and more shifted in China’s favor.
Japan and different nations are slowly waking as much as this actuality and have elevated their protection budgets lately. Nonetheless, many specialists imagine that the response pace continues to be not enough, prompting Basic Yoshida Yoshihide, Japan’s high uniformed officer, to warn: “We can not preserve Japanese safety with our present capabilities.”
Fable 5: The USA is forcing Europe to observe its lead within the Indo-Pacific
It’s mistaken to imagine that Europeans are solely following the US lead of their involvement within the Indo-Pacific area. That Europe has no selection however to easily obey the US is a picture that Beijing desires others to imagine. It additionally displays the extremely hierarchical method during which China interprets worldwide relations. It’s true that some Europeans could use their involvement within the Indo-Pacific area, together with their coordination with the US on China, as a method to enhance relations with Washington. Nonetheless, that is removed from the entire story and can’t clarify the principle motive.
Fable 6: Europe has no safety curiosity of its personal within the Indo-Pacific
The most important and apparent cause why the above holds has to do with the truth that Europe has its personal pursuits in Asia. These pursuits usually are not solely financial, however more and more embody safety and values, and are influenced by what occurs within the Indo-Pacific. Europe doesn’t need and should not provoke China unnecessarily, nevertheless it can not stay detached to the area both. To guard its personal pursuits, Europe should at the least strengthen its early warning capabilities in order that it’s higher ready for unexpected occasions within the Indo-Pacific that would have penalties past the area. It’s not in Europe’s curiosity to be seen as compromising on such a fundamental want for worry of Beijing’s response.
Little doubt some will stay skeptical about NATO’s involvement within the Indo-Pacific area. What’s necessary, nevertheless, is to keep away from making arguments based mostly on false stereotypes or unfounded myths. Each NATO and its companions within the Indo-Pacific seem reasonable and discreet about what they will hope to attain via their cooperation. Nonetheless, they search dialogue and cooperation, believing that this serves their respective pursuits in mild of the rising ties between the European and Indo-Pacific theaters.