London showdown looms for Nato frenemies

2nd December 2019 By: Bloomberg

For movie fans, the words “Brain Dead” usually bring to mind a cult New Zealand zombie splatter flick directed by Peter Jackson.

It’s not the verbiage you’d expect leaders to be throwing around when the member states of Nato – Europe’s security umbrella since World War II – meet in London. But brain dead is exactly how French President Emmanuel Macron is describing the alliance as he questions its current direction and future relevance.

Macron is not the only one to watch. He and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan are sniping before the meeting even starts. Erdogan responded to Macron’s criticism of his move to send troops into Syria by describing the French leader as, wait for it....brain dead.

And that’s before we get to Donald Trump. The US president has been a frequent critic of Nato, saying the US carries too much of the cost burden of defending Europe. He has a penchant for off-the-cuff Tweets and comments about it. Still, he may be distracted this week by the hearings back home into his potential impeachment.

Nato has survived turbulent periods before. It retains strong support from Germany and others who see it as a way to knit together ideologically-different nations across Europe and prevent fresh conflicts.

But this week Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will have quite the task keeping everyone in line.