Updated: Sunday, 12th July 2020 @ 9:02am

NATO turns 70: Things we learned from a tense week in London

NATO turns 70: Things we learned from a tense week in London

| By Richard Baker

Seventy years of NATO were celebrated this week in London, where only fractured relationships were on show.

Here's a few things we picked up from the summit.

British hostility towards Trump continues

No surprised here then. As the leaders of the 29 NATO member countries swarmed into London for this year’s summit, Jeremy Corbyn used the opportunity to bring to light the crippling situation the NHS finds itself in, on the eve of the election.

Corbyn met with Donald Trump for the first time at a NATO reception hosted by a fellow anachronistic figure of our time, the Queen.

The Labour leader wrote a letter to Mr. Trump demanding the NHS be taken “off the table” and that there be an outright absence of “total market access” in US-UK trade talks regarding the health service.

This attack comes a week after a 450-page dossier was released by Corbyn which suggests the NHS is “up for sale”, with drug patents and prices being eyed up by US personnel in post-Brexit Britain.

Trump was also snubbed by Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, after she rejected an invitation to Wednesday’s NATO reception due to the US President being on the invite list.

French/Turkish relations strained

In a fresh bout of strained relations between the 29 member countries, Emmanuel Macron hit out at Turkey's President Erdoğan for buying a sophisticated air defence system from Russia. The rather crooked unwanted neighbour who always seems to emerge in the background when heads of state come out to play.

Macron has been a loyal supporter of NATO and of more EU integration, something Russia and Erdoğan’s recent purchase seeks to chip away at.

These rising tensions come amid Turkey's invasion of Syria, following the departure of US troops from the region in early October. Another action that did little to soothe the bruises of Macron's labour of love, NATO.

France and Turkey have also clashed over the Kurdish situation in Northeast Syria. The French President stated on Wednesday that “no consensus” could be met with Turkey over classifying Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists.

In response, Erdoğan pledged to veto NATO defence plans for the Baltics if members didn’t treat the Kurds as terrorists.

Trump is deprived of his hollow sense of supremacy he’s been used to

This recent NATO summit is one Trump will want to forget quickly. It started and concluded sourly for the US President, whose difficulties in London this week are compounded to the growing list of domestic problems he now faces.

On Wednesday, Trump hit out at the other 28 NATO members for not contributing the agreed 2% of their defence budgets to NATO, whilst the USA contribute 3.4% of theirs.

Trump labelled Canada's defence spending as “slightly delinquent” in the first chapter of a rather frosty meet-up with Justin Trudeau at this week’s NATO talks.

A video also emerged on Wednesday of Trudeau, Macron, Prince Anne and Boris Johnson joking about a Trump press conference, something that would have been hard for Trump to take given his lack of friends at NATO this week.

His only mate, Johnson, stayed well clear of the fumbling orange amidst fears being pictured with him would taint his election campaign.

The lonely figure of ‘the Donald’ retaliated in the only way he knows how, playground comments. He called Trudeau “two faced” and promptly left London to arrive back to the snake pit of the Senate and House.

Macron's critical autopsy of NATO but BoJo calls for unity

French president, Emmanuel Macron, labelled NATO as strategically “brain dead” this week amidst fractious inner talks and bloviation in London.

For the third summit in a row, the debate over defence spending of NATO’s members have dominated the headlines, with much of the criticism of that ilk being sounded in an American accent.

Macron's comments left some members disgruntled. Trump remarked the comments as “very, very nasty”, one wonders whether he’s quoting Wordsworth or Hemingway with that rather eloquent comment. Erdoğan also hit back saying Macron should “get his own brain checked out first”.  

Although Boris Johnson called for “unity behind a share principle” and praised NATO as “the most enduring and successful alliance in military history” before leaders arrived in London, Johnson then chipped away at diplomatic bridges by being recorded laughing about Trump, the top dog round the heckling NATO table. Tut-tut, Mr Johnson.