You’re asking me whether there is still a "West". There is. It is a set of ideas, of democratic beliefs. The West encompasses Japan and India. The problem with the West right now, is that it has no leader. And if you and I had had this conversation anytime between 1945 and now we would have said that Truman is the leader of the West, or that Kennedy or Reagan is the leader of the West. Trump is not the leader of the West. He rejects that role.
This is a point you particularly emphasize in your report.
Merkel is the leader of the West, albeit temporarily. Merkel’s government may not spend enough on defense, but it upholds core values, for instance by stopping Putin and imposing sanctions after Crimea. And until an American President comes along and says, "I believe in democracy and our values" and takes on the mantle, Merkel will continue to occupy that position.
You say in the report that "the West is an amalgam of ideas, values and principles", but you concede the fact that the latter are regressing. Both among members - and you cite countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Turkey, asserting that they are dangerously backsliding - and in the United States. Indeed, in the United States, some things were taken for granted, in a liberal democratic order that can no longer be as secure. So you recommend that NATO, which cannot expel its members, issue a yearly report on the state of democracy in each member country, so as to put moral pressure on members. Is this a tenable position? Especially given the fact that member countries from different regions do not necessarily agree on what counts as the fundamental challenges?
All of us signed the Washington Treaty. Soon, there will be 30 of us, when North Macedonia joins the Alliance. The Washington Treaty is very specific. Its second sentence says: "(The parties) are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law". We’ve had authoritarian experiences in the past , like the Greek colonels in 1967-74, Turkish military dictatorships, or Portuguese dictatorships, but we’ve never had a time when three very important governments have turned authoritarian. This situation is weakening the Alliance from within. NATO does not have a procedure to expel such members, but it should develop a process to judge all members yearly, based on democratic criteria. If we don’t do that, the weakened democratic core of NATO will be very dangerous. This is what we propose in the report.