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NATO Intensifies Its Preparations for War with Russia

Against the backdrop of US aggression against North Korea, NATO is intensifying its preparations for war with Russia, the world’s second largest nuclear power. A report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel (Issue 43/2017) based on a secret NATO document indicates how far plans for war have progressed. The news magazine concludes: “In plain language: NATO is preparing for a possible war with Russia.”

In the document entitled “Progress report on the Alliance’s Enhanced Deterrence and Defence Disposition,” leading military figures call for a major boost to military capabilities in order to conduct a so-called “Major Joint Operation Plus.” The abstruse terminology in fact stands for a war involving the main military organisations of all NATO countries, i.e. hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Der Spiegel notes: “The period of the peace dividend is past, the command structures of the Cold War are returning.”

The secret report states that NATO must be able to “quickly strengthen one or more threatened allies, underpin peace and wartime deterrence, and support allies in the event of an attack.” The mobilisation of the necessary troops requires “robust military logistics and capabilities”. The lines of communication would have to extend from North America to the eastern and southern borders of the NATO Alliance.

The report notes that in particular, when relocating large-scale military units to Eastern Europe, NATO is insufficiently prepared, due to the reduction and increased demands of flexibility of the armed forces for foreign missions. In the field of logistics, “the risks involved in rapid reinforcement is considerable”. The alliance lacks low loaders for tanks and rail cars to move heavy equipment to the front. The infrastructure is not designed for the heavy battle tank of the German Army the 2Leopard 2.”

The core of the NATO paper is the demand for two new battlegroups comprising 2,000 troops.

The first of these units is based on the example of the Cold War Supreme Allied Command, which was to ensure the transfer of troops and supplies across the Atlantic for war in Europe. “According to high-ranking NATO military officers the sea route could prove to be an Achilles heel for replenishment in cases of emergency,” Spiegel writes. “In the secret meetings of the central command, analysts warned that Russia is able to manoeuvre its submarines in the Atlantic Ocean largely unobserved.” Based on the current command structure, NATO convoys in the Atlantic are defenceless.

The establishment of such a command unit would involve a massive militarisation of the North Atlantic. This is illustrated by a look at its historical precedent.

Up to its dissolution in 2003, the “Striking Fleet Atlantic” constituted the core of the Supreme Allied Command Atlantic. This included up to four aircraft carrier battle groups, two anti-submarine commandos, an amphibious unit for landing operations and 22,000 sailors. The purpose of this major federation was to maintain the supremacy of the seas between North America and Europe.

A second command unit known as “Rear Area Operation Command” is planned to organise the distribution of war supplies across Europe. According to Der Spiege l, its main task would be “to plan and secure logistics between Central Europe and the eastern member states….In reality the unit represents “the renaissance of the mobilisation concept of the Cold War”.

In plain language: the remit of the new battlegroup is to organise the deployment of large-scale contingents of troops at the Russian border and prepare an attack on Russia. Preparations are already in full swing and Berlin—the location of the command in Germany—is playing a key role. According to Der Spiegel talks between high-ranking US military officers and German officers had already taken place at the beginning of October, shortly after the federal election.

The first telephone conversation between German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) and her American counterpart James “Mad Dog” Mattis also centred on setting up the new command unit. This means that Germany, which has been engaged in a massive military build up for the past three years now and is seeking to increase its military presence in NATO, will become even more centrally involved in NATO’s preparations for war with Russia.

Der Spiegel comments “Domestically, the project would probably be unproblematic even in a possible Jamaica coalition with the Greens, because Germany would not provide combat troops, but only staff soldiers” This is confirmed by the aggressive rhetoric used by the Greens against Russia and the conduct of the exploratory talks for a Jamaica coalition, which has made clear there are only tactical differences between the various parties.

A decision on the establishment of new command structures is expected at the meeting of NATO defence ministers on 8 and 9 November in Brussels—despite increasing tensions within the NATO alliance.

The NATO secret report and the report in Der Spiegel both justify the preparations for a war, which would threaten millions of lives, as a response to the “Russian annexation” of Crimea. This turns reality on its head. There is nothing progressive about the Putin regime, and its own military policy increases the danger of war. But the real aggressors in Eastern Europe are the US and western powers. The United States has been systematically encircling and attempting to subjugate Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union 25 years ago, and in February 2014, both Washington and the German government supported a right-wing coup against the pro-Russian Yanukovych government in Ukraine.

The depiction of Russia as an aggressive superpower waiting for the chance to take over all of Eastern Europe, has been used by the imperialist powers to justify the deployment of NATO troops at the Russian border. In 2014/15, NATO increased its “Rapid Reaction Force” to 40,000 soldiers. Its so-called “spearhead” comprises four “multinational battlegroups” with 1,000 soldiers stationed in each of the three Baltic States and Poland, led by Great Britain, Canada, Germany and the US.

The secret report now calls for a further increase in size of these battlegroups. There is “insufficient assurance that the NATO Response Force will be able to react quickly and sustainably when necessary.” Der Spiegel makes clear that what is contemplated is not merely a reaction to Russian aggression but rather active preparations for war with Moscow. The magazine concludes “hardly anyone expects that Russia could actually attack a NATO country.”

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Is NATO Preparing for War on Russia?



Bilateral Russia/US relations are dismal – so far confined to a war of words, risking things turning hot. Hostile US actions include:

  • deploying US-led NATO forces close to Russia’s border – breaching the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE -1991), limiting conventional military equipment in Europe;
  • staging provocative military exercises in bordering countries, rehearsing belligerence against the Russian Federation;
  • notably using Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as training grounds for US-led NATO wars;
  • preparing for hybrid and conventional war on Russia;
  • inventing and hyping a nonexistent “Russian threat;”
  • abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty;
  • breaching the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) by creating “weapons systems” violating its treaty obligations, according to Sergey Lavrov;
  • falsely accusing Moscow of “aggression” in Ukraine;
  • seizing Russian properties in America;
  • closing one of its consulates;
  • expelling its diplomats;
  • falsely blaming the Kremlin for interference in last year’s US presidential election;
  • accusing it of supporting governments Washington wants toppled;
  • imposing illegal sanctions on Russia;
  • meddling in its internal affairs; and
  • constant daily media and congressional bashing, including unconscionable vilification of Vladimir Putin.

All of the above and more should scare everyone, especially with administration and congressional hawkish neocons dictating geopolitical policymaking.

America is a warrior state, waging endless wars of aggression in multiple theaters, wanting all sovereign independent governments replaced by pro-Western puppet regimes – Russia, China and Iran its top targets.

According to the Wall Street Journal, US-dominated NATO is set to approve two new commands – to strengthen its ability to confront Russia belligerently.

One command would manage alliance logistics, focusing on moving troops and equipment more swiftly. A second command would focus on protecting Atlantic and Arctic Ocean sea lanes, important supply lines for Europe.

Pentagon commanders want NATO members able to act fast and effectively against Russian forces.

US Army Europe commander General Ben Hodges said

“(t)he alliance has to move as quick or quicker than Russian Federation forces for our deterrent to be effective.”

“Speed is what will give our civilian leaders options other than a liberation campaign.”

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said review of NATO’s command structure is about “deploy(ing) forces quickly across the alliance.”

Member states are “adapting national legislation to allow military equipment to transit faster across borders and are working on improving national infrastructure.”

Headquarters for the new commands will be in Brunssom, Netherlands and Naples, Italy. They’ll be at the same level as NATO’s Joint Forces Commands.

US-installed alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg claimed

“(o)ur deployments are a direct response to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, (its) military buildup close our borders, and its lack of transparency when it comes to military exercises such as Zapad 2017.”

All of the above accusations are false. Stoltenberg represents US interests, supporting its aggressive wars and unacceptable hostility toward Russia – things likely heading for an eventual showdown, the unthinkable possibility of nuclear war, an armageddon scenario if launched.

US-dominated NATO is a serial aggressor, at war in multiple theaters. Russia’s actions are entirely defensive, essential given Western belligerence.

Moscow fosters world peace and stability – notions Washington rejects.

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NATO attack on Serbian state TV wiped from record


By Shane Quinn | The Duran 

On 23 April 1999, a NATO missile attack on Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) headquarters killed 16 employees of the state broadcaster. The forgotten war crime occurred during the Kosovo War (March 1998-June 1999), and was part of NATO’s aerial campaign alongside the US-backed Kosovo Liberation army, in opposition to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In the aftermath of the attack there were no great public campaigns launched for the 16 murdered journalists and employees, no outpouring of emotion for those killed, no calls for solidarity and togetherness in the face of aggression. On the contrary the West justified this grievous blow against freedom of expression, praised it even.

Tony Blair, Britain’s then Prime Minister, welcomed the killings when speaking at NATO’s 50th anniversary summit in Washington. Blair said the missile attack was “entirely justified… in damaging and attacking all these targets”, and that those murdered were part of the “apparatus of dictatorship and power of [Slobodan] Milosevic”.

Blair felt that, “the responsibility for every single part of this action lies with the man [Milosevic] who has engaged in this policy of ethnic cleansing and must be stopped”. Apparently Milosevic “must be stopped” by wiping out state journalists or what Blair describes as an “apparatus of dictatorship”.

According to one of the main leaders of the Western world, Milosevic must bear full responsibility for a NATO fighter plane firing a US-made missile on a state broadcasting service’s headquarters. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by Blair’s visions of justice, particularly when examining his key role in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the following decade.

Blair was not alone in praising this violation of international law. His Secretary of State for International development, Clare Short, said afterwards that, “the propaganda machine is prolonging the war and it’s a legitimate target”. Short is a Labour Party member and her official title today is The Right Honourable Clare Short. Defending these killings was neither right nor honourable one can assume.

NATO themselves commended the deliberate attack afterwards. NATO’s military spokesperson Air Commodore David Wilby declared RTS, “a legitimate target which filled the airways with hate and with lies over the years”. This followed on from a number of other NATO attacks on radio and television outlets in the country.

In the build up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, Cardiff University revealed that the BBC adopted the most pro-war stance of any British network. The official reasons for invading Iraq were based entirely on lies and misinformation. In this case was the BBC “the propaganda machine”, had it become “a legitimate target” too?

Pentagon spokesperson Kenneth Bacon also legitimised the war crime saying that, “Serb TV is as much a part of Milosevic’s murder machine as his military is”. Not to be outdone, the respected US diplomat and magazine editor Richard Holbrooke described the bombing of RTS as, “an enormously important and, I think, positive development”.

In the build up to the Iraq invasion American networks like Fox News were styling the illegal intervention as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, with its correspondents and news anchors compelled to repeat that phrase. In addition a permanent American flag was fluttering in the top corner of the screen, and during the invasion itself the banner “war on terrorism” was unfurled.

Did this make Fox News and others like it, “a legitimate target which filled the airways with hate and lies”? Judging by the standards of Western elites, one would have to suggest so.

Meanwhile, a single person was charged for the attack on RTS: Dragoljub Milanovic, the Serbian network’s general manager, who received a 10-year jail term for failing to evacuate the building in time. Yet the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia concluded that NATO’s bombing of RTS was not a crime, noting that deaths were “unfortunately high, they do not appear to be clearly disproportionate”. Clearly disproportionate to the overall number of civilian deaths inflicted by NATO perhaps.

However, in January 2015 the Western reaction was somewhat different when 12 journalists from the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper were murdered by Islamic extremists – along with four Jewish men killed at a kosher supermarket shortly afterwards.

The British Prime Minister on this occasion, David Cameron, did not justify the killing of journalists and said, “We stand absolutely united with the French people against terrorism and against this threat to our values – free speech, the rule of law, democracy”. Cameron went on, “we should never give up the values we believe in… a free press, in freedom of expression, in the right of people to write and say what they believe”.

About two weeks later Blair, now a Middle East peace envoy, said of the thinking behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks, “this extremism is not natural, it’s taught and it’s learned and you have to un-teach it in the school systems”. Blair seems further unaware of his own role in creating “this extremism” by playing the junior partner role in invading Iraq, a crucial factor in the rise of ISIS.

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, millions marched to honour the dead with the slogan “I am Charlie” becoming famous. When the Serbian journalists and employees were killed just over 15 years before, there was no international motto of “I am RTS”.

New York civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams described the Charlie Hebdo shootings as, “the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory”. The perception of “living memory” appears to be a remarkably short one.

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NATO and Western Militarism in a Multipolar World

Global Research News Hour 2017 Summer Series 6

In this pact, we hope to create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression–a bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of government and society, the business of achieving a fuller and happier life for all our citizens.”

– Address by US President Harry S. Truman, on the occasion of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty (April 4, 1949) [1]


The establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April of 1949 was defended, at least in public discourse, as a necessary bulwark against threats to peace posed by the Soviet Union.

Composed of 12 member states at the time, NATO was conceived as a collective defense among countries in the North Atlantic area (including Canada and the United States) all united in common cause to “safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.” [2]

Today, nearly 3 decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the alliance remains active, with 17 additional members, including former members of the Warsaw Pact and constituent nations of the former Yugoslavia. Defense spending has shifted to the Middle East & North Africa and East Asia & Pacific regions. [3]

The post Cold War ‘peace dividend’ was not realized, at least not for very long, as theatres of battle were waged progressively in the Gulf (1991), the former Yugoslavia (1995-1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), and on the Russian frontier.

Peace has not been realized in the post Cold War era, and remarkably, a nuclear conflict between major powers is once again a very real prospect.

In April 2017, a symposium was held at the University of Manitoba probing the post Cold War military and parallel economic order. Three prominent thinkers were on hand to provide some background on NATO’s actual as opposed to official role, the economic context of its various maneuvres, and the prospects and prescription for peace as social and ecological disruption continues to grip the globe.

The lectures were sponsored by the University of Manitoba based Geopolitical Economy Research Group, in association with Peace Alliance Winnipeg, the Manitoba Chair for Global Governance Studies in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Winnipeg, and the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba. Audio and complete video were provided by Paul S Graham.

Radhika Desai is professor of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba and director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group, based at that university. She functioned as the moderator and convener for the April 3rd conference, and introduced the three main speakers.

Dr. Paul Kellogg is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies at Athabasca University. He writes extensively about Canada and international political economy, Marxist theory and social movements. His most recent book is Escape from the Staple Trap: Canadian Political Economy after Left Nationalism (2015).

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a sociologist, geopolitical analyst, Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization, and the award-winning author of The Globalization of NATO. He is  a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy.

Roger Annis is a long time sociologist and retired aerospace worker. He writes on issues around war and peace and social justice. He is co-founder and editor of The New Cold War: Ukraine and Beyond.


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It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia, Canada. – Tune in  at its new time – Wednesdays at 4pm PT.

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Ending NATO, a Monstrous Institution

Image result for NATO CARTOON
By Karel van Wolferen • Unz Review 

Their anxiety about the future of NATO, recently on full display again when the American president was in Europe, could not be bettered as a measure of the incapacity of Europe’s top politicians to guide their continent and represent its populations. Through its provocations of Moscow, NATO systematically helps increase the risk of a military confrontation. By thus sabotaging its declared purpose of preserving collective security for the countries on either side of the Atlantic, it erases its fundamental reason for being and right to exist.

Grasping these facts ought be enough to fuel moves aimed at quickly doing away with NATO. But it is terrible for more and easily overlooked reasons.

NATO’s survival prevents the political entity that is the European Union from becoming a significant global presence for reasons other than its economic weight. If you cannot have a defence policy of your own you also deprive yourself of a foreign policy. Without a substantive foreign policy, Europe does not show anything that anyone might consider ‘a face’ to the world. Without such a face to the outside, the inside cannot come to terms about what it stands for, and substitutes meaningless platitudes for answers to the question as to why it should exist in the first place.

NATO is an example of an institution that has gotten completely out of hand through European complacency, intellectual laziness, and business opportunism. As a security alliance it requires a threat. When the one that was believed to exist during the Cold War disappeared, a new one had to be found. Forged for defence against what was once believed to be an existential threat, it only began actually deploying its military might after that threat had disappeared, for its illegal war against Serbia. Once it had jumped that hurdle, it was encouraged to continue jumping toward imagined global threats. Its history since the demise of its original adversary has been deplorable, as its European member states were made party to war crimes resulting from actions at Washington’s behest for objectives that have made a dead letter of international law. It has turned some European governments into liars when they told their populations that sending troops to Afghanistan was for the purpose of assorted humanitarian purposes like reconstructing that country, rather than fighting a war against Taleban forces intent on reclaiming their country from American occupation.

Afghanistan did not, as was predicted at the time, turn into a graveyard for NATO, next to that of the British Empire, the Soviet Union and – farther back – Alexander the Great. Having survived Afghanistan, NATO continued to play a significant role in the destruction of Gaddafi’s Libya, and in the destruction of parts of Syria through covertly organising, financing, and arming ISIS forces for the purpose of overthrowing the Assad government. And it continues to serve as a cover for the war making elements in Britain and France. America’s coup in the Ukraine in 2014, which resulted in a crisis in relations with Russia, gave NATO a new lease on life as it helped create an entirely uncalled for and hysterical fear of Russia in Poland and the Baltic states.

NATO repudiates things that we are said to hold dear. It is an agent of corruption of thought and action in both the United States and Europe. Through propaganda that distorts the reality of the situation in the areas where it operates, and perennial deceit about its true objectives, NATO has substituted a now widely shared false picture of geopolitical events and developments for one that, even if haphazard, used to be pieced together by independent reporters for mainstream media whose own tradition and editors encouraged discovery of facts. This propaganda relies to a large extent on incessant repetition for its success. It can generally not be traced to NATO as a source of origin because it is being outsourced to a well-funded network of public relations professionals.

The Atlantic Council is NATO’s primary PR organization. It is connected with a web of think tanks and NGO’s spread throughout Europe, and very generous to journalists who must cope with a shrinking and insecure job environment. This entity is well-versed in Orwellian language tricks, and for obvious reasons must mischaracterise NATO itself as an alliance instead of a system of vassalage. Alliance presupposes shared purposes, and it cannot be Europe’s purpose to be controlled by the United States, unless we now accept that a treasonous European financial elite must determine the last word on Europe’s future.

An influential policy deliberation NGO known as the International Crisis Group (ICG), is one of the organizations linked with the Atlantic Council. It operates as a serious and studious outfit, carrying an impressive list of relatively well-known names of associates, and studies areas of the world harbouring conflicts or about-to-be conflicts that could undermine world peace and stability. Sometimes this group does offer information that is germane to a situation, but its purpose has in effect become one of making the mainstream media audience view the situation on the ground in Syria, or the ins and outs of North Korea, or the alleged dictatorship in Venezuela, and so on, through the eyeballs of the consensus creators in American foreign policy.

NATO repudiates political civilisation. It is disastrous for European intellectual life as it condemns European politicians and the thinking segment of the populations in its member states to be locked up in what may be described as political kindergarten, where reality is taught in terms of the Manichean division between bad guys and superheroes. While Europe’s scholars, columnists, TV programmers and sophisticated business commentators rarely pay attention to NATO as an organization, and are generally oblivious to its propaganda function, what it produces condemns them to pay lip service to the silliest geopolitical fantasies.

NATO is not only terrible for Europe, it is very bad for the United States and the world in general, for it has handed to America’s elites important tools aiding its delusional aim of fully dominating the planet. This is because NATO provides the most solid external support for sets of assumptions that allegedly lend a crucial moral dimension to America’s warmaking. NATO does not exist for the sake of indispensable European military prowess, which hardly has not been impressive. It exists as legal justification for Washington to keep nuclear weapons and military bases in Europe. It obviously also exists as support for America’s military-industrial complex.

But its moral support ought to be considered its most significant contribution. Without NATO, the conceptual structure of a ‘West’ with shared principles and aims would collapse. NATO was once the organisation believed to ensure the continued viability of the Western part what used to be known as the ‘free world’. Such connotations linger, and lend themselves to political exploitation. The ‘free world’ has since the demise of the Soviet Union not been much invoked. But ‘the West’ is still going strong, along with the notion of Western values and shared principles, with ‘the good’ in the form of benevolent motives automatically assumed to be on its side. This gives the powers that be in Washington a terrific claim in the realm of widely imagined moral aspects of geopolitical reality. They have inherited the mantle of the leader of the ‘free world’ and ‘the West’, and since there has not been a peep of dissension about this from the other side of the Atlantic, the claim appears true and legitimate in the eyes of the world and the parties concerned.

In the meantime the earlier American claim to speak and act on behalf of the free world was broadened and seemingly depoliticised by a substitute claim of speaking and acting on behalf of the ‘international community’. There is of course no such thing, but that doesn’t bother editors who keep invoking it when some countries or the bad guys running them do things that are not to Washington’s liking. Doing away with NATO would pull the rug from under the ‘international community’. Such a development would then reveal the United States, with its current political system and priorities in international affairs, as a criminal power and the major threat to peace in the world.

I can hear an objection that without this resonance of moral claims the activities serving the ‘full spectrum dominance’ aim would have been carried out anyway. If you think so, and if you can stand reading again what the neocons were producing between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraqi in 2003, subtract all references to moral clarity and the necessity for the United States to serve as moral beacon for the world from that literature, and you will see that preciously little argument remains for American war-making that ensued.

The spinelessness of the average European politician has added up to huge encouragement of the United States in its post-Cold War military adventurism. With forceful reminders from Europe about what those much vaunted supposedly shared political principles actually stood for, American rhetoric could not have been the same. Strong European condemnation of the shredding of the UN Charter, and the jettisoning of the principles adopted at the Nuremberg trials, would have made it much more difficult for George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and the neocons to go where blind fanaticism and hubris, with imagined economic advantage, took them. Perhaps more importantly, it might have given a relatively weak American protest movement the necessary added energy to rise to the level of effectiveness once attained by the anti-Vietnam activists as they imprinted themselves on the political culture of the 60s and 70s. European dissent might not have halted but could have slowed the transformation of much of the mainstream media into neocon propaganda assets.

As it is, NATO exists today in a realm of discourse in which revered post-World War II liberal conditions and practices are still believed to exist. It is an apolitical and ahistorical realm determined by hubris and misplaced self-confidence, in which powers that have utterly altered these practices and negated its positive aspects are not acknowledged. It is a realm in which America’s pathological condition of requiring an enemy as a source of everlasting profit is not acknowledged. It is a realm in which America’s fatuous designs for complete control over the world is not acknowledged. It is a realm of foreign policy illusions.

NATO is supposed to guard putative Western values that in punditry observations have something to do with what the Enlightenment has bestowed on Western culture. But it deludes staunch NATO supporters, who cannot bring themselves to contemplate the possibility that what they have long trusted to be an agent of protection, has in fact become a major force that destroys those very qualities and principles.

There is a further more tangible political/legal reason why NATO is monstrous. It is steered by nonelected powers in Washington, but is not answerable to identifiable entities within the American military system. It is not answerable to any of the governing institutions of the European Union. Its centre in Brussels exists effectively outside the law. Its relations with ‘intelligence agencies’ and their secret operations remain opaque. Who is doing what and where are all questions to which no clear, legally actionable, information is made available.

NATO has thereby become a tool of intimidation lacking any compatibility with democratic political organisation. An autocrat aspiring to unfettered rule with which to operate anywhere in the world would find in NATO the ideal institutional arrangements. All this should be of our utmost concern. Because all this means that NATO is now one of the world’s most horrible organizations that at the same time has become so politically elusive, apparently, that there is no European agent with enough of a grip on it to make it disappear.

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NATO Enlargement in Times of Geopolitical Cholera

Adelina Marini

Do you remember that scene at the NATO summit on May 25 when US President Donald Trump arrogantly pushed aside Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković to stand in front? This was the most shared video of that day and is the best illustration of the enlargement of the Pact, which officially took place on 5 June. On that day the Pact accepted its 29th state – Montenegro. During the official ceremony NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg chose to quote President Harry S. Truman’s words at the signing of the Washington Treaty in April 1949: “In this Pact, we hope to create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression. A bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of government and society. The business of achieving a fuller and happier life for all our citizens”.

Article 5 – with or without the USA?

Jens Stoltenberg also stressed that Article 5 of the Pact, “our collective defence pledge, is the core of our Alliance. A unique bond that has kept our nations safe for almost seven decades”. Stated only days after the NATO summit, which served to break the illusion that Mr Trump is a reliable partner, the Article 5 statement sounds unconvincing. The American Politico revealed on the very day of Montenegro’s accession that, despite the efforts of the presidential administration, Donald Trump has removed from his speech in Brussels the sentence that reaffirms the US commitment to Article 5, which guarantees that an attack on one member of the pact is an attack on everyone.

Facing the amazed members of his administration and his NATO partners, who were eagerly awaiting the statement, Donald Trump said something else. He said NATO’s future should include a greater focus on terrorism and migration, as well as threats from Russia and on the Eastern and Southern borders of NATO. In an attempt to paste over the awkward situation, the White House explained that it was precisely this part that served as a reaffirmation of US commitment to the pact and its backbone, Article 5. Further on Trump attacked the other members of the Pact for not meeting their commitments to set aside 2% of their gross domestic product for defence.

According to NATO figures from March of this year, there are just a few members that in the year 2016 have set aside 2% of GDP. These are Greece (2.36%), Estonia (2.18%), the United Kingdom (2.17%) and Poland (2.01%). The newest member of the Pact sets aside 1.6% of its GDP for defence, ranking in the second line among countries such as Turkey (1.69%) and Norway (1.55%). NATO figures also show that only five countries have increased their defence spending compared to 2009. These are Estonia, Poland, Latvia (to 1.46%), Lithuania (to 1.49%) and Romania (to 1.41%).

This transition in Trump’s speech can be interpreted as a direct link between Article 5 and defence spending. “2% is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats. We will never forget the lives that we lost, we will never forsake the friends that stood by our side and we will never waver in our determination to defeat terrorism and achieve lasting security, prosperity and peace”, said Donald Trump, which can also be perceived as confirming the US’s commitment to the foundations of NATO. Given the unpredictable nature of the US president, it is difficult to say for sure whether that is the case.

For a country like Montenegro, with a population of just over 600 000 people, located in a geopolitically contested region, Article 5 means a lot. It is a guarantee of its security and integrity. Last year, an attempted coup and assassination attempt against the then Prime Minister Milo Đukanović was prevented in the  very night of the October 16 parliamentary elections. Montenegrin authorities have accused Russia of organising it with the help of Serbian intelligence agents. The coup was prevented thanks to the intervention of Aleksandar Vučić, then prime minister of Serbia. An investigation is currently underway, but whatever comes out of it Russia’s resistance to Montenegro’s accession to NATO has never been concealed.

Immediately after the official ceremony in NATO, the Russian foreign ministry threatened Montenegro with retaliatory measures. The official statement of the ministry says: “In the light of the hostile course chosen by the Montenegrin authorities, the Russian side reserves the right to take retaliatory measures on a reciprocal basis. In politics, just as in physics, for every action there is an opposite reaction”. Montenegro’s accession to NATO coincided with the discovery of a network of journalists from the Western Balkans about Russia’s subversive role in Macedonia as well, which last week finally came out of the political crisis that has been shaking the former Yugoslav Republic for two years. Moscow rejected the allegations of the journalists that were also published in the British left-liberal daily newspaper The Guardian.

The problem is not just how clearly stated Donald Trump’s support for Article 5 of the NATO treaty is. A much more serious problem is the doubts about relations between his administration and Vladimir Putin’s regime in the Kremlin. Scandalous revelations have been shaking the White House since Donald Trump assumed office officially in January. Back during the election campaign, he announced an intention of rapprochement with Mr Putin, but since then his moves have been controversial and the Russian president’s frustration has been growing. Moreover, there is still doubt that Russia has interfered in the US election process.

At the NATO summit, Trump pointed at Russia as a risk but only a few hours earlier, during his meeting with EU institutional leaders Donald Tusk (Poland, EPP) and Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg, EPP), it became clear that the main differences are precisely in relation to Russia. Moscow has repeatedly claimed the Balkans as a part of its sphere of influence. The only countries in the peninsula that are not yet in NATO, neither are going to be any time soon, or have no intention to are Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo. Serbia is consistent in its NATO neutrality policy but maintains serious military and other ties with Russia.

Macedonia’s road to NATO is blocked by Greece due to the unresolved dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav Republic, but the country has a firmly declared interest in joining, confirmed also  by the country’s new prime minister, Zoran Zaev. On the occasion of Montenegro’s accession, Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov hinted on Twitter that he hoped Macedonia would soon become the 30th member. Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided on the issue, with leaders in the Republika Srpska entity strongly opposed to joining the Alliance. BiH’s Euro-Atlantic future is fully tied to Belgrade’s position, and Moscow, respectively. Kosovo does not have its own army, but insists that it should, and this is one of the many tension points between Priština and Belgrade. At this stage, there is no support even in Brussels (including NATO headquarters) for Kosovo to get its own army because of the current high tension in the region and especially on the Priština-Belgrade axis.

An Alliance of democracies?

At the ceremony for admitting Montenegro to NATO, Jens Stoltenberg said something else that is currently being questioned in the organisation: “We are an alliance of democracies. And we have, at times, different political perspectives”. Montenegro itself has serious democratic deficits, as the European Commission’s annual progress reports show, as well as its place in the index of democracy and freedom of the press. Even more serious problems, however, are the ones of Turkey, whose NATO membership has already been questioned. Deterioration of democracy is also seen in other member states, which poses a risk to the Alliance’s integrity, but also to the security of its members. Recently, during a hearing in the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Jens Stoltenberg placed defence before the democratic values ​​precisely on the subject of Turkey.

The congratulations that the Montenegrin prime minister received from Vice President Mike Pence (not from Donald Trump) in Washington cannot obscure the challenges the Pact faces. Today, like never before, it cannot be said for sure whether if a member is attacked, everyone will stand as one behind it. And while Montenegro was expecting the last signatures of the ratification process, the EU has begun work on building a NATO alternative – a defence union.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in USA, Europe, ZIO-NAZI, NATOComments Off on NATO Enlargement in Times of Geopolitical Cholera

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