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Thursday, 7 January 2016

NATO: Who’s the Aggressor?

(I)


Michael Jabara CARLEY | 06.01.2016 | 00:00
 
There has been much discussion recently of NATO in the mainstream and alternate media. Why was NATO founded in the first place and why did it expand so rapidly after the collapse and dismemberment of the USSR in 1991. According to widely held views in the west, NATO originated as a defensive alliance against an aggressive, menacing Soviet Union after World War II.

There is nothing unusual about this post 1945 representation of the USSR. Western negative perceptions of Russia date back to the 19th century, if not earlier. After the October Revolution of 1917 western Russophobia was exacerbated by the Red Scare. For three years the «Entente» powers tried to throttle the nascent Soviet republic. When the foreign intervention failed, the Entente constructed a cordon sanitaire through the Russian borderlands from the Baltic to Black Seas. The idea was to keep the Bolshevik revolution from spreading into central Europe.

During the interwar years, Western-Soviet relations remained antagonistic. «Russophobia and Sovietophobia are a dense forest of hostility, into which no light penetrates», observed a Soviet diplomat in 1930.

It was «a clash of two worlds», according to one historian. Who said the cold war only began after 1945? Even Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 failed to provoke a western reappraisal of relations with the USSR. France and Britain were unable to sort out their security priorities. Soviet diplomatic efforts to build an anti-Nazi alliance foundered on open or disguised western sympathies for fascism. The crisis of capitalism in the 1930s made fascism attractive, but so did western Sovietophobia.

Even after the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941, the British government could not entirely shed its anti-Soviet enmity. War Office biases were so intense that British diplomats, who were not known for their love of Russia, warned of long-term damage to Anglo-Soviet relations. For a hundred years, said one Foreign Office official in 1944. Sovietophobia went right to the top of the British government. The prime minister, Winston Churchill, worried about Red Army victories. This was a surprising position since until June 1944 the Red Army did most of the fighting against the Wehrmacht. Cabinet colleagues were at times scandalised by Churchill’s anti-Soviet exclamations. In May 1945, a fortnight after VE-Day, the British Chiefs of Staff Joint Planning Committee produced the top secret Operation «Unthinkable», an outrageous, suicidal plan for a new Anglo-American war, backed by German troops in new uniforms, against the USSR. Across the Atlantic, the pragmatic President Franklin Roosevelt sought to calm Churchill and to rein in his own numerous Sovietophobes, though after his death in April 1945 they quickly recaptured control of US policy. Not that it was a hard sell for Harry Truman, FDR’s pedestrian successor and notorious Sovietophobe.

The USSR paid a huge price for victory, no one knows the exact human cost, but estimates are around 27 million civilian and military dead, plus the physical destruction of much of European Russia from Stalingrad in the east, to the Northern Caucasus and the Crimea in the south, to Leningrad and other points to the north, all the way to the Soviet Union’s western frontiers. Some 70,000 cities, towns and villages were laid waste during the war, not to mention tens of thousands of factories, collective farms, schools, hospitals and other public buildings. While the United States became rich and suffered few casualties in comparison to the Red Army, the Soviet Union emerged from the war poor and devastated. The most urgent priority was reconstruction, and for that, Soviet generalissimo Joseph Stalin hoped for help from the Anglo-American allies. Yet in the west the USSR was regarded as a post-war threat to European security. The Russians had let victory go to their heads; they had to be put in their place.

Stalin was aware of Anglo-American hostility, but tried nevertheless for a time to work with his putative «allies» without however sacrificing what he saw as Soviet vital interests. «I am not a propagandist», Stalin said to an American interlocutor, «I am a man of business». Soviet military policy was unprovocative and the huge Red Army was demobilised to approximately 25% of its maximum wartime strength. Big political issues were Poland and Germany. Poland was settled along Soviet lines, but Germany was under joint Allied occupation and there Stalin could not obtain whatever he wished. Having been invaded twice by Germany over the span of little more than a quarter century, Stalin did not want to see the rebuilding of a German state hostile to the USSR.

This was precisely what the United States had in mind. From 1946 onward the US government went about establishing a West German «partial state», integrated into a US dominated western anti-Soviet European bloc. Essentially, it was Churchill’s idea of building a new German counterbalance to the USSR, an idea first conceptualised in Operation «Unthinkable». The eventual Soviet countermove, the Berlin «blockade» in 1948, was a clumsy attempt to gain leverage over the United States to stop the establishment of a West German state. The so-called blockade did not work and served as a splendid pretext for setting up NATO in the following year. In Moscow NATO was viewed as an alliance aimed at the USSR. The West German entry into that alliance seemed like an obvious eventuality.
Funded generously by the United States, the polarisation of Europe continued into the 1950s, and West Germany became a NATO member in May 1955. This development provoked the formation of the Warsaw pact, led by the USSR. Believing western propaganda about an aggressive Soviet Union, an ill-informed person might think that the Warsaw pact provoked the organisation of NATO and not the other way ‘round.

After the collapse and dismemberment of the USSR, NATO ought logically to have been closed down. Even if you accept the NATO line that the alliance was organised for purely defensive purposes against a Soviet threat, there was no USSR and no threat after 1991. It is well known moreover that the US Secretary of State James Baker promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand «one inch» toward the east, a promise that Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush did not keep. NATO post-Soviet expansion cannot logically be explained except as a movement to extend US hegemony eastward. It was an opportune moment. Russia was in turmoil and led by Boris Yeltsin who needed US backing to stay in power. Based on the principle «I can, therefore I will», NATO expanded quickly, inter alia, to include Poland and the Baltic states, former nesting grounds of interwar fascism and anti-Semitism and Russophobic to the core.


In Eastern Europe, NATO membership became a license for impunity: SS uniforms and banners came out of mothballs in the Baltics and a new atavistic wave of Russophobia swept over Poland.

NATO expanded to construct a new anti-Russian cordon sanitaire, suggesting that the US «Deep State» was not sure it had sufficiently weakened the much reduced Russian Federation. It was an insurance policy against any Russian resurgence, and an arm to be used against any state which failed to do US bidding.

Such was the case of Yugoslavia, a multi-national state torn apart by ethnic conflict encouraged by the United States and NATO. If you look at a map of Yugoslavia in 1941 after its partition by Nazi Germany, you will see similarities with the US/NATO dismemberment of «former Yugoslavia».


The west sided with neo-fascists in Croatia, Muslim fundamentalists in Bosnia and Kosovo, portraying its former wartime allies, the Serbs, as villains, aggressors, and perpetrators of genocide. US and NATO bombers attacked Serbia in 1999 to subdue resistance against the loss of the Serbian province of Kosovo. In a flagrant act of aggression, they blew up bridges, trains, and infrastructure and bombed Belgrade, killing civilians in the way.

Clinton invoked the «Responsibility to Protect» (R2P), and claimed NATO represented the «international» community. These were audacious, bogus claims to justify military intervention. The underlying message to any apostate of US domination was submit or be destroyed.
(to be continued)

(II)


Michael Jabara CARLEY | 07.01.2016 | 00:00
 
The US quest for domination did not stop in «former Yugoslavia». After 9/11 in 2001 the US and NATO invaded Afghanistan, though the Afghan Taliban government had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks in the United States. To this day the war in Afghanistan goes on and none too well for the United States. No wonder Afghanistan is called «the graveyard of empires».


Two years later it was the turn of Iraq though this was mostly an Anglo-American venture. The US government claimed that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had «weapons of mass destruction» (WMD), ready to use. R2P was invoked again to justify the new war. A massive invasion led to the destruction of Iraq and the execution of Saddam. Hundreds of thousands of civilians died because of the US invasion or because of prior stringent economic sanctions. Millions became homeless. US authorities turned Iraq upside down in the hopes of finding proof of Iraqi WMDs. It was all a charade. There were no WMDs. On the gallows Saddam bravely accused his executioners of being traitorous US puppets. The United States claimed its objective was to establish «democracy» in Iraq. President Putin, who could no longer tolerate the bogus American narrative, called it «airstrike democracy».


Submit or be destroyed was the real US message. Twelve years later there is no democracy in Iraq, only ruins, continued war and misery.

In 2011 it was the turn of Libya, a rich, independent country, led by Muammar Gaddafi, who for the previous eight years had maintained constructive relations with the west. The US and NATO rolled out a new pretext for R2P. Gaddafi’s forces had attacked the civilian population, a claim as false and preposterous as the WMDs in Iraq. Russia and China abstained in a UN Security Council vote to approve a «no-fly zone», a position they came to regret, because NATO promptly used the resolution as a pretext for an all-out air war against the Libyan government. Libya was destroyed and Gaddafi, sodomised with a bayonet and murdered. The then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, like some ancient tribal barbarian (no offence intended to the latter) gloated and sneered over images of Gaddafi’s bloody corpse. It is reported that Putin has also seen the images and bowed his head in shame and anger. Like Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya remains in ruins, chaos and misery. These are the works, says journalist Pepe Escobar, of the «Empire of Chaos», determined to maintain global hegemony, along with its trusty NATO sidekicks, at whatever cost.

Profligate US/NATO violence did not end there. Encouraged by their «success» in Libya, the United States and some of its NATO «allies», notably France, Britain and Turkey, turned their sights on Syria and its leader Bashar al Assad. After Saddam and Gaddafi, they reckoned, it was Assad’s turn to swing. His days were counted, said US officials. That was back in 2011. The Syrian war continues with no end yet in sight. Like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Syria is in ruins. It is fighting for survival against a US-NATO backed Jihadist invasion. As elsewhere, the United States and important NATO members have allied themselves with Muslim fundamentalists, who go by many names – Jaish al-Fatah, Ahrar ash-Sham, al-Nusra and Daesh, amongst others – but are cut from the same blood-drenched, terrorist cloth.


Closer to Russian borders, the United States inspired the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in 2008 which ended in catastrophe for Georgia. «We have your backs», American officials told the Georgians, but apparently not. In 2014 the Ukraine became the next battlefield where the United States and European Union (EU) supported a fascist coup d’état against the lawfully elected government. The United States intends to make the Ukraine the buckle of its anti-Russian cordon sanitaire. As in Syria, however, complete success has so far eluded the United States, even though the usual signs of its presence, violence, ruin, and chaos, are everywhere to be seen.


What is one to conclude about the conduct of the United States and NATO since 1991? In what way can NATO now be described as a «defensive» alliance? NATO was not abolished because the United States wanted to maintain its military domination in Europe and check any future, however remote resurgence of Russia. It also wanted to discourage any European movement toward political independence from Washington. When the EU discusses creation of an independent military force, for example, you can count on the United States to exercise its veto. An independent EU army, Washington knows full well, would undermine NATO and thus US domination. Ironically, the raison d’être of the EU was to re-establish European political and economic independence, but in fact it has done neither. NATO and the EU, as it presently functions, are institutions enforcing European vassalage to the United States. Instead of protecting European security, NATO has endangered it by dragging Europe into gratuitous US quarrels with Russia and into aggressive US wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

European leaders like David Cameron, François Hollande, and Angela Merkel are US vassals, so much so that they have undermined their countries’ economic and security interests. What chains bind these leaders to the United States? Is it personal advantage? Are they afraid to act independently? Are European political and military bureaucracies too tightly bound to Washington? Is the Atlanticist «Deep State» too deeply entrenched? Or, are European leaders simply complacent, taking the easy way out and liking the narcotic pleasures of proximity to US «power»?

Since 1991 the United States has become increasingly belligerent and reckless, like Wilhelmine Germany prior to World War I, but far more dangerous. Washington flaunts international law and makes war against or threatens those states which do not recognise US domination. American elites exhibit no remorse for the death and destruction they have wrought. Any why should they? No one can hold them to account. The EU and NATO serve as «international» cover to legitimise US behaviour. It’s the «international community», according to Washington.

Observing these developments, President Putin has become a «truth-teller» challenging Washington’s self-interested, exceptionalist narratives. But he has not threatened Europe, or the United States. On the contrary, he urges broad-based security cooperation and has long proposed Russia-Europe political and economic integration. In spite of these proposals (or because of them, a cynic would say), US policy continues unchanged. When Russia therefore responds to the NATO military build-up in the Eastern Europe by strengthening its defences, don’t call it «aggression».

Can Europeans put a brake on escalating tensions? It will not be easy. The best way, really the only way, is for Europe’s most influential powers to withdraw from NATO. It’s an audacious proposition, I admit, but Europe needs to stop being an American cat’s paw and to establish some political distance from Washington. Only Europe can effectively discourage the present course of US policy. Is it not time to break the long cycle of western Russophobia?

Russia wants to be part of Europe, not against Europe. It’s a formidable country with formidable people, who would be strong allies in the tough fight which we now face against Daesh. Just remember what the Soviet people did during the Great Patriotic War. Ask the Germans; they’ll tell you.

If you get to know the Russians, you’ll find they’re not a bad lot, who love, laugh and weep like any other people, but who will defend their country fiercely like no others. Sure, they have bad apples, but so do we. I for one would rather have Russians with me than against me.

I ask in conclusion, what about you?

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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