FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The NATO Axiom

One of many relevant questions the ABC moderators neglected to ask Hillary and Obama in the mid April televised debate: why does NATO continue to exist after the Soviet Union collapsed? Indeed, the entire media accepts NATO as one of the several military axioms that remain from Cold War days.

For those who don’t remember, in April 1949, Washington initiated a military alliance, supposedly to counter Soviet military power, which bound the United States to defend Western Europe against a supposedly imminent Soviet invasion. By the early 1950s, The North Atlantic Treaty had grown far beyond North Atlantic European nations, and included Canada, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Turkey. SAC (Strategic Air Command) bombers flew 24/7 missions with nuclear payloads, turning around when the planes reached the Soviet borders. Land based intercontinental nuclear missiles and submarine based ballistic missiles triangulated NATO’s atomic arsenal. The Soviets relied initially on land based missiles.

By 1954, the Soviets – getting worried — offered to join NATO to dispel invasion fears. Instead of accepting this peace offer, NATO brought West Germany into its fold. In 1955, the Soviets responded by initiating the Warsaw Pact – an alliance of its Eastern European “satellite” states. Thus, the Cold War advanced with two rival military alliances – until one dissolved in 1990 through its own weaknesses.

When the USSR imploded, the entire world saw a pathetic skeleton of an empire with only a military and space program, but no economy or culture with which to spread its influence. Even its many thousands of nuclear weapons may not have worked due to the overall state of disrepair that characterized Soviet society.

By logic, NATO members should also have disbanded their own costly (military spending to stop a Soviet invasion was not cheap) partnership. Instead, the NATO anachronism not only survived the Soviet demise, it expanded – into the former Soviet Republics. Poland, Bulgaria, Romania et. al. might soon be joined by Georgia and Ukraine and other former Communist republics.

In recent meetings, NATO survivalists have declared a new role for the once threatening Germany. Instead of limiting itself to peacekeeping roles, the German military should morph itself into a front line fighting force to meet the new Russian threat as well as the older Taliban and Iranian menaces.

In Bucharest in late March, leaders at a NATO summit meeting tried to convince German leaders that they had serious enemies. The Wehrmacht had not assumed its fair share of the troop burden in Afghanistan. The lion’s share of the Afghan onus had fallen on the poor United States, and the noble Britain, Canada and Holland. Germany, Italy, Spain and other NATOites had refused to place their troops in harm’s way. Didn’t “these cowards” understand the purpose of the NATO alliance, asked a US delegate – off the record – in the corridors? He answered his own question. “Whatever our cause is at any given period we can’t go it alone. Even Bush has learned that even though the neo cons haven’t.”

Six decades ago, American leaders pointed in alarm at the Red Army troops poised to launch a surprise attack on the innocent and righteous Western Europe. (One did not read in the mainstream media in those days facts about how the Soviets had suffered more than 20 million dead, another 40 million wounded, lost 200 major cities, had no housing, little food or boots for their troops. The CIA knew but didn’t make public the fact that the Soviets didn’t coincide their railroad gauges to match the size of those in their satellite countries of Eastern Europe. How would they then stage a rapid and surprise offensive? They would have had to unload their supply trains, transfer the arms and other material to trucks, drive them across borders and re-load them on trains.) The Soviet threat – despite facts to the contrary — became the axiom for the Cold War and the justification for NATO.

Now, US alarmists point to “the rise of China as a great power, combined with a resurgent Russia across Eurasia,” and demand “an American-European alliance.” (Robert Kaplan, NY Times op-ed March 27, 2008) It’s as if the arm chair war intellectuals fear that terrorism might prove a fleeting phenomenon and they need a real nation to justify the permanent military economy and culture.

For the time being, NATO serves as the acceptable and unchallenged world military force, an international police agency that the United States tried to drive into its fights. But the 26 Members will not easily get drawn into nasty affairs like front line fights in Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington will as usual take the military leadership, but expects other NATO nations to buy its useless and very expensive aircraft and other modern weapons. And all NATO nations have some presence in Afghanistan. But they have directed their national interests rightfully in the more important issues like environment and climate change and the maintenance of economic stability in Europe.

Europeans remain intimidated by US power, but an Italian Senator (Green) wondered howi Saddam Hussein or the Taliban posed offensive threats to Western Europe. To the extent that such forces, and those in the Iranian theocracy did alarm European, the best response would not be a missile defense, which US leaders insist on.

In early April, Bush spoke to the assembled NATO audience and told them they had to add Darfur to the list of urgent issues NATO had to deal with. “It is no longer a static alliance focused on defending Europe from a Soviet tank invasion,” Bush explained. “It is now an expeditionary alliance that is sending its forces across the world to help secure a future of freedom and peace for millions.” According to a friend who was present, a French observer remarked: “Perhaps NATO should send a contingent to rebuild New Orleans.”

As the US empire struggles to keep afloat in Iraq and Afghanistan while those wars bleed its Treasury, it demands from Europe similar commitments for global military escapades.

Think of a world in which European, Canadian, Australian and US forces engage native fighters in the various “Stans” as well as in Palestine, the Congo, Somalia, Darfur, Yemen, and Sri Lanka. Terrorism holds more promise for real fighting than communism ever did. The only problem with such a scenario is the public. In Europe it doesn’t buy into such plans.

As columnist William Pfaff aptly concluded: “They also won’t agree because the effort simply is not serious. It is constructed on political fantasies and counter-verities, and half-baked ideas. It’s like George Bush’s announcement before leaving Washington that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s sending his national army to Basra was “a defining moment in the history of free Iraq,” restoring central government authority in Basra and ridding it of “criminal elements.”

NATO has become absurd in the post Cold War world, with global warming and food shortages transcending the antiquated security notions associated with armies. But so has the US military budget. It’s time to revive the warning of an old communist. “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Eisenhower’s farewell words should resonate ever more loudly so the media might occasionally repeat his alert and offer some antidote to its poisonous fascination with flag tie pins and the sound of the word “bitter.”

SAUL LANDAU was awarded the Bernardo O’Higgins decoration by the government of Chile. He is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow, author of CounterPunch press’ A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD and filmmaker WE DON’T PLAY GOLF HERE –  email roundworldproductions@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail