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Hitlerian Proportions: US Foreign Policy and NATO Expansion

Seldom have I found so cogent and morally bracing geopolitical analysis than in Gary Leupp’s CounterPunch article, NATO: Seeking Russia’s Destruction Since 1949, (Dec. 25-27), timely in that discussing contemporary international politics in light of the changing world structure, both developments defining a context, 65-plus years in the making, holding the promise of a massive global confrontation, and, even if limited to initial nuclear exchanges and confined to less than apocalyptic dimensions, still wreaking destruction and suffering which intensifies all the other problems confronting humankind. Yet we slumber in our myopic address of issues–

understandably compelling to those of us so engaged, notably, global warming, environmental rapine, massive surveillance, structurally- and culturally-bound racism, the widening domestic cleavages of wealth and power—all of which vanish (I should say, evaporate, much as does the human being targeted by a drone) if worse comes to worse. Climate change, not to worry; fracking and devastation of primal forests, ditto; clamping down on dissent, privacy, freedom of association, the same; inequality and discrimination, as night follows day; financial-industrial consolidation and concentration, apple pie, should World War III materialize, with no-one left to mourn the consequences, but even short of that, as now, each of these destructive aspects of present-day decision-making merely accelerates such trends because the permanent-war doctrine operable in ideologically-obsessed government circles takes priority over problems which require solving if, ultimately, global catastrophe of a different but parallel kind is not to happen. In fact, the two are joined, whether war or its near-suicidal preparation, democracy and freedom become kicked into the dustbin of history.

Let’s assume the avoidance of total war (for the sake of analysis, if not of historical truth)—Keynes’s aphorism, we’ll all be dead in the long run, a perceptive if unintentional diagnosis of the results of national policy and systemic expansion—so as to focus on the situation at hand, what one finds is that the US has one-sidedly mounted a global war of dominance (we term it a Cold War, as if to imply America and Russia are equally involved, the former, defensively, the latter, menacing offensively), Russia always the aggressor, fictionalizing the postwar setting to promote the reification of anticommunism as a means of normalizing imperialism, energizing a social climate hostile to labor rights and civil rights, and fomenting an aggressive mental-set as directed to war as a self-fulfilling prophesy. Within five years following the war, the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine, the organization of NATO, support of the Kuomintang in China, and transforming the UN into an anti-Soviet coalition, all were symptomatic of America’s unilateral quest for supervising the globalization of capitalism on its own terms and to its own advantage. By 1950, the die had been cast, as though a deterministic path to the present, administrations one after the other in cumulative succession regardless of party bifurcating world order that, via military means and internal subversion, societal-ideological tensions could be used to cover the market-and-investment dynamics of US monopoly-capitalist development. But there was nothing actually deterministic about it, and rather the steady procession toward full-throttle expansion feeding on itself.

I say Hitlerian proportions not to indicate size and scope, but the transmogrifying energies to be applied at home and abroad. Every intervention, every stimulus to ideological hysteria, every deposing of a democratic leader, whether in Central America or Iran, still in the early stages of the Cold War (Vietnam signifying a point of no return in America’s fascistic vision and version of Exceptionalism, as code for unrestrained/uninhibited right to achieve world counterrevolution), and later, beyond regime change and covert action, every strategic ploy to form either trade or military alliances, with the growing turning of attention to China and the Far East, every use of false-flag operations, on and on, the US, whether at State or Defense, the CIA, Treasury, right up to the Oval Office, Government had become a permanent Situation Room, the effect of all this to alter domestic society to unrecognizable lengths as compared, say, with the New Deal years. Diplomacy was replaced by demonization, rational self-interest by an hegemonic thirst bordering on bloodlust. Hillary has dislodged all-comers as the voice of responsible genocidal practice, i.e., “responsible,” also like Obama, because couching domestic repression and foreign war in the seemingly moderate language of liberalism.

NATO is more or less the stalking horse for US global ambitions, its policy of active recruitment, sending out applications for membership at a rate difficult to keep up with, having one purpose, encirclement of Russia, preparatory to its dismemberment, itself prerequisite to all-out assault on China along similar lines, Japan a willing partner in the enterprise. Exceptionalism, time to move over on the ideological pedestal, to make way for Invincibility as a motivating spirit which guides American actions. We see therefore escalation in the historical process of seeking world dominance, a more dangerous Cold War than perhaps ever. (To be accurate, strike “perhaps”). This is a psychological nightmare in the making, projection becoming increasingly important to the outcome: What America says about Russia is a projection of our own aggressive beliefs and plans onto that country (also China). More than a conjuring act, America’s addiction to a threat of Evil is very real, grounded in an habitual ethnocentrism which divides the world in terms of We and They, those for us, those against us, an outlook both fueling and fueled by hostility to labor, class as an organizing social principle, and equality, and from a generalized antiradicalism finding expression also today in counterterrorism, a love-relationship to guns, and xenophobic venom toward the immigrant.

It is easy to blame “Neocons” for our troubles (the term is a slur on traditional conservatism, of which America has seen little in its history, Burke probably pilloried if all of his ideas were taken into account)—why not call them what they are, petit fascists? Not the legions of think-tank, NGO, and Senate advocates for war, national honor, etc., prove decisive here, but America qua America has shown itself to be integrally flawed, if peace, social justice, and respect for human dignity be our guiding standard. Even in the short-term context, aid to forces that evolved into Islamic extremists in Afghanistan, in order to counter Russia’s efforts to stabilize the Kabul government in the 1980s, doesn’t get at the immediate global turmoil, for before that the uncritical support of Israel in its project of ethnic cleansing and territorial expansion could not but arouse Muslim anger—the commingling of anticommunism and counterterrorism allowing the US to show the flag, thereby enlarging the war theater to make the Middle East integral to the confrontation with Russia and China. The pieces are falling into place, the 2016 presidential election given the probable candidates an exercise in more of the same: a march to the precipice.

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Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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