Tag Archives: NATO

NATO’s ‘Unified Front’ at Breaking Point, by Danny Sjursen

With its original reason for being vanquished in 1991, how much longer can NATO last? From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Last month, a Turkish warship came one step away from firing missiles at a French naval vessel off the coast of Libya. In response, Paris suspended its involvement in Operation Sea Guardian – a multinational maritime effort to provide security in the Mediterranean Sea and halt the arms trafficking fueling Libya’s ongoing civil war. Initially, only eight member states – notably excluding both the U.S. and U.K. – supported France’s official complaint. This was only the latest incident in the increasingly frequent – and exceedingly awkward – tensions between several of Washington’s core North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. Indeed, from South America to East Asia, NATO members stand divided over many critical foreign policy issues of the moment.

On the subject of NATO – as with much else – President Trump is obtuse and ill-informed. Only here he isn’t exactly wrong. In fact, recent events raise serious questions about the 70-year old alliance’s lingering relevance and utility – as in what, so to speak, NATO is for?

Sure, The Donald is hardly a bridge-builder, but the media’s temptation to blame him alone for NATO’s growing fissures ultimately misses the mark – and the backstory. While his foreign policy fiascoes have widened its divisions, the alliance’s inherent contractions and hypocrisies preceded Mr. Trump. Indeed, some of the current fracture traces back to NATO’s complicated genesis; the rest, mainly, to the problematic pivot after the collapse of its justification-boogeyman – the Soviet Union – and its leading American member’s hyper-imperial post-9/11 turn.

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Allies Are Supposed to Help the US, but Americans Always Do the Paying, by Doug Bandow

We say we’re helping our allies, but in reality they’re part of our empire, an empire that has an exorbitant price. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

U.S. foreign policy is dominated by a constant search for allies. Big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak. It doesn’t matter. The more the merrier, rather like acquiring more Facebook Friends than anyone else, thereby winning bragging rights.

This incessant search for new allies turned into farce with NATO’s celebration when Montenegro and North Macedonia were admitted. Members of the transatlantic pact exulted, apparently believing that they finally could rest easy, sure that Vladimir Putin’s Slavic hordes would be kept at bay by the vast new armies added to NATO’s ranks.

The US once sought alliances to achieve a common purpose and enhance its security – in theory, at least. Having decided to intervene in Europe in World Wars I and II and the Cold War, it good policy to cooperate with allied powers. (Not that joining the conflicts themselves necessarily made any sense. For instance, the New World had no security stake in the Great War, the imperial murderfest that brought mankind communism, fascism, Nazism, the Second World War, and endless Middle Eastern conflicts in succeeding years.)

Today, however, alliances have gone from means to ends for Washington policymakers. Of course, Europe should be defended, but not by America: the Europeans collectively outclass Russia on most every important measure of national power, and nothing suggests that Vladimir Putin hopes to achieve conquests that Joseph Stalin eschewed. Since NATO serves no necessary military purpose, it has become something very different, a welfare organization by which Americans subsidize the defense of European states which neither feel threatened nor see any reason to invest in their militaries since America has promised to do the job. Indeed, Washington’s defense guarantee almost makes it stupid for Europeans to even field militaries, other than for ceremonial purposes.

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Is Trump Using Nordstream 2 to Exit NATO? by Tom Luongo

If Trump is intentionally trying to piss the Europeans off, he’s doing a good job of it. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

The one thing I never thought I’d say is that Donald Trump is consistent, and yet on the subject of the Nordstream 2 pipeline he has been.

No single project has caused more wailing and gnashing of teeth than Nordstream 2. And since Nordstream 2 is simply the substitute for South Stream, which was supposed to come across the Black Sea into Bulgaria and then feed eastern Europe, this U.S. opposition to another Russian pipeline spans multiple administrations.

So, this is policy that goes far beyond simple 2020 electoral politics, Trump trying to look tough on the Russians, or his misguided Energy Dominance policy.

With Trump rescinding the sanctions exemption for Nordstream 2 he now has declared open war against Europe, specifically Germany over this project.

But here’s the thing, I think Trump is doing this for updated reasons that fit a different agenda than why the U.S. opposed Nordstream 2 previously, because he knows he can’t stop the pipeline now. All he can do is further alienate Germany, who he has targeted as the main problem in Europe.

Before I go any further, though, I think a little history lesson is in order.

U.S. opposition to Nordstream 2 is deeply ingrained on all sides of the political aisle in D.C. From Republicans still fighting the cold war to Democrats having deep ties to Ukrainian gas transit there are a multitude of reasons why Nordstream 2 is verboten in D.C.

On the other hand, Europe’s relationship with Nordstream 2 is, in a word, complicated.

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Floundering NATO Tries to Surface by Confronting China, by Brian Cloughley

Meet NATO’s new existential enemy: China. Only a spoilsport would point out that China is nowhere near the North Atlantic. NATO needs enemies and China will just have to do. From Brian Cloughley at strategic-culture.org:

On June 8 Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of the U.S.-NATO military alliance, gave a speech at NATO’s new billion dollar headquarters in Brussels. It was followed by a selection of patsy questions, but in spite of the trite predictability of Stoltenberg’s statements and the eager friendliness of the questioners, enough was said to indicate that NATO is still on the lookout for enemies to attempt to justify its continuing shaky existence.

New on the Stoltenberg list is China, which is a long way from the North Atlantic. He was reported as declaring that “the rise of China is fundamentally shifting the global balance of power, heating up the race for economic and technological ­supremacy, multiplying the threats to open societies and individual freedoms and increasing the competition over our values and our way of life.” He wants NATO to become involved with the U.S. in confronting China which has a population of 1.4 billion, the longest land border in the world (22,117 km) and a coastline of 14,500 km (the U.S. coastline is 19,924 km), which enormous numbers are ample justification for maintenance of a large defence force.

But he complained that China “already has the second largest defence budget. They are investing heavily in modern military capabilities, including missiles that can reach all NATO Allied countries. They’re coming closer to us in cyberspace. We see them in the Arctic, in Africa. We see them investing in our critical infrastructure. And they are working more and more together with Russia. All of this has a security consequence for NATO Allies. And therefore, we need to be able to respond to that, to address that.”

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Time To Pull the Troops From NATO: What Good Is an Alliance Full of Cheap-Riders? by Doug Bandow

NATO has become a vestige of America’s empire. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to remove 9,500 U.S troops from Germany by September. He also set a firm cap of 25,000, instead of allowing the number to swell to 52,000 as units rotate through or deploy for training.

It is a good start. But why did it take him more than three years to act on his criticism of allied cheap-riding on America? And what about the other 25,000 American military personnel in Germany?

Even after the US economy shut down and federal finances cratered, Washington’s foreign policy elite were seeking to add new international duties for Uncle Sam. America and China are teetering on a new cold war, which could turn hot in the Taiwan Strait or elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Thus, it is said, Washington must bolster its military alliances, security guarantees, and naval deployments.

Members of the Blob, as Washington’s foreign policy establishment has been called, continue to ferociously oppose the slightest withdrawal from the Middle East. America must fix Syria by confronting the Assad government, ISIS, other Islamist radicals, Turkey, Russia, and Iran. The US certainly cannot leave Iraq, irrespective of the wish of Iraqis. And America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan, in the heart of Central Asia surrounded by Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, and China, should be accepted as the start of a beautiful permanent commitment. As the Eagles declared in their famous song Hotel California, Washington can never leave-from anywhere.

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U.S. Warplane Profits Scramble Over Germany’s Anti-Nuclear Push, by Finian Cunningham

It should come as no surprise that US foreign and military policy is set up to maximize the profits of US defense and intelligence contractors. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.com:

When Germany’s Social Democrats – the junior governing coalition partner – renewed long-standing calls for withdrawing U.S. nuclear bombs from the country, the backlash from Washington was fast and furious.

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Berlin, wrote an oped for German media slamming the move as “undermining” NATO’s nuclear deterrence in Europe. Grenell, who is also the acting U.S. Director of National Intelligence, was scathing, reiterating President Trump’s vituperative claims that Germany was not pulling its weight in NATO commitments.

Grenell has been the bane of many German politicians of all stripes over what they view as his high-handed interference in the country’s internal affairs, with one former Social Democrat leader likening him to a “colonial officer”.

Then came the intervention from the American ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, who mischievously proffered that if Germany didn’t want to station U.S. nuclear warheads, then Poland would provide an alternative site for the weapons. Given the history of bad blood between Germany and Poland, not to mention the incendiary provocation to Russia, Mosbacher’s suggestion is ludicrous. Nevertheless it illustrates the strenuous pushback by Washington to the renewed calls for removing U.S. nuclear weapons from German soil.

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Erdogan’s Attempts to Blackmail Europe are Doomed to Fail, by Con Coughlin

The rest of Europe is fed up with Turkish president Erdogan’s delusions of grandeur and rebuilding the Ottoman empire. From Con Coughlin at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • If the current crisis facing Turkey is entirely of Mr Erdogan’s own making, that has not prevented the Turkish president from trying to deflect attention away from his own mishandling of the conflict by seeking to provoke a new migrant crisis in Europe.
  • When Turkey took the controversial decision last year to purchase Russia’s state-of-the-art S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, Mr Erdogan calculated that it would herald new era of friendly cooperation with Ankara’s long-standing rival in Moscow even if, by pressing ahead with the deal, the Turks risked jeopardising their relationship with NATO, which bitterly opposed the deal.
  • Russians now find themselves in a direct confrontation with Turkish forces in Idlib province, where the Turks are trying to protect a number of Islamist militias committed to overthrowing the Assad regime… [A]s the recent escalation in fighting has demonstrated, the Russians’ main priority is to support the Assad regime.
  • Mr Erdogan is also about to discover that there has been a hardening of attitudes among European leaders about dealing with unwanted migrants since the Turkish leader last used his blackmail tactics five years ago…. These days, senior politicians in Mrs Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats take a more hard-nosed approach to the migrant issue, with one senior party member warning the migrants this week, “There is no point coming to Germany. We cannot take you in.”
If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes he can bully European leaders by provoking a fresh migrant crisis in southern Europe, then he would be well-advised to think again. (Photo by Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images)

If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes he can bully European leaders by provoking a fresh migrant crisis in southern Europe, then he would be well-advised to think again.

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Erdogan’s Dance of Death With NATO, by Daniel Lazare

Erdogan is doing his best to get NATO to come to his aid in Syria (he’s playing the refugee card). Never underestimate the intelligence of generals and politicians; he may succeed. From Daniel Lazare at antiwar.com:

In order to understand why the war in Syria’s northwest Idlib province is likely to spread, it may be helpful to think back to the dark days of early World War II.

Britain was alone and on the ropes. Plenty of countries wished it well. But with France, Denmark, the Low Countries, Norway, and Poland all under the Nazi boot, no one was willing to step forward with anything along the lines of practical aid. The future looked grim, which is why murmurs in favor of a negotiated settlement were growing harder and harder to ignore.

But then the United States and Soviet Union entered the war, and suddenly Britain had the world’s two greatest industrial powers on its side. Grumbling ceased. Hitler was also eager for allies, yet the only ones he could come up with were Italy, Hungary, Romania, and Finland, third-rate powers all. All would fall by the wayside as the slaughter intensified while Britain, the US, and the USSR would go from strength to strength.

It’s not only how many guns and soldiers you have, in other words, but how many allies – and who those allies are.

Now flash forward to Syria eighty years later. Damascus is diplomatically isolated thanks to the unremitting hostility of the US. But, militarily, it’s the opposite. Not only does it enjoy the support of Hezbollah and Iraq-based militias loyal to Iran, but it’s also found an all-important ally in post-Soviet Russia. Before Vladimir Putin intervened in September 2015, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was visibly weakening under a jihadist onslaught financed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the other Arab gulf oil monarchies. Afterwards, the situation stabilized and then – to Turkey’s fury since it also backed jihad – slowly turned in Assad’s favor.

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The Syria Deception, Understanding the geopolitical and psychological war against Syria. From Swiss Propaganda Research

The US and its European lap dogs have wanted to get rid of the Syrian government since the 1940s. From Swiss Propaganda Research at swprs.org:

What is the Syria war about?

Contrary to the depiction in Western media, the Syria war is not a civil war. This is because the initiators, financiers and a large part of the anti-government fighters come from abroad.

Nor is the Syria war a religious war, for Syria was and still is one of the most secular countries in the region, and the Syrian army – like its direct opponents – is itself mainly composed of Sunnis.

But the Syria war is also not a pipeline war, as some critics suspected, because the allegedly competing gas pipeline projects never existed to begin with, as even the Syrian president confirmed.

Instead, the Syria war is a war of conquest and regime change, which developed into a geopolitical proxy war between NATO states on one side – especially the US, Great Britain and France – and Russia, Iran, and China on the other side.

In fact, already since the 1940s the US has repeatedly attempted to install a pro-Western government in Syria, such as in 1949, 1956, 1957, after 1980 and after 2003, but without success so far. This makes Syria – since the fall of Libya – the last Mediterranean country independent of NATO.

Thus, in the course of the „Arab Spring“ of 2011, NATO and its allies, especially Israel and the Gulf States, decided to try again. To this end, politically and economically motivated protests in Syria were leveraged and were quickly escalated into an armed conflict.

NATO’s original strategy of 2011 was based on the Afghanistan war of the 1980s and aimed at conquering Syria mainly through positively portrayed Islamist militias (so-called „rebels“). This did not succeed, however, because the militias lacked an air force and anti-aircraft missiles.

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The threat of a nuclear war between the US and Russia is now at its greatest since 1983, by Scott Ritter

The US reserves the right to launch a first-strike nuclear attack and is conducting massive military exercises in Europe which that have put unprecedented NATO power on Russia’s border. It makes the Russians understandably nervous, and in such circumstances accidents can happen. From Scott Ritter at rt.com:

When the Commander of NATO says he is a fan of flexible first strike at the same time that NATO is flexing its military muscle on Russia’s border, the risk of inadvertent nuclear war is real.

US Air Force Gen. Tod D Wolters told the Senate this week he “is a fan of flexible first strike” regarding NATO’s nuclear weapons, thereby exposing the fatal fallacy of the alliance’s embrace of American nuclear deterrence policy.

It was one of the most remarkable yet underreported exchanges in recent Senate history. Earlier this week, during the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee of General Tod Wolters, the commander of US European Command and, concurrently, as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR) also the military head of all NATO armed forces, General Wolters engaged in a short yet informative exchange with Senator Deb Fischer, a Republican from the state of Nebraska.

Following some initial questions and answers focused on the alignment of NATO’s military strategy with the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the US, which codified what Wolters called “the malign influence on behalf of Russia” toward European security, Senator Fischer asked about the growing recognition on the part of NATO of the important role of US nuclear deterrence in keeping the peace. “We all understand that our deterrent, the TRIAD, is the bedrock of the security of this country,” Fischer noted. “Can you tell us about what you are hearing…from our NATO partners about this deterrent?

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