Thursday, July 14, 2016

NATO's Warsaw summit

Unlimited private money in politics is a definite threat to democracy. So are war and militarism. And it's a shame that the ongoing assumptions of American foreign policy aren't more of a normal focus in our politics these days.

Patrick Lawrence writes about the posture that NATO leaders struck in their recent meeting in Warsaw, Poland: The West escalates with Russia: Make no mistake, a second Cold War is now official NATO policy Salon 07/12/2016:

One, the U.S., Britain, Germany and Canada will each station a rotating battalion in a front-line state. These are respectively Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Two, after many years of heated debate, nuclear weapons are to remain part of the NATO arsenal in Europe. Three, the alliance officially assumed command of an anti-missile defense system that, as of now, has components in Spain, Turkey and Romania.

There is no mistaking the magnitude of these decisions when taken together. I liken Warsaw last week to Washington in the spring of 1947, when Truman’s advisers and Senate allies determined it was time to sell the public a permanent wartime economy and a national security state. What followed was his “scare hell out of the American people” speech, so named by Arthur Vandenberg, a Republican senator from Michigan and one of Truman’s intimates. What followed that was $400 million in aid to the fascist Greek monarchy, and what followed that was the first Cold War.

Reality No. 1: The West is now to have troops closer to Russia than ever before in history. Reality No. 2: Russia has signaled no intention whatsoever of doing anything more than defending its borders, rock-candy mountains of unsupported nonsense in the press notwithstanding. Reality No. 3: The only reason these soldiers will rotate is because NATO agreed with Russia in 1997 not to station troops permanently east of Germany. These deployments are a disgraceful fiddle, thus. Reality No. 4: NATO officers continue to insist that missile defenses are intended to counter Iranian missiles. It now takes very big brass to trot this one out: Given last year’s nuclear accord, the standing explanation no longer passes even as a fig leaf.
A White House Fact Sheet of July 8 reported what the summit would do:

Specifically, allied leaders will take decisions to enhance collective defense by enhancing NATO’s forward presence on the eastern flank through the deployment of one rotational battalion each in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, as well as developing a tailored forward presence in Romania and Bulgaria. In addition, NATO will further develop the Alliance’s ballistic missile defense capabilities, and ensure its nuclear deterrent remains credible, safe, secure, and effective. Allies will also take steps to build resilience against non-traditional challenges such as hybrid tactics, cyber vulnerabilities, and terrorist threats as essential components of credible deterrence and defense. Each of these efforts supports the explicit commitments allies have to one another in Articles 3 and 5 of the Washington Treaty regarding our individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack, the indivisibility of our security, and our mutual responsibility to contribute to collective defense.

Together, these measures represent the largest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence and deterrence since the end of the Cold War. NATO does not seek confrontation, but will defend all allies against any threat. Everything NATO does is defensive, proportionate, and in line with each ally’s international commitments. Our deterrence and defense aims not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent one.

Allies will also decide at the summit to expand the Alliance’s efforts to project stability beyond NATO’s borders. All NATO allies are members of the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (C-ISIL), and the Alliance will take additional steps at the summit to bolster C-ISIL efforts, including through direct NATO support to the C-ISIL coalition as well as through enhanced training of the Iraqi Security Forces. In the Aegean Sea, NATO is already providing capabilities to support EU and national efforts to address the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, and will seek to decide to further enhance our maritime security cooperation with the European Union to help address the security challenges in the Central Mediterranean Sea. NATO is also focusing and intensifying its defense capacity building and other areas of security cooperation with regional partners, such as Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Mauritania to address the root causes of instability. [my emphasis]
That's quite a euphemism; Instead of projeting force, NATO will "project stability."

Albrecht Müller offers his own antiwar perspective in Ein Rückblick auf die perfekte Propaganda im Umfeld des NATO-Gipfels. Daran kann man die Methoden der Manipulation bestens studieren. Nachdenkseiten 12.07.2016.

Paul Jay of The Real News has an interview here with leftist Russian professor Alexandr Buzgalin on relations between Russia and the West, Why is the Capitalist West Fighting with Capitalist Russia? 07/13/2016:

Robert Parry's Consortiumm News has also been raising concerns about NATO current posture, such as:

Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Merkel Urged to Temper NATO’s Belligerence 07/06/2016

John Walsh, NATO Marches Toward Destruction 07/08/2016

Medea Benjamin and Alice Slater, Challenging the New Cold War 07/09/2016

Natylie Baldwin, Russia Pushes Back on NATO Expansion 07/09/2016

Graham Fuller, Europe’s NATO Ambivalence 07/10/2016

Ivan Eland, NATO as an ‘Entangling Alliance’ 07/11/2016

Rick Sterling, Western Propaganda for a New Cold War 07/14/2016

Graham Fuller makes a key point:

The peaceful collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1991 also posed a difficult question: what would be the rationale for NATO’s continued existence? All organizations seek to perpetuate their own existence and NATO became almost desperate for a new mission — a new enemy. Washington was loath to yield up its key instrument of control in European politics.

But how much do European geopolitical goals mesh with American ones? This too depends on one’s geopolitical vision of the world. For Europe, war among its members is virtually unthinkable. But Washington and NATO have a vested interest in maintaining a Russian threat as the centerpiece of E.U. geopolitics.

Today the U.S., including virtually all of its mainstream media, adopt reflexive anti-Russian positions. In U.S.-sponsored parlance, Russian President Vladimir Putin now represents a “resurgent threat.” Indeed, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs incredibly informs Congress that Russia represents America’s number one existential threat. Aggressive NATO maneuvers at the very doorstep of Russia help make this a self-fulfilling prophesy.
The political trend that self-identifies as "paleo-conservative" is also critical of NATO policy. Their criticism comes from an isolationist/nationalist viewpoint, although they can make some valid points on occasion. As Rick Perry said in his most memorable pronouncement, even a stopped clock is right once a day.

The American Conservative is generally in the paleo-conservative category, but not all their contributors are. Andrew Bacevich sometimes appears there, for instance. Philip Giraldi of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (and a signer of the article from them cited above) writes on the Russia issue in Russian Harassment and Other Fables The American Conservative 07/13/2016. And he makes this sensible observation:

One thinks of Russia less frequently when U.S. policy failures are examined. In 1991, Russia was a superpower. Today it is a convenience, a straw man fortuitously produced whenever someone in power wants to justify weapons expenditures or the initiation of new military interventions in faraway places. Much of the negative interaction between Washington and Moscow is driven by the consensus among policymakers, the Western media, and the inside-the-beltway crowd that Russia is again—or perhaps is still and always will be—the enemy du jour. But frequently forgotten or ignored is the fact that Moscow, even in its much-reduced state, continues to control the only military resource on the planet that can destroy the United States, suggesting caution should be in order when one goes about goading the bear.
Bonnie Kristian, who identifies as a libertarian, also writes for that same publication, Is the Pentagon Hyping the Russia Threat? 06/20/2016. She picks up on this earlier article by Mark Perry, which focuses on inter-service rivalry in the military as an important factor in how the supposed Russian threat is perceived: The U.S. Army’s War Over Russia Politico 05/12/2016.

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