Russia’s Red Lines: How Far Will NATO Go?
Hapless NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg flew into Tbilisi last week, to wave his hands about like some kind of puppet while coming out with the same old pre-programmed message to the waiting Georgian public: “I cannot give the exact date of NATO membership as it depends on your progress”.
They always say the same old bullshit… just phrased differently. NATO’s new buzzword for prospective members is “instruments”, and you could be forgiven for thinking that NATO’s internal strategy meetings have been spent seeking inspiration in old movies, such as Woody Allen’s wonderfully embarrassing comedy of social ineptitude “Play it again, Sam”.
Perhaps the Georgian public would get more out of this process if they began greeting such celebrities at the airport with a load of banners saying “WHEN, THEN?”. But “When” will certainly not be during Stoltenberg’s tenure. Perhaps the next carefully selected Scandinavian spokespuppet for American foreign policy will have something positive to say, or perhaps not.
The timing of these remarks of Georgia’s membership coincides with events in Turkey which have led that country to abandon some of the responsibilities of being a full NATO member. Many have questioned in recent weeks what would happen if Turkey left NATO altogether, and whether or not the threat of Turkey leaving is a redline for the US, as it would mean that NATO would cease to exist as a functional entity, given the country’s strategic location and the size of the Turkish army.
For now this is beside the point, as Turkey is still key to many things and President Erdogan is exploiting the current situation for his immediate gain. But he is not playing this game in isolation – NATO is now threatened from many directions, with Erdogan playing his newfound regional friends for puppets himself. NATO wouldn’t be a defence organisation if it didn’t fight back, and Stoltenberg’s latest blathering in Tbilisi is but the first stage in that process.
Well you should know
NATO’s current mission is simply to try to survive until it rediscovers an actual purpose in the post-Cold War world. Increasingly however the only way it can justify its existence is to push Russia to the edge of its own redlines and thus leave us all on the verge of WW3. Georgia may simply be being used as the latest card, given its unresolved conflicts with Russia, known history of compliance with criminal US schemes and location right next to Turkey.
Stoltenberg’s latest way of saying “no” was this: “We have approved additional measures to make our strong cooperation mechanisms much stronger. As an aspirant country, Georgia has all necessary instruments to prepare for NATO membership. NATO remains devoted to providing Georgia with assistance on the path.” The instrument that comes to mind is a drum: it makes lots of noise but is empty inside.
“I cannot give the exact dates, but recognise the progress that Georgia has made and assess the close relationship between NATO and Georgia at the highest level,” Stoltenberg said at a joint press conference with Georgian PM Kvirkashvili. “At the Warsaw conference we decided to confirm the Bucharest summit decision that Georgia will become a NATO member. But for this Georgia should meet standards and membership requirements. Therefore we are working with Georgia in terms of conducting reforms,” he said.
What are these reforms which are now so urgent? “We have already seen it – I mean serious progress and reforms in terms of elections and press freedom, as well as in the defence sector.” These are reforms Georgians have been crying out for for years, which have not taken place because the US and NATO have refused to make the previous largesse dependent on their introduction.
Until now the Western powers have taken the racist line that Georgians are somehow less capable of introducing these things than other people, so what they have had to put up with is all they are capable of. Now the same “incapacity” is being used against them by those who created the existing misconduct.
It is high time that Georgia told NATO to put up or shut up, as the treaty organisation is starting to embarrass itself now. I am surprised that the Russian MSM and MFA hasn’t picked up more on this, as waiting for the West to compromise itself is exactly what Russian foreign policy is about, and gives Sergei Lavrov the easiest job in the world, which is why he has stayed in post for so long.
Tomorrow lasts forever
Much can be construed from how the alliance is actually goading tiny Georgia into accepting NATO’s terms for everything, when it needs such an incompetent country like a hole in the head. The presumption of eventual membership NATO has graciously given doesn’t actually mean anything.
Huge international industries are devoted to achieving things which are going to happen one day: a world free of hunger, or disease, or poverty, or inequality. But as the UN has demonstrated, if these industries came anywhere achieving these goals they would ensure they never could, simply to preserve themselves and their gravy train.
NATO has no intention whatsoever of the Georgia it knows ever becoming a member. Georgians like to tell themselves otherwise by citing the example of the Baltic States, which gained NATO membership almost immediately after achieving independence. Why not us too, after all this time?, they ask.
The difference is that in 1993 NATO was afraid that if it didn’t take that opportunity to control these countries Russia would recover and they would never get it again. NATO has no such fear about Georgia, all of whose politicians owe their positions to doing dirty deals with the US. Georgia has done itself out of membership by giving away the little leverage it had, by being too close to the West rather than too far away.
Georgia has consistently supported US actions in Ukraine because it has been told for several years that Ukraine and Georgia are seen as a package, and will be accepted into NATO together. As the US-engineered regime change there has not brought either country closer to membership there is now talk in Georgia about allowing NATO to build bases there, hoping this will be a preliminary step.
However, with Erdogan playing games with NATO the alliance’s main goal is to try and show Turkey that it can be replaced, and its continued membership is no longer needed for greater good of the organisation. Turkey would take no notice if bases were built in unstable Ukraine. NATO bases in Georgia may threaten Turkish control of various Georgian ports, guaranteed by the Treaty of Kars in 1922, but is nothing to do with offering Georgia NATO membership.
The instrument with the “human” face
Jens Stoltenberg is one of a succession of Scandinavians appointed to senior roles in NATO and other Western organisations. The attraction of Scandinavians is that they are boring – they can be relied upon not to say anything out of turn because they never say anything anyone wants to listen to. Most of Scandinavia is also nominally neutral, enabling NATO to say that “whoever is not against us is for us, due to the logic of our cause”.
But NATO is now in a position where it is trying to keep three balls in the air at once: threatening Russia, preventing Georgia and Ukraine (and other aspirant countries) actually joining NATO and yet offering them just the right concessions to get them to do what NATO wants. Any step it takes has to further each one of these sometimes contradictory goals. We are rapidly approaching the point where Georgia and Ukraine won’t be bought off with simple promises, and Russia won’t care if they are.
Georgia and Ukraine both have more dealings with NATO than many of its actual members. Indeed, Georgia prides itself on sending more troops per capita to NATO operations than any other country. Therefore the obvious next step for these countries is to not only contribute to NATO but to be allowed to command and direct NATO troops – and play a part in NATO’s internal operations.
NATO is one of the dumping grounds where former Western Prime Ministers and Presidents go to try and convince themselves they still matter. Their electors or party colleagues may not want them anymore, but the international community still does, so they can ignore this minor difficulty and earn a good salary in the process. This is the reason why the UN thinks it is perfectly reasonable to employ Tony Blair as a “peace envoy” after his role in the Iraq War.
There is one former political leader with deep connections to both Georgia and Ukraine who now has no real job and is highly offensive to Russia. If he were involved with NATO, as a spokesperson like Stoltenberg, Russia would be bound by its own previous statements to see his appointment as a perceived threat, without NATO having to use any actual weapons. His appointment would also be a very effective carrot for Georgia and Ukraine, who would feel they had what amounted to member recognition, even if the actual governments of these countries were still excluded.
So is Mikheil Saakashvili being lined up for a role in NATO? I have suggested previously that he will end up dead when he has outlived his intelligence usefulness, and we must be getting near that point. Giving him a NATO job and then bumping him off in Tbilisi, and using this to keep Georgia out of membership, would kill several birds with one stone, as it were, and Russia will be left wondering who NATO will turn to next, if they are prepared to give Mischa a place at the table.
Far-fetched? Saakashvili was put in Georgia, and then removed, in exactly the same way by exactly the same people for exactly the same reasons. As NATO is talking about using “instruments” to get its own way, who better?
NATO is just another colonialist enterprise being used to force colonialism and dependency on sovereign governments. If you are not with them they will try to squash you and put leadership in your place that can best serve their interests as middle men/subjects, so to better manipulate the in-country people (natives) out of their money and resources for the colonialists.
They put in middle managers like Porky in Ukraine that report to them and manage/manipulate the people to give them everything/enable them to steal it all. They pay the middle managers and others who follow them well while they take from the people.
As translated, as local Georgian media describes Stoltenberg’s remarks,
“Today there is more NATO in Georgia, more than ever has been and more Georgia into NATO. But, we need much more of it on the road and one day Georgia will be ready to join the Alliance.”
Why does Georgia need to join NATO? What are they hoping to gain? Is it worth the effort to become yet another Ukraine? How much are Georgians prepared to give up?
Sovereignty is the key. Georgians fought so hard for independence, and now want to trade that for membership in an organization that has outlived its usefulness. It does not need to be a member as it will only create more problems for itself and the region.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.