Two clicks to midnight

Two clicks to midnight

Two clicks to midnight[1]

by Ken Leslie for The Saker Blog

While I was absent from this esteemed blog focusing on other things, an extremely dangerous situation started to develop and I found myself reaching for the keyboard again. If some of my previous writings were a bit alarmist, the tone was motivated by a genuine angst before an unfeeling and unstoppable machine of conquest and destruction the likes of which the world had never seen. And angst it is—anybody with an ounce of common sense can see that the World is hurtling towards some kind of catastrophe. Whether this occurs in a year or five is less relevant. The point is that we are witnessing a process of rapid implosion of the current global system and are not able to see what will replace it. There is no compelling vision of the future—a universal vessel of hope that would transport us across the turbulent waters of fundamental change. This time I am not anxious but resigned. Resignation does not imply learned helplessness—unlike most people around me I am grateful for the ability to be aware of the danger and to articulate what I see as the truth without fear or self-censorship.

Oh, and if the post sounds like a rant, that’s because it is one.

Some academics (ideologues?) such as Steven Pinker have argued that things are much better than they were a 100 years ago—at least in terms of deaths caused by wars and other hard indicators of well-being. Although it pains me to say that Pinker could be correct, this essay is not about “progress” but about the approach of the ultimate regress—the unavoidable and ultimately catastrophic clash between the “West” and the “East”. A couple of months ago I was writing about the danger of NATO hordes closing in on Moscow from the Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics only to realize that unless a miracle happens, in a few months, Russia will be completely surrounded by enemies. The only exceptions—Norway at the extreme North and Azerbaijan at the extreme South are less relevant at the moment but as we have seen recently, these countries too are being subjected to accelerated weaponization—just yesterday, a Russian diplomat was detained in Norway and Azerbaijan is involved in a tense standoff with a (supposed) ally of Russia.

The fracturing and occupation of the post-Soviet space that began in 1991 is almost complete. More or less willingly, the former Warsaw pact and buffer states of Eastern Europe joined the criminal alliance that is NATO and over the last 30 years gradually prepared for the coming war against Russia. When did it all begin? The blueprint for the current mechanism was established by the Nazi Germany which narrowed the distance between itself and the Soviet Union over a few years. Moreover, the political mechanism behind the new Drang (the European Union) was designed in 1944 by Hitler’s economic experts (and put into practice by the founder of the CIA, William Donovan). It should be noted that on his way to the USSR, Hitler had to “pacify” a few countries including Poland, France, Yugoslavia and Greece. This time around, the whole West is united in its enmity towards Russia (economic links notwithstanding) and ALL European countries with the exception of Serbia and Byelorussia have placed themselves willingly in the anti-Russian camp. This is not to say that the majority of people in those countries hate Russia (in many they do) but that the governing cliques and military juntas inside various NATO satrapies are ready to contribute to the “joint effort to bring freedom and democracy” to the “benighted Rus”.

Of these two pariahs, the Serbs, despite their love of Russia are doomed by geography and by the privilege of being the only nation to have a piece of their country (Kosovo and Metohija) taken away, of being bombed by the combined forces of the West for 78 days and having a quarter of a million of their number cruelly expelled from their homeland in Srpska Krajina (currently occupied by Croatia). Exhausted and surrounded by enemies, the Serbs can do little to stop the clock ticking towards the Armageddon. This leaves Byelorussia, the only post-Soviet country that has not flirted with overt Russophobia and whose president showed many signs of real independence of mind vis-à-vis the West. Alexander Lukashenko’s personal bravery is not in question. In the midst of the NATO bombing in 1999, he visited Belgrade and declared himself openly pro-Serb. He signed the accession to the Union State between his country and Russia that same year.[2] He was somebody who wanted to preserve the positive legacy of the Soviet Union and his unwillingness to toe the EU line (pro-German “democracy” at home and anti-Russian posture abroad) earned him the sobriquet of the “last European dictator”.

But then, things started to go wrong, especially after the Nazi takeover of the Ukraine in 2014. Lukashenko might have started to feel isolated and between Western pressure and ossification of his quasi-socialist system (nothing wrong with it in principle), he began to turn against his only genuine ally—Russia. The reasons for this U turn are complex but at this moment also irrelevant. Whatever the cause of the cooling of the relations between Russia and Byelorussia, the consequences are dire and are fast becoming catastrophic. To understand the gravity of the situation, we should be able to see the “Gestalt”—the whole of the current geopolitical situation and its trends. That a global conflict between the West and the East is in the offing there is no doubt. Not only has Russia been targeted since the mid-1990s, but the total war on China and Iran declared by Trump and his Jesuitical agents provocateurs confirms absolutely that we are facing something unprecedented. I need to remind the reader that nothing like this was even remotely possible only 30 years ago. The brazenness and sheer bloodthirst of the new Operation Barbarossa with its global ambitions dwarfs any conquests known to history. What boggles the mind is how successful it has been.

No bromides about how strong Russia is, how well it’s coping (I repeat—coping) with the cruel sanctions by the West will suffice this time. No empty hope that somehow the miserable quisling statelets from the Balkans to the Baltics will experience a Zen-like enlightenment and disobey their Western masters. No false hope that the push towards Russia’s borders can somehow be reversed and no end in sight to the total war waged by the combined “West” (a dire temporary reconciliation of a resurgent Roman Catholicism, neutered Protestantism and newly respectable Zionism). From this point on, there is no going back. The distance between Moscow and the closest point in the Ukraine is 440 km (as crow flies). In the case of Byelorussia, it is 410 km. Although symbolic, this advance would be hugely important for the would-be conquerors as it is for Russia. Starting with Orsha in Byelorussia, the path to Moscow leads through Smolensk, Vyazma and Mozhaysk—towns that experienced so much suffering in WWII because they were on the road to Moscow. But what about the suffering of Byelorussia? It was probably the worst-suffering Soviet republic with an unknown number of people killed or sent of to Germany as slave labour and uncountable number of villages and towns destroyed.

None of this matters in the upside-down Western world view in which black is white and white is black. It is a world in which the close descendants of the worst war criminals in history are now the unofficial rulers of Europe together with their Gallic poodles and Anglo-Saxon frenemies, while the nation which bore the brunt of the cruellest genocide ever is being attacked by those same criminals again—as if two Vernichtungskriege in 30 years weren’t enough.

Many will point out that we are already at war and this would be true. The threat of a nuclear conflict has prompted Western strategists to think of alternative ways of destroying their opponents. We are talking about a broad-spectrum effort which includes political, economic, intelligence, cultural, psychological, religious and military components. By weaving these different strands into a single coordinated strategy, the West is hoping (and succeeding) in getting closer to Moscow every day without igniting a global nuclear war. This time however, it is different. Not only has the West crossed Russia’s geopolitical red lines, it has given notice that it will stop at nothing until Russia is defeated and destroyed. They are skilfully neutralising Russia’s nuclear deterrent by inflicting a thousand cuts from all sides without suffering any harm themselves. Two days ago, a Russian major general was killed by America’s proxies in Syria while delivering food to the people of Idlib. Today, Alexey Navalny is in a coma after an alleged poisoning attempt. The quickening is palpable but no event demonstrates the current danger better than the attempted colour revolution in Byelorussia which is unfolding as we speak.

The genius of the Western destruction-mongers lies not in their ingenuity and creativity but in their understanding of the lower reaches of human nature (in this respect they have no peer). They know how to exploit weaknesses such as greed, envy and ego and especially people’s susceptibility to vices. Moreover, these agents of darkness know that most people are frightened, helpless, largely ignorant and easily swayed and distracted. With this knowledge and an inexhaustible source of money, the West has settled on a winning scheme of “peaceful” conquest which has brought it all the way from the Atlantic coast to the gates of Moscow after 30 years of colour revolutions, coups and open war. I need to stress the importance and success of this “boiling frog” strategy.[3] There is nothing new or surprising in their latest move on Lukashenko—the same combination of underground CIA-funded networks from Poland, Ukraine and the Baltics and incompetent opposition which is transformed into a “plausible democratic alternative” overnight. Nazi-linked symbols, Russophobic vultures such as the buzzard-faced Bernard Henri-Levi circling above the scene, invented ancient roots… It’s all there.

But that is not why I’m writing. Throughout my years as a keen observer of the latest (and last) Drang, I have been fascinated by the patterns of behaviour (on a geopolitical level) which seem to come straight out of a history book to describe the period circa 1940. While the Western juggernaut hurtles through space, the decorum of “partnership” is maintained to the very last moment. Even though a few lonely voices are screaming that the war is inevitable and that Russia must neutralise any further advances by the new Nazis, most people are distracted by COVID, Joe Biden’s dementia and other nonsense. This could be cowardice but could also be wisdom in the face of an inevitable tragedy.

Even the tone of the Russian diplomacy is slowly changing—as it did in the autumn of 1940 following the cooling of German-Soviet relations. The ever measured and moderate Sergei Lavrov (like Vyacheslav Molotov before him) has started describing the international situation in more realistic terms using noticeably harsher language. Nevertheless, unless Russia does something very quickly, it will find itself completely surrounded and unable to defend itself as it did in 1941—hypersonic weapons notwithstanding.

However, the most fascinating aspect of this latest escalation is the fact that another colour revolution could be attempted at all and that Russia is still unable to assert itself in its neighbourhood, if only in order to save itself. “Unable” is perhaps too strong a word. What I mean is that unlike the West which is achieving its geopolitical goals without shedding blood and even without suffering any significant economic damage (no, Russian countersanctions have not crippled Germany or France), the Russians know that any attempts to stop and reverse the Western push will cost them dearly—primarily in terms of further isolation from all Western countries (already, Russian diplomats are being detained and expelled throughout the EU, as if in anticipation of the Byelorussian endgame). [4]The Western planners know that Russia can survive on its own but they also know that it can’t survive for long if deprived of the oxygen of international exchange—the feeling that it belongs to the family of European nations. No Eurasian ideology can ever replace the esteem in which Europe has been held by Russian intellectuals. While I see this pronounced inferiority complex as Russia’s curse, I have to acknowledge it in order to explain president Putin’s attempts to get various EU countries on his side.

It is not so much about economy but about Russia’s eternal yearning to prove itself worthy of “European standards” despite the fact that it was Europe that has been attacking Russia relentlessly and is guilty of crippling it possibly beyond healing. Hope springs eternal. And yet, president Putin must be aware of the dirty double-dealing game the EU is playing (I am giving the villain du jour a miss this time) by leaning on the United States to re-establish its hegemony over the Eurasian, African and Middle-Eastern space while lecturing Putin and Lukashenko on the merits of democracy. There is something deeply hypocritical—not to say Jesuitical—about EUs posture. It is doing everything in its power to isolate and weaken Russia while offering carrots such as Nord stream 2. This is much more pernicious than the open enmity of Trump and his crude supremacism because it offers the deeply unpleasant EU block an opportunity to play a good cop towards Russia at no cost to itself. Compared with the US’s Berserker-like attack on anything and everything, the EU appears “reasonable” and ready for a compromise by comparison—but this is only a dangerous illusion.

While the EU is wholeheartedly supporting the new Maidan (relying on the nazified pockets in the West of Byelorussia and the usual pro-Western suspects), it has the temerity to issue warnings to Putin not to “meddle” and to Lukashenko not to “oppress”. This coming from a president who has been perpetrating mass violence on the peaceful demonstrators in the centre of Paris for over a year. Even worse, Angela Merkel who is initiating a more muscular foreign policy under the guidance of expansionist hawks who are champing at the bit to replace her (Annegret whatever and Ursula I don’t care) dares lecture Russia on interfering in other countries’ affairs—after her illustrious predecessors. the CDU crypto-Nazis Kohl, Kinkel and Genscher destroyed Yugoslavia (only for Russian top partnyor Gerhardt Schröder to finish the job by sending German bombers, spies and military trainers to Serbia in 1999). And yet, all Russia can do is appeal meekly to the EU in the hope that the Ukrainian scenario will not recur. Promises of military help given to Lukashenko are almost worthless in the light of the cumulative EUs response—which would be nothing short of traumatic. The proof of this is the complete support by Germany for the Ukrainian regime notwithstanding its dirty role in overthrowing Yanukovich and undermining the Minsk accords.

So, what am I trying to say? The moment of reckoning has arrived. Despite the heroic battle by President Putin and his comrades to buy time and delay the inevitable, the time for procrastination and appeasement has passed. Russia must choose between a difficult but sustainable future and no future at all. The Western offensive has destroyed all buffers between Russia and its enemies and although this might not mean much militarily, it has a vast symbolic value.[5] If Byelorussia goes, Russia remains geopolitically isolated like never before. Furthermore, its enemies, far from collapsing as many have been predicting, are strong and more united than ever despite various internecine squabbles.[6] This is not to say that Russia is at the death’s door. On the contrary, it is precisely because it is so resilient and forward-looking that its enemies are compelled to ramp up the pressure.

Even if Lukashenko survives the current jeopardy, he will cease to be a relevant political factor in years to come. The weakening of his rule (however clumsy and obsolescent) can mean only one thing—the infiltration of the Byelorussian political life by various pro-Western agents of influence who will find it easy to corrupt and disrupt by dipping into NED’s and USAID’s seemingly inexhaustible coffers. The moment Russia intervenes in the affairs of Minsk in any detectable way, it will be subjected to a barrage of hatred, military threats and punitive measures that have not been seen before. President Putin has an unenviable choice—act sub rosa (like he has been doing in the Donbass) and watch Byelorussia slowly descend into an orgy of anti-Russian madness or intervene openly and risk alienating the EU further, at a time when the fate of the lifeline pipeline crucially depends on EUs goodwill and willingness to antagonise Trump (a perfect good cop, bad cop scenario played by the USA and EU).

All of this is clear to president Putin and his cabinet and I have no doubt that they are burning midnight oil trying to think of the best ways to counter the Western aggression. Yet, history still holds valuable lessons. Stung by what he saw as the betrayal by the British and the French, Joseph Stalin signed a non-aggression treaty with Hitler in order to delay the inevitable. The period of collaboration involved the USSR shipping oil to Germany, oil which would later power German tanks on the road to Stalingrad. Although he did buy enough time to execute some important war preparations, Stalin waited far too long. Months after having received reports of German reconnaissance planes overflying Byelorussia and Ukraine, Stalin refused to believe that Hitler would betray him and ascribed the “anti-German” panic to the agents of Winston Churchill. Yet, this time he was horribly wrong and his error cost the USSR millions of lives and billions in damage. None of the subsequent amazing victories of the Soviet arms would quite wash away the bitter taste of Stalin’s epic blunder of 1941.

The historical lesson I was alluding to is simple yet devilishly hard to implement because it is “two-tailed”. In other words, the possibility of a deadly miscalculation stretches equally in both temporal directions away from the point that represents a timely decision. In other words, given the huge stakes that are involved, making a correct decision is well-nigh impossible. And although the choice can be defended post-hoc, especially if it results in a victory, we can never know if a better decision could not have been made. Like Stalin, Putin is facing the Scylla and Charybdis of time, only I would argue that he is facing an even more difficult decision. For all its weaknesses, the Soviet Union was much larger than its successor state and possessed by far the largest armed forces in the world (to say nothing about the reserves of raw materials and workforce). The factor that probably decided its fate was a relative weakness of the fifth column inside the country and the ability of the security services to neutralise pro-German networks operating inside the country. President Putin has entered the twilight zone in which the smallest mistake can cost him everything. I don’t envy him but pray for his wisdom and Russia’s preparedness.

Of course, circumstances have changed dramatically and today’s warfare bears scant resemblance to the mass movement of army fronts across thousands of kilometres of chernozem and steppe. These days, the crude manoeuvring of armoured columns has been replaced by silent software attacks on a state’s currency system and infrastructure, covert takeovers and sabotage of its assets, denial of open and free intercourse with other countries, replacement of the indigenous values and goals by the foreign dogma and suborning of its institutions to will of the Empire. This new form of warfare requires sophistication and intercontinental co-ordination. Occasionally, we are made aware of the bloopers of the Western intelligence services and their silly attempts to blame Russia for all their ills, but make no mistake! The cumulative effect of their misdeeds has been a complete homogenisation of the European space along the Russophobic lines prescribed by the behind-the-scene bosses. Let me put it this way: If tomorrow the USA and the EU were to declare a war on Russia, do you believe that any of the Slav vassals would openly defy the clarion call? Again, let me give you a couple of examples from history.

When NATO bombed Serbia, not a single country refused to participate in this egregious war crime and the honour of defying the black criminal cabal of Brussels belongs to a few heroic soldiers from Greece, Spain and France. With Iraq it was different in that Germany and France did not feel sufficiently incentivised to participate in what they saw as a neocon-inspired Anglo-Saxon adventure (for which they have been lauded no end). To pre-empt the possibility of future betrayal by its vassals, the US has shifted to a new strategy which seeks to weaken Russia (or China) without having to mobilise military “coalitions of the willing”. The war is being fought in small, almost invisible increments which do not require absolute allegiance to the cause and payment in blood.

The new army consists of spies, computer and finance specialists, thinktank ideologues, NGO “activists”, “security experts” and other assorted ghouls whose victories are not measured in square kilometres of conquered territory or body counts but in fractions of a percent of damage caused to the currency, prestige or freedom of action of the enemy. This leaves a lot of space for “plausible deniability” and the maintenance of the “business as usual” posture while the deadly blows are administered below the waterline. It also bamboozles the ordinary people into thinking that the war could never happen. It can and it will.

Another consequence will be accelerated squeezing and neutralisation of the semi-impotent Serbia and the final Gleichschaltung of the Eastern wing of NATO in preparation for a more muscular phase of the war. This will involve transferring more troops and missiles to the East (but always under the retaliation threshold), closing down of Russia’s embassies and consulates in Europe while pretending to oppose the United States, closing down financing channels and media outlets, making life miserable for Russian citizens and businessmen abroad plus hundreds more nasty tricks. In many ways, the strategy of sustained pressure is more dangerous than open conflict because it sucks out hope from the people of the affected country—the hope that they will be treated as equals by the “cultured” West. A similar tactic has been used against China but China is in a much better economic position to withstand such pressures.

The fall of Lukashenko and “old Byelorussia” can mean only one thing—an intensified total war which Russia will have to face totally isolated. If Russia’s last real ally (yes, that’s what he is) can be removed with such ease, Russia cannot hope to attract and keep long-term allies and neutral partners. This is only partly Russia’s fault. The power aligned against it is unprecedented in history and I am praying that Russia will be able to overcome the forces of evil again.

One piece of good news though—the dissolute Jesuitical warmonger Bannon has been arrested for fraud—finally showing the Chinese the fruits of a “Christian” education.

Notes:

  1. The illustration has been borrowed from the irreplaceable Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin) whose blog most of us visit regularly. The link is: https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/6110832.html 
  2. Generally, I agree with the Saker that Byelorussia should not exist as an independent state. Nor should the Ukraine for that matter, apart from the Uniate appendage of Galicia. 
  3. From Wikipedia: “The boiling frog is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of sinister threats that arise gradually rather than suddenly.” 
  4. A recent episode has infuriated me no end. After helping Italy to stem the spread of COVID in a gesture of friendship and good will, the Russian air force has had to chase an Italian military aeroplane that was approaching the Russian Black Sea coast. Even if this was an attempt by the Americans to poison the relations between the two nations, it is inexcusable and leaves another stain of dishonour on the standard of the much abused battle standard of Italy. 
  5. Actually, it does mean a lot militarily because it allows for all kinds of fast aggressive moves for which Russia cannot find timely countermeasures. In today’s world of nanosecond processing, 10 km is a huge distance. 
  6. If you think that Brexit and Greek-Turkish tensions prove me wrong, remember that modern European history was a never-ending saga of bloody and destructive wars. 

NATO 2020: A COALITION OF THE UNWILLING

 25.07.2020 

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watsont

The problem with alliances is that they ultimately either become victims of their own success, or cannot figure out what to do with themselves once the original rationale disappears. The original Cold War-era NATO was a relatively cohesive entity led by one of the two superpowers, with most of its members being the industrialized democracies of Western Europe, with West Germany being its eastern-most European member, and alliance planning revolving around USSR. But even then there were cracks in the alliance. Italy, for example, had nearly no role to play as it did not border any Warsaw Pact country and did not practice deploying its forces to West Germany to practice its defense against the anticipated Warsaw Pact invasion. And while Greece and Turkey were ostensibly part of that alliance as well, in practice they spent more time clashing with one another than planning for joint action against USSR.

The end of the Cold War made the problem of alliance cohesion far worse, for two reasons. One, it quickly added as many members as possible thus greatly expanding its geographical extent, and two, it lost that single unifying factor in the form of USSR. Today’s NATO is a patchwork of mini-alliances revolving around the United States which is determined to replace the alliance aspect of NATO which assumes that all members have interests that are to be taken into consideration, by patron-client relationships.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the goal of the United States is global domination. This goal is shared by the entire political elite and major portions of the population, though it is nearly never discussed openly or directly. Instead, it is framed in terms of “American Leadership”, “New American Century”, and of course “American Exceptionalism” which is used to justify any policy that violates international law, treaties, or agreements. Given that every country which has not recognized “American Leadership” is described as a “regime”, there is no indication the US elite is interested in anything resembling peaceful coexistence with other sovereign states.

NATO plays a double role in achieving that goal. First, it is a military alliance that projects military power against anyone refusing to accept “American Leadership”. Military contributions by European member states are certainly important, not least by giving America the veneer of international legitimacy, but the presence of US bases on the European continent is far more so. US forces stationed in or staged out of European naval, air, and land bases are indispensable to its efforts to control the MENA region and to promote the US policy of driving a wedge between Europe on the one hand and Russia and China on the other. Secondly, a European country’s membership in NATO means a sacrifice of considerable portion of its sovereignty and independence to the United States. This is a wholly asymmetrical relationship, since US bases its forces in European countries and sells its weapons to them, not the other way around. The penetration of a European country thus achieved allows US intelligence service to develop agent networks and to employ the full range of lobbying techniques which have been particularly visible in the US efforts to press F-35 aircraft into the hands of NATO member states.

America’s self-appointed task is made not easier or harder by the fact that today’s NATO is therefore fragmented along both geographic and national power lines. The geographical divide is plainly easy to see: Norway and Denmark mainly care about the Arctic, Poland and Romania obsess about Russia, Mediterranean countries freak out about what’s happening in North Africa. The wrangling over sending more troops to Mali or to Estonia is the reflection of the differing security concerns of individual members of the far-flung pact. The power divide is less easy to see but more problematic for Washington. V_3 (A2) Of the European powers, only four—Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain—may be considered to be powerful and independent political actors with which the US has to contend on anything like an equal basis. The first three form the core of the European Union, whereas Great Britain opted for Brexit, likely in part because of the looming big power struggle between the US and the EU that has the potential of degenerating into a destructive trade war. It is doubtful that the skirmishes over Huawei and North Stream 2 are anything but the opening salvoes in the confrontation over whether the EU will emerge as a political actor independent of the US, or be reduced to a collection of client states. Unfortunately, America’s task is made easier by the fact of the intra-European divisions mentioned above.

United States is pursuing development of several hypersonic missile systems with the aim of ultimately fielding very large numbers of them in order to be able to launch disarming first strikes against Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals. Since the weapons themselves are relatively short-ranged (though that may change once the US allows New START to lapse), they require basing close to their intended targets. That means having to find countries willing to base them in Europe, where it is liable to provoke a  political debate of the magnitude comparable to that of the original Euromissile controversy of the 1980s. Since Germany is not interested in being reduced to the status of a US client, it has resisted the US on a variety of fronts, including the North Stream 2, the refusal to buy F-35s, and now also the lack of desire to host the new US missiles. Even the German defense spending increases are intended at least as much to counter US influence in Eastern Europe as the supposed Russian threat to NATO. The United States has responded using the usual array of tools: economic sanctions on any and all European entities participating in the project and even using the gas, apparently launching a cyber-attack that US-friendly German intelligence promptly blamed on Russia, and also threatening to move US troops out of Germany and possibly to Poland. There is even discussion and rumors that US nuclear weapons stationed in Germany might be moved to Poland.

The outcome of this so far is a power struggle between two NATO allies, US and Germany, over the political alignment of a third—Poland. While Germany has the power of EU institutions on its side and massive economic gravitational pull, US has cultivated a cadre of friends, possibly intelligence assets, as a result of post-9/11 collaboration in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the realm of intelligence-sharing. This has produced a government more than willing to deploy US troops, missiles, and even nukes on Poland’s territory. The power of US influence is visible in Poland’s weapons procurement: Patriot, Javelin, HIMARS, F-35, and not a single comparable European system in recent years. The US weakness in this confrontation consists of the unwillingness to subsidize Poland economically which, combined with the ruling party’s fiscal irresponsibility, will make it difficult for the country to maintain its anti-German course in the longer term.

While in Eastern Europe US national security state is using Poland as a proxy against Germany, in the Mediterranean it has adopted Turkey as a proxy against France and Italy. After some hemming and hawing, the US hawks dropped the Kurds yet again, with Trump happily taking the blame, in order to piggy-back on Erdogan’s Libya ambitions to curtail French and Italian interests there. To be sure, Turkey retains far more autonomy in the relationship than Poland, which was unable or unwilling to play US and Russia and EU against one another in order to secure a measure of freedom of action. But the US Congress measures to allow the purchase of S-400 weapons from Turkey is an indicator that Turkey’s behavior is once again useful to the US. And even though Turkey was excluded from the F-35 program, its firms continue to make components for various assembly plants. The result has been a number of stand-offs between Turkish warships on one hand and French and Italian on the other off the coasts of Libya. And whereas France and Italy are backing the Marshal Haftar’s LNA, Turkey’s preferred proxy is the GNA, leading to a veritable “anti-Turkey” alliance being formed that includes Turkey’s old time NATO adversary Greece. While the US is officially aloof of the entire situation, in practice controlling Libya’s oil is part of the Washington strategy of “energy dominance” every bit as the North Stream 2 sanctions are.

The remarkable part of these two sets of conflicts among NATO powers is that in both cases Russia has sided with Germany and France against the US in both cases. It is Russia’s policies that are more beneficial to French and German interests than America’s, since Russia is not actually seeking to monopolize energy supplies to Europe in the way that the US clearly and openly is.

So far the US strategy consisted of steadily ratcheting up pressure through sanctions and proxies and occasional intelligence-generated anti-Russia provocations (sometimes helpfully delivered by British agencies), trying to find that happy middle of policies that actually force Germany, France, and Italy to change their policies and which do not force a permanent breach in the trans-Atlantic relationship. But the cracks in the relationship are clearly visible and they are not attributable to Trump’s erratic and brusque manner. It is the US Congress which passed the successive rounds of anti-North Stream 2 sanctions, with strong partisan majorities. It means the assertion of US control over European major powers is part of the US agenda. Since that agenda is motivated by a US political and economic crisis of a magnitude not seen since the 1930s, there is little likelihood Biden’s presidency would represent a radical departure from the current trend.

Of course, for Germany, France, and Italy to successfully resist US encroachment they would first need to transform the EU into something closer than a federation. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis already providing considerable impetus for such a transformation, America’s insatiable appetites might provide the rest.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?

Source

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?

NATO is a military and political alliance, a security community that unites the largest number of States on both sides of the North Atlantic. During its existence, NATO has expanded 2.5 times. It accounts for 70% of global military spending. It is rightfully considered the most powerful military association of States in the entire history of mankind in terms of combined armed power and political influence. The fact that this year NATO turned 70 years old, which is more than the independent existence of some of its member States, proves an incredible success of this project. However, while the Alliance has successfully resisted external enemies in its history, today it is experiencing significant internal divisions that threaten its existence more than ever.

The founding date of NATO is April 4, 1949, the day 12 countries signed the Washington Treaty. NATO became a “transatlantic forum” for allied countries to consult on issues that affect the vital interests of participating countries. The organization’s primary goal was to deter any form of aggression against the territory of any member state, as well as to protect against these threats. The principle of collective defense, enshrined in article 5 of the Washington Treaty, implies that if one NATO member state is the victim of an armed attack, all other member States of the Alliance will consider this act of violence an armed attack on all NATO countries and will take actions that the organization deems necessary. At the end of the 20th century, the real threat to the West was the Soviet Union.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the question arose about the existence of NATO, as an Alliance created to protect against the Soviet threat. The disappearance of the external threat has led to a process of transformation that has been going on for 30 years. Each stage of transformation is directly related to the adaptation of the Alliance to certain changes taking place in the international arena and affecting the stability of the security system in the Euro-Atlantic and the world as a whole. In addition to the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the key events that affected the development of the Alliance was the terrorist attack of 11.09.2001, which actually allowed the Alliance to be preserved, since then there was a common external threat to the member countries.

Traditionally, NATO’s transformations are considered in the following three areas: geographical changes, political transformations, and processes in the military-technical sphere.

Important political transformations are manifested in adapting to changes in the international arena, which are represented primarily by the disappearance of block opposition. The Alliance remains committed to the principle of collective defense, as set out in article 5 of the Washington Treaty. The main command structures also remain the same. The main transformations are expressed in the form of declarations of new NATO functions: maintaining peace and stability not only on the territory of the member States, but also outside the area of responsibility of the Alliance. The operations carried out in these territories are aimed at maintaining local and regional stability, eliminating ethnic and religious conflicts, maintaining respect for human rights and various national minorities, and, most importantly, fighting international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The “new NATO” is being transformed from a regional organization into a guarantor of global stability, taking responsibility for stability in regions outside its own territories and in situations not covered by article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Assuming global responsibility, NATO is forced to maintain the necessary level of military power, participate in collective planning for the organization of nuclear forces and their deployment on its own territories. New threats encourage NATO to expand geographically.

The expansion of NATO, which implies the inclusion of former members of the Warsaw Pact And the full-scale advance of military infrastructure to the East, represents a change in geography.

Changes in the military-technical sphere imply a General reduction of the Alliance’s collective military forces, their relocation, etc. The main form of transformation of the armed forces was the transition from ” heavy ” military associations to more flexible and maneuverable groups in order to increase their effectiveness in the fight against new threats. The beginning of the economic crisis in autumn 2008 revealed the urgent need for reforms. Member States were forced to reduce their military budgets, which meant abandoning programs involving the development and purchase of precision weapons. In 2010 the plan of the NATO Secretary-General A. Rasmussen’s plan to optimize the budget, and in 2012, the Chicago summit adopted the “smart defense package”, which implies a parallel reduction of funds and increased efficiency.

However, despite all the reforms carried out within the Alliance, today the new missions do not have the same clarity as during the cold war. Options for the purpose of NATO’s existence after the collapse of the USSR vary: the fight against terrorism, assistance in the spread of democracy, nation-building, “world police”, the fight against “soft threats”, the fight against a resurgent Russia. But the main problem of the Organization is that none of the options is universal for all member countries. None of the considered “enemies” unites NATO.

After various stages of transformation, NATO turned out that the condition for its perfect functioning was precisely the situation of structured confrontation. The current unstructured confrontation, which implies that all member countries have different primary threats, makes it meaningless to have a cumbersome and generally rather inert organization.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
Illustrative Image

In 2014, NATO had another opportunity to create a common external enemy, the role of which was approached by Russia. The summit held in Wales in 2014 radically changed the agenda of the entire Alliance. The main topic of discussion was the Ukrainian crisis, which led to the conclusion about the need to contain Russia. The final Declaration of the summit notes that ” Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine have fundamentally called into question the vision of a whole, free and peaceful Europe”. “The illegal self-proclaimed annexation of Crimea and Russia’s aggressive actions in other regions of Ukraine” were highlighted as special threats among the spread of violence and extremist groups in North Africa and the Middle East.

The appearance of a ” dangerous external enemy ” entailed not only political transformations. There have also been reforms in the military sphere of NATO. Among the new security challenges were “hybrid wars”, that is, military actions involving an expanded range of military and civilian measures of an open or hidden nature. The adopted Action Plan, which includes the concept of “hybrid war”, was primarily aimed at countering the tactics of warfare used by Russia. Thus, a number of measures included in the Declaration were directed against Russia.

NATO was forced to return to the role of a guarantor against severe security threats, which significantly increased costs for the organization. At the 2016 NATO Warsaw summit, it was decided to further deploy 4 battalion tactical groups to existing military bases in Poland and the Baltic States. In addition, more than 550 tanks and an armored unit of the United States have been transferred to the region. These units are deployed on a rotational basis, which does not contradict the NATO-Russia Founding act of 1997. In the Declaration of the 2018 Brussels NATO summit it is recorded that the “enhanced presence in the forward area” of tactical groups includes a total of 4,500 military personnel, which is approximately equal to one brigade.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP

At the same time, it is clear that Russia does not pose a real threat to NATO. Real foreign policy practice proves that Russia will not threaten Western countries in the next 50 years. The only point of instability today is the Ukrainian conflict, which had no preconditions until 2014, and was in turn artificially created by the American establishment in partnership with Brussels. Russia, for its part, even in this conflict does not seek to expand its influence, and also observes the Minsk agreements that are unfavorable to It.

“The main reason why the United States has assumed the role of arbiter of the fate of Ukraine and its citizens is the allegedly increasing threat from Russia not only to Kiev, but also to Europe and the rest of the world. And this is despite the fact that it was with the help of the United States that mass protests were organized and the elected government of Ukraine was overthrown in 2013-2014, which led to the war that has now unfolded in the heart of Eastern Europe,” writes geopolitical columnist Tony Kartaluchi in the new Eastern Outlook.

In 2016, the RAND organization conducted a study that showed that in the event of a Russian invasion of the Baltic States, Russian troops can be on the approaches to the capitals of Estonia and Latvia within sixty hours. The study showed that NATO forces are not sufficient to repel the Russian attack. In an interview, NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said that the main goal of deploying additional forces in Eastern Europe and Poland is to demonstrate the unity of the Alliance, and to maintain its members ‘ commitment to article 5 of the Washington Treaty. Thus, NATO adheres to the policy of declarative deterrence of Russia, in fact, its forces are not enough to respond to a potential attack from Russia. The NATO administration is well aware that the likelihood of a military conflict with Russia is minimal, but it continues to maintain the image of Russia as an aggressor in order to unite the member countries.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, leave at the end of a joint press conference in Warsaw, Poland, in June 2017. (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Moreover, maintaining the image of a dangerous enemy gives the United States the opportunity to promote its own interests in Europe and manipulate its “partners”.

On June 25, Donald Trump finally confirmed that part of the American military contingent in Germany would be transferred to Poland. In the end, the American contingent in Germany will be reduced from 52 thousand people to 25 thousand. According to official data, in Germany there are about 35 thousand US military personnel, 10 thousand civil servants of the Pentagon and about 2 thousand contract workers. Some of the US military will return to America, some will go to Poland to strengthen the deterrence of the “Russian threat”. In addition, according to media reports, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Donald Trump discussed the possibility of transferring 30 f-16 fighters.

“They [Germany] spend billions of dollars to buy Russian energy resources, and then we are supposed to protect them from Russia. It doesn’t work that way. I think this is very bad, ” said Donald trump, accusing Berlin of supporting the Nord Stream 2 project.

When asked whether the US administration is trying to send a signal to Russia, Donald Trump stressed that Moscow was receiving a “very clear signal”, but Washington still expected to normalize their relations. This only underscores the fact that the US is taking advantage of the perceived Russian threat to NATO.

The American leader, by undermining cooperation between Moscow and Berlin in the energy sphere, not only prevents Russia, as one of their enemies in the international arena, from developing a profitable project. The US is also interested in weakening the leading European industries, primarily Germany. The United States does not tolerate strong enemies, but it also does not accept strong allies. It is in the interests of the Americans to prevent the redevelopment of Europe as a self-sufficient and independent center of power in the international arena.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
Defense spendings in relation to GDP of NATO member countries

Therefore, Donald Trump is strongly calling on Germany to reimburse the billions of dollars it owes the White House. Trump is dissatisfied with the fact that Berlin does not comply with the promise made by all NATO members to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP. At the same time, Germany has already followed this path, increasing funding to 1.38%. In its turn, the US spends 3.4% of the state budget on the needs of the Alliance.

The problem of NATO funding is very often the main criticism of Berlin. However, in addition to this issue, new problems are emerging in US-German relations.

Washington is very dissatisfied with Berlin’s interaction with Beijing. The White House, which has strengthened the anti-Chinese vector of its policy, blaming the PRC for the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and accusing the Chinese side of “controlling” the World Health Organization (WHO), did not receive sufficient support in Europe, and Germany criticized.

Moreover, Berlin does not support Washington’s sanctions policy on Chinese Hong Kong, which Beijing allegedly takes away its independence from.

The US is particularly dissatisfied with the EU’s desire for a major investment agreement with China. Germany is the main ideologue of this process and seeks to close the deal during its six-month presidency of the EU Council.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
“One Belt, One Road” Initiative

China today, of course, is the main competitor of the United States in the struggle for world hegemony. China also raises considerable concerns among European countries, which is primarily due to economic expansion and the successful development of the large-scale Chinese initiative “One belt, one road”. European leaders are also competing with China for resources in third world countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. In addition, there are ideological differences between the two world regions. However, China does not currently pose a military threat to Europe, which does not allow the use of NATO forces against it.

While Western countries see Russia and China as the main threats, strategically they are primarily concerned about Iran and North Korea. These countries are also a threat primarily to the United States, but their European partners are not ready to conduct active military actions against them at the moment.

The only real dangerous factor that unites almost all NATO member countries remains international terrorism, in the fight against which Western countries act as a united front.70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?

The current military and political course of the European Union is determined by the clear desire of its leadership to transform the military and political organization into one of the world’s leading centers of power. The aggravation of political and economic differences with the United States is the main incentive for the implementation of this goal. Thus, the EU’s focus on increasing independence in crisis management in the area of common European interests has had a decisive influence on the development of the common security and defense policy. In order to reduce dependence on the United States and NATO for conducting operations and missions within the framework of “force projection”, the leadership of the Association has stepped up activities to develop its own military component.

France and Germany are the main engines of this process, and are promoting the initiative to create the so-called European Defense Union. However, despite active efforts to expand military and military-technical cooperation within the EU, the declared goals of creating a “European army” with collective defense functions that duplicate the status and activities of NATO seem difficult to achieve in the foreseeable future. This situation is due to the reluctance of the majority of EU member States to transfer control over their armed forces to the supranational level. Moreover, the US opposition to the process of forming the European Defense Union and the limited resources available due to the absorption by NATO structures of the major part of the defense potential of European countries, most of which are simultaneously involved in two organizations, do not allow the full implementation of EU political decisions on military construction. In this regard, it is only possible to talk about giving a new impetus to military cooperation in order to increase the collective capacity to protect the territory and citizens of the States of the region.

Given the lack of forces and resources for conducting operations and missions, Brussels is interested in the practice of involving military formations of third countries in its anti-crisis actions on the basis of bilateral framework agreements. Currently, such agreements have been reached with Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and a number of other States.

Currently, the European Union conducts 16 military and mixed operations and missions in various regions of the world, involving about 4,500 people. The greatest attention is paid to the “zones of instability” in North and Central Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and the post-Soviet space.

70 Years Of NATO: Is It A High Time To Retire?
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg

Thus, NATO today has to do everything possible to support the unity and coherence of actions of all its member countries, which are more than ever under threat. The main European leaders are no longer ready to support US policy and continue to sacrifice their own national interests. If in the case of Germany, this is manifested primarily in support of the Nord stream 2 project, despite the threats of the United States. France today supports its own interests in Libya, which contradict the interests of other countries-members of the Alliance: Turkey and Italy. Certainly, Turkey and Italy have different positions and aspirations in Libya. Italy was previously a traditional ally of France and does not actively intervene in the military conflict. However, now, given the current predominance of Turkey in Libya, Italy is trying to sit on two chairs. On the one hand, Italy, while supporting Tripoli, does not actively help them. On the other hand, in political terms, it clearly stands on the side of Tripoli and Turkey, thereby trying to ensure its share of participation in the next division of Libyan natural resources after the supposed victory of the Turkish-Tripolitan Alliance.

Summing up, today the imaginary Russian threat no longer allows US to unite the Alliance members, but only serves as a method of implementing US interests. The White House, which has always played a leading role in NATO and retains it thanks to the largest percentage of investment in the Alliance, allows itself to more openly abuse its leading position and promote its own national interests and the interests of its elites through the North Atlantic Alliance to the detriment of the interests of partner countries. Thus, article 4 of the Washington Treaty, which implies decision-making by consensus and is the basis of NATO itself, is of less and less importance in practice. The United States cannot renounce its membership in NATO and is interested in preserving it, because it is the Western Alliance that allows the US to give at least a small share of legitimacy to its military actions. A kind of neo-colonial policy, that the United States is used to employ in relation to European countries, and the current significant shift in the political paradigm within the US itself do not allow us to hope that the American leadership will be able to strengthen its position in Europe in the coming years.

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