Or Convert It
30 Arguments & 100s of Inspirations
August 18, 2022
© TFF 2022
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This Catalogue contains 30 arguments for the abolition of NATO. Each argument is based on rational peace research analysis, in contrast to the fact-resistant propaganda that NATO and mainstream politics and media promote about the ’defensive’ peace alliance.
The Catalogue is based on the democratic assumption that diverse perceptions and concepts can exist – for instance, about what peace is – and that this hugely influential Western organisation is not sacrosanct and shall, therefore, not be exempt from critical analysis.
While set up in 1949, NATO passed its ”best before” date long ago. The alliance of 30 members and 40 partners has not been able to create the peace that is its overarching goal according to its founding treaty. Indeed, NATO violates that treaty on a daily basis.
Instead, with its expansion over the last 30 years, it has contributed to making the world a less peaceful place. The Ukraine tragedy – for which both NATO and Russia are responsible – speaks volumes about that sorry state of affairs in Europe but also beyond it.
Europe is now in the Second Cold War thanks to all major parties’ adherence to the primacy of weapons in deterrence mode instead of common security thinking and intelligent conflict-resolution as a road to peace. One by one, all the opportunities for a new European peace structure that arose when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact dissolved have been squandered.
Most people focus on the violence – the war – in Ukraine. Undoubtedly, Russia is responsible for that and for violating international law. But what we should focus much more on is the underlying conflict. Violence always manifests itself and grows out of conflicts, conflicts that have been ignored, mismanaged, escalated, or provoked. NATO and its three-decades-long expansion, its presence in Ukraine since 1991 and its insistence – no matter the warning and the objective risks – to get Ukraine into NATO is the underlying conflict. NATO must take responsibility for that.
Because, as the Catalogue also argues, there were alternatives. But they were deliberately ignored.
Focus on conflict analysis and conflict understanding – and not on the violence – is the key to peace: What is the issue or problem that stands between the parties – not who is evil or guilty and should be punished?
The focus on violence and who is to blame is psychologically understandable – but for true, professional peace-makers, it is a waste of time and usually contributes to justifying more violence.
When the violence has died down, and a sustainable solution is found, legal processes may deal with guilt and crimes, but so may also new arrangements, truth commissions, forgiveness and reconciliation. These methods are all within our human capacity but – tragically – almost never found in security politics. NATO promotes none of them.
The fact is that we know more about the causes of violence and war than about the causes of peace. But that must not serve as an excuse for continuing the wrong conflict- and violence-promoting policies.
That said, there is enough research on the causes of violence reduction and peace for us to say that they are not what NATO promotes.
Its fundamental principles of deterrence, (forward) defence and its reliance on first-use of nuclear weapons will never lead to real peace, but they have brought us closer to war, including nuclear war.
NATO’s intellectual foundation concerning security and peace appears in inverse proportion to its military and political power.
Much of this report can be seen as a critical discussion of the alliance’s way of thinking – of its security Groupthink. It questions, even debunks, NATO’s conceptual and theoretical underpinnings and shows how out of date, contradictory and peace-preventing they are.
NATO defends them on its homepage in its conspicuously self-righteous propaganda piece called ”Setting the Record Straight” from July 2022. Part of it is fake, part of it convenient omissions – a cover-up for issues about NATO policies that ought now to be pushed up to the top of the international discourse about humanity’s future.
In addition, NATO employs a cover-up disinformation trick typical of our times. Instead of meeting criticism with an open mind and in a sound democratic spirit, it says that ”Since Russia began its aggressive actions against Ukraine, Russian officials have accused NATO of a series of threats and hostile actions.” Not so! Many of the points have been raised for years by intellectuals, diplomats, alternative media and civil society organisations, including TFF.
But tie them to Russia and – hocus pocus – critiques of the alliance are all implicitly transformed into Putin Verstehers, Putin lovers or “pro-Russian.”
That in itself indicates NATO’s intellectual level. A few billion people around the world do not subscribe to NATO’s so-called peace goal or the way it seeks to go about it. The present author, a professional peace and conflict researcher with 40+ years of experience in theory and on-the-ground work, is one of them.
It is perfectly possible to be critical of NATO’s activities without being categorised as guilty by fake association with its adversaries.
If not, NATO seems to have become a sort of secularised religion in a time when things are otherwise falling apart. Sacrosanct – for which reason all criticism equals ungodliness. This Catalogue discusses that interpretation too, and NATO Believers may see that as ’ungodly.’
Instead of conducting serious research and using scenario techniques to decide its policies, NATO merely makes postulates – about others, about its policies and how others ought to interpret it – favourably. NATO doesn’t seek to convince by rational analyses and arguments. NATO issues strategies, planning papers and summit minutes that are filled with postulates and serve as NATO scriptures.
Western mainstream media reports it all. Not a critical thought to be seen anywhere. They are members of the congregation.
For people who are not already NATO Believers, members of that congregation, NATO’s threat postulates appear to serve only one purpose, namely to support the imperial full-spectrum global dominance of the US and some alliance members and partners and legitimise NATO’s further armament, i.e. the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex (MIMAC).
The overall goal for NATO has not been the security and peace of Ukraine, Russia and NATO Europe. It’s been to prevent Russia from being Ukraine’s partner and feel secure and to possess Ukraine fully. No compromise, no creative thinking about Ukraine as a cooperative project, no respect for public opinion in Ukraine. No idea about common security for all.
If you are not a NATO Believer, you’ll find ample evidence that Russia’s legitimate concerns have been ignored for about 30 years.
Promises indeed given to Russia in 1989-90 have been broken, even after Gorbachev and the Soviet Union had accepted that East and West Germany not only would be unified but also became a full member of NATO with no discussion of the nuclear weapons in Europe. It all happened on US and NATO’s premises while giving money to Russia – then on its knees – to force it to accept the fait accompli.
Furthermore – and what few know about – NATO has turned down all Soviet/Russian requests to become a member.
NATO’s argument that it respects all countries’ fundamental right to choose its own path, also when it comes to security arrangements, is simply fake. NATO woos prospective members in many ways, from an early moment (Ukraine since 1991), discussions about alternatives to NATO membership are non-existent.
At no point between 1991 and the end of 2021 was there any majority for NATO membership among the Ukrainian people, only among an elite, President Poroshenko’s in particular. When NATO decided in 2008 to make Ukraine a member, half of the Ukrainians were opposed to Ukraine’s membership in NATO, while fewer than one-fourth of Ukrainian people supported the Euro-Atlantic integration. So, whose right to freely choose? They – like all other new NATO members – were never granted a referendum.
The table of content that follows offers the 30 arguments categorised in seven themes – see the headlines A to G.
By way of ending this summary, let’s point out that NATO’s resource consumption – 12 times larger than Russia’s and increasing further – is out of place in a world struggling with saving humanity in record time before it is too late. The 2% of GDP goal for NATO’s future-secured militarism is intellectual bonkers.
NATO postulates who and what threatens it. It doesn’t explore opportunities for compromise or cooperation and does explain or argue. It exaggerates these threats to achieve even more superiority in what are fundamentally a-symmetric conflicts.
NATO is called ’defensive’ everywhere. It reveals that nobody knows the difference between offensiveness and defensiveness, a basic distinction in security discourses. It is pure public relations propagated by media people who are better at taking orders than reading books.
One thing is that NATO cannot and will not respect the new Nuclear Ban Treaty. Another is that its argument is that as long as nuclear weapons exist, it will remain a nuclear alliance. Think through the logic of that once more!
It’s easy to criticise. However, a doctor should move through diagnosis and prognosis and get to treatment – and not just criticise the patient for the disease. So Arguments 23-25 illustrate what could have been done instead to deal with Ukraine so that both Ukraine, Russia and NATO could have lived much more happily – and peacefully – than they do now.
NATO did have alternatives and could have done things differently. If securing peace had been the goal.
The final theme about NATO’s future draws up the gathering dark clouds, the alliance’s past and future cracks, and how ill-prepared it is for the world order change that takes place in the eyes of everybody else but the NATO Believers. It also argues that the Western knee-jerk, emotionalist and hateful and disproportionate reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will prove extremely counterproductive for these countries themselves and for NATO as well as accelerate the relative decline of the West.
1. The timing of this document – Ukraine
2. NATO as secularised religion defying rational analysis
3. NATO: An innocent homeowner or party to a conflict?
4. Since we look mostly at NATO, is Russia innocent?
5. Time for a reality check
6. A personal note – peace and conflict research exists to reduce violence
7. The structure of this Catalogue
A) NATO countries’ resource use, killings and threat perceptions
1. NATO’s military spending is out of proportion: Look at the opportunity cost
2. The 100% bizarre 2% goal
3. NATO has exaggerated the threat to legitimate its increasing superiority
4. NATO’s threat assessment
B) NATO’s intellectual underpinnings: Theories and concepts
5. The philosophy and doctrine of deterrence
6. Defensive – not offensive?
7. From balance of power to a-symmetry and dominance
8. The concept of peace: NATO’s outdated security thinking devoid of peace
C) NATO has failed to make peace
9. NATO violates its Treaty daily
10. NATO lost its raison d’etre 30 years ago
11. If NATO has not created peace to this day, it won’t tomorrow
12. NATO will not live without nuclear weapons
13. Russia has repeatedly wanted to become a NATO member: But No!
D) NATO’s expansion as raison d’etre
14. The promises given to Gorbachev – and broken
15. All the diplomatic and intellectual expert warnings ignored
16. Taking advantage of the dissolution of the enemy
17. Other expansions including the Ballistic Missile Defence, BMD
18. NATO goes global: the US Cold War against China
E) Ukraine: NATO’s one-too-many expansions blunder
19. Russian leaders’ protests were ignored
20. Russia’s proposals for security structure change and security guarantees – ignored
21. NATO’s Open Door and sovereign states’ right to choose their own path: Incremental wooing and opinion polls tell a very different story
21.1 How to woo Ukraine into membership
21.2 The Ukrainians did not prefer NATO membership
22. Ukraine is not strategically important for NATO and falls outside NATO’s treaty
F) NATO’s lack of creative thinking and peace competence
23. Think peace: A series of peace ideas and future structures (2014)
24. Stop preventing peace: 12 ideas to make peace (2015)
25. How to analyse conflicts: More peace proposals (2022)
G) NATO’s future and the world’s
26. NATO as it sees itself
27. The West’s knee-jerk reaction to the Russian invasion: The new Iron Curtain
28. NATO’s past and future cracks
29. Peace delusional and in denial
30. Militarism as secularised religion in times of decline
Recommended readings and videos:
100s of Inspirations
1. The timing of this document – Ukraine
The NATO-Russia conflict being played out on Ukraine’s territory and NATO’s 2022 Madrid Summit make it exceptionally relevant to produce and promote substantial critical analysis of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, NATO, and its peace- and war-making results since its establishment in 1949.
Western decision-makers and mainstream media seem to define their task as promoting NATO. As a result, they seldom, if ever, discuss NATO as such, its strong and weak sides. As a result, over the last few decades, it has become markedly more difficult to find critical news and features about NATO – the organisation as well as its policies, doctrines or actual activity.
Several of its core member states have conducted offensive operations around the world for decades. Nevertheless, the word “defensive” is glued to the word “NATO” by journalists and politicians who seem not to have any definition of defensiveness and offensiveness. One must wonder how that particular adjective’s systematic use as public relation has come about.
It’s taken for granted that NATO has contributed to peace. However, when the word ‘peace’ is used, it mostly means that there is no manifest war, i.e. the most superficial and highly insufficient definition of the concept. Additionally, it is hardly ever specified what kind of peace NATO has created, what kind of peace could also have been made, or whether other factors have contributed to that peace.
The most repeated words in NATO parlance – judging from repeated statements by its Secretary-General about NATO’s decisions and course – seem to be ‘security, stability and peace.’
Writing this in Europe in the summer of 2022, one must question the validity of those words, slogans or mantras.
It’s never discussed how similar multi-trillion funds that NATO has consumed over the years could have been spent much more productively on making the world a better and more peaceful place – and never whether there could be alternatives to NATO and its concepts of security and peace.
NATO is history’s largest alliance, and the alliance is on track to not remain Euro-Atlantic but to go global. Its member states stand for 21% of the world’s GDP, 8% of the world’s population and 10% of the global territory. Still, it consumes about 57% of the world’s military expenditures, according to NationMaster and SIPRI.
2. NATO as secularised religion defying rational analysis
NATO simply is. NATO saves us. Like God is in the lives of the believers who may then expect salvation. The Alliance’s fundamentally militarist values come across to the taxpayers (who finance it) as benevolent and innocent in its role as the Creator of stability, security and peace.
While there can be – and have been – intelligent, philosophical debates about whether God exists and how the possible answers influence the world, there has not yet been a broad discussion about what a world without NATO might look like.
Or, to put it differently, NATO has become a kind of God to those who believe in it. Meaningful rational analyses of what it is good and not so good at hardly exist in the public domain.
TFF Associate David R. Loy has a more philosophical – Buddhist – approach to militarism and writes in “Why We Love War”:
“If our modern, secularized world is plagued by an unacknowledged and therefore misunderstood sense of lack, it is not surprising that war too continues to be so attractive, even addictive. War can give us the meaning we crave, because it provides a reassuring way to understand what is wrong with our lives.
War offers a simple way to bind together our individual lacks and project them outside, onto the enemy. They are evil because they want to hurt us. Since we are merely defending ourselves, we can feel good about what we do to them. The karma that results is not difficult to understand: the cause of each war is usually the previous one, at least in part.
If war is a collective response to our collective problem with lack, we cannot expect war to cease until we find better ways to address that basic spiritual problem.”
The contemporary West’s unreflective belief in violence as a major solution – or militarism as the new secular religion promising salvation – and our culture’s psycho-political need for constant enemy imaging must come from somewhere – perhaps the lack of meaning and the necessity for standing together around some values and some policy.
Just think “Ukraine”, which has become the single event that brought the otherwise somewhat fragmented West together – at least for a time.
This belief is of particular relevance also because NATO is an alliance based on nuclear weapons; it’s an alliance that can wipe out humanity many times over – that is, do harm way outside its circle of member states. It is also an alliance that reserves the right to be the first to use nuclear weapons even against a conventional attack.
The author wrote at length about the features of nuclear weapons and the culture or way of thinking that surrounds them – nuclearism – in Fischer, Nolte and Oberg (1989), ”Winning Peace: Strategies and Ethics for a Nuclear-Free World.”
With the birth of nuclear weapons in 1945, humanity’s survival was put in the hands of human beings while it had, hitherto, been in the hands of God. Albert Einstein is probably still right – ”The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
Christian scholar and journalist, Chris Hedges has expressed similar thoughts in ”War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2014) – quotes from it here.
And it’s an alliance led by the United States with a global Empire, human history’s highest military expenditures – some 40% of the world’s military spending – which insists on being the unchallenged global power with 600+ military basis in 130+ countries and special forces in even more. The exceptionalism that has always been a feature of the American society and self-understanding as ’God’s own country’ undoubtedly has rubbed off on the alliance.
Those who believe in and possess nuclear weapons accept a responsibility for all humanity and its future that is God-like. Before the Nuclear Age, no human being could decide about whether or not humanity should exist. NATO is nuclear-based. But is it – are the other nuclear powers – morally mature enough to handle the Doomsday weapons? Did we – humanity – ever give them the right to decide it or are we actually living under the largest dictatorship of all – Nuclear Dictatorship?
President Biden talks about Article 5 of NATO’s Treaty being a “sacred obligation” and way back in time then-British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin said NATO was necessary for “the salvation of the west.”
While there is a tendency to see NATO as a predominantly Euro-Atlantic alliance because all its members minus two are European, the alliance is a de facto global military power-projecting institution because of the nukes and the United States’ global power reach and imperial ambitions.
But there is much more to it. What NATO is based on – spiritually, philosophically and in terms of social cosmology – is so much deeper and so much less tangible – than the weapons, doctrines, plans and statements the media and political world focus on.
We shall relate to this aspect of secularised religion here and there in what follows and at the end of this Catalogue.
3. NATO: An innocent homeowner or party to a conflict?
The idea that NATO might be a party in the conflict with Russia is also pretty foreign to itself and most of its advocates. So the media choreography is simple: As a principle, NATO has never done anything wrong and continues only to promote “security, stability and peace” while Russia and its president act as a constant nuisance.
It’s somewhat like a homeowner who is not in a conflict with a thief – a criminal – but has to constantly guard himself and his family against the thief’s evil intentions and plans.
Compared with being in a conflict, which by definition contains stimulus-reaction dynamics and causal relations between actions, the innocent standing face-to-face with a criminal’s possible intrusion relieves the innocent party from any sense of responsibility.
The criminal out there is the actor we have to defend ourselves against. And thus, the image that taxpayers pay for NATO as they pay for home insurance. However, the problem with that image is that insurance is paid only after the unwanted event and the destruction it wrought. Moreover, insurance does not prevent accidents, so this isn’t very smart but hardly ever questioned as a metaphor in public reports and debates.
There are, beyond a doubt, lots of substantial reasons to discuss NATO’s past and present performance and, based on critical analysis, discuss whether it should a) continue basically as it is, b) undergo deep and broad reform or c) be replaced by some other way of thinking and different institution.
Contrary to the pervasive positive but unreflective mainstream concepts and images of NATO disseminated virtually daily to millions, there is absolutely nothing holy about that old institution.
And in contrast to the pious believers’ attitude to their God, NATO can be debated, criticised and even replaced.
4. Since we look mostly at NATO, is Russia innocent?
Normally, conflict analysis should look at the attitudes, the behaviour and the issues that all parties to a conflict display. This is, however, not what is done systematically here. We are working mostly with NATO as an actor, policy- and peace-maker.
The NATO-Russia conflict is an a-symmetric conflict. NATO is much stronger than Russia on all important indicators. This means that most of the time, NATO is the one that calls the shots – and not only vis-a-vis Russia but in Europe and also worldwide. Russia’s military expenditures amount to about 8% of NATO’s combined expenditures. Economically, Russia ranks # 11 in terms of GDP and # 68 in GDP per capita in the world (with US$ 11 000 per capita, with Italy’s at US$ 34 000 and the US at US$ 63 000). More here.
Russia has 10 military bases abroad, of which 3 are disputed; it has left 21 since the 1950s and after 1990 in particular. More data here. The US alone maintains more than 600 bases in some 130 countries. The dissemination of Russian culture abroad is negligible compared with that of American culture and lifestyle since the 1950s. So too is its worldwide media influence.
Furthermore, while Russia has engaged heavily in warfare in Syria, Ukraine and other conflict theatres, it has killed only a fraction of those killed in warfare in the last 20 or so years by the US and its allies.
This Catalogue with arguments demonstrates with great clarity that the official image of NATO as the innocent homeowner and Russia as the permanent criminal threatening the property leaves much to be desired. But while there is a focus on NATO and criticism of it, it does not imply that the author ignores Russia’s tension-escalating and sometimes international law-violating steps.
These days, people focus primarily on opinions or attitudinal standpoints – and some even simply smear those whose viewpoints they do not like. In our increasingly post-literate society, very little room is left in public debates to discuss substance, analytical weak and strong points, facts and underlying theories and concepts.
As a matter of fact, it boils down to a two-fold table: all the good guys (”us”) on one side, all the bad guys (”them”) on the other. However, there is no such conflict in the real world.
If we assume a conflict has only two sides – A and B – while most conflicts have many more participants, the minimum relevant table has four fields: Party A has good/strong sides and bad/weak sides (or arguments), B also has both – which makes four.
Russia is responsible for the violence, i.e. the invasion of Ukraine; NATO is responsible for the underlying conflict. The author has argued in ”There were alternatives: Why Russia should not have bombed Ukraine” that Russia, at the time, had alternatives to the invasion and that that invasion was a violation of international law.
Even if, like the author, you are critical of certain aspects of Russian politics and society – such as the harsh treatment of dissidents, peace and anti-war activists, the wealthy ’oligarchs’ – a Western term never applied to the West’s filthily wealthy individuals – the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) – I am sure of this – although being no Russia expert and also not in command of the Russian language:
First, there are good sides of the Russian society and culture that we should all appreciate and cooperate with; secondly, Russia has a historical background that may explain some of those features (understand them before you condemn); third, the Russian reality is way better than Western mainstream media tell you (and most people rely exclusively on them because they have never been to Russia and do not know any Russians); fourth, it is up to the Russians to change and develop their potentials the way they want and not for the US/NATO/EU countries to force, change it or know what is best for Russia – they should stick instead to bringing their own house in order; fifth – provoking, ignoring, pushing others into corners or arguing that they should become like us never leads to mutual respect, understanding, cooperation and peace and, sixth, whether you like it or not – whether you like Russia or not – we have got to live with each other on this small planet with differences and diversity.
I am also sure that NATO has taken none of this into account in its decision-making.
If you do want to influence people, cooperate with them, show respect and be a good example yourself. Be principled: do not blame them for things you do yourself (often worse), accept only shared working modalities – avoid exceptionalism for yourself – and do only what is good for the other side, yourself and the relationship. Identify common interests – but don’t force similarity – and do not master, speak down to or punish the other. Rewarding the right, cooperative behaviour is much more effective. That’s how you build trust and, thereby, better chances for peaceful coexistence and good neighbourly relations.
The top-dog has greater responsibility in these matters than the middle- and under-dog. A reasonable, many-facetted comprehensive analysis like this Catalogue – macro in time and space – shows that NATO’s behaviour as seen in a Russian perspective can indeed and with reason be seen as provocative. However, again, not to the extent that the Russian invasion is justified.
This also does not mean that Russia did what it did out of the blue – or that, as the NATO leaders and their media suddenly uniformly state, Russia’s attack on Ukraine was unprovoked. You do not have to be a psychologist to sense that that word is meant to divert the attention from the hypothesis that NATO misjudged just how provoking its expansion was in the eyes of the other side.
The West’s and NATO’s history writing usually starts with Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But the word “annexation” – although I use it – should be used with care. Jacques Baud tells in “The Hidden Truth about the War in Ukraine” that in the first referendum (January 1991) on autonomy in the USSR, 93.6% of Crimeans agreed to be attached to Moscow. Consequently, the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Crimea (ASSR Crimea), abolished in 1945, was re-established on 12 February 1991 by the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR and on February 26, 1992, the Crimean parliament proclaimed the “Republic of Crimea” with the agreement of the Ukrainian government, which granted it the status of a self-governing republic. On 5 May 1992, Crimea declared its independence and adopted a Constitution. Ukraine had become an independent state on August 24, 1991. However, in MArch 1995, its independent status was forcefully abrogated by Kyiv. More about the Republic of Crimea here.
So, this annexation issue is is not so simple. Certain things are never mentioned about it.
Those circles never mentioned that that annexation was preceded by a US-orchestrated regime change in Kiyv in 2014. NATO also routinely argues that Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. It didn’t; albeit it did a large incursion towards Gori (and violated several laws), it responded to a hot-headed Georgian transgression up to Tskhinvali that led to the killing of several Russian soldiers. This is what the EU’s Tagliavini Report documents.
On another note, it is evident that Ukraine is an essential factor in Russia’s core security interests. It is not for the United States or other NATO member states. If one sees Ukraine as the ’object’ or the conflict issue, it is theoretically and morally relevant to ask: How important is that conflict issue and its outcome to the respective parties? So here we meet a-symmetry again.
All this said, there will always be readers who believe that if you criticise one side, you are automatically 100% on the ’other’ side. This is either too primitive, too malicious or both for the present author to do more about than what has hereby been done.
5. Time for a reality check
Any international institution that has existed for 73 years (1949) should be evaluated: Is it still relevant? Does it perform appropriately as times change? Have the goals it was set up to promote already been realised? Are the goals and values it was initially established to serve still relevant? Have they been operationalised in tactics and strategies – and an overarching doctrine or mission – that match not yesterday’s needs but those perceived as relevant for the future?
There have been many discussions about the United Nations and how it could or should be reformed. But similar widespread and often scholarly- and NGO-based academic and political analyses with public debates have hardly been seen about NATO.
To survive and be relevant, any corporation, public institution or civil society movement must, with certain intervals, be evaluated and brought up to date and up to future. That’s what those who finance it to the hundreds of billions of dollars would like to see done carefully – like shareholders or investors in a company always ask: Do we get what we are entitled to?
A public institution financed by the taxpayers cannot be checked by people who sit inside or are friends of those who do. It’s got to be done by people worldwide who look at NATO from the outside.
Therefore, we encourage people worldwide to produce critical analyses and suggest an alternative NATO or alternatives to NATO.
Here’s is a first approach to identifying NATO’s problems and raison d’etre in today’s world. It’s a video from May 2017 with the author:
6. A personal note – peace and conflict research exists to reduce violence
This analysis is written and edited by me, Jan Oberg, and consists of my new and old analyses, debate articles and videos, as well as articles by several TFF Associates and other security and peace experts published over the last few decades. I am very grateful for the inspiration and comments I have received from TFF colleagues/friends while working on this catalogue.
By introduction, permit me a piece of personal information to the reader here at the outset. I am a peace and future researcher who has devoted my academic and political life to the Gandhi-inspired UN-based norm of making peace by peaceful means (Article 1 in its Charter) – that the means are the goals in the making.
The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF, which I co-founded and have been the director of since 1985, exists to promote that philosophy and commitment. We do it with about 50 world experts on peace issues. I have always been convinced that there are better ways to handle humanity’s unavoidable conflicts than by using various kinds of violence – economic, structural, gender, environmental and direct military – building them-versus-us blocs and seeing those different from us as enemies. I’ve fought the lies used by propaganda machines to legitimate concrete wars to the best of my abilities, taking advantage of my academic work and conflict mitigation work with colleagues on the ground in Georgia, all parts of former Yugoslavia, Burundi, Iran, Syria and China.
I am a staunch believer in nuclear abolition, civil conflict management and a diverse world in which no single system has a right to universalise or impose its values on others – that is, unity in diversity instead of in – simple-minded – uniformity.
Thus, I am not “anti” any country, nation or person. I am anti-militarism, anti-imperialism, anti-nuclearism and anti-missionary convertionism. Consequently, I advocate that organisations such as the Warsaw Pact and NATO, with their violence-based philosophy, should be replaced. There is no valid scientific documentation that proves that such alliances are by definition more peaceful for a system as a whole – whereas they may well increase security for the in-group of its own members. In the eyes of non-members, however, alliances will often be seen as potentially threatening, in particular when it has offensive capacities.
My lifelong devotion to peace and future research aims at helping reduce all kinds of violence to make the future world a better place – more rational, human and decent. Indeed, to reduce the risk that it may disappear.
I’m informing my readers about these my aims and values. I am not issuing an apology for having them.
Peace research is applied, or goal-oriented, research. Like it is the professional goal of the science of medicine – and a doctor’s daily job – to seek to reduce diseases and pain, it is the goal of peace research to bring forward facts and theories that may help reduce violence, all kinds of violence and not only war.
It’s those of us who work for peace by peaceful means, the reduction of all kinds of violence, who are in harmony with international law, including human rights, and freedom and democracy – the latter also because the overwhelming majority of the world’s people want peace rather than the resource waste, violence and wars imposed on them by tiny elites.
NATO increasingly stands in the way of solving humanity’s essential problems and, paradoxically, its policies now embody a major risk to humanity’s future.
The Catalogue has been written in the shadows of the NATO-Russia conflict which so tragically plays out in Ukraine. For reasons I elaborate on in-depth, this – together with NATO’s irresponsible and law-defying bombing of Yugoslavia in the 1990s – has convinced me that NATO isn’t what it appears to be. Its members seek to cover up the Alliance’s most fateful political blunder since 1949 by going rogue, denying its co-responsibility for the situation and turning dangerously irrational.
The catalogue’s arguments lead to the conclusion that it is high time to replace the 73 years old alliance with some other arrangement that better fits the present and future needs of Europe and the world.
NATO as we know it must go – or be transformed from the bottom up.
7. The structure of this Catalogue
What follows is called a Catalogue. It is a catalogue of inter-connected arguments with in-depth analyses of each – the fundamental problems that NATO has – or is. We have organised the 30 arguments under a series of themes, hopefully making it easier for the reader to keep track and keep it all together.
It is our hope that the arguments and the analyses will promote a better, more complex understanding of what NATO is – as seen, admittedly, with a critical eye. That means, helping concerned people look through NATO’s carefully constructed self-glorifying and problem-free public relations image that is, from a peace perspective, filled with fake – and omission in particular – all of which most NATO people themselves are surely quite unaware. They believe in what they do and that they can build peace in NATO’s way.
Thus, the Catalogue can be used as a reference or guidebook in public education, media, debates and activism as well as stimulate further research.
If you read the document from top to bottom, you’ll encounter a few repetitions; they exist because some arguments are rooted in the same cluster of facts and concepts.
You may find that ’NATO’ as an institution and ’NATO members’ may be somewhat mixed. Some activities and missions are ’NATO’s through a NATO decision; there are also actions conducted by one or more NATO members unilaterally. Not everything NATO members do is NATO, of course. On the famous other hand, what the particularly powerful NATO members do on their own must be assumed to be in line with NATO and influence its policies one way or another.
Finally, this Catalogue delivers Diagnosis and Prognosis. It does not tell what should replace NATO – Treatment or Solution. We hope that the 30 Arguments will lead to a broad international debate about: If not NATO – what then? The author, however, recommends this short article with hints of answers – Make NATO civilian and civilised from 2018.
A) NATO countries’ resource use, killings and threat perceptions
1. NATO’s military spending is out of proportion: Look at the opportunity costs
What the world needs for a series of reasons is a reduction in all kinds of violence – direct, political, structural, military, gender and against Nature. There is no way that humanity’s most urgent problems can be solved – or the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, while simultaneously squandering exorbitant sums on the military – not to speak of wasting human, energy and social resources on confrontation, threats, hatred and war-mongering where cooperation remains the sine qua non of our very survival and welfare.
The NATO countries’ will to mobilise for more nukes, more military, and, say, militarising the conflict in Ukraine instead of seeking a peaceful solution stands in stark contrast to its will to mobilise resources for those much more important goals.
To put it bluntly: In the 11th hour of our global multi-crisis, the world’s priorities are perverse. The world simply cannot afford to allocate that much to militarism when civil conflict-resolution – and the handling of conflicts arising from non-military problems, such as environmental refugees – dearly need our attention and hugely increased funding to be solved in time.
The world’s military expenditures in 2021 amounted to more than US$ 2100 billion – and that is not the actual costs; items that are usually not included in military budgets are allocations to intelligence services, veterans, the servicing of loans, homeland defence, militarily relevant civilian research and several other items listed on different ministerial budgets.
Be this as it may, it’s an unimaginable sum of which NATO members consume US$ 1,17 billion or 57% while only making up about 8% of the world’s population (as mentioned above).
For comparison of the world’s priorities, the regular budget of the United Nations is 3,2 billion, and in 2019 its total revenue was US$ 57 billion. That’s less than 3% of the global military expenditures!
Writing in the summer of 2022, with the war raging in Ukraine, it is an important observation that the Western/NATO response to that invasion has manifestly moved beyond the proportionality principle, rationality and a realistic image of the world and its role in it.
NATO country leaders express their disgust or hatred of everything Russia; historically hard, comprehensive and time-unlimited economic sanctions have been imposed – using the illegal method of collective punishment of a whole people; weapons for an estimated US$ 60-100 billion are being pumped into Ukraine to defeat Russia there.
The June NATO Madrid Summit provided, among others, the following hard facts:
NATO has added US$ 350 billion in military expenditures since the US-instigated regime change in Kyiv in 2014 and, since then, prepared Ukraine for membership in NATO. The 2% of GDP goal is now a floor, not a ceiling. Forward reaction forces shall increase from 40 000 to 300 000; US troops in Europe increase up to 100 000. Russian reserves in the West – some US$ 300 billion – are frozen and will likely be stolen and allocated to rebuild Ukraine.
In short, Russia is, for all practical purposes, cancelled from Europe. And will be for the foreseeable future.
From 24 February to 31 July 2022, OHCHR recorded 12,584 civilian casualties in Ukraine: 5,327 killed and 7,257 injured (noting that the actual figures may well be considerably higher). The same source registered 310 000 dead in Syria. The US War on Terror has cost a million lives and forced 35-50 million to become refugees and IDPs, according to The Costs of War project at Brown University.
In passing, one may note that a massive majority of those who condemn the war in/on Ukraine never uttered a critical word about those infinitely larger killings and destructions in, say, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Neither were any sanctions imposed on the United States and other NATO member states for their violations of international law, including the UN Charter words and spirit.
There are other aspects of this over-consumption of resources for military purposes that deserve mention:
The global military expenditures of US$ 2100 billion can be compared with other allocations in the global economy. Estimates of how much money it would take to end global climate change range between $300 billion and $50 trillion over the next two decades. The UN peacekeeping budget is just over US$ 6,5 billion, or 0,3% of the world’s military consumption, and the basic UN budget approved by the UN General Assembly for 2021 was US$ 3,2 billion.
And suppose the world had the political will to end global poverty and the absurd wealth gap. In that case, one may quote Grace Zhao of the Borgen Project: – ”According to Mark Anielski, co-founder of the Canadian company Genuine Wealth, it would cost $29.39 billion to bump the incomes of 5.64 billion people to just $10 a day. This amount does not include individuals earning below $10 in developed countries. Though the cost seems steep, in reality, $29.39 billion is only 0.5% of the estimated wealth of our billionaires. That is how much it really costs to fight global poverty. Even if income for the 80% living below $10 a day was bumped up to $20 a day, the $85.7 billion would only add up to 1.6% of the wealth of billionaires.”
And here is an analysis of what happened to the idea of a US$ 100 billion pledge to battle climate change.
For decades it’s been confirmed, and it is even more true today than ever: For a relatively small reduction in military expenditures – not the least by the high-spending NATO members – we could take giant steps towards securing humanity’s survival and future welfare.
But that is not the security NATO work for.
One might argue that if US$ 2100 billion is the price for all humanity to pay to live in peace, it would be worth it. But that is not the case. Wars rage at dozens of places worldwide, and Europe – if not the world as a whole – is now in its worst (or second worst after Cuba 1962) security crisis since 1945. In addition, nuclear risks caused by technical or human failure are with us 24/7. UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, recently formulated it succinctly: ”Humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation. We have been extraordinarily lucky so far.”
So, there must be something utterly wrong with this security paradigm – of course, not only NATO’s concept but also that of the member states and many others around the world.
Simply put, it is the ongoing, ill-thought out perception of the world that whatever the problem is, the solution is more weapons, better weapons and higher investments in everything military – despite its already perversely high expenditure level. This is nothing but permanent symptom treatment with no genuine world peace in sight.
It is, in other words, the idea that if you have only a hammer in your toolbox, all problems look like something that must be hammered on. This hammer is very expensive and does not leave any intellectual or financial resources for things like civilian conflict handling and solution, early warning, violence prevention, reconciliation, peace research and education – or for peace adviser positions in relevant ministries, not to mention Ministries of Peace.
The Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC, is systematically prioritised and must get whatever it needs first. And to legitimate its existence – way outside democratic control – images of enemies must be created, and they then instil the necessary fear in citizens that make them willing taxpayers who refrain from questioning this massive, destructive Perpetuum Mobile.
A major building block of all this is a deliberate use of enemy images to instil fear – “fearology.” If one day NATO declared that it saw no particular enemies, it would have to change its policies and concepts and reduce all members’ military spending levels. Alternatively, it would have to find or make new enemies to legitimate its continued high-level spending.
In passing, NATO’s de facto operation is one long militarisation process combined with the monopolisation by military means over all other kinds of security and confidence-building measures. Moreover, it permanently defies the globally accepted United Nations stated goal of moving towards “general and complete disarmament” and banning nuclear weapons.
NATO’s paradigm does not – has never and won’t ever – genuinely encompass concepts such as human security, cooperative or common security, nonviolence, civil resistance, prevention of violent conflict, peace-making, reconciliation or anything else that could challenge the alliance’s adherence – or, rather, addiction – to the means of violence.
2. The 100% bizarre 2% goal
For years, the goal of NATO has been that all its members spend 2% of their GDP on the military. To many, it would be a ceiling, but from the Madrid Summit onwards, it is now the floor, according to Jens Stoltenberg.
This goal is a splendid indicator of the frighteningly low intellectual level on which the alliance operates. Why?
A defence budget shall be determined by a serious, multi-dimensional and future-oriented analysis based on a series of more or less likely scenarios: What are we challenged by the next x number of years? Next follows a matching of probability and capacity: Threats that are too big for a country’s capacity to do something about – like being hit by nuclear weapons – or threats that are too unlikely are separated and dropped. So are threats/challenges that are too small to worry about.
Then the threat analysis is left with credible, probable future threats within a resource spectrum that the country in question can do something about. It’s based on such a detailed analysis that a government presents its threat analysis and seeks to allocate, or re-allocate, its resources to achieve optimal security given its resources.
But what are NATO countries required to do?
To drop all this – intellectually demanding – analytical work based on numerous types of civilian and military expertise and set off 2% of their GDP no matter what kinds of threats there are in the real world. Mindbogglingly, they must tie their military expenditures to their economic performance: If GDP increases, then military spending grows proportionately! If the GDP slides down, defence expenditures will do so, too, regardless of the perceived or actual threat environment.
NATO’s 2% goal is a reflection of the Western delusional idea applied in many fields that, when there is a problem, we set off funds to solve it and pump those funds into a system, whether or not that system is functioning, functioning optimally – or not at all. In other words, money is the measure of problem-solving capacity and quality; changes, reforms or completely new thinking and structural reform don’t even enter the equation. Qualities are expressed in quantitative terms.
The 2% goal is meaningless. Threats to a country do not move up and down according to that country’s economy. Such thinking points to the intellectual inside-the-box stagnation of an old organisation.
3. NATO has exaggerated the threat to legitimate its increasing superiority
For years, NATO policies and propaganda grossly exaggerated the Russian capabilities and threat. This has been admitted by former Danish NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in an interview with Denmark’s TV2 on March 9, 2022. What he says is precisely this, and it is pretty extraordinary:
“Putin will be beaten to a pulp by NATO. Once NATO moves, it will be with enormous force. You must remember that the investments we make in defence are ten times greater than Putin’s,” he says.
So what has not been mentioned in the Danish and Western media so far suddenly comes out here: Russia is a military dwarf compared to NATO’s 30 members. NATO can easily beat Putin – Russia – “to a pulp.“
Mr Fogh Rasmussen expresses it this way in Foreign Policy of June 6, 2022: “I think we have made two miscalculations. We have overestimated the strength of the Russian military. Despite huge investments in military equipment and the reopening of old Soviet bases, we have seen a very weak Russian military. It remains to be seen why this is. I think corruption may be one of the reasons. But the other miscalculation is we have underestimated the brutality and the ambitions of President Putin.”
“We have seen a very weak Russian military,” – says a man who knows NATO from the inside top floor!
This stands in stark contrast with everything we have been told as citizens for decades: That Russia is a formidable enemy and that NATO must constantly update, arm and be vigilant vis-a-vis this enemy, his capabilities and intentions.
About a month after the Russian invasion, Newsweek posted an article in which a series of experts admitted that the Russian threat has been overestimated and that its military is, in more than one way, not at all up to it.
One of those interviewed by Newsweek is Lt. Col. William Astore, ex-professor of history at U.S. Air Force Academy, who, with charming frankness, states that – “Recall as well that the Pentagon routinely inflates threats, as we did with the Soviet military machine in the 1970s and 1980s. The Pentagon inflates threats as a way of boosting its own funding.”
Alan Cunningham writes in Modern Diplomacy on April 26, 2022, that:
“Overestimation is a dangerous development for any government or military force and can only be countered by accurate collection of information gained through the primary disciplines (Human, Signals, Open Source, Measurement and Signature, and Geospatial Intelligence) and an unbiased analysis of the collated information. If this intelligence is based upon emotion or an uninformed belief of an adversary’s abilities, this could spell disaster in the tactical and strategic level responses of a nation-state.”
Given its intelligence resources and analytical capacity, one can hardly avoid wondering how an organisation like NATO can make so very wrong overestimates and miscalculations concerning its main adversary. How come neither politicians, scholars nor the media expressed a doubt about it? Why has this threat inflation over decades and dissemination to all Western media and decision-makers continued? Did nobody in NATO question the factual base of official NATO statements, not the least those made by Secretary-General Stoltenberg? Or did they know it was fake and refrained from intervening because it is the common interest “to boost its own funding”?
One must also wonder why NATO decides to become even more superior when having acknowledged that Russia is much weaker militarily than it had estimated before. Is the war on Ukraine merely a pretext for realising other long-term goals and not a genuine worry in the corridors of NATO?
What is this tremendous and ever-increasing superiority vis-a-vis Russia suitable for – if not, at some point, to actually beat Russia to a pulp?
4. NATO’s threat assessment
At NATO’s 2022 Madrid Summit, it was stated that:
“We continue to face distinct threats from all strategic directions. The Russian Federation is the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. Terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, continues to pose a direct threat to the security of our populations, and to international stability and prosperity. We categorically reject and condemn terrorism in the strongest possible terms. With determination, resolve, and in solidarity, Allies will continue to counter Russian threats and respond to its hostile actions and to fight terrorism, in a manner consistent with international law.
We are confronted by cyber, space, and hybrid and other asymmetric threats, and by the malicious use of emerging and disruptive technologies. We face systemic competition from those, including the People’s Republic of China, who challenge our interests, security, and values and seek to undermine the rules-based international order. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration and human trafficking.” (Italics added).
NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept outlines the threat environment and what to do next:
“The Euro-Atlantic area is not at peace. Euro-Atlantic security is undermined by strategic competition and pervasive instability. The Russian Federation poses the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security. Terrorism is an asymmetric threat to the security of our citizens and to international peace and prosperity. The People’s Republic of China’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values. We also face global and interconnected threats and challenges like climate change, emerging and disruptive technologies, and the erosion of the arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.” (Italics added).
NATO sees enemies virtually everywhere. Is NATO going to meet all threats everywhere, or are there threats it does not feel competent to deal with? Are there any threats that can not be met by military means? And how is a threat defined? How does NATO detect the threats and how they may be related to each other and perhaps to NATO’s own policies? How does NATO prioritise the threats according to intensity? And how come that NATO, in future-oriented documents, only lists actual or manifest threats and not potential or latent threats in the future? Such questions are surely relevant when you want to decide about priorities.
In 2020, Secretary-General Stoltenberg appointed a so-called reflection group to help him strengthen the political dimension of NATO. Its members are presented here. Just let your eyes slide down: virtually all were people with a military mindset, former defence ministers, defence academy staff, people having had positions at Ministries of Foreign Affairs, national security advisers, military studies experts, former assistant secretary-general of NATO, etc.
With that composition, Stoltenberg could feel absolutely safe that NATO’s heart and brain would not be challenged and that no knowledge about peace would creep into their report. Or, to formulate it slightly more pointed: That Washington would not have any problems with the report’s content.
The report is ”NATO 2030: United For A New Era. Analysis and recommendations…” Here is a screenshot of parts of the table of content. There is not much under the sky that NATO does not feel qualified to involve itself in:
The reflections start with a surprisingly un-reflective and not exactly modest or reflective review of NATO’s successes:
”In the thirty years since the collapse of the Soviet threat that called NATO into existence, the Western Alliance has defied innumerable predictions of its imminent demise. It ended two wars and ethnic cleansing in the Western Balkans, extended the hand of partnership to Russia and other former adversaries, stepped up to the threat of terrorism directed against NATO territory, engaged abroad, including in Afghanistan, and responded with clarity, unity, and resolve to the threat posed by Russian aggression in the Euro-Atlantic region. Today, NATO stands as history’s most successful alliance, encompassing nearly a billion people and half of global GDP across a space that stretches from the Pacific coast of North America to the Black Sea.” (page 5, our italics).
One would have thought that such an ‘independent’ group had started with: What can NATO learn from the past and do better in the future?
NATO’s reflective experts deliberately – arrogantly – omit mention of other organisations such as the UN and OSCE, civil society organisations, individuals and mediators that contributed to ending the violence in Yugoslavia. They also omit mention of the fact that its leader, the US with its Embassy in Zagreb, helped Croatia cleanse thousands of Serbs living in its Krajina regions out of the country in its brutal Operations Storm and Flash that also hit the UN missions. They conveniently omit the 800 000 people sent running from Kosovo and Serbia down to Macedonia fleeing from NATO’s bombs as well as the bombing of dozens of buildings, including the maternity clinic in Belgrade and the Chinese Embassy there. They conveniently omit that thanks to this noble bombing for peace, Serbs have been cleansed out of Kosovo, proportionately the largest ethnic cleansing of any group in Yugoslavia.
So much for having ended two wars!
So, if this is history’s most successful alliance, are there any other criteria for success than human harm and raw destruction?
While this is being written, there is new tension in the failed – and by many non-recognised – second Albanian state in Europe, Kosovo, that was carved out of an existing state after 78 days of ruthless 24/7 bombings. By NATO and much worse than anything done by Russia in Crimea. The US built its largest base outside the US since the Vietnam War, Bondsteel, in Kosovo but forgot to ask permission in Belgrade or pay for it.
Note in passing that the table of content and this opening remark make NATO fundamentally global and not limited to the area of its members.
Let’s move on. Here is how the Russian threat is described – or, instead, postulated in a NATO-convenient manner:
”After the end of the Cold War, NATO attempted to build a meaningful partnership with Russia, based on dialogue and practical cooperation in areas of common interest. But Russia’s aggression against Georgia and Ukraine, followed by its ongoing military build-ups and assertive activity in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, in the Eastern Mediterranean, Baltic, and in the High North, have led to a sharp deterioration in the relationship and negatively impacted the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. Russia routinely engages in intimidatory military operations in the immediate vicinity of NATO and has enhanced its reach and capabilities for threatening airspace and freedom of navigation in the Atlantic. It has violated…”
We must understand that NATO members have not done any military build-up and are not present in the mentioned areas. The alliance has done nothing in the vicinity of Russia. We are supposed to have forgotten the Kyiv regime-change masterminded mainly by a NATO member in 2014 that preceded the annexation of Crimea. We are supposed to believe that there was only one aggressor in the Russia-Georgia war. And NATO wants us to believe that one country with 8% of the military expenditures of NATO’s 30 members represents a formidable threat.
There is not an ounce of analysis of threats here. It’s simple postulates. Just how Russian behaviour here and there is a threat to NATO is postulated, never documented. One is tempted to ask: What would Russia be able to do that would not be seen as a threat by NATO?
In short, NATO doesn’t present a publicly available threat analysis. It presents no scenarios of future world developments. It doesn’t tell the world and its taxpayers how, among many thinkable threats and challenges, NATO makes priorities.
Such a text speaks only to the believers, those with a NATO faith. The rest of us should require documentation, analyses and transparency concerning NATO’s threat and enemy postulates – its fearology.
And here is the recommendation devoid of scenarios: ”Looking out to 2030, Russia will most likely remain the main military threat to the Alliance. It confronts NATO with the risk of a fait accompli or with sustained and paralysing pressure in a crisis situation. Faced with such an actor, NATO will have to show diligence and solidarity, while it maintains openings for dialogue in the event that Russia’s leaders choose a more constructive path.”
Here is the property owner and the bad guy in the street: We are innocent, not a party to a conflict. We’ve done our best for dialogue and peace, but – look! – this villain keeps playing his evil games. He is a threat and will remain a threat at least ten years into the future. OK, should he come around and change his behaviour to our satisfaction, we may talk with him…or, well, beat him into a pulp.
Note also how it is Russia that can present NATO with a fait accompli. It’s pure psycho-political projection because it is NATO and its member states which repeatedly, since 1990, have presented Russia with fait accomplis. For instance, the necessity of keeping united Germany in NATO and nuclear weapons in Europe, bombing Yugoslavia and deploying the Ballistic Missile Defence, BMD, and insisting that Russia shall have no say concerning Ukraine’s membership in NATO. And so on.
Of course, Russia can be seen as a threat – if for no other reason because it has the world’s largest arsenals of nuclear weapons. But if Russia is a threat in the eyes of the US and NATO, why make it a bigger threat and give it reasons to act as an enemy?
This question arises when you read the 2019 report from the RAND Corporation, Overextending and Unbalancing Russia. Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options. It starts with this:
“This brief summarizes a report that comprehensively examines nonviolent, cost-imposing options that the United States and its allies could pursue across economic, political, and military areas to stress—overextend and unbalance—Russia’s economy and armed forces and the regime’s political standing at home and abroad. Some of the options examined are clearly more promising than others, but any would need to be evaluated in terms of the overall U.S. strategy for dealing with Russia, which neither the report nor this brief has attempted to do.
Today’s Russia suffers from many vulnerabilities—oil and gas prices well below peak that have caused a drop in living standards, economic sanctions that have furthered that decline, an aging and soon-to-be-declining population, and increasing authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin’s now-continued rule. Such vulnerabilities are coupled with deep-seated (if exaggerated) anxieties about the possibility of Western-inspired regime change, loss of great power status, and even military attack.”
It’s clear that RAND – the most famous US think tank since Herman Kahn (“Dr Strangelove”) – speculates in ways to full-spectrum undermine the Russian military, economy, political system etc inside Russia and abroad. And then follows dozens of ways in which that can be done. Here is one of them:
“Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in U.S. military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages” – and:
“The most-promising options to “extend Russia” are those that directly address its vulnerabilities,
anxieties, and strengths, exploiting areas of weakness while undermining Russia’s current
advantages. In that regard, Russia’s greatest vulnerability, in any competition with the United
States, is its economy, which is comparatively small and highly dependent on energy exports.
RAND suggests that the US sends lethal arms and advice to Ukraine to exploit Russia’s external vulnerability. The leading think tank in the US, NATO’s leader, suggests a radical weakening of Russia through Ukraine.
Do they believe that the Russians do not read and understand such freely accessible reports and draw their conclusions? Do these “strategists” believe that the Russians will perceive this as a friendly policy? Is this the way the US/NATO seeks to make peace?
Interestingly, in July 2022 RAND published another report advising the US decision-makers not to make decisions that would lead to direct warfare between the US and Russia – and also stating that the NATO arms supplies to Ukraine have so far had little impact.
Now to NATO’s description of China as a ’challenge’:
”The scale of Chinese power and global reach poses acute challenges to open and democratic societies, particularly because of that country’s trajectory to greater authoritarianism and an expansion of its territorial ambitions. For most Allies, China is both an economic competitor and significant trade partner. China is therefore best understood as a full-spectrum systemic rival, rather than a purely economic player or an only Asia-focused security actor. While China does not pose an immediate military threat to the Euro-Atlantic area on the scale of Russia, it is expanding its military reach into the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Arctic, deepening defence ties with Russia, and developing long-range missiles and aircraft, aircraft carriers, and nuclear-attack submarines with global reach, extensive space-based capabilities, and a larger nuclear arsenal.”
Just on the last point, the US has 5428 nuclear warheads, China has 350. The US has more than 600 bases in 130+ countries; China has 1 base outside its own territory. That China’s development is a challenge to NATO is based, again, on pure postulating or NATO’s binary group think: them authoritarian, we democracies. Their military development is for expansion while we, NATO, never seek expansion. They do full-spectrum rivalry, whereas NATO – with the US as our leader – never does such a thing…Etc.
We can boil it down to China being a rival because it challenges our goal to maintain global full-spectrum dominance and universalisation of Western values and interests. China is a problem because it is not like us … We NATO believers must deal with the Yellow Peril infidels.
The trick – or provocation – is old hat: First you do something that is seen as clearly negative in the eyes of ‘the other’ and when it reacts negatively, you call it an enemy. TFF has documented that the US reports about genocide in Xinkiang are sub-standard (but we have not stated what is going on there because we have never visited it). State Department has not brought any evidence but postulates it. The US orchestrates and finances a very broad Cold War campaign on China – with only negative stories about China and its policies. TFF has documented it in “Behind the Smokescreen. An analysis of the West’s Destructive China Cold War Agenda And Why It Must Stop” (both 2021).
It is not difficult to understand why both Russia and China feel negatively challenged by such undermining and demonising activities – which NATO and NATO countries’ media of course never mention.
But what is difficult to understand is how experienced and well-educated adults can be appointed by NATO, write such texts and call themselves a reflection group. Or that a globally dominant institution like NATO with thousands of nuclear weapons can appear so intellectually poor with central texts that would not pass as a paper for a master’s degree in international politics.
It is so banal that there is no reason to develop the point further. NATO’s sailing has been too easy for years, never the object of public criticism. Today it requires far too little of itself.
An alliance such as NATO needs enemies. Psycho-politically it needs ”them” – enemies with bad intentions and behaviour – and ”we” the peaceful, well-intentioned and innocent who must be vigilant to the world’s evils – of which there are, fortunately, always plenty so we can demand more financial resources.
NATO’s forbidden question is one related to true peace: How can we devise a policy that will make us appear friendly and non-threatening to them and thereby reduce tension, encourage them to stop what we consider their challenging behaviour and, instead, cooperate with us? How can we make them come our way and shape world peace and common security?
No, the standard answer to everything is the intellectually hopeless but militarist philosophy that prevents peace: Define them as enemies and deter them militarily and pursue dialogue only if they come our way.
The problem is that neither China nor Russia – and indeed more and more actors worldwide – are willing to meet and cooperate with NATO on such outdated premises built on raw military superiority instead of a constructive vision of a better common future for all. The world has changed and what worked for NATO decades back doesn’t any longer.
In contrast to 1990, Russia is no longer on its knees and begging for food. And in just 30-40 years China has undergone history’s most impressive socio-economic development. If NATO did do analyses and scenarios – instead of postulates – it would have taken such trends into account and adapted to the present situation long ago.
B) NATO’s intellectual underpinnings: Theories and concepts
5. The philosophy and doctrine of deterrence
NATO’s three core tasks are 1) Deterrence and defence; 2) Crisis prevention and management, and 3) Cooperative security.
What about deterrence? Isn’t it NATO’s ability to deter what has kept Europe in some kind of negative peace or non-war, i.e. away from a repetition of the Second World War?
It may well have played a part, but it is equally convincing to advance other hypotheses such as Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik, Germany’s solemn recognition of its Nazi crimes, the development of the European Union, the establishment in 1975 of the OSCE, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and all the confidence-building measures it created. The EU has received the Nobel Peace Prize. Or it could be the peace and other civil society movements that contributed to the demise of the first Cold War as well as the abolition ofthe intermediate-range missiles on both sides that could have brought us nuclear war.
It might also be added that it is very much thanks to Gorbachev that we are still alive today because another, less moral man might have decided to blow off some nuclear weapons when he recognised that his system with its ideology and socio-economic disaster was about to crumble and be consigned to the rubbish bin of history. Unfortunately, empires seldom go down with grace.
The assertion that NATO is the reason that there is some kind of peace – or non-war – in Europe lacks empirical evidence as well as balancing with other factors. Its negative – war-fighting – policies, such as in Yugoslavia – and its complicity in the predictable fiasco expansion called Ukraine as a NATO member should be taken into account.
As we point out a number of times in this Catalogue, NATO’s capability to praise itself – being the most succesful alliance in human history, etc. isquite conspicuous.
Finally, deterrence obviously doesn’t work. NATO failed in deterring Russia from invading Ukraine even though NATO has 12 times higher military expenditures and is 30 countries against one. Deterrence simply doesn’t work when an adversary/enemy sees himself (whether objectively true or not) as being existentially threatened.
Philosophically, deterrence is a very complex, if not tricky, concept which, regrettably, does not prevent politicians and media from using it as self-evident probably without having devoted a single serious thought to its many dilemmas such as, for instance:
Let’s now look more closely at deterrence.
• Deterrence means to (try to) prevent criminals from committing certain acts out of a fear of getting caught and punished by the law.
• You may also say that, outside the field of law, deterrence means to dissuade somebody from doing something that we will not accept and point a gun at that somebody to show what will happen if he anyhow goes ahead and that we mean business – not bluffing.
• When you deter someone, you unavoidably signal that you see that someone as a potentially harmful guy, a criminal or an enemy. To deter is not to send friendly signals or invite trust and friendship.
• Deterrence can be likened to pointing a pistol at the head of “the other” and say: ”If you move, then we shall do this to you…” and is not likely to be perceived as a friendly gesture or invitation to come your way.
• Deterrence behaviour tends to stand in the way of dialogue. Who wants to have a nice talk with a gun pointing to his head?
• Deterrence – at least in NATO’s vocabulary, but admittedly not necessarily – means being able to kill the adversary far away on his territory… if! In that sense, it is an offensive deterrence – in contrast to, say, a wall around a town or castle that is only a deterrent when you think of conquering that walled-in area. The wall does not threaten you unless you come to the adversary’s border and want to get over or through it. A wall is a defensive deterrent.
• This means that offensive deterrence – as seen by the other – is provocative. It signals that “we think you would try to do bad things to us and therefore we deter you by being able to inflict destruction at your home territory.” And what does that trigger? Naturally, that “the other” will say to himself: Since they threaten me by their capability to destroy my country, I better get similar weapons so I can deter them from doing that. Here you begin to see the essential difference between capability and intention.
• Deterrence, therefore, always leads to a perceived need for more weapons and arms races and escalation. Disarmament, real reductions, are seldom perceived as possible. The UN’s high goals of general and complete disarmament and nuclear freedom can never come about with the deterrence philosophy practised by NATO.
• Deterring ’the other’ with your long-range weapons turns yourself into a threat in the eyes of the one you deter. It does not help to simultaneously declare that you have no evil intentions. Why would you have long-range weapons if there is no imaginable situation in which you would ever use them?
• Deterrence and dialogue may not be impossible – particularly not in the conflicts between reasonably symmetric partners – but it is very unlikely to work in strongly a-symmetric conflicts. If one side is or feels threatened existentially, that party will not be deterred but is likely to strike sooner rather than later, i.e. before the situation deteriorates further.
• Deterrence only works to some extent. If your adversary feels threatened on his very existence, he is likely to defy your deterrence (threat) and set his defence/attack in motion – and hope that you were only bluffing.
• And that is the fundamental, classical psycho-political problem with deterrence: There are no weapons – also no nuclear weapons – that are never going to be used. Why?
Because if B knows that A will never, under any circumstance, do what s/he threatens/deters to do if… then B will not be deterred. All deterrence is about use if – if the deterrence psychology doesn’t work. You can, therefore, never deter someone, say B, from doing something unwanted unless B knows that you are fully able and willing to use your (conventional or nuclear) deterrent.
• It is, therefore, pure nonsense when advocates of nuclear weapons as deterrent weapons say that these weapons exist to never be used. If both A and B know that neither will never-ever use them, there would be no deterrence. In other words, all nuclear weapons exist to be used if deterrence fails.
• Finally, it can be argued that it is often the stronger, the one who feels superior who chooses deterrence. If you are (much) weaker than your opponent, statements made to deter may acquire an air of the ridiculous.
The concept of deterrence is loaded with complex psychological problems; it raises questions about ethics, empathy and logics and even theological issues – the latter in the sense that nuclear weapons operators are playing with the existence of all mankind, or laying God.
NATO is based on this dubious – or at least extremely problematic – concept. Its ethics and psychology is never discussed – just stated as a guarantor. It is then often combined with a pious statement that NATO does not want war, does not seek conflict and only uses deterrence to prevent clashes and preserve peace. That NATO is a ‘defensive’ alliance no matter what others may say or feel.
“Deterrence” is the magic word that those in power can freely use in documents, strategic concepts and press conferences. They can feel safe that no journalist would ask: Excuse me, Mr Secretary-General, but what does that word ‘deterrence’ mean according to you? Do you think it has worked? Does this deterrence concept have weaknesses too?
And that’s how security mantras and incantations are made, serving the secularised deity and its believers. It’s a sign of the intellectual disarmament of our times in general and NATO in particular.
Finally, it should be pointed out that NATO’s political decisions led to undermining its deterrence philosophy: It did not succeed in deterring Russia from doing what it obviously thought it had to do. NATO deterrence failed. As far as we know, nobody in NATO has investigated the essential question: Why did our deterrence fail so miserably? – except, of course, by comforting itself that President Putin is sick, has gone insane, is more evil than assumed – or whatever, rather primitive, explanations that help avoid every self-criticism.
Read how NATO presents its deterrence and defence policy and its recent decisions to strengthen it here – not a single definition of what NATO means by all those words.
6. Defensive – not offensive?
The other main task NATO has set itself is to be a defender, and it is now commonplace in our media that the word ’defensive’ stands right before the word ’alliance’ or ’NATO.’
NATO’s 1949 Treaty can be seen as defensive – defending the collectivity of member states. If one of them is attacked, all the other members will come to its rescue (Article 5). So far, so good. The problem is that the members haven’t got a theoretical clue about the difference between defence and offence. And, further, NATO’s deterrence philosophy is based on the idea that the alliance and its members are able to harm anyone anywhere that NATO judges as a threat (whether having the intention to or not). ”Putin will be beaten to a pulp,” as former NATO Secretary-General Fogh Rasmussen expresses it.
Well, some will respond: NATO is a defensive alliance. It has no intentions of attacking anyone. The philosophical counterargument is simple: So if NATO has no offensive intentions, why does it have offensive capabilities? Why can it beat others to a pulp?
And how does it believe – seriously, as it seems – that its adversaries shall trust such assurances, build trust and make peace? NATO would not trust anyone who based politics on such long-range deterrence and (forward) defence.
This entire philosophical construct is unsustainable – contradictory and, of course, anything but peaceful as seen by the other side.
If NATO were a truly defensive alliance, it would have both defensive intentions and defensive capabilities – it would have lots of civilian conflict-management tools to be used first (as stipulated in the UN Charter), only take to – defensive – conventional weapons as a last resort and scrap all its nuclear weapons.
Why? Because defensive defence means having only weapons that a) have a short range, b) limited destructive capacity and c) are to be used on one’s own territory if an adversary comes close. It means to have a more robust defence capability than the other side’s offence. It means that you cannot harm others on their territory, but you can make hell for them and harm them on your territory (or security zone). It means that you are not a threat to them but certainly also not defenceless.
It means not being a threat to anyone, but invincible if attacked. Compare a street in which everybody is trained in jiujitsu with a street where everybody carries a gun. Compare a house deterring intruders by loaded submachine guns on the roof with one with mines along the edges of the garden.
It should be clear that nuclear weapons fall squarely in the offensive category. Nobody wants them to be used on their own territory. The nuclear ’haves’ use aircraft, submarines, long-range missiles, etc., to detonate nukes as far away from themselves as possible. And their destruction capacity is anything but limited.
7. From balance of power to a-symmetry and dominance
Over the years, NATO has moved from a doctrine of balance as peace-promoting to a doctrine of superiority. During the first Cold War, the Warsaw Pact’s military expenditures were 65-75% of NATO’s. Today, Russia’s military expenditures are 8% of NATO’s combined military expenditures. After the war in Ukraine started, a vast re-armament was decided, not the least with a doubling of Germany’s expenditures, which, alone, will become almost twice as big as Russia’s.
Balance is no longer a goal. It’s superiority, seemingly unlimited superiority.
During the first Cold War – the one that ended in 1989-90 – the overarching concept of peace was military balance or the more comprehensive concept of balance of power. It was believed, quite reasonably, that parties – whether individuals or groups – who were, by and large, equally strong were less like to plunge themselves into warfare against each other. It was part and parcel of this – rather Realist – thinking that it was conducive to stability and peace that one player did not become so strong that it could dominate everybody else in a system. In short, some kind of equilibrium.
In the sphere of nuclear weapons, the concept used was the balance of terror. However, after 9/11, the word ‘terror’ has been deliberately dissociated from nuclear weapons and refers today only to non-state actors using terror. That said since any reasonable definition of terror contains the idea that it is the use of violence against innocent people who are not participating in a conflict – such as children on a school bus – to achieve a political goal, all governments that possess nuclear weapons adhere to a terrorist philosophy. That is NATO too.
To put it crudely, leading scholars, politicians and others considered the presence of some kind of balance essential for a system’s or society’s stability, security and peace. Here is how 99 year old Henry Kissinger sees it and criticises US policies and NATO in Ukraine for increasing the risk of all-out war. If Kissinger of all is worried about Western war-mongering, you should be even more…
That is no longer so, and that opens up for de-stabilisation and a-symmetric conflicts with top-dogs and under-dogs.
Since the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the trend has been toward superiority and creating an ever more a-symmetric conflict formation. As pointed out above, in sharp contrast to the situation during the First Cold War, Russia’s military expenditures are dwarfed by NATO’s thirty members’. The nuclear weapons category is the only one in which Russia roughly balances NATO.
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the a-symmetry and lack of balance are destined to be much larger; we’ve presented some important armament initiatives under argument 1 and 27. Russia will hardly be able to compensate or catch up and, thus, sooner or later, Russia’s military expenditures will be way lower than 8%, perhaps only 5, 4 or 3%, of NATO’s.
Irrespective of these facts, representatives and advocates of NATO will likely continue to deceive the world with arguments that Russia remains a formidable threat to the Alliance. But it simply isn’t.
And there is nothing to build such an assertion on: Historically, it is the West that has invaded the Soviet Union. Neither the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact, nor Russia have ever threatened to or invaded a NATO member state. Moreover, when the system fell apart in 1989-1990, no doctrines nor military plans for an unprovoked attack on NATO members were found in the archives. But the Warsaw Pact did have war plans for how to stop and push back a NATO aggressor, including with the use of nuclear weapons.
We are back to a simple point that militarism does not want us to know about and protest: To get taxpaying citizens to accept that their money is spent on the military – defence, deterrence or attack – you must create a sense of danger and fear in them. The MIMAC – Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex – cannot continue churning out new absurdly costly weapons without images of an enemy.
Whether real or invented, there has to be an enemy out there threatening us – we, the good guys – and, thus, most security policy is driven by fearology: make people fear for their lives or their health, and unless they possess special knowledge, they are likely to give in and not only pay but also believe in their government’s role as their – military – protector and peace-maker.
By and large, they are deceived because there is not even peace in the simplest sense of the word, namely a situation of non-war. Instead, there is war in today’s Europe, and there is tension-building in many other parts of the world where one or more NATO members are involved.
But of course, it is not so easy to operate an allegedly ‘defensive’ peace-making alliance like NATO when you consider that its leader, the United States, has been at war 225 out of 243 years since 1776 and masterminded about 70 regime changes during the Cold War.
8. The concept of peace: NATO’s outdated security thinking devoid of peace
Its basic philosophy prioritises weapons in a deterrence mode – no matter the problem to be solved or the threat to be reduced. Military peace based on deterrence and thereby potential offensiveness, will never bring peace – has never brought peace. As world renown peace research, Johan Galtung, has said it succinctly: Just turn the thinking upside down: Make peace first and then secure it.
NATO’s peace concept – something that comes as a result of deterrence, forward defence and – the last 30 years – expansion is obsolete, counterproductive and dangerous. We know that NATO has failed to bring peace to Europe.
In its place, the world needs common security, human security and global security – much more free of the state and of the weapons ‘culture’; it requires a defensive military doctrine and a much better balance between military power and civilian conflict resolution. It needs a return to and strong back-up to the norms of the UN Charter, not the least Article 1 about making peace by peaceful means and only, when everything has been tried and found in vain, a military activity can start under the leadership of the UN, not the US or NATO.
NATO stands in the way, not the least due to its colossal costs and monopoly of the means of destruction, for the realisation of alternatives – alternative thinking about defence, security and peace.
Thus, for example, not one of its fibres would be receptive to the ideas of common security, cooperation, civil conflict-resolution, confidence-building, and the like. Furthermore, its tremendous resource consumption and the attention to military hardware stand in the way of solving humanity’s fundamental problems – be they climate change and environmental decay, poverty, or justice, not to speak about finally achieving the noble UN goals of general and complete disarmament and the building of new security and peace structures relevant to both the present and the future world.
We have seen above how NATO is the largest military consumer in a world that needs completely different priorities – no, not just to become better but to survive.
The entire NATO ’culture’ is inimical to the UN norm of making peace by peaceful means. Just look at the Ukraine conflict: NATO members’ solution is to pump weapons into Ukraine, fight Russia there and cut off – cancel – Russia on all other dimensions. It is not to employ creativity and solve the problems – the conflict – that stands (has long stood) between NATO and Russia.
What could peace be?
One answer is to develop security and secure development for all human beings and the whole human being. It’s a situation in which you use the least violence, or no violence, to solve conflicts.Negative peace is about reducing violence – direct physical or psychological, cultural, gender, structural and against Nature. Positive peace is about developing society’s potential of whatever type – material, cultural, spiritual.
This is parallel to health – negative health is about reducing diseases and pain; positive health is about feeling good, energetic, open to the world and cooperative. It’s psychological and physical conviviality.
NATO does not even think such thoughts. You find nothing about peace in its documents. Words such as nonviolence, mediation, reconciliation, forgiveness, tension-reduction, de-escalation, peace scenarios, common security, mutual early warning, confidence-building, violence prevention, etc., are simply not part of NATO’s vocabulary, of NATO’s ’paradigm’ or worldview.
The citizens of NATO members – and humanity as a whole – are not the actual beneficiaries of that military dinosaur. The real beneficiary is the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC, which exists beyond democratic control in all NATO member states (except Iceland, which has neither a military nor a military industry). The other beneficiary is the Unted States of America because it leads and nothing can be done in NATO that is not compatible with the global interests and full-spectrum control of Washington. And Washington is the capital of the world’s last empire.
NATO’s Treaty is rather much a copy of the UN Charter. NATO’s policies, in sharp contrast, have developed over time to be the single largest destroyer of its principles. Virtually everything it does also prevents the realisation of the solemn UN goal of general and complete disarmament and nuclear abolition in particular.
C) NATO has failed to make peace
9. NATO violates its Treaty daily
Does it operate within its treaty from 1949, or has it taken on a shape that transgresses its purpose and potentially violates that Treaty?
Before we start, let’s recall the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO’s) provisions, and its purpose as stated in its founding Treaty of 1949 – my italics:
“The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.
They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”
“The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”
“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations…”
Remember, the UN Charter is about nonviolence and the abolition of war. It’s about using peaceful means to achieve peace and only using UN-organised military means, as detailed in Chapter 7, if and when all civilian means have been tried and found to be in vain, i.e. violence as a last resort.
Probably, most security-interested people have never even read NATO’s founding treaty. They do not know that it is basically a copy of the UN Charter with Article 5 added and – paradoxically – stipulates that NATO shall “settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”
NATO’s primary tool is weapons, not conflict-resolution through mediation, dialogue and negotiations. If it was aimed at peace by peaceful means, how come it and its member states invest so overwhelmingly, year after year, in armament, military infrastructure, huge military exercises, forward military deployment and more military bases in ever more countries – the US alone over 600 bases in over 130 countries?
NATO’s answer will be deterrence – however, never defined, as we saw under B). Whatever NATO does, it is for deterrence, dissuading Russia from attacking it. But this entire thought construction or “philosophy” is illogical, if not delusional.
You will also notice that the ultimate foundation of the alliance is nuclear weapons and, not to be overlooked, the right to use them first and even against a conventional attack. However, nuclear weapons are not mentioned anywhere in its Treaty.
The Alliance’s reliance on nuclear weapons/deterrence prevents its members from supporting the legally binding UN Treaty on The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) that entered into force in 2021.
Further, the Treaty has no provisions for military operations outside its members’ area. This means that NATO’s military operations in, for instance, Yugoslavia – Serbia and Kosovo – in 1999, as well as in Libya in 2014, were indisputable “out-of-area operations” which violated its Treaty. No NATO country was threatened or attacked. It also violated the UN Charter and other provisions of international law in that there was not a UN mandate for the bombing of Yugoslavia and only provisions concerning a No-Fly Zone in Libya, not for the destruction of the country or the killing of its head of state.
While seldom discussed, these and other severe violations of the NATO Treaty indicated a change of orientation and self-understanding. Moreover, they opened the path to the incremental globalisation of NATO that we shall return to below.
Furthermore, it pointed in the direction of having its defensive aspects – collective member defence according to Article 5 – give way to the more offensive mode.
More recently, NATO countries’ massive arming of Ukraine in the spring and summer of 2022 – at way over US$ 50 billion at the time of writing – must be perceived as another gross violation of its Treaty because Ukraine is not a member of the alliance and Ukraine, therefore, is not entitled to any NATO action under Article 5. Here you’ll learn how NATO presents its engagement in Ukraine since 1991.
The musketeer idea of all-for-one-and-one-for-all (Article 5) has some rationality and, in principle, embodies a defensive thinking compatible with the UN Charter’s Article 51 about the right to self-defence: in this case, collective self-defence. However, NATO’s de facto behaviour is very far from its Treaty, its words and its spirit.
A series of NATO operations such as in Yugoslavia, Libya, and now Ukraine may indicate the complete departure from that founding Treaty of 1949 – as every reader of it will be able to verify.
It is time to establish an international legal investigation: How far from its legal foundation can an organisation deviate over time before it becomes unlawful?
10. NATO lost its raison d’etre 30 years ago
NATO was established in 1949, the Soviet Union applied for membership in 1954, got a “No”, and then established the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Contrary to much public belief, NATO was established years before the Warsaw Pact.
When in the late 1970s, I was working on my doctoral dissertation, I went to Brussels and interviewed a handful of NATO officers at the alliance’s headquarters. They unanimously told me: We are here to work for peace and prevent a repetition of the Second World War – the war their parents and they as children had experienced. They then pointed to the threat – of course, the Soviet Union with its Communist ideology system and its system of allies in the Warsaw Pact. They were fighting for the free world.
The main, or classical, enemy image NATO operated with was that of the Communist Soviet Union and, later, Russia which is no ideological challenge. While alliance members have recently pointed to other threats – e.g. Iran or China – it is not yet what occupies it 24/7. It’s Russia.
It should be pretty easy to recognise that NATO – having lost its enemy completely – should have been closed down, and something new established along the vision the last Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev mentioned again and again at the time: A new all-European House.
NATO’s enemy # 1 had not been beaten. Instead, it was dissolved by decision and disappeared – a disappearance predicted by only about a handful of experts. While the Warsaw Pact’s military expenditures had fluctuated over time from 65% to 75% of NATO, Russia’s had fallen to way under 10%, and today, after NATO’s expansion and further armament, it is 8%. And recently it has decreased.
What empirical reality could there be that justified NATO’s quickly resumed view that Russia was a threat to the alliance and its members?
“We are going to do a terrible thing to you. We are going to deprive you of an enemy. It’s historical, it’s human, you have to have an enemy. So much was built out of this role of the enemy. Your foreign policy, quite a bit of your economy, even your feelings about your country. To have a really good empire, you must have a really evil one.
But now the Soviet foe was gone. I cannot imagine that we will play this game again and without us, you cannot play it either.”
TFF’s Statement of February 1989 about the implications of the profound historical changes essentially said precisely that. However, both Arbatov and TFF was wrong; NATO could play the game without the Russians being – or wanting to be – a threat.
NATO chose not to listen and pursued two contradictory and incompatible paths instead: A) to promise Gorbachev that NATO would not expand further to the East if he accepted that East and West Germany were united in NATO and Eastern Germany thus became NATO territory and Soviet troops would leave, and B) to anyhow start NATO’s expansion in 1994 under the Clinton administration’s leadership – inviting Ukraine to become a member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1991) and the Partnership for Peace programme (1994).
Thus, NATO chose to re-invent itself through a kind of No expansion but expansion policy – that all Russian leaders ever since have protested vehemently.
A completely new situation had emerged in Europe; the old First Cold War had ended while NATO anyhow chose not to spearhead the much-needed radically different European security and peace architecture.
This very complex and complicated – rather “unbelievable” – process and its details is uniquely well described by American historian of international relations, Mary Elise Sarotte in her 550-page 2021 book, Not One Inch. America, Russia And The Making Of Post-Cold War Stalement. Should one or both military pacts dissolve? What about the divided Germany? Could it become a member of NATO as a confederation or as one unified country? What about the nuclear weapons? What would come after the Soviet Union? After the Warsaw Pact? Who would control what in the upcoming, fundamentally changed situation? How fast would the transition to something new and unknown be? Could we learn to live without the image of “the others” as our enemies, etc.?
You get a sense of the complexities, what was at stake and the – contrasting – US/European position immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall when Sarotte writes:
“With unification (of Germany, JO) on the horizon, the Cold War dividing line between the two Germanies was going to disappear. It was an open question whether the Atlantic Alliance would as well. Moscow could make a compelling case that, with border fortifications coming down, Bonn no longer needed NATO – so why not trade a superfluous alliance for national unity and a new relationship with eastern neighbours? Even before the Wall had fallen, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had spoken of building a common European home. Although the details remained vague, he seemed to have in mind a pan-European organization stretching from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains or even the Pacific Ocean. President George H. W. Bush, in contrast, had a clear goal: to maintain NATO and secure its future in a united Germany by extending Article 5 to that country’s new eastern territory. His response to the idea that Moscow might decide Germany’s relationship with NATO was unequivocal: ‘to hell with that’.” (p. 43).
So, NATO existence and NATO expansion above all else. To hell with possible alternatives.
11. If NATO has not created peace to this day, it won’t tomorrow
This Catalogue is authored in the summer of 2022. Since February 24, Europe and, potentially, the rest of the world faces unprecedented risks of a larger war, including the risk of nuclear weapons being used. The NATO/Russia conflict is being played out militarily on Ukraine’s territory and politically, socially, culturally, energy-wise and transport-wise between Russia and the NATO/EU world. (No, it is not predominantly a Russia-Ukraine conflict, it is a NATO-Russia conflict).
It seems as if decision-makers on all sides ignored every analysis of even the short and medium-range consequences of their dangerous steps, leaving it to their citizens to bear the heavy price for their irresponsible and ill-considered panic policies and tit-for-tat reactions – the Ukrainians more than anybody else.
As mentioned above, NATO’s 30 member states cover 57% of the world’s military expenditures. In addition, NATO has 40 partners spread over all continents except Central and South America. It’s the strongest military alliance in human history. Its “defensive” and “deterrent” conventional and nuclear weapons dwarf anyone on earth. As a group, it has a hugely superior power compared with any other single country or group to create the peaceful world it has promised over and over since 1949 – 73 years.
This unique political power – and military Juggernaut – has not been able to shape the promised peace. Instead, we are living today in a perilous moment in human history. Is it really likely that only some of the military dwarfs around it cause this de facto permanent peacelessness and have spoiled NATO’s noble peace endeavours?
If NATO was a globally respected world peace-maker, doing peace and security much better than the UN has over about the same time, how come only some East European countries have wanted to join or be wooed? In contrast, the majority of the world’s governments – 92% – would never even dream of joining NATO like they have the UN.
Admittedly, these are rhetorical questions. The answer is that NATO has failed miserably in its alleged role as a regional peacemaker and global actor. Suppose the overarching thinking and theories about military defence, armament, deterrence, expansion, etc., on which NATO has built itself over 73 years have not produced anything that can be called peace. If so, isn’t this a reasonable intellectual, political and moral question: Should we try to make peace in some other way in the future?
But no NATO Believer would dare raise such a question which would amount to swearing in the church.
Perhaps the tragic situation in the NATO/Russia conflict that plays out now on Ukraine’s territory is the single most crucial proof that something is deeply wrong with NATO’s whole mode of operation. We shall pursue this line of reasoning in the section on NATO and Ukraine below (Section E).
12. NATO will not live without nuclear weapons: Ignores abolition
The world has decided that nuclear weapons shall be abolished. Here are the facts from the first two lines about it on Wikipedia: ”The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal being their total elimination. It was adopted on 7 July 2017, opened for signature on 20 September 2017 and entered into force on 22 January 2021.
As of 29 June 2022, 66 states have ratified or acceded to the treaty, and another 23 states have signed but not ratified the TPNW.
The writing on the wall is as clear as that! Nuclear abolition is now a global goal based on a UN Treaty. Those who keep on possessing nuclear weapons defy international law: NATO as an alliance and its members, the US, the UK and France plus Israel, Russia, India, Pakistan, North Korea, China, and Israel.
NATO is a nuclear alliance through its nuclear members and through its alliance doctrine, which is spelt out here:
”Nuclear weapons are a core component of NATO’s overall capabilities for deterrence and defence, alongside conventional and missile defence forces. NATO is committed to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, but as long as nuclear weapons exist, it will remain a nuclear alliance.”
Take note of nuclear weapons as core of NATO and for defence – which NATO members want them used in defence of their own territories? Note the fake commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation without mentioning abolition. And note the last absurd statement which means – since nuclear weapons exist in NATO – that they will never be abolished.
For instance, the US has a Nuclear Posture Review in which the conditions for the use of nuclear weapons are embedded. The present author has called it the world’s most dangerous document.
It implies that the US includes the option of using nuclear weapons against a purely conventional attack, even a cyber attack. This way of thinking, of course, will influence NATO in any situation where the nuclear option is contemplated.
What about a No First Use policy? This idea implies that a country pledges to only use nuclear weapons against a nuclear attack, not against a conventional attack on it. China and India are the only two nuclear weapons states committed to such a No First Use policy. Regrettably, Russia, the UK, the US and all other nuclear powers reject adopting a No First Use policy.
Nuclear weapons are not mentioned in NATO’s founding treaty of 1949. The fact that the alliance is based on nuclear deterrence – and nuclear use – is, in no possible way, compatible with calling itself ’defensive.’ How it fits into the peaceful basic provisions of the treaty on which it is based also remains forever enigmatic.
That nuclear weapon is a real option also appears from a RAND study in 2016: ”As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad.”
So, if you believe in such a scenario and how little NATO can do, there are only nuclear weapons left to threaten with and use. In today’s Ukraine scenario, that is a situation Russia may one day be in – particularly if, in reality, it is fighting against NATO weapons more than Ukrainian forces and is about to lose.
In passing, you may think also of how such scenarios are created – in all of them, Russia rolls in to the Baltic NATO members’ capitals in less than 60 hours. We are now in the 6th month since the Russians rolled into Ukraine which is not a NATO member. Exaggerating the threat and the opponent’s forces? (See argument 4).
Notice finally the arrogance with which NATO, in reality, turns down any nuclear disarmament, let alone abolition – ”but as long as nuclear weapons exist, it will remain a nuclear alliance.” NATO will, as expected, not take even the smallest step towards respecting the new nuclear weapon ban treaty. It will wait until everybody else has abolished their nukes – down to two, one may assume from the formulation – before it will start reducing its arsenals, about half of the world’s nukes.
Indeed, the formulation is philosophical nonsense. If NATO remains nuclear, there exist nuclear weapons in the world. However, for as long as they exist, NATO will ”remain a nuclear alliance.” Or does NATO see itself as a future global nuclear monopoly while everybody has signed the TPNW?
There has never been a referendum anywhere about nuclear weapons. All polls we have been able to find show that majorities worldwide are against these weapons. All nuclear weapons states therefore act in defiance of democracy. Since they have the power to wipe us all out but have never asked permission to have such power, they can aptly be called nuclear dictatorships – irrespective of what their system and society otherwise may look like.
Here is one of the world’s absolutely leading experts on this existential issue, Daniel Ellsberg – a man who, probably more than any other, deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, but won’t get it because of the Nobel Committee’s ignorance of Alfred Nobel’s will. He calls nuclear war plan planning (that all nuclear powers do) the most evil plan on earth.
If NATO were a defensive alliance for democracy, it would encourage that referendums be held in all member states about the existence and/or use of nuclear weapons. If it did operate according to the rule of law, it would take steps to respect the global abolition norms embedded in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in the UN goal of general and complete disarmament and in the TPNW.
Simple as that. But it isn’t! Not one nuclear weapons state would dare to hold such a referendum because all nuclear weapons use – and that is what is integrated in NATO’s nuclear terror/deterrence – is insane and they know it. They also know – or ought to – that no nuclear exist that is not meant for use if deterrence fails. (See Argument 5). Now listen carefully:
13. Russia has repeatedly wanted to become a NATO member: But No!
It should be well-known by now – but isn’t – that Russia has attempted more than once to join NATO. When in the spring 1990, Gorbachev understood that some of the Warsaw countries might join NATO, he argued that that would be OK if they wanted it themselves, but the US should not promote it – and then added in a conversation with James Baker, the US secretary of foreign affairs: “If the whole of united Germany is going into NATO, then maybe we should go in as well?” He also told French president Francois Mitterrand that if they did join NATO, he would demand entry for the Soviet Union as well. (Sarotte p. 87).
Vladimir Putin asked to join NATO shortly after becoming president. However, Putin – Russia – wanted to be invited as an equal partner and not sit and wait till Montenegro had become a member, to put it bluntly. NATO decided to close the door at Putin’s request.
This – fantastic – story is told by a former NATO Secretary-General, George Robertson; there is no reason to assume that it is not credible or just a rumour. Or, for that matter, that Putin was not serious.
And what an exciting thought: Russia in NATO! Who would Mr Stoltenberg and Mr Blinken – and all the rest of the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC – then have to put all the blame on? How then legitimate NATO’s permanent armament and its 12 times higher military expenditures than Russia’s?
Mr Stoltenberg must know that he is twisting the truth when he repeats ad libitum that NATO keeps an open door for countries that want to join and are qualified. For Russia, it doesn’t, never did. It doesn’t even have open ears for Russia’s security concerns (which every NATO member, the U.S. in particular, would consider reasonable if a Russian military alliance incrementally crept close to their borders).
History repeated itself. The Soviet Union wanted to join NATO in early 1954 – five years after NATO had been created. It got a “No!” And set up the Warsaw Pact in 1955.
D) NATO’s expansion as raison d’etre
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO had a problem: What are we here for now? NATO lost its raison d’etre with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact about 30 years ago. Instead of closing down the alliance and shaping a new European/Atlantic security architecture, expansion of the old, outdated alliance eventually moved up to become the top priority.
Expansion itself became the raison d’etre: Expand and fight Russia in Ukraine if necessary – or die. Whether intended or not, the decision to expand was what guaranteed that, at some point, the alliance would again have adversaries and thrive. The Madrid Summit was one big demo of how self-assured and how right the alliance – “history’s most succesful” – has always been and now it stands together for as long as it takes and can over-arm ad absurdum out of all proportions. NATO’s mission just got a huge boost by Russia’s ill-considered invasion that handed NATO and also Sweden and Finland all the arguments: Look how necessary NATO is, like never before! As has been stated repeatedly: Putin wanted less NATO but he got more.
One wonders how NATO would exist if Russia had become a NATO member and Ukraine’s integration in such a new European peace system would therefore have been problem-free.
With the constant expansion, you increase your territory and power but also risk antagonising some actors in the international system who do not want to be the object of – or spectator to your ever-closer – expansion. Or the next in line.
As we shall see in Section E), the Ukrainian people had no such wish when NATO entered Ukraine – to make Ukraine enter NATO.
14. The promises given to Gorbachev – and broken
We’ve already said something above about those well-documented statements to the effect that NATO would not expand to the east, given at the time when the alliance had 16 members. Lets’ now turn to how Mikhail Gorbachev ended up being deceived.
Mary E. Sarotte, in her brilliant book, “Not One Inch,” writes (p. 68): “Kohl (Chancellor Helmuth Kohl, JO) announced, in keeping with what he had told Gorbachev, that NATO would move ‘no units or structures’ onto what he hoped would soon be former East German territory. To emphasize the point, the chancellor insisted that both Genscher (German foreign minister, JO) and Stoltenberg (German defence minister, JO) state publicly that they agreed with this view, which they did. Genscher then doubled down at a conference with fellow European leaders on February 21 (1990, JO). He repeated yet again that there would be “no expansion of NATO beyond its previous region.”
The United States was very concerned that Kohl had thereby already made a deal with Gorbachev without sufficient consultation with the US. So President George H. W. Bush called him and his advisers, however not Genscher, to turn up at Camp David on February 24. There, among many other pressures, Bush told Kohl that “the Soviets are not in a position to dictate Germany’s relationship with NATO. What worries me is talk that Germany must not stay in NATO. To hell with that.” A hardline, he went on, was necessary because “we prevailed and they didn’t. We can’t let the Soviets clutch victory from the jaws of defeat.” (p. 73).
As a response to that victorious talk about who could dictate what to whom, Kohl backs down with the argument that Gorbachev might perhaps just have been trying “poker tactics” and that the game “might end up as a matter of cash. They need money” – to which Bush responded that “you’ve got deep pockets.” (p. 73)
On the 25th, Bush summarised the deal with Kohl – and faith accompli for Gorbachev – that the soon-to-come unified Germany would be a full member of NATO. He thereby dismissed other options such as a confederation, neutrality, or a special status with no foreign troops in the Eastern part. Bush had handed Kohl both unification and full NATO membership. Still, Kohl also broke everything he and his ministers had just said four days before. As one present there concluded – it was “bad news for Gorbachev,” and Sarotte summarises the result of this fateful meeting of contemporary history by saying that “it was. Gorbachev had lost the big game. Kohl had tipped the balance in favour of Bush’s objectives.” (p. 74).
Mary Sarotte quotes Robert Gates [centrally placed and shortly after to become CIA chief, JO]: “In his memoirs, Robert Gates wrote of the strategy after Camp David that “we were trying on two levels to bribe the Soviets out of Germany.” First, “knowing of their desperate economic circumstances, West Germany was offering them a pile of money to agree to unification in NATO” … ”Second, advanced “a number of proposals” on the alliance’s future, all designed to render “unification in NATO acceptable” to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev” (p 76).
Gates and the US National Security Council, NSC, – as part of the “Mighty Game of Poker” – also made a list of “bedrock issues on which we cannot compromise.” The number one item and absolute top priority was “Germany in NATO.” Number two was “no tradeoff between unification and denuclearization of Germany.” (Sarotte p. 77).
Gorbachev – the Soviet Union – would have to be bribed – and cheated. The US’ main concern was NATO, not a new security structure or, in fact, what the Soviets would feel about it in the longer term future.
Gorbachev would have to withdraw his 380 000 troops from East Germany – soon-to-be NATO. Germany actually paid the Russian soldiers there because Russia itself couldn’t. In reality, that was NATO’s first expansion. It was the US that – de facto – dictated its NATO priority to Kohl/Germany, who then had to break his personal promises to Gorbachev.
The de facto humiliation of the Soviet Union and Gorbachev himself was calculated but the United States could get away with it.
Gorbachev had all reasons to feel cheated, and he did. This was the response he got to his constructive vision about building a new common all-European home without military blocs and confrontations. His successors, Yeltsin and Putin and leaders close to them have repeatedly protested NATO’s successive expansions with that cheating in memory.
During these weeks and months, other Western leaders also assured Gorbachev that NATO would not expand – Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Wörner (NATO’s S-G at the time). Here is then NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner’s view and statement:
“Woerner had given a well-regarded speech in Brussels in May 1990 in which he argued: “The principal task of the next decade will be to build a new European security structure, to include the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations. The Soviet Union will have an important role to play in the construction of such a system. If you consider the current predicament of the Soviet Union, which has practically no allies left, then you can understand its justified wish not to be forced out of Europe.“
Now in mid-1991, Woerner responds to the Russians by stating that he personally and the NATO Council are both against expansion – “13 out of 16 NATO members share this point of view” – and that he will speak against Poland’s and Romania’s membership in NATO to those countries’ leaders as he has already done with leaders of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Woerner emphasizes that “We should not allow […] the isolation of the USSR from the European community.” Quote from my article here.
This is just one of the “cascades” of documented statements and assurances given to the Russians at the time. Over 30 years ago, 13 out of 16 members were against NATO expansion because they respected Russia’s crisis and legitimate security interests! Today – 2022 – NATO has 30 members.
Do these promises and assurances play a significant role today? They are documented by being verbal and found on notes, diaries and memoirs – but not in a formal, legally binding and signed agreement. I would say: Yes, they do – particularly when systematically broken.
Nobody wants to be, or feel, cheated. Nobody wants to feel humiliated. Breaking promises also implies a reduction of trust. And given that this was a highly a-symmetric conflict, the weaker party could only feel that the stronger side took advantage of that weakness. Such things enter individual as well as collective memory. It’s likely to be actualised if another deception comes up later.
Regrettably, the West does not have the moral power to stand by its deeds. There have been several attempts to deny that such promises were given to Gorbachev.
A conspicuous case besides US Secretary of State Blinken is the EU. Its European External Action Service has an East Stratcom Task Force, the flagship of which is the EUvsDisinfo website. There you can read a fantastic piece of counter-disinformation titled “7 Myths about the Russia-Ukraine Conflict Debunked.” One of the myths it believes that it debunks is that Gorbachev was given the mentioned promises that NATO would not expand.
Even NATO itself, in its ”Setting the Record Straight” deceives the public about these promises by saying that such an agreement was never made. It then refers to a statement by Gorbachev that the present author has already identified as citation fraud, written by a former US ambassador to Ukraine.
Incredible as it is, both the EU and NATO deny extremely well-documented historical facts that do not stem from any Soviet or Russian source but from NATO countries. Either they do not know – or remember – a single item of what has been documented here and use amateur fact-finders. Or they know it all, knows that this is extremely sensitive and, therefore, chooses to deceive the world about it.
But these tricks – lies – are too thick to fool people in the know, people who read. Instead, they speak volumes about the bad case the EU and NATO try to defend.
15. All the diplomatic and intellectual expert warnings ignored
On June 26, 1997, a group of 50 prominent foreign policy experts, including former senators, retired military officers, ambassadors and other diplomats, CIA people, and academicians sent an open letter to President Clinton outlining their opposition to NATO expansion.
Dear Mr President,
We, the undersigned, believe that the current U.S.led effort to expand NATO, the focus of the recent Helsinki and Paris Summits, is a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability for the following reasons…
Those three lines were prophetic, a spot-on description of where we are today 25 years later. Clinton – of course, one is tempted to say – didn’t listen. Already the year before, according to the New York Times, he had advocated NATO expansion, told that no country outside NATO would have a say in this and that such an expansion would be good for peace on the continent. He also urged Russia to stop viewing NATO through a “Cold War prism.”
And recently, in an article in The Atlantic, he defends his policy in a typical top-dog, mastering manner without seeing it himself – here is the headline: “I Tried to Put Russia on Another Path. My policy was to work for the best, while expanding NATO to prepare for the worst.” Instead, he prepared the worst.
Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton must bear the primary responsibility for the disastrous exploitation of Russia’s extreme weakness. They were the ones who, triumphalistically, put NATO and the leading role of the US in it over and above all other considerations, including what would have been the best for Russia, Europe East and West – namely, to replace NATO with something that did not belong to the Cold War of the past.
It’s psychologically revealing that he, Clinton, tells Russia not to see NATO through a Cold War prism. Because, what he did at the time was exactly to proceed with the expansion of NATO as a preparation for the worst and, thereby, showed his deep distrust of Russia that may not follow his “help.” Furthermore, in this article, Clinton acknowledges twice that all expansions were met with Russia’s opposition and objections. Shortly after, he bombed several places, including Yugoslavia, and “helped” its dissolution to the gross dismay of Russia, which was far too weak to do anything about it.
In a way, he is right, of course. There was no Cold War anymore and only one bloc: NATO. So why, he may have reasoned without the slightest empathy, would Russia – on its economic, political and military knees – feel that Clinton’s US took advantage of that weakness and tried fast to build full-spectrum dominance in Europe and beyond?
Russia had just deprived the US of its enemy. The US couldn’t let it go. Clinton must have known how much the Russian leaders and people loathed this condescending attitude. And if he really didn’t, President Yeltsin blew up in his face in 1994 in Budapest.
The 50 letter writers above have been joined by dozens of people who know Realpolitik, their history and the minimum elements of common security – such as former US ambassadors to Moscow, George Kennan, William Burns (now CIA director), Henry Kissinger, Robert Gates, world-leadiing American Russia experts such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Cohen – well, you name them.
“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.”
“What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was,” added Mr. Kennan, who was present at the creation of NATO and whose anonymous 1947 article in the journal Foreign Affairs, signed “X,” defined America’s cold-war containment policy for 40 years. ‘”I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand?”
No, they didn’t, or wouldn’t. Exactly the same applies to today’s decision-makers – just worse because of 25 years of virtually un-opposed, self-congratulatory policies and hubris – of everything going so well for so long, so why not continue? And because of what I call the parallel intellectual disarmament in everything having to do with security, not to mention peace.
By the way, Kennan ended the interview thus: “Thanks to Western resolve and the courage of Russian democrats, that Soviet Empire collapsed without a shot, spawning a democratic Russia, setting free the former Soviet republics and leading to unprecedented arms control agreements with the U.S.
And what was America’s response? It was to expand the NATO cold-war alliance against Russia and bring it closer to Russia’s borders.
Yes, tell your children, and your children’s children, that you lived in the age of Bill Clinton and William Cohen, the age of Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger, the age of Trent Lott and Joe Lieberman, and you too were present at the creation of the post-cold-war order, when these foreign policy Titans put their heads together and produced . . . a mouse.
We are in the age of midgets. The only good news is that we got here in one piece because there was another age — one of great statesmen who had both imagination and courage.”
16. Taking advantage of the dissolution of the enemy
Back then, NATO had 16 members; today, it has 30 members plus 40 partner countries on all continents, including Columbia in South America. That makes 70.
It is clear that it is no longer a de facto transatlantic – US/Canada and European – alliance. Instead, it has gone global – NATO Global. And that cannot be done without violating its own founding Treaty.
NATO provides this page about its past and present operations – almost all far away from its membership circle.
Here is the vision of NATO’s present and future global reach stated by Secretary-General Stoltenberg in Latvia on November 30, 2021:
“Fourth, a global outlook.
NATO is, and will remain, an alliance of Europe and North America.
But our region faces global security challenges.
They require global awareness and global reach.
We cannot confine security to specific regions.
What happens far away, matters for us right here.
In fact, many of today’s threats are not restrained by geography, or lines on a map.
Cyber and terrorist attacks, aggressive actions in space, the use of hypersonic glide vehicles and
intercontinental ballistic missiles, and climate change,
are truly global challenges.
Dealing with them requires working closely with like-minded partner countries around the world.
This is not just ‘nice to do’. It is an absolute necessity.
We should intensify our cooperation with NATO’s partners in the Asia-Pacific.
Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
We should engage more also with other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin-America.”
Just in passing: Imagine how the US and other NATO countries would feel and react if China, Russia, the African Union, or the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation had made a similar statement!
In short, it’s now NATO Unlimited, no limits are foreseen – except for designated enemies such as Russia and China. In many cases, it starts with an “initiative” and NATO opening an office, such as the one in Kuwait in 2017: “This is not a full-fledged military cooperation, meaning any collective security guarantees, but it is a way for NATO to work even closer with good friends, good partners in the Gulf region,” NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said. “This NATO Centre in Kuwait is a new home for NATO, and it provides an excellent potential for expanding further our cooperation and we will also provide mobile training teams from our Joint Force Command in Naples that can work together with personnel and officers in the region.”
In Ukraine, NATO established its first liaison office in 1999 and, at its Bucharest Summit in 2008, decided that Ukraine shall become a full NATO member: “We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”
What NATO practises may be called the “faith accompli of small steps” or incrementalism. Each step looks relatively unimportant – taken to improve, say, coordination, cooperation, consultations, perhaps some training – all in the common interest.
A potential new member may move from hosting an office and signing some declaration and small first steps in cooperation, then moves closer to some kind of accession point, receives training, education, security sector reform, promises of integration into the Euro-Atlantic community; then is invited to participate in NATO exercises, meetings and missions to improve its interoperability and integration capabilities with the alliance – so that at the end of the road, NATO will practise it so-called Open Door policy and accept it as a full member according to its 1949 Treaty with its duties and privileges including Article 5.
NATO leaders and the Secretary-General tell the world again and again that NATO stands for every sovereign state’s right to choose its own path.
It is undoubtedly true that many elites in the former Warsaw Pact countries wanted to join NATO and probably proportions of their citizens too. Little is known because the decisions to apply for NATO membership were taken without referendums – also recently in Sweden and Finland. What we do know is that members are also wooed by NATO in many ways (See Section 7 how it was done in the case of Ukraine).
The potential member has never been offered – or considered – alternatives to NATO membership. There has not been any widespread, well-informed public discussion in prospective member states, not to speak of a referendum. The latter would be reasonable in a democracy and because the decision to join NATO is an extremely important one from which you can – but don’t – withdraw.
The entire accession process, therefore, resembles more of the well-known Mafia slogan: an offer you can’t refuse. The difference here is that the prospective member cooperates actively to deserve and then be made the offer. Add to that the image-making of Russia as a significant threat and NATO as a defensive alliance that offers protection from that threatening neighbour. It comes closer to the truth to say that these membership processes operate with quite an amount of deliberate seduction – and with fearology in a new key.
Says professor Gordon Hahn, world renown expert on the area and with a carreer that is not eaxctly left-wing in an article published by TFF’s The Transnational: “Also, from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine to the Transcaucasus to Central Asia, Washington and NATO/EU member-states built networks of supporters in prospective NATO member-states through democracy-promotion assistance and then backed the resulting color revolutions that created a new power elite tied to the West and not Russia. In other words, regime change was used to create partners who would go through NATO’s ‘open door.’ The West essentially decided entry for member-states, offering them an offer they could hardly refuse and also one that economically depressed and politically divided, early post-Soviet Russia could not match. (My italics).
In and of itself, Ukraine is of absolutely no strategic importance to the United States or NATO. However, it has been wooed since the moment of dissolution of the Warsaw Pact with membership in NATO’s North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1991) and the Partnership for Peace programme (1994) and then by the Clinton Administration. Irresponsibly, NATO formally promised Ukraine full membership in 2008. (See Arguments 19-22)
So for pure reasons of pride, NATO cannot today back down and help find another solution for Ukraine. Instead, NATO countries have stepped up – like never before – their military, political, media and economic support to a non-member, a partner.
Secretary-General Stoltenberg talks about the price we must pay now to stop Russia’s ever-increasing aggression and conveniently and (self)deceptively blames that price on Russia. However, there is a much more relevant aspect: We are now paying the price for NATO’s expansion ad absurdum, against all warnings by a series of competent security experts and diplomats and in total defiance of all Russian leaders’ repeated warnings and protests. And also against the Western leaders’ promises given to Mikhail Gorbachev to the effect that NATO would not expand “one inch.”
That Russia’s response was not out of the blue is a stated fact. Stoltenberg talks about it in this conversation with Politico:
“It is not as if NATO suddenly woke up on the 24th of February and realised that we had a challenge with Russia in Europe. We were very well prepared. This was an invasion that was predicted, foreseen by our intelligence services and we shared that intelligence with the broader public last fall. And actually since 2014, we have implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.
This war actually didn’t start, the war in Ukraine did not start in February. It started in 2014. What we saw in February was an escalation with the second invasion by Russian forces. And when that happened, we were well aware we were very well prepared. Because since 2014 we have for the first time in our history, deployed combat ready troops to the eastern part of the Alliance, to the Baltic countries and Poland, and increased the readiness of forces and increased defence spending.”
It’s evident that despite knowing fully the attitude of Russia, the US and other NATO countries continued their interference in Ukraine and their training of the Ukrainian military to prepare it for NATO membership.
Stoltenberg’s narrative is that it all started with Russia’s out-of-the-blue annexation of Crimea. For his narrative to work, he can not mention the US-instigated Maidan Revolution and regime-change in Kyiv in February 2014 that ended with the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanokovych – a sceptic of both EU and NATO membership – and the violent replacement of him with the pro-West Poroshenko and, later, Zelensky leadership, who were both pro of both membership.
Indeed, faking causal chains of events and where they begin and systematically omitting essentially relevant factors from contemporary history is hardly due to forgetfulness but rather more to a need for convenient political distortion. Such manipulation is significant for understanding how NATO apportions guilt to others and omits it’s own co-responsibility.
As has been pointed out by a series of experts such as Gordon Hahn (see later), it was immediately after those events in Kyiv and other processes that Russia seized Crimea, perhaps also at the prospect of having its very important, long-term leased Sevastopol Naval Base ending up in a NATO country?
One may wonder how the US had reacted to such events had it been situated where Russia is, and an opposing alliance had moved up to a couple of minutes of missile travels to its capital. Unfortunately, introspection and the ability or will to live yourself into the situation of “the other” is not a NATO virtue.
NATO sees itself as entirely innocent, if not a victim, of circumstances. The media don’t have the professional capacity to question it; their job is to propagate what comes out of NATO’s Newsroom, summits, etc. It doesn’t matter much that the intellectual level is low. Here, for instance, is how banal its highest representative, in a conversation with Finland’s president, manages to explain this highly complex and drawn-out conflict with Russia over the last 30 years:
“We have to remember, every morning, every day, every hour during the day, there is one man, one nation that is responsible for that – and that is President Putin. Then we have difficult dilemmas, difficult choices, but it is President Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine that has created those dilemmas. And they can be solved by . . . from his side by ending the war.”
In such a statement – and tons like it – Stoltenberg/NATO purges every intellectual, historical and ethical aspect of the Russia-NATO conflict. It’s dangerous because it simplifies beyond reality, is delusional and serves to free oneself from the slightest co-responsibility. It boosts the psychology of self-righteousness or hubris that, in turn, paves the road to even more disastrous decisions.
Sad and dangerous as it is, NATO does not seem to have any brakes. It’s full speed forward, whether reasonable or reckless. Remember the bottom line: Russia shall not have a say in any of this and we can always ”beat Russia to a pulp”!
And if you contemplate the facts and arguments brought forward in this report, you’ll understand why NATO and its member states call the Russian attack on Ukraine ‘unprovoked.’ It doesn’t take a psychologist to see that this word is chosen precisely because NATO Believers know that the Russians as well as many critical knowledgeable people in NATO countries would see it as extremely provocative.
What about expansion as such, the growth from 16 to 30 plus, soon, also Finland and Sweden? Does the world want a global NATO? Here is how Chris Hedges recently answered that question very thoughtfully and called NATO the most dangerous alliance on the planet.
Major decision-makers and statesmen thirty years ago were intellectual giants compared with those of today. They knew that the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact had to be handled with care and that very delicate and complex issues were at stake. At the end of the day, they also did not compromise with Russia but pushed through their own NATO expansion agenda. But they did evaluate risks and advantages and at least some of the long-term consequences of their strategies and actions. That intellectual level doesn’t exist today.
You may experience that yourself by reading Mary E. Sarotte’s “Not One Inch. America, Russia and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate,” go through this US Senate hearing from 1997 on the pros and cons of NATO expansion. Almost all were very conscious of this aspect of their decisions: How will Russia perceive it? What responses can we expect from the Russians if… How do we go about it in a smart way?
Neither in the US nor Europe of today – not to mention the NATO HQ in Brussels – would such an informed, diverse and knowledge-based discussion be possible. The sense of having won over the Soviet Union/Russia, of being vastly superior – able to “beat Russia to a pulp” – seems to have driven alliance policies to general and complete intellectual disarmament and a dangerous feeling of cost-free omnipotence. Hubris.
Where weapons and limitless funds go in for decades, cautiously thinking statesman-like prudence often goes out. The NATO Believers’ groupthink dominates, and the reality outside the box fades. We are history’s most successful alliance, we are vastly superior, we can do what we want and we will.
NATO doesn’t have to listen to any concerns Russia may have. Devoid of empathy, prudence and statesmanship, why should you listen when you are so superior? Common security with Russia? To hell with that, one can hear in the meeting rooms.
Did the Western leaders promise Gorbachev not to expand NATO by as much as one inch to get Eastern and Western Germany unified in NATO and not as a neutral state and secure nuclear weapons would stay in Europe?
As we have shown in D) Argument 14 in particular, the empirical evidence is overwhelming, although there are different interpretations as to what those promises meant, the circumstances under which they were made, and the fact that they were never written down in a document with signatures.
The author has provided a series of sources in this comprehensive analysis before the mentioned majestic analysis by Sarotte in “NATO Expansion: Blinken and Stoltenberg lie intentionally and the media let them.” A particularly significant source is the US National Security Archive at George Washington University which presented what it calls ‘cascades’ of evidence. This article also quotes extremely important statements by other centrally placed politicians, including NATO’s then Secretary-General Manfred Wörner, that the West would not take advantage of the demise of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact by expanding NATO.
Sarotte’s book offers indispensable documentation based on many years of studies and the first-ever use of archive material and over 100 personal interviews. On pages 55 to 67, she outlines how German Chancellor Helmuth Kohl managed to extract an agreement from a hesitant Gorbachev that the German people had the right to decide freely about their unification without conditions in the security sphere, such as – if so – united Germany would have to be neutral. Kohl could also offer food aid to the Soviet Union since it was on its knees. Here are a couple of quotes from those passages:
“With Gorbachev, the chancellor (Kohl, JO) instead used the phrasing about NATO’s future most conducive to getting the Soviet leader to agree, namely, words similar to those of Baker (US Secretary of State, JO): ‘naturally, NATO could not expand its territory to the current territory of the GDR’ (East Germany, JO).” (Page 58).
“As Genscher (German foreign minister, JO) put it to the Soviet foreign minister in their parallel session: For us, it is clear: NATO will not extend itselfto the East.” (Page 58).
“Baker then repeated (in talks with Gorbachev, JO) the key concept from his talks with Shevardnadze (Soviet foreign minister, JO) in a form of a question, unwittingly touching off a controversy that would last for decades: “Would you prefer to see a unified Germany outside of NATO, independent and with no US forces, or would you prefer a unified Germany to be tied to NATO, with assurances that NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position?” The Soviet leader replied that any expansion of the “zone of NATO” was not acceptable. And, according to Gorbachev, Baker answered, “we agree with that.” (Page 55).
This is one of the many places where the now famous “not one inch” seems to have been stated – and perceived as a promise to Mikhail Gorbachev that that limitation on NATO – no future expansion to the East – was the quid-pro-quo for Germany to be united.
As stated, there were decision-makers who could take the other side into account, even discuss future options with them and consider their interests before making decisions. There were people who listened, showed at least some empathy and almost constantly dialogued through phones and personal encounters. And there was a kind of decency, moderation and will to compromise, to negotiate. And there was also a visionary, intellectual and charismatic Soviet leader, for sure.
However, Russia ended up being deceived – both by the time of the German unification and a few years later by Bill Clinton.
To quote Mary E. Sarotte again: ”West Germans had seriously considered a permanent prohibition on foreign NATO forces crossing the old Cold War line. Bush had to intervene personally at the last minute as part of the American effort to block that significant precedent and force Bonn to defend NATO’s options in the post-Cold War world. German unification and NATO enlargement eastward had become, at least, inseparably fused.” (p. 106) – and ”According to National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, defence secretary Dick Cheney ’thought we ought to do everything we could to break up the Soviet Union.’ Secretary of state James Baker disagreed…” (p. 108, my italics).
Bill Clinton continued to embark on NATO expansion from 1994 in defiance of all those well-documented promises. It was also under his leadership that NATO bombed Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1995 and, in 1999, bombed Serbia and its province, Kosovo, for 78 days.
They were NATO’s first out-of-area operations (suggested by Dick Cheney in 1990, see Sarotte page 110) that had no UN mandate but rested on one of Clinton’s public lies: that president Milosevic was Europe’s ‘new Hitler’ who was planning a ‘genocide’ on Albanians (at a time when more than 100 000 Albanians lived peacefully in Belgrade). It was also a crystal clear violation of NATO’s own Treaty since none of the involved countries was a NATO member. Immediately thereafter, the US set up its largest military base outside the US since the Vietnam War, the Bondsteel Base, in Kosovo.
Here as everywhere else in this analysis, it must be remembered that the United States is the NATO member that calls the shots and pays most of the bill – and sets the tone and the norms of the alliance.
Russia took note of that type of NATO expansion too but could do nothing to prevent it.
17. Other expansions including the Ballistic Missile Defence, BMD
The phrase “NATO expansion” normally refers to the admission of new member states to the East of what was NATO in 1989. One may call it horizontal expansion.
There are other types of expansion. They are likely to be more or less provocative in the eyes of an adversary – be it various steps towards containment, the strengthening of defence and deterrence in NATO parlance on the Eastern flank ever closer to Russia, huge multi-nation military exercises on the territories of member and partner states; Host Nation Support agreements such as with Sweden, and the recent decisions to station American (and other) troops permanently in countries that have always refrained from that option, such as Norway and Denmark.
The majority of them may be seen as steps in a vertical expansion, like stockpiling weapons and troops and increasing the military deterrence and defence capabilities; others may be seen as both horizontal and vertical.
For instance, the deployment of the BMD – the Ballistic Missile Defence – may be such a type. Its purpose is – popularly expressed – to shoot down bullets with bullets. Here is NATO’s video:
NATO presents it – of course – as purely defensive. Here is NATO’s presentation of it. And there, under “Evolution”, you will also find this description of it in the 2010 Strategic Concept:
“The 2010 Strategic Concept recognises, inter alia, that “the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, threatens incalculable consequences for global stability and prosperity. During the next decade, proliferation will be most acute in some of the world’s most volatile regions“. “Therefore, NATO will develop the capability to defend our populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of our collective defence, which contributes to the indivisible security of our Alliance“.
For a long time, NATO argued that this was to guard Europe against all kinds of new missiles – which were “proliferating,” particularly from the South. Iran was mentioned, although Iran did not have anything that would be able to reach Europe or a motive for doing that and then be pulverised by the US and/or Israel.
In reality, and as mentioned, the BMD philosophy has to do also with nuclear deterrence or, rather, nuclear use – Nuclear Use Theories (NUTs) as an alternative to or extension of the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine.
If A feels sure – although it cannot be known with 100% certainty – that he can shoot down retaliatory, second-strike missiles that may approach his territory after he has launched his first strike against B, then he will be more tempted – feel less hesitant – to strike first, hoping not to be destroyed. That is, you lower the nuclear threshold by reducing the probability of mutual destruction. That means moving from MAD toward NUTs.
Here is a video where the author explained this already in 2008:
Such a system is – of course – anything but defensive. On the contrary, the opponent will see it as grossly de-stabilising precisely because it can be used in the belief that “we can start and try to destroy the others, prevent them from retaliating and destroying us and, thus, we can hope to win once and for all over them.” That is, start and win a (nuclear) war unscathed.
NATO’s BMD elements are found in Turkey, Romania, Poland, Germany and Spain. Russia has all reasons to see its deployment as unfriendly and provocative.
18. NATO goes global: the US Cold War against China
It is obvious that the alliance sees itself as EuroAtlantic-based but operating ever more globally. It has 20 partner countries in its Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), 7 in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, 4 in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) and 9 partners “around the globe.” That makes 40. (See which countries here and map here). It has, or has had, these military operations way outside NATO countries.
NATO’s leader, the United States, is fully engaged in a Cold War against China. This is documented in the TFF report “Behind the Smokescreen Report. An Analysis of the West’s Destructive China Cold War Agenda And Why It Must Stop” (2021). The US defines China as the greatest long-term challenge – threat. NATO defines Russia as the most immediate threat but stated at the 2022 Madrid Summit that “The People’s Republic of China’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values.”
Here is a very recent scholarly Chinese report: ‘We Should Have No Illusions About The Comprehensive And Intensified Ideological Game Between China And The United States, And Must Make A Full Preparation.’ It gives you numerous dimensions, read it if you like; it makes chilling reading.
NATO thereby engages in a conflict formation that will define the future world order. It’s led by the US into a confrontational configuration that has nothing to do with NATO’s original Treaty from 1949, the year when China was founded under the leadership of Mao Zedong. The challenge is – quite generally but also unavoidably – that China happens to have interests, security thinking and values different from those of the West and its military alliance.
China with its 1400 million people, generally younger – almost four times the EU, generally “greying” – has developed in a manner and pace that is unique in history. Its pace and its quality has taken the rather self-centred West by surprise. Most forecasts and serious experts believe that China will continue to develop and not become Western. Furthermore, its culture and social cosmology are not understandable by only Western concepts and theories.
Thus, it is a Cold War formation that is fundamentally different from the First and Second Cold War playing out originally in Europe between two – quite similar – versions of Western societal models, or of Westernness: Liberal democracy with capitalist market economy à la Adam Smith versus Communism with a state-planned economy à la Karl Marx.
While China has borrowed and adapted elements from both, it also remains totally different, rooted in ways of thinking that Westerners will have to study – at least much as the Chinese have studied the West. And China is likely to develop further away from anything seen in the West, on its own premises and without accepting any attempts to impose Western concepts and norms on it.
In addition, more and more countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America will become partners in various fields with China and with organisations in which China plays a leading role such as in the Belt And Road Initiative, BRI, which today counts more than 140 partner countries.
It can safely be predicted that the West/Occident will find it increasingly difficult to operate in a future world order which is completely different from the post-1945 world order and is – to invent a new relevant word – “non-dominationable.”
Unless the US changes fundamentally, its present counter-productive confrontational – partly Sinophobic – Cold War policy backed by its military presence around China including Taiwan, there is no way NATO as an alliance can avoid a further expansion to encompass the global challenges in general and China’s increasing influence in particular. The United States will do everything to force its NATO allies to gang up behind it. the European members – also the EU – won’t be able to. In other words, NATO will be even more US-dominated and hardly able to develop its own policies vis-a-vis China.
On a sad note, one may add that if Western leaders had had the creativity to develop something new in line with Gorbachev’s thinking about a common security-based, all-European security and peace ‘home’ instead of expanding NATO, the Europe of today would hardly have to be drawn into the China Cold War game that the US forces not only force upon China but also on its NATO allies in its usual “you are either with us or with them” manner.
Such an “another Europe,” including the EU and – why not? – the post-Cold War Russia and of course Ukraine could have become a constructive global player, standing on its own feet, shaping its new role in dialogue with both the US and China and everybody else. It could have been friendly to the US, cooperated with it but not submissive as it is now bound to remain.
Unfortunately, NATO membership means putting all you eggs in one basket. Never a good idea when it comes to security and pace – the smart fox has more exists. Sweden and Finland will soon find out.
In other words, Europe could have become part of a truly multi-polar global order in a new balanced, cooperative configuration. And where interests would clash – as they always will from time to time, even among friends – we would have managed the conflict in accordance with the UN Charter and only used violence as the last resort when everything civilian had been tried and found in vain.
But this is not where we are today.
Whether they want to or not, NATO members will be drawn into the US-led confrontation. At least for as long as the United States leads NATO and NATO exists. That won’t be forever, but long enough…
We already see the contours of this in the Ukraine-centred conflict between NATO and Russia. Countries that represent about 85% of the world’s people do not support the US/NATO/EU policies that have developed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – while many, including China, also do not support transgressing internationally recognised borders. Indeed, that conflict has very marked repercussions throughout the global system. They are put well together by Indian historian Vijay Prashad in his recent article “The World Does Not Want a Global NATO.”
So NATO will expand. That is its new raison d’etre – expand or die because your original mission is gone since 30 years ago. Some of its present partners may become members but that would require a change in the Treaty since it states that new members must be European. If you look at what NATO countries do to help partner Ukraine, the difference between member and partner will be increasingly blurred.
Members will be forced – politically – to stand up to the US-defined challenge of China and its BRI. Cooperating seriously, walking on two legs with Western friends and China and perhaps also other non-Western parts of the world that are associated with China will be punished by both Washington and Brussels. You must walk with is…US!
And where will that end over a few years?
If not in a global nuclear destruction, then in an ever more suffocating self-isolation of the West. In the West’s militarising itself to decline and fall. The West abandoned by The Rest.
Martin Luther King Jr. said it about the US: ”America, you are too arrogant!” Today, it is as if you hear him say: ”NATO – you are too arrogant!”
In this perspective, the very dangerous NATO-Russia conflict tells that it is about so much more than Ukraine. It is about a Himalayian cynicism that exploits Ukraine to weaken, humiliate and defeat ’the other, Eastern West’ militarily on the Ukrainian battlefield while doing the same with sanctions and full spectrum cancellation of Russia and perhaps even attempt a regime change in Moscow itself at some point.
The peoples of Europe east and west will pay a huge price. And what is the next phase of that plan were it possible?
It is to then turn all the energy – whatever is left in the declining West – against China.
Such a strategy of course has no chance in the real world. Because the real world that is emerging is one in which cooperation and co-existence are the sine qua non of humanity’s survival. Only the foolish believers in NATO militarism can look at our global multi crisis and the need to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and think that we can afford more Cold and Warm Wars.
But before that simple truth dawns upon them, much harm may have been done to us all.
E) Ukraine: NATO’s one-too-many expansions blunder
19. Russian leaders’ protests were ignored
The last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev had been cheated and had not choice but to accept it. The conditions on which he had accepted a united Germany as full member of NATO had been set aside; to put it bluntly, the US had told Germany what it had to do and how. A few years later, Russian president Boris Yeltsin predicted that NATO’s expansion would lead to problems and plunge Europe into “a cold peace.” Los Angeles Times reported that at a meeting in December 1994, he stated that:
“History demonstrates that it is a dangerous delusion to suppose that the destinies of continents and of the world community, in general, can somehow be managed from one single capital,” Yeltsin said in his speech at a summit of the 53-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
More about this here, based on the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Yeltsin simply blew up in the face of Bill Clinton in Budapest in 1994:
”The biggest train wreck on the track to NATO expansion in the 1990s – Boris Yeltsin’s “cold peace” blow up at Bill Clinton in Budapest in December 1994 – was the result of “combustible” domestic politics in both the U.S. and Russia and contradictions in the Clinton attempt to have his cake both ways, expanding NATO and partnering with Russia at the same time, according to newly declassified U.S. documents published today by the National Security Archive.
It seems spot on to characterise US policy, then and now, as trying to keep the cake and eat it too (and eat somebody else’s). As we’ve shown in Argument 15, Clinton believed he tried to “help” Russia, knowing well that what he did angered it.
And here is president Vladimir Putin’s centrally important speech at the Munich Conference in 2007:
Among the themes, Putin takes up – in an unmistakably critical tone – is the wars conducted by the US and other NATO countries, the unipolar world that they seem to push ahead with (which, to him, is both impossible and undesirable), their disdain for international law and the impossibility of substituting the norms of the UN by NATO principles.
He laments the suffering of millions of people in these wars and moves on to the guarantees given to the Soviet Union – illustrated by a highly relevant quotation by Manfred Wörner, the then NATO Secretary-General, to the effect that NATO would not expand. He then asks rhetorically: What happened to those assurances? Nobody even seems to remember them!
Whatever the reader may think of president Putin – then or today – there is no way to argue that Russia’s opinion regarding NATO’s expansion has not been made crystal clear – and made over three decades. His concerns are not based on fake, propaganda or twisting history, they are well-documented (See Argument 14 and 15 above). So the NATO top-dog had a security and peace political choice to make: To listen to and dialogue with the under-dog about these worries, showing a will to compromise or to ignore them and move on towards with increasing tension and confrontation.
The two approaches would have very different consequences. As we know today.
In 2008, incoming Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, talked about the prospects of Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO: ”We are not happy about the situation around Georgia and Ukraine,” Mr Medvedev said. ”We consider that it is extremely troublesome for the existing structure of European security. No state can be pleased about having representatives of a military bloc to which it does not belong coming close to its borders.”
20. Russia’s proposals for security structure change and security guarantees – ignored
In late 2021, Russia put forward a series of demands concerning long-term, legally binding security guarantees from Washington and NATO. Here is a presentation by a centrally placed Russian scholar who also knows the United States, Andrey A. Baklitskiy, in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – “Putin’s demand for security guarantees: Not new and not to be taken literally, but not to be ignored.”
As he mentions, these demands contained almost nothing new in substance. What was new was the demand that they should become legally binding and that they were organised into two treaties. And then Baklitskiy adds:
“The new part of the demand for security guarantees was Russia’s decision to put all its concerns into two documents, asking them to be legally binding and making sure the demand got the attention of the West in one way or the other. As President Putin said in a 2018 speech announcing a series of weapons systems designed to respond to Western military capabilities that Russia had criticised to no avail: “Nobody wanted to listen to us. So listen now.”
What Putin is quoted for here sounds like a repetition of some of what he said in the above Munich speech. Now, glance through the Russian treaty proposal yourself.
You immediately notice that Russia was not demanding that NATO withdraw from or abandon countries that have already become members of the alliance. What the treaty proposal states – in Article 4 – is this:
“The United States of America shall undertake to prevent further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and deny accession to the Alliance to the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The United States of America shall not establish military bases in the territory of the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them.” [My italics].
This means, first of all: Ukraine! Other articles point in the same direction. The Western mainstream media presented this as naturally unacceptable – as if Putin sought to push back NATO and leave countries that are already NATO members. It should instead stop the further expansion and weaponisation. And we know, the main concern was Ukraine.
Fred Kaplan writes in Slate on December 20, 2021 – that the US/NATO should have taken very much care of this fact: “So Putin is not moving to push NATO out of Russia’s former sphere of influence. Quite the contrary – for the first time, the proposed treaty accepts the expansion that occurred in the decades following the end of the Cold War as a fact. The treaty would only block further expansion.”
And here is how wrong Andrew Roth of The Guardian in Moscow managed to get it: “Vladimir Putin has demanded that the west provides Russia “legal guarantees” of its security. But the Kremlin’s aggressive proposals are likely to be rejected in western capitals as an attempt to formalise a new Russian sphere of influence over eastern Europe … The demands, spelled out by Moscow in full for the first time, were handed over to the US this week. They include a demand that NATO remove any troops or weapons deployed to countries that entered the alliance after 1997, which would include much of eastern Europe, including Poland, the former Soviet countries of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and the Balkan countries.”
Just compare Kaplan and Roth. Do you get that out of the Russian treaty proposal because you can’t read or don’t know the subject matter? Or because you’re on a mission to never make Russia’s concerns and policies reasonable? To deceive your readers about Russia and make NATO’s policies right, natural and reasonable?
However, The Guardian gets it right on one point: “The NATO head, Jens Stoltenberg, has already ruled out any agreements denying Ukraine the right to enter the military alliance, saying it is up to Ukraine and the 30 NATO countries. There are already major obstacles to Ukraine entering the alliance, including its territorial dispute with Russia over annexed Crimea.”
No matter the human, social and economic price to be paid by Ukraine itself, by Europe, by NATO members, by the US and by Russia – NATO remained hellbent on forcing Ukrainian NATO membership. It did not want to consider any possible alternative ways to help the Ukrainians and Russia feel secure and live peacefully with their neighbours.
Even when Russia – remarkably – offers to accept all the earlier expansions in a binding treaty – that is, recognises that it has been cheated for decades but will live with it – NATO refuses to discuss and compromise about Ukraine.
So much for NATO Believers’ propaganda about dialogue, cooperation, partnership and good intentions.
21. NATO’s Open Door and sovereign states’ right to choose their own path: Incremental wooing and opinion polls tell a very different story
This section can be summarised in a simple way: Everybody focuses on whether or not Ukraine shall enter NATO. But what we should focus on is how NATO entered Ukraine in 1991 and what then happened.
You will be surprised. You’ll understand better NATO’s public deception and find one of several keys to today’s NATO-Russia conflict in Ukraine. It’s been brewing for three decades and NATO has ignored all warnings 360 degrees.
Browse around NATO’s homepage and you’ll find that Mr Stoltenberg seemingly cannot repeat it too many times: NATO supports every sovereign state’s right to freely choose its own path when it comes to security. And when states want to join and prepare themselves to meet NATO standards, the collectivity of NATO members will decide to let them in through the alliance’s open door.
Regrettably, this standard statement – too – is public relation for security ignorant journalists. It paints a glossy, deceptive picture of how NATO de facto expands because:
• “Free to choose” ought to mean having more than one option. But prospective members don’t develop alternative options themselves and stimulate public debate and such democratic methods are certainly not encouraged by NATO. The only option to “choose” is NATO membership.
• Alternatives such as various types of neutrality, selective or partial membership of the alliance, defensive defence, obtaining security guarantees from many sides but not just with one bloc, giving priority to civilian rather than military means, doing something like Switzerland – finding security in being useful to others – and several other thinkable security paths (See Section F) have hardly ever been brought up for research and public discussion in prospective member states.
• One can certainly understand that, when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, its members felt like in a vacuum and turned to what was there – NATO. NATO did not just drag them in, the Visegrad countries – Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland – pushed hard for immediate NATO and EU membership from early 1991 – a time when the West was also concerned about the future of the Soviet Union, how it would dissolve and who would be in control of the nuclear weapons in, among other countries, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
• However, instead of finding common security solutions with them and the equally weak and disoriented Russia, the US/NATO after a few months had passed exploited the opportunity. Later, it began to woo Georgia, the Baltic states and Ukraine: Come over to us and adapt entirely to NATO needs and not to overarching European needs or a new architecture of European security with either a heavily reformed NATO or a new organisation replacing it.
• For all practical and philosophical purposes, the bloc mentality of the Cold War persisted. It was too deeply rooted in NATO to be changed overnight. It is true that the NATO-Russia Coouncil had been set up in 2002, but it was always clear that Russia was seen as an outsider, as one that was not allowed to influence NATO’s path in substance. And it was certainly not destined to join NATO at any point.
• NATO as an alliance has enormous resources with which to influence opinions in potential member states. Contrary to this open-door talk, NATO’s Charter speaks only about inviting new members, not about holding a door open for anyone who might want to join decades before they are ready.
21.1 How to woo Ukraine into membership
So, how does NATO go about its wooing? Why is this not such a free choice? And what do opinion polls tell?
Well, first of all, the US – NATO – campaign to steer Ukraine towards NATO membership can be seen as rooted in social engineering of the Ukrainian society as early as 2004. You only need to read Ian Traynor in The Guardian of November 26, 2004:
“But while the gains of the orange-bedecked “chestnut revolution” are Ukraine’s, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.”
Remember, how NATO’s Secretary-Genral always mentions how prospective NATO members decide freely about wanting to join NATO. Sorry, Mr Stoltenberg, you must know that you speak far away from the truth.
So, NATO moves in early and offers a series of goodies – to countries that are looking for security and which NATO can help become members.
Here is how NATO describes the interaction with Ukraine over the 3 decades: (Italics below are mine):
• 1991 newly independent Ukraine (Aug 1991) starts dialogue and cooperation with NATO by joining the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. Very early start of the wooing process.
• 1994 Ukraine joins the Partnership for Peace programme (1994).
• 1997 The NATO Information and Documentation Centre (NIDC) and the NATO Liaison Office (NLO) is set up. NIDC was inaugurated in Kyiv in 1997 to support efforts to inform the Ukrainian public about NATO’s activities and the benefits of NATO-Ukraine cooperation. The NIDC is part of the NATO Public Diplomacy Division and was the first information office established by NATO in a partner country and open to the general public. The Centre has three key pillars of work: increasing awareness and understanding of NATO in Ukraine; informing the Ukrainian public about key activities in NATO-Ukraine cooperation; and providing advice and support to Ukrainian institutions in the area of strategic communications capability development. In order to facilitate NATO’s core mission and activities in Ukraine, the NIDC supports various public diplomacy and communications projects, including round tables, seminars, conferences and multimedia projects.
• Signing of the 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, which established the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) to take cooperation forward.
• Since 2009, the NUC has overseen Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration process, including reforms under the Annual National Programme (ANP).
• Cooperation has deepened over time and is mutually beneficial, with Ukraine actively contributing to NATO-led operations and missions. Priority is given to support for comprehensive reform in the security and defence sector, which is vital for Ukraine’s democratic development and for strengthening its ability to defend itself.
• 2016, NATO’s practical support for Ukraine is set out in the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) for Ukraine.
• 2017 the Ukrainian Parliament adopted legislation reinstating membership in NATO as a strategic foreign and security policy objective.
• 2019 a corresponding amendment to Ukraine’s Constitution entered into force.
• 2020 President Volodymyr Zelenskyy approved Ukraine’s new National Security Strategy, which provides for the development of the distinctive partnership with NATO with the aim of membership in NATO.
• Since 2014 NATO has reinforced its support for capability development and capacity-building in Ukraine. The Allies condemn and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, and its destabilising and aggressive activities in eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea region.
• NATO has increased its presence in the Black Sea and stepped up maritime cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia, condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms.
To summarize: Long before Ukraine enters NATO, NATO enters Ukraine. Analyses and public debates about possible alternatives to NATO membership are do not exist.
What about the Ukrainian public opinion about NATO?
Did the Ukrainian people want membership in NATO – if so, from when and with how large a majority? Was their such strong opnions that would justify NATO membership and no other options?
Here is a survey conducted by Sociological Group “Rating” on behalf of the Center for Insights and Survey Research (CISR) of the International Republican Institute (IRI) – [IRI was founded on the initiative of President Reagan as one of the core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), with a mission to advance democracy worldwide, JO]. It was conducted throughout Ukraine (except in the occupied territories of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) between November 6 and November 15, 2021:
As mentioned above, NATO began influencing public opinion about the benefits of NATO membership back in 1997. The above table shows that the pro-NATO attitude grew from 34% to 54% during the years after the US-instigated Maidan events and regime-change in 2014 and the fierce fighting that followed and cost about 14 000 lives up to 2021. 28% would not even vote if given a chance in a referendum. And 15% find the question difficult to answer.
It does not seem that NATO has been able to make the Ukrainian people that enthusiastic about joining the alliance (and this table excludes, out of Ukraine’s 48 million citizens, the roughly 8 million people living in Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, a majority of which can be assumed to be somewhat sceptical to NATO membership). If it were possible to measure attitudes throughout all of what used to be Ukraine, there would hardly be even 50% in favour of NATO membership in November 2021.
In a genuine democracy, joining an alliance such as NATO is a decision of such importance that it would require a lengthy public debate of the pros and cons and at least 66% or even 75% clearly in favour in a referendum based on a neutral formulation of the NATO membership issue.
Such referendums have not been held in any of the new NATO member states or the present applicant countries, Sweden and Finland; in the latter, at least, opinion polls indicated over 70% in favour of joining, whereas in Sweden, it was only 48.
It may be added that the survey also shows that a large majority of the respondents think that Ukraine – “in general terms” – has been moving in the wrong direction: around 65-70% with a slump to about 40% in the latter half of 2019 when President Zelensky took over with a landslide victory on the ticket of making peace.
Furthermore, the survey shows that the Ukrainian people consider issues that the West is concerned with relatively unimportant:
People mention corruption, inflation, costs and unemployment as important for Ukraine; only after that comes the military conflict in Donbas (20%), relations with Russia (8%) and the annexation of Crimea (3%). They are not asked about relations with the EU or NATO. When asked about what is important for them personally (in contrast to important for Ukraine), the overall pattern is the same, just somewhat lower percentages than for the first question.
21.2 The Ukrainians did not prefer NATO membership
Next, what about the NATO opinion in Ukraine when NATO entered Ukraine and began to woo it?
Much to our surprise, we find a very informative analysis on NATO’s own homepage, “Mass Public Opinion in Ukraine About NATO and NATO-Ukraine Relations” by Igor Galin. “The purpose of this analytical report is to characterise the prevailing public opinion about NATO as an organisation, NATO expansion, and the NATO-Ukraine relationships in the spring of 1998” – that is, less than one year after NATO engaged in Ukraine (see above).
And what does it show? Among many other interesting things, that:
• “The overall conclusion is that, allowing for relatively low interest in the NATO issue in Ukraine, the idea of Ukraine’s joining NATO is not very popular with the Ukrainians. About as twice as much Ukrainians prefer to see their country neutral for some length of time rather than joining NATO as soon as possible. It must be said however, that none of the options won a classified majority of the respondents. Thus, only about 22% of the respondents agreed that Ukraine should try to join NATO as soon as possible with about 30% who disagreed. On the other hand, about 34% of the respondents agreed and about 24% of the respondents disagreed that Ukraine should try to enter in a military union with Russia instead. Ukraine as a neutral country was the most appealing option (agreed 41% and disagreed 16%) followed by the ‘Partnership for Peace’ option (agreed 35% and disagreed 9%).” (Page 25, italics added, JO).
• “As far as possible negative consequences of Ukraine joining NATO are concerned, the respondents agreed that this would result in the following:
• The Ukraine-Russia relationships will deteriorate (47% agreed and 9% disagreed)
• Ukraine’s economic situation will get worse (40% agreed and 12% disagreed)
• The closure of Ukrainian-Russian borders, which will restrict travel for millions of people on both sides (29% agreed and 17% disagreed)
• Ukraine will not strengthen its national security (agreed 28% and disagreed 23%).
The opinion about the possible positive consequences of Ukraine joining NATO was as follows:
• Enhance Ukraine’s international standing (agreed 31% and disagreed 17%)
• Ukraine’s army fighting strength will increase (agreed 28% and disagreed 22%)
Therefore, the public opinion was not very supportive of Ukraine joining NATO. First of all the respondents were worried about deterioration in the relationships between Russia and Ukraine.”
“The data showed that only 22% of the respondents believed that NATO is a defence union and 30% of the respondents did not. The data show that 29% of the respondents agreed and 7% of the respondent disagreed (with 50% of the respondents who did not know what to say) that Eastern and Central European countries to join NATO in order to be admitted to other European and World institutions. Contrary to the mass media propaganda, only 14% of the respondents agreed and 23% disagreed that Russia would make it impossible for NATO to grant Ukraine membership. Finally, almost half of the respondents did not see any unity in the Ukrainian politicians’ opinions regarding the NATO-Ukraine relationships.”
• Who or how should Ukraine decide about membership?
• Finally – and very important for today’s situation – this is the geographical distribution in a nutshell:
“Tables 25 and 26 demonstrate that public opinion in western and northern regions of Ukraine and Kiev was significantly much more in favour of developing the NATO-Ukraine relationships (especially in the Military and Organisational areas) than was public opinion in southern and eastern regions and Crimea. Concerning other aspects of the relationships, the picture was somewhat unclear.
In general, the majority of respondents who support the strengthening of the NATO-Ukraine relationships is located in the north-west of Ukraine and in Kiev, and the strongest opposition
to that comes from the south-eastern regions of the country.” (Page 44).
What does all this tell us?
It tells us that when NATO moved into Ukraine, there was no enthusiasm whatsoever for this organisation among the Ukrainian people – in particular, not in the south and east. In 1998 there were only 22% in favour of joining NATO while 30% were against – not the least fearing, on the one hand, that it would give the country problems with Russia and, on the other, that NATO would be an expensive option not yielding much added military capacity. Remarkably, 34% were in favour of joining a military union with Russia – and fewer people were against this option than were against NATO.
Secondly, it tells us that neutral status for Ukraine was the option favoured at the time by most Ukrainians, namely 41%. At the time, 42% of the people favoured that the security political choice should be decided by a referendum, whereas only 12 % thought it should be a parliamentary decision.
In summary, NATO’s own investigation shows with great clarity that at the time, the people of Ukraine could not possibly be interpreted to be interested in NATO and that if a referendum had been held, Ukraine would not have joined NATO; it would have become neutral or joined Russia in a military union.
NATO moved into Ukraine with a significant challenge: How to change the Ukrainians’ negative attitude to NATO and prevent the people from choosing the path to neutrality or to Russia as their future security ally. And with only 54% of a limited section of the Ukrainians being in favour of NATO membership as recent as November 2021, there is no way NATO can credibly maintain and repeat a million times that it respects the right of every sovereign nation to choose its own path.
NATO moved into Ukraine to woo and persuade it to move into NATO. Most likely, this is why the right to free choice is repeated ad nauseam: It simply was not true between 1998 and November 2021.
Or put differently: NATO never respected the will of the Ukrainian people. It worked with its elites on top and the free will of the people was ignored – or had to be influenced.
The increase in pro-NATO opinion has happened since the regime change in 2014, when it was 34%, till November 2021, when it was 54%. And the Ukrainians were never allowed to express their opinion in a referendum.
The 54% in November 2021 is remarkably low also in the perspective of the Russian military build-up along Ukaine’s border had started in April 2021.
So, exactly whose free choice is it to join NATO that Mr Stoltenberg refers to again and again? After all, this must be a reasonable question (however, never asked by journalists) to ask the leader of an alliance that professes to defend democracy and sovereign states’ free choice vis-a-vis authoritatian states.
The answer seems to be that it is the free choice of Ukraine’s political and military elites who, as it seems, also didn’t bother about the fact that their people simply would not join NATO if they culd choose freely.
These elites pursue their common interests in NATO membership with the elites, their peers, in the West. A West-oriented President Petro Poroshenko was elected President in June after the 2014 regime change i Kyiv.
Almost 5 years later, here is what Radio Free Europe, RFE, reported on February 19, 2019:
“Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a constitutional amendment committing the country to becoming a member of NATO and the European Union.
Addressing parliament on February 19, Poroshenko said he saw securing Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the EU as his “strategic mission.”
Ukraine should “submit a request for EU membership and receive a NATO membership action plan no later than 2023,” the president told the Verkhovna Rada.
Furthermore, RFE continues: “European Council President Donald Tusk attended the signing of the constitutional amendment in the parliament building … The EU official also warned lawmakers against “internal conflicts,” which he said only benefit “that third country,” hinting at Russia.
In summary, the country’s president simply signs an amendment to Ukraine’s Constitution. He does so at a time when only about 44% of the people are positive about NATO membership. Thus, there would be no point in demanding a public debate on this important membership issue: As per Ukraine’s constitution, it should now become a member of both NATO and the EU. Simple as that – about a large country’s free and democratic choice to join NATO.
In a longer interview with Irish Times on May 22, 2022, Petro Poroshenko lists his achievements as president:
“The first was building up Ukraine’s armed forces – though in many Ukrainians’ telling, the push was in large part a bottom-up initiative, starting with volunteer fighters at the Maidan, then in the Donbas.
With co-operation from NATO countries – which has intensified since the invasion – Ukraine has indeed developed a military that has so far proved more flexible in its structure and effective on the battlefield than Putin’s Soviet-issue top-down army.
“It is like my child, and I am very proud,” he says. “Now the whole world can see, and the Ukrainian armed forces surprised the world.”
Second, Poroshenko says, his presidency “institutionalised the Ukrainian state” and promoted the Ukrainian language (not without controversy), switching off the Russian TV signal that was “poisoning Ukrainian society”. Third, he says, his presidency saw the creation of an independent autocephalous Ukrainian church; fourth, “significant progress” on European integration; and fifth, co-operation with NATO.”
The Irish Times reminds its readers that “in 2019 he ran a nationalist re-election campaign under the slogan “Army! Language! Faith!” that flopped. Zelenskiy trounced Poroshenko, campaigning on a ticket of unity and throwing out the old order, and taking 73 per cent of the vote compared with 24 per cent for Poroshenko.”
However, the most revealing information comes in this sentence, partly quoting the former president:
“The idea of NATO was “not very popular in Ukraine” to start, Poroshenko says, with just 16 per cent of Ukrainians supporting integration to NATO in 2013 right before he was elected president – but by the time he finished his term, 61 per cent did. And do you know who helped us to achieve this result? Putin . . . I think the reason was the crazy mentality of Putin.”
It is easy to get the thought that Mr Poroshenko was more of a NATO and US man than a man for Ukraine, at least concerning this issue. He presided over the rise of Ukraine as a military power to be reckoned with, built the Army “like my child,” and made it ready for NATO membership. And he managed that with NATO’s former Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as his main adviser.
[Poroshenko’s 16% is only about half of the above US survey’s 34%, but we do not know which opinion poll source he refers to. It could also be that the above survey, supported by the US National Endowment for Democracy, NED, close to CIA and State Department, are somehow exaggerating figures].
Why is this Poroshenko’s statement so significant and so revealing?
Because the administration of his predecessor, President Viktor Yanokovych, who was thrown out and had to flee the country in the US-orchestrated regime change in February 2014, had pursued a completely different policy that was in unison with the Ukrainians’ public opinion but – alas – not to the liking of the West.
The opinion polls obviously differ somewhat. Here is an Interfax report of the situation in 2008, the year when NATO decided in Bucharest that Ukraine shall become a NATO member:
“Half of Ukrainians are opposed to Ukraine’s possible membership of NATO, while fewer than one fourth of Ukrainian people support the Euroatlantic integration of the country, according to a poll conducted by the FOM-Ukraine company from January 25 to February 2. (Our italics, this report is available on the Internet Archive but the original from Interfax-Ukraine is not accessible).
Commenting on the results of the poll at Interfax-Ukraine on Monday, Company Director General Oleksandr Bukhalov said if a national referendum on Ukraine’s membership of NATO were to be held in the near future, 50% of Ukrainians would vote against membership of NATO. In comparison with February 2007, the number of opponents of Ukraine’s membership of NATO fell by 9.9%.
According to the poll, 24.3% of Ukrainians would vote for Ukraine’s joining NATO, against 16.9% in February 2007.
Meantime, of those polled, 57.8% of Ukrainians support the idea of a national referendum on joining NATO, against 38.6% in February 2007.”
Again we see how Mr Stoltenberg’s assertions about NATO respecting every nation’s freedom to choose its security political path is simply not true if by that you mean the will of the people.
NATO’s decision to make Ukraine a member was taken when 50% of its people would vote against such a membership. Also, 58% of the Ukrainians wanted the issue decided by referendum. They never got one.
If the reader looks for a guide to Ukraine-NATO relations, Wikipedia contains many useful links to documentation, including opinion polls, from the late 1990s till today. You’ll learn that:
• During the 2010 presidential election campaign, Party of Regions leader and candidate Viktor Yanukovych stated that the current level of Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO was sufficient and that the question of the country’s accession to the alliance was therefore not urgent.
• Yanukovych’s victory in the election marked a turnaround in Ukraine’s relations with NATO. On 14 February 2010, Yanukovych said that Ukraine’s relations with NATO were currently “well-defined”, and that there was “no question of Ukraine joining NATO”. He said the issue of Ukrainian membership of NATO might “emerge at some point, but we will not see it in the immediate future.” On 1 March 2010, during his visit to Brussels, Yanukovych said that there would be no change to Ukraine’s status as a member of the alliance’s outreach program. He later reiterated during a trip to Moscow that Ukraine would remain a “European, non-aligned state.”
• As of May 2010, NATO and Ukraine continued to cooperate in the framework of the Annual National Program, including joint exercises. According to Ukraine, the continuation of Ukraine-NATO cooperation does not exclude the development of a strategic partnership with Russia.
• On 27 May 2010, Yanukovych stated that he considered Ukraine’s relations with NATO as a partnership, “And Ukraine can’t live without this [partnership], because Ukraine is a large country”.
• On 3 June 2010, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill proposed by the President that excluded the goal of “integration into Euro-Atlantic security and NATO membership” from the country’s national security strategy. The law precluded Ukraine’s membership of any military bloc but allowed for co-operation with alliances such as NATO. “European integration” is still part of Ukraine’s national security strategy.
These facts make it abundantly clear that during Yanukovych’s administration (2010-2014), Ukraine remained extremely flexible, certainly did not want to join NATO, wanted to keep options open – including good relations with both Russia and NATO with which it cooperated: Ukraine already participated in NATO peacekeeping missions in both Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, air-transported NATO materiel and personnel, participated in NATO exercises, events and meeting and trained troop integration with other NATO members, etc. But it did not want to tie itself completely to NATO and exclude other options.
For NATO, all that was not good enough.
Yanokovych was ousted and was forced to flee to Russia when the regime change took place in 2014. Poroshenko, his successor, fit much better NATO’s agenda – as we have illustrated above.
In other words, Yanokovych’s administration stood in the way of NATO’s determined strategy to make Ukraine a full NATO member – no matter its government’s policies and its people’s attitudes.
This is, of course, completely incompatible with the often repeated NATO propaganda that the alliance always lets everybody choose freely their path and security arrangement.
To corroborate further the political and opinion situation in Ukraine in 2010, here is the US Pew Research Center’s report which also contains information on the interesting variations among the Ukrainian people, depending on ethnicity and region. By and large, these two tables say it all:
Two years before: NATO’s Bucharest Summit Declaration, April 3, 2008, stated: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”
In December 2011, the Pew opinion poll gave the following attitudes of the Ukrainian people to the United States and Russia; it shows favourable views of both but a more favourable view (84%) of Russia than of the US (60%) and a much stronger unfavourable attitude to the US than to Russia.
Finally, it had not changed much in 2015. Here is a US-Ukrainian opinion poll concerning general attitudes to joining east or west and EU membership. “The results of a new survey of Ukrainians … show that majorities do not support moving closer to the EU or to Russia. While more favor moving closer to the EU than favor moving closer to Russia, less than half – 47 percent – favor moving toward the EU. In all regions half or more say they can tolerate taking a neutral position. Majorities in all regions, including the East, favor maintaining the unity of the country.”
So, neutrality and national unity were the most important, with the typical differences between western/north and eastern/south Ukraine. To the Ukrainians, the top priority was to keep unity. Now, seven years later, it is clear that the NATO/Russia conflict – and both NATO and Russia but in different ways – chose to ignore the wishes of the Ukrainian people.
22. Ukraine is not strategically important for NATO and falls outside NATO’s treaty
Unless you define every country around the world as strategically important to NATO members, the United States in particular, Ukraine is of very limited strategic importance to the US/NATO world. But independent experts would confirm that it is of vital security strategic importance to Russia and that there are numerous indicators of their close human, economic, cultural and historical ties. The opinion polls mentioned above also clearly document that the Ukrainian people felt close to Russia and preferred neutrality or a defence union with Russia over NATO membership.
The importance of Ukraine to NATO countries can be summarised into:
a) Prestige, exclusion, denial and expansion: “We shall have it, not they” – or, the winner of the Cold War takes it all. Thus, NATO’s Stoltenberg said it very clearly on November 30, 2021: “
“The political message is that Russia does have no right whatsoever to interfere in that process. Ukraine is a sovereign, independent nation. And every sovereign, independent nation has the right to choose its own path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of.
So it is up to Ukraine and 30 Allies to decide when Ukraine is ready to join the Alliance. [Russia] has no veto, no right to interfere in that process.”
b) It is the most significant buffer area with the longest border with Russia. John Pilger wrote right after the US-orchestrated regime change in Kiev in The Guardian (May 13, 2014): “With eastern Europe and the Balkans now military outposts of NATO, the last “buffer state” bordering Russia – Ukraine – is being torn apart by fascist forces unleashed by the US and the EU. We in the west are now backing neo-Nazis in a country where Ukrainian Nazis backed Hitler…Like the ruins of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine has been turned into a CIA theme park – run personally by CIA director John Brennan in Kiev, with dozens of “special units” from the CIA and FBI setting up a “security structure” that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup. Watch the videos, read the eye-witness reports from the massacre in Odessa this month. Bussed fascist thugs burned the trade union headquarters, killing 41 people trapped inside. Watch the police standing by.”
Estonia and Latvia were the only two new NATO members that shared borders with Russia. Ukraine could be seen as a very significant spearhead at Russia’s very doorsteps – not only in peace but also in wartime. The Russia-Ukrainian border is 2063 km long.
c) The covert civilian and military information war was significant in Ukraine because of Russia’s heavy influence in that country. Thus, here is Melik Kaylan’s interesting take in Forbes on why then CIA chief John Brennan visited Kiev in April 2016: “The US-Ukraine information exchange would go a lot further than simply tracking numbers and motions of Russian tanks and soldiers. The operative term here is ‘non-lethal’ help – that remains Washington’s official position. But in today’s digital and virtual battlefield, the game can be over before the first shot gets fired. And if Moscow’s mastery over the digital domain can be countered, Putin might think twice about risking the expensive hardware that he has invested billions in upgrading since the Georgian war…One thing is certain, the war has begun.”
d) While Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey are already Black Sea littoral states, having Ukraine in NATO would add to the relative strength vis-a-vis Russia. If Ukraine was in NATO, Russia would probably have to abandon its very important huge naval base in Sevastopol, Crimea for its Black Sea Fleet (servicemen with families more than 100 000 people there)– and NATO countries would take it over. According to the agreement between Ukraine and Russia, the latter pays US$ 98 million a year until 2042 and Russia grants Ukraine a discount on its gas. More here.
Given everything NATO has gained since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the attempt to integrate Ukraine into the alliance and explicitly state that Russia has no say in that with its geographic and historical closeness to Ukraine is a crystal clear illustration of two sad facts: that for NATO enough is never enough and that NATO understands neither dialogue nor common security.
If NATO did, it would have listened to decades of Russian concerns, protests and proposals and taken them seriously.
There is not one example of a very important issue – such as expansion – where NATO has heavily modified a policy or abstained from doing what it wanted to out of respect for Russia’s concerns. For over 30 years now, NATO was the top-dog, Russia the under-dog. Of course, and predictably, that type of arrogance, or hubris, turns into a blowback – sooner or later.
This entire set-up makes NATO statements about partnership, dialogue, confidence-building, defensiveness, cooperation and mutual respect ring hollow.
Since this idea of taking as many former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO as possible – based on incremental expansion by wooing – has gone so wrong as we see today, Ukraine must now be forced and armed to play along with NATO’s blunder cover-up: Fight with NATO support as if Ukraine were a NATO member and entitled to an Article 5 solidarity. It isn’tIt’s a partner, not a member.
Just turn the whole thing upside down: This is not NATO fighting for Ukraine as a member – because it isn’t, and NATO does not employ its own troops. Instead, Ukraine is being forced and armed to fight against the utterly destructive consequences of NATO’s disastrous expansion since 1990. And by doing so, Ukraine is the – cynical – tool for NATO’s dream of victory over Russia. The price Ukraine will have to pay for all this is beyond imagination.
And not only that, this war will continue ”for as long as it takes” – according to both President Biden and NATO’s Stoltenberg. That must be understood to mean until Russia is defeated.
Although none of its members has been threatened or attacked, NATO is fighting Russia – the thing that should never have happened. NATO has not referred this conflict to the United Nations. Therefore, it can safely be stated that NATO – again – operates outside its 1949 Treaty.
English historian, Adam Tooze, at Columbia University recently wrote in The New Statesman – and he is right – that ”The Atlanticist jubilation is so loud that people seem to have forgotten that if NATO’s aim was to deter Russian aggression and keep the peace in Europe, it has failed. Whether or not the talk of Ukraine joining the alliance can really be said to have triggered Putin’s invasion, it certainly encouraged nationalist opinion in Kyiv to take a hard line against Moscow, and also fuelled Russian propaganda.”
With NATO’s Ukraine blunder, NATO is de facto at war. That is what it was created to prevent. Thus, the overarching conclusion is that NATO is outdated and dangerous and should be abolished. And that can be concluded also without having the slightest sympathy for Russia’s invasion of and fighting in Ukraine.
Let it be stated once again: This expansion into Ukraine is the main reason there is war in Europe today. It is true that Russia is responsible for the war -for the violence. But NATO must be held accountable for the underlying conflict. While Russia had alternatives to this war – and war is never a good idea – NATO also had alternatives to its reckless expansion into Ukraine. We have pointed out a lot so far and more follow in Section F).
NATO uses Ukraine to subdue and prove to Russia that it doesn’t have a say on anything important – and Russia uses Ukraine to punish NATO for that policy and to finally be heard.
What NATO’s real intentions are has become more obvious also with the reactions of NATO and EU countries to Russia’s invasion. See Argument 27 below on that.
A new blunder is in the making as a cover-up for the first blunder. Instead of a search for a negotiated solution, all sides are now blinded by self-righteousness and the delusional ”we shall win.”
But no one will win. All will lose, however some more than others, perhaps all of us. The risk that this conflict will lead to the use of nuclear weapons – once the conventional level has been exhausted – is impossible to exclude.
As top-dog, NATO should have been able to change course before it was too late.
F) NATO’s lack of creative thinking and peace competence
23. Think peace: A series of peace ideas and future structures (2014)
NATO not only ignored warnings from Russia and eminent experts about the likely very negative consequences of its Ukraine membership insistence.
NATO also ignored discussion of any other option for Ukraine – including the will, at the time, of the Ukrainian people who were not in favour of membership (see Chapter E, Arguments 21.1-2).
For those reasons, the present author thought it was important to suggest alternatives – not only intellectually and for peace but also to mitigate the burgeoning, still latent conflict and move towards something that could lead to a compromise which all sides might be willing to live with.
Vladimir Putin’s statements that separatists should not hold referendums on May 11, that he welcomes the elections in Ukraine on May 25 and that Russia is withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine should be welcomed.
If he has been ”aggressive” and this is a ”turnabout” as many in the West believe, this turnabout is even more welcome. If he hasn’t been aggressive but merely defensive, it is still helpful in terms of defusing the crisis.
Constructive response from the West
The only constructive approach so far seems to be OSCE chair Burkhalter’s “roadmap”. But it needs to get more concrete and detailed.
We now need some constructive response from the US, NATO and EU. It would be helpful if they announced that they will not try to include Ukraine in NATO or EU for that matter but respect the opinion of all Ukrainians.
The West’s co-responsibility for this crisis should be admitted. But Western leaders and major media remain – conveniently but incorrectly – in denial of these causal factors:
a) Twenty years of containment and NATO expansion against all promises made after the dissolution of the Soviet Union – a policy that would necessarily have to end at Ukraine’s border;
b) The EU’s demand that Ukraine would only get closer to the EU if not joining a customs union with Russia and, well-documented as it is:
c) The neo-conservative U.S. elite’s drive at regime change in Kiev through a series of measures that the U.S. itself would never accept on its own territory.
Escalation is counterproductive
In response to what has been termed Russia’s revisionist, expansive aims the West has done little but escalate the tension. Henry Kissinger recently wrote that what has been done so far is nothing but a cover-up for a lack of a long-term policy.
Tension-escalation? Yes – sanctions, intimidating and bellicose rhetoric, blaming, psycho-political projections, movement of troops and fighter planes, the statement by NATO’s Sec-Gen that Russia is part of the problem and not the solution and by his deputy that Russia is no longer seen as a partner but as an adversary.
It’s all counterproductive if the well-being of all Ukrainians as well as mutual trust, stability, and peace is the purpose.
Since confrontational and military language is what government people have learnt and weapons are on their shelves, they use what they have no matter whether, over time, it may well cause the explosion they all swear they want to prevent.
Peace proposals for Ukraine
What should have been done in the Ukraine crisis and what can still be done?
- Empathy and conflict assessment
Judge well the likely perception and responses on the other side of the moves you make. It should have been obvious that the attempt at getting Ukraine into the Western fold was a high-risk project. But there was too much US/NATO/EU exceptionalism and hubris for that.
- 20.000 monitors and facilitators
When the conflict began to build up there should have been discussion about bringing in, say, 20.000-30.000 OSCE and/or UN civilian monitors to understand the issues, report, monitor, dialogue and diffuse the situation on the ground. In addition, governments should have mobilised the community of professional conflict-management civil society organisations.
- Inclusive consultations and talks
Talks involving all parties, i.e. also separatists, neo-fascists etc as well as peace civil society organisations – not just some helter-skelter meetings between a few foreign ministers. That is, an inclusive definition of who are the parties – and talks before negotiations.
Parties not invited and not listened to invariably make themselves heard in other, violent ways.
- Learn from earlier cases – Yugoslavia
All it takes in Ukraine now is what it took in Yugoslavia in 1991: a little more escalation, polarization, and war propaganda, a few local building occupations, some people killed, revenge – and violence will spiral out of everybody’s hands.
Study for example the village of Pakrac in Croatia where the first shot was fired, and learn the lessons! (By the way, Ukraine means border – like Krajina in Croatia).
- Peace is about solving problems, not about punishing people
Avoid steps that de facto escalate the tension and give the other side an excuse for reciprocating in kind.
Above all look at conflicts as problems to be solved, not human beings to be punished.
No conflict anywhere has ever been solved by punishment, only through understanding the thing that stands between parties, i.e. the conflict/issue.
- A new type of expert commission
Finally, I would recommend that a group of 5-10 impartial, high-integrity and multi-cultural conflict and peace experts be established – people known for their wisdom and for doing good to society – from politics, cultural life and business.
Business is a very important dimension for peace and not the least in the case of Ukraine. And business people are usually more creative than politicians.
The Commission shall do three things:
a) Travel and listen to all parties involved in the Ukraine conflict, including China;
b) Come up with several proposals as to the future of Ukraine – ways in which it can remain sovereign but be useful to both Russia and the West and exploited by neither. For open discussion among all, including the Ukrainians.
c) Present strategies for how to maximise the benefits to all parties – the people in Ukraine first of all – and to minimise the possible loss to some parties: The noble art of losing face may one day save the human race, as Danish philosopher Piet Hein stated it.
War is a dystopia, peace is realism
If local violence escalates much further and outside forces continue their confrontational policies the future will be dark for all of us: Decades of new Cold War perhaps coupled with warm wars à la Yugoslavia, or worse.
However, as suggested above, if we stop taking steps toward war and begin to think peace, peace is still possible in and around Ukraine.
Well, that was 2014. Nobody listened to such conflict-resolution and peace thinking. Peace wasn’t the goal back then, either. The NATO top-dog’s goal – with 12 times higher military expenditures than Russia – was condescending full-spectrum dominance vis-a-vis its under-dog “partner.” And not a gram of humility due to its own powers, neither empathy with the opponent – both so important for peace-making.
NATO’s policies do not even reveal any deep concern about the possible terrible fate of the Ukrainian people.
24. Stop preventing peace: 12 ideas to make it (2015)
Here follows some concrete suggestions from March 2015 in the author’s article, “From Preventing to Making Peace in Ukraine” on TFF’s homepage:
Lund, Sweden, March 13, 2015
If the parties continue this way, there will be no peace in Ukraine but probably war in Europe. With a little out-of-the-box thinking, we could move in a safer direction.
You’ve heard everybody involved in the Ukraine conflict solemnly declare that there is no military solution.
And what do they all do? Right, they militarise the situation further, use bellicose language, speak bad about each other, take provocative steps, use propaganda and flex their military muscles. It’s thought-provokingly thoughtless.
These men – sorry, but they are all men – who are competent in war and other violence run our world. They are conflict and peace illiterates embedded with MIMACs – Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complexes – which exist in both Russia, EU, NATO and the U.S.
It’s not about evil – they are probably all good spouses, nice to their children or grandchildren and enjoy literature, painting or music in their few hours of leisure. But the system they operate inside is as evil as it is dangerous for us all, for the world’s future.
Their problem – and thus your and my problem – is that they just don’t have a clue about peace-making. No education, institutions or advisers in civilian conflict-management.
And since they lack that, they fall back on the convenient but proven illusion that peace will come if we just force “the other” to back down.
And since there is no lack of (tax payers’) money to fund weapons (only to fund social and cultural development) and these weapons are on the government shelves, that’s what they use – instead of their intelligence and empathy.
If you think so, take a look at these facts:
1. We have Minsk II – a fragile ceasefire agreement, but we have no enforcement capacity, no way of securing that violence won’t break out again.
2. There are no all-party peacebuilding initiatives, no forums or processes where possible future solutions are being brainstormed, mediated impartially and hammered out in text for a peace agreement. Not even consultations.
That is, not one single fall-back plan/process in case the ceasefire breaks down.
3. Russia seems to have up to 10,000 “forces” in Ukraine – some of them private mercenaries? – according to a new RUSI report. It controls Crimea but rushed to arrange a referendum (better at least than NATO’s bombing Serbia to pieces to make Kosovo independent, but still) and forgot to offer autonomy for non-Russians.
4. The UK sends limited “forces” into Ukraine to train its army.
5. These very days, NATO holds at least 3 significant military exercises (non-provocative, it says, just re-assuring their allies) – Atlantic Resolve (see interesting maps on the link) in the Baltic region, Joint Viking in Northern Norway and one in the Black Sea – coincidentally, we must assume, all around Russia. This comes in continuation of NATO’s earlier decision to set up a new Rapid Reaction Force of about 30,000 troops in six East European countries.
6. Ukraine, on the verge of economic collapse, seeks weapons in the UAE and asks for more weapons from the West and gets some “non-lethal” equipment and private mercenaries. The West has introduced a funny category called “defensive” weapons that may fit the case (meaning that everything else they themselves have in their arsenals is offensive – but assumed to be used only for defence…).
7. All sides take confrontational steps to show off – such as sanctions and use of the oil/gas weapon – and make the distance to “the others” larger. Where there used to be confidence, even common exercises, there is now no communication, only mistrust.
8. As if this was not enough, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission President, says that we must have a new EU Army to face up to Russia (whose military expenditures is as small as 10% of NATO’s should anyone bother about the military (un)balance.
If there is no military solution – why then all these military steps and no single move, no sending of signals, in the direction of confidence-building and peace?
Each of these moves, all this posturing and ’signalling’ – and their tit-for-tat accumulated effect over time – pushes the situation closer to war than to peace. It even seems divisive within NATO (that was the time when Germany’s leadership had some wisdom, JO 2022).
European citizens – also way outside Ukraine – have reasons to fear where this could end. They have no influence on what all these MIMACS do – also not in democratic countries.
They have no way of saying no to their tax money being used for reducing their own security. It may not be in our name, but it is certainly by our taxes.
If they knew what peace could be and how to make it
If parliamentarians, ministers, presidents and mainstream media were not – of course with some few exceptions – part of the vested MIMAC interests and could think freely outside the box, they would come up with some self-evident proposals such as these (not linear and with no priorities or who should do what first):
1. Stop trying to get Ukraine into NATO.
2. Let Ukraine join both the EU and whatever Russian-led civilian organisation all Ukrainians can agree on.
3. Withdraw all kinds of forces from Eastern Ukraine.
4. Let a robust UN peacekeeping force – with a military, a civil affairs and a police element à la Yugoslavia – operate in the whole Eastern region together with the OSCE.
5. Begin confidence- and peacebuilding consultations, with professional, impartial mediators – leading over the years (yes, it takes time) to a peace agreement with civilian and military modalities for the future.
6. Discuss possible futures for Ukraine – unitary, federated, con-federated, autonomous regions, governance etc. ending with referendum for all Ukrainians voting on 2-3 possible structures.
7. Respect the new opinion poll of all Ukrainians which shows that they are more united around accepting a neutral status – or equidistance – to Russia and the West than any other alternative and that they want their country’s unity preserved.
8. Withdraw NATO’s new rapid force from the six East European countries and get back to the spirit of the 1997 Founding Act on Mutual Relations between Russia and NATO.
9. A massive economic aid and development package to Ukraine – financed by Russia, the EU and the US together.
10. Drop all sanctions and other economic warfare whichever way and re-connect. All parties in this conflict have a crystal clear win-win situation in front of them if they could only recognise it.
11. People-to-people activities crisscross, reconciliation and closure and stopping mass media propaganda warfare, stereotyping, demonising and self-righteous coverage.
Peace won’t come easy or quick but it is fully possible.*
But peace will not come with the stone-age, peace-preventing policies we’ve witnessed on all sides the last year. If some of these proposals were implemented, we could see yet another proposal:
12. A Russian-Ukrainian-EU Academy of Peace – the first throughout the area otherwise filled with military academies – where students from these countries would pursue an MA and PhD, become peace professionals and good mediators – helping us all to prevent, in the future, the tragic but avoidable situation we are in now.
25. How to analyse a conflict: More peace proposals (2022)
Finally, less than a day before Russia’s 2022 invasion, the author published these proposals for a peaceful solution – “Ukraine – What Should Have Been Done? From Dangerous Militarist Thinking Towards Conflict-Resolution and Peace” – on TFF’s The Transnational:
This manuscript was finalised 15 hours before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. If just a little of what I describe below had been tried during the last 30 years, what we witnessed in the last months and in these hours would never have been possible.
Thanks to the rampant security intellectual disarmament since 9/11, the US/NATO world seems to think that it is not itself a party to any conflict but merely a witness to criminals doing evil things – Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, etc. And criminals must be judged and punished.
Since the US/NATO is still militarily ’second to none,’ it bullies, threatens and ’deters’ as it pleases.
It feels as if this has been stated to the world: ”There will only be peace if Russia does what we deter it to do – namely to accept our ’rules-based international order’ and superiority.”
This way of thinking makes civilian conflict-resolution impossible and, therefore, cooperation, common security, reconciliation and peace. It harms the world but serves the declining US Empire and the elites of the Western Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex (MIMAC).
A completely different approach was possible
How do we analyse and solve conflicts?
Most people – decision-makers in particular – do not know such things. Their advisers wear either an outer green or inner conventional Realpolitik uniform. Thus, they are conflict and peace illiterates manipulated by the MIMAC.
Therefore, they should learn the ABC of conflict. ”A” stands for Attitudes, ”B” for Behaviour and ”C” for the Conflict or Contradiction – what’s the problem, not who is right and wrong? And who are the parties (P) and when did the conflict start (S)?
After this ABC comes conflict Diagnosis, Prognosis and Solutions. Let’s now apply this – very superficially – to the larger Ukraine conflict cluster:
Parties and Start
1) Many conflicting parties inside Ukraine – simplified East and West, Ukrainian- and Russia-oriented/speaking, some ten religious groups and a political spectrum from socialists to Neo-Nazi/Fascist and, of course, the people of Donbas.
2) Regionally: Russia-Ukraine-EU-NATO-US
3) Globally: US-NATO-Russia-China.
4) When did the conflict – not the violence – start? In 1991 when the first document with NATO was signed? In 1994 when Clinton broke the promises and began expanding NATO? In 2014 with the US-supported regime-change in Kyiv? With the annexation of Crimea? Or in 1954 – when, under President Nikita Khrushchev, Crimea was transferred from the Russian Soviet Republic to Ukraine?
1) Numerous contradictions inside Ukraine – past, present and future. Domestic structure – unitary state or federation, confederation, partition, or what? And democratisation, nation-building, economic development, security, to mention some.
2) Ukraine’s present and future foreign relations: Closer to Russia, to the EU, to NATO, or neutrality, equidistance or something else?
3) NATO’s expansion, Ukraine as a NATO member (but with limitations), Russia’s security concerns, Cold War or detente, accommodation versus confrontation, common security or unilateral national security strategies, win/win or win/lose security?
4) Which conflicts are manifest and which are latent? Which are symmetric, which a-symmetric?
On all sides, more or less: Hard confrontational. Getting our way. No compromise. Provocation. Feeling hurt not being listened to. Lack of empathy. Historical grievances. Traumas. Military language. Threats. Projecting bad characteristics onto ”the others.”
Military deterrence and sabre-rattling. Troop movement and reinforcements. ”Signalling.” Only conditional meetings. Political and military attack/surprises. Accusations. Statement-making – ”we good guys, you bad guys.” Interventions. Coup d’etat/regime changes (2014). Law-breaking. Ignoring agreements and promises.
Conflicting parties and the media love to apportion guilt – good/bad guys. In contrast, conflict-resolution explores: What are the problems that stand between the parties, what are each party’s main issues, what do they fear and what do they want – and how can we think creatively about future(s) – that is Prognosis – that maximise the satisfaction of all parties. And how do we compensate potential losers?
And then we can move towards exploring and suggesting:
Conflict-resolution and peace-making is a science and an art – dialoguing/brainstorming with all parties about a better future rather than getting stuck in the past. Like a doctor must do not only Diagnosis and Prognosis but also suggest Treatment.
The ABC could spark off creative mediating ideas towards solutions. You present them to all the parties and see where their responses overlap: What is acceptable to everyone?
To stimulate solution thinking, here are some ideas (not prioritised):
• Ukraine as a Switzerland-like country, neutral, non-aligned, federations, autonomies and cantons. Defensive defence.
• Turn Ukraine into a cooperative project between Russia and the West. Let it host a particular global institution and be useful to – and getting the best from – all sides: A space for West and Russian and Chinese development, perhaps a member of the EU and the Belt and Road?
• A big robust UN peace-making mission with the classical three legs – Military, Police and Civil Affairs; an expanded OSCE Monitoring Mission.
• No further NATO expansion (easy when you give Ukraine better options than full NATO membership). Withdrawal of all offensive long-range weapons.
• Russian military withdrawal from Donbas after an autonomy solution and demilitarisation by the UN.
• Non-aggression pacts with Russia and NATO, advanced defensive security structures, troop withdrawal from borders and demilitarized zones.
• A UN-organised negotiation structure addressing the problems and knitting together one agreement after the other to construct a larger sustainable future peace. Include the Minsk Agreement but go much further.
• All of Europe, including Russia, come together and construct the post-NATO system for conflict-resolution and peace, a European United Nations. The Ukraine crisis shows that the present European security architecture and NATO are dysfunctional. NATO’s peace promises since 1949 have ended in a Second Cold War. NATO even violates its own Treaty.
When will they ever learn?
The MIMAC elites on all sides have created this Second Cold War with Ukraine inside it.
Its basic elements are primitive militarism – weapons as our only tool, tit-for-tat, brinkmanship and blame games – all intellectually and ethically indefensible and never touching the conflicts, the problems. Adding violence to conflicts invariably only make them even more difficult to solve.
European citizens hate all of it! But they pay for it with their tax money and perhaps – God forbid – their lives. Ukraine is also a conflict between authoritarian elites and the citizens on all sides who are never consulted about their governments’ sandbox-like escalations.
The misuse of wars, weapons and violence will stop the day people – governments in particular – educate themselves in using all the other tools.
Intellectual armament – the only armament the world needs – can bring peace.
Why has none of this been tried by anyone?
I am indebted to Johan Galtung for his classical ABC and the DPT model – to which I have added other elements.
Elsewhere, I have also suggested that the United Nations HQ in New York be moved to Kiyv. It would make Ukraine a world centre for diplomacy and peace, give it a high status in the global community as well as a substantial income. The US has come to misuse its host role with diplomatic and other sanctions; it’s time for a change.
So, to summarise NATO’s and other parties’ peace-making concerning Ukraine: It’s been war-making instead. They have had no creativity, no humility, no empathy, no will to compromise: all so important for real peace-making.
It’s been the usual armed military deterrence-based ’peace,’ provocative regional and global expansion, led by the United States, the least peaceful country in contemporary history.
If NATO’s top priority had been peace in Europe in general and in Ukraine in particular, it would never have conducted policies the way it has since the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact broke down.
More about peace-making here.
G) NATO’s future and the world’s
26. NATO as it sees itself
While professing that they are transformative, little in basic thinking – if anything – has been transformed. All three documents make pretty sleep-inducing reading. Here are some illustrations from the Madrid Summit: ”We are united in our commitment to democracy, individual liberty, human rights, and the rule of law. We adhere to international law and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. We are committed to upholding the rules-based international order.”
One could point to cases where such commitments have been rather underwhelming – such as Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. And what’s the difference between international law etc., and the rules-based order? Whose rules if not those of the world community: the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, etc?
”We will enhance our collective defence exercises to be prepared for high intensity and multi-domain operations and ensure reinforcement of any Ally on short notice. All these steps will substantially strengthen NATO’s deterrence and forward defences. This will help to prevent any aggression against NATO territory by denying any potential adversary success in meeting its objectives.”
Deterrence has been a NATO concept for decades, the ’forward defence’ strategy was developed by NATO at the turning point of the 1950s and 60s to defend Central Europe, according to NATO: ”The defence plans were flexible and based on nuclear deterrence (See Employment of atomic weapons in manoeuvers and exercices). They were intended for the defence of borders rather than invasion of enemy territory.” See more about forward defence some 60 years ago here
– and note in passing also the early role of atomic weapons for forward border defence…
Much of this is standard texts from decades back – incantations, prayers or – meant to make the Believers shout out: Amen!
First, let your eyes slide down over this page: Yes, it has all been said before. Then move on to this video on NATO’s YouTube channel in which Benedetta Berti, head of NATO’s Policy Planning, explains what it is. While you watch, note what images accompany NATO and which comes up when Russia is mentioned (2:15 minutes):
It’s hard to avoid the sense of secularised religion, the congregation standing up in solidarity with their Church and faith, swearing to fight all evils. Listen to this in The Strategic Concept:
”We remain steadfast in our resolve to protect our one billion citizens, defend our territory and safeguard our freedom and democracy. We will reinforce our unity, cohesion and solidarity, building on the enduring transatlantic bond between our nations and the strength of our shared democratic values. We reiterate our steadfast commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty and to defending each other from all threats, no matter where they stem from. We will continue to work towards just, inclusive and lasting peace and remain a bulwark of the rules-based international order.” (From the Preface and in part repeated under Purpose and Principles).
In this document, we see the same – tired – postulates about Russia and China as threats – only threats. It doesn’t occur to NATO people that it would be important to have a balanced view and also look for opportunities for cooperation. The mere fact of calling somebody a threat reduces such opportunities and compels you to treat those others as enemies. And enemies are easy to create.
The 2022 Strategic Concept doesn’t define what is meant by strategy, nor does it explain any of NATO’s central concepts, be it peace, security, defence, deterrence, or crisis – or how it defines what threats the alliance is facing.
It states things, postulates them – and repeats them from other documents. It is thin – 11 pages – filled with incantations and military potions.
Here is point 47: ”Investing in NATO is the best way to ensure the enduring bond between European and North American Allies, while contributing to global peace and stability. We will continue to reinforce our political unity and solidarity and to broaden and deepen our consultations to address all matters that affect our security. We commit to reinforce consultations when the security and stability of an Ally is threatened or when our fundamental values and principles are at risk.”
NATO is the best investment, it says, but did it – or the members – ever contemplate any other type of investment? Did those who inserted this sentence building block – that’s what the documents consist of rather than anything analytic – not see the manifest contradiction between the mentioned bond and global peace and stability in this situation?
And, finally, here the last point – # 49 – and did you hear that before? ”NATO is indispensable to Euro-Atlantic security. It guarantees our peace, freedom and prosperity. As Allies, we will continue to stand together to defend our security, values, and democratic way of life.”
The NATO Believers will rejoice and sing out ”Amen!” The rest of us – infidels – simply demand more substance, research, innovation, vision, self-reflection and humility.
The main “transformation” seems to be that the investment in weapons will be even higher than before and increase to an absurd level in comparison with any other country or group of countries’ military capabilities and expenditures.
In command of hundreds of billions of dollars, NATO wants more. Always. We citizens of NATO countries whose peace is at stake should demand more. Much more.
But would an outdated colussus like NATO be able to re-invent itself and become a force for future good?
27. The West’s knee-jerk reaction to the Russian invasion: The new Iron Curtain
The Western/NATO/EU response to that invasion manifestly moved beyond the proportionality principle, beyond rationality and a realistic image of the world and the future.
On March 22, 2022 – as soon as the Western response to Russia’s 24th of February invasion had begun to appear – I wrote ”NATO/Russia conflict in Ukraine: The West’s spinal cord reaction will prove extremely self-destructive” on The Transnational:
Self-righteous spinal hatred, the inner Russophobic swine dog as well as lawlessness in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will harm the Western world itself and hasten its decline and fall.
The term “inner swine dog” means, according to the English dictionary, “Malicious, hateful drive, which hides behind a person’s apparently friendly and tolerant exterior”.
This dog, which can belong to both elites and the masses, has been let loose in recent weeks among both high and low across the political spectrum. There no longer seems to be any limit to what can be said about Russians and Russia – even without a comparative perspective – and what can be done to isolate the country and its people economically, culturally, socially, financially and in the media. All with reference to Russia’s – in my view, international law-violating and unethical – invasion of Ukraine. As if by magic, the word ‘Putin’ explains everything.
The contempt and hatred must have been latent deep in the collective unconscious for a very long time. It is probably largely a consequence of the so-called free media’s systematic, one-sided “threat assessments” over decades – again without comparative analysis with NATO’s behaviour and military overspending – and the omission of any perspective on what is Russia’s history, security needs and its perception of us.
To explain something has been distorted – by whom? – to be identical with defending. The conversation is dumbing down. The case, the substance – the ball – disappears and all that remains is the person, ad hominem attack, categorization and positioning: “Putin Versteher,” “pro-Russian,” “anti-NATO,” “Putinist,” or “paid by the Kremlin.”
The role of the media in the hateful reaction
The media have played a very important part in setting the tone for the boundless hatred that is now spreading from the lowest instincts to concrete actions and reactive measures at the highest level of political decision-making.
Western mainstream media have simply announced – as a fact that didn’t require documentation – that Russia was the enemy, a threat, and they’ve concealed the military-economic imbalance, downplayed or left completely untold the reprehensibility of US and other NATO countries’ wars, occupations, mass deaths, refugee creation, regime change – and failed attempts at it as in Syria – a collaboration with terrorists, the terrible human consequences of these wars and, for example, the ‘war on terror.’ The same goes for the suffocating sanctions against Iran’s innocent population of 85 million. And Israel’s bombings and nuclear weapons have long since ceased to be reported.
I, who follow these issues daily through a wide range of media, have been horrified every day for at least the past 20 years by the obvious way in which it is all being organised in the clear favour of the US and NATO countries. Western sources and news agencies have been used exclusively, experts paid by NATO governments have been brought in by state research institutes, and hardly any material has been published to shed light on Russia’s interests, ways of thinking or perceptions of what we in the NATO circle were doing.
A media glare has run for decades. Today, ordinary people react so violently and have little idea how much they have been seduced by constant, factually ignorant good/bad – black/white – world images. By FOSI – Fake + Omission + Source Ignorance.
The unbearable folly of irreversible, hasty decisions
Thus, government, politicians, scientists and the media – with the classic reservation of a few exceptions – are today completely at the mercy of emotion. Laws can be broken, special laws imposed, money taken from the world’s poor for Ukrainian refugees; the business world has suddenly become PR-politically correct with Ukraine flags and blue/yellow lights and immediate cessation of all activities in Russia.
The EU overnight has no resource problems with 2-3 million refugees from Ukraine, while in 2015 it could not cope with 1.5 million – mostly Muslims, and this is important – from the war zones the US and other NATO countries have ravaged for decades and many times worse than Russia has done at least until today in Ukraine.
Germany decides – again without analysis – to immediately rearm up to US$ 112 billion per year. Russia’s is US$ 66 billion!
Countries and their political parties are throwing overboard their basic positions on militarism, bases, nuclear weapons and NATO.
In the frenzy of the dog pack, no one will risk appearing cautious, moderate or understanding when it comes to the underlying Russia-NATO conflicts. They denounce the violence – Russia’s but not that of others to nearly the same extent – and completely overlook the underlying conflicts, which are Russia and NATO and certainly not Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine is only the unfortunate war theatre of war.
More weapons and more rearmament – whatever the cost to our society in the slightly longer term, which no one is analysing – is the only answer needed. It has to be that fast. And we must stand together now – and we are standing together.
Perhaps not so smart if what we can finally stand together on – in an otherwise thoroughly divided Western world without clear-eyed leadership – turns out the day after tomorrow to be a fundamentally wrong and self-destructive attitude.
God knows how such an intellectually low-brow move as raising military spending to 2% of GDP can be adopted by people we would like to think of as responsible politicians.
It is intellectual nonsense that military spending should increase if a country’s economy is doing well and decrease if it is not. A country’s military spending level should be decided in the light of a serious threat analysis – what possible threats have such a low probability and impact that we do not need to prepare for them? Which threats are so great that we cannot afford or are unable to guard against them? And which threats remain that we can both address and afford to build adequate defences against? And then you look in the treasury and prioritise between all the expenditures of a state.
The gods must therefore be the only ones who know how, for instance, the Danish government has calculated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should be met on 2% of GDP and not on 1.8% or 4.4%. In fact, this sort of thing is nothing more than extremely expensive signalling politics of the lowest order, paid for by the taxpayers, who never protest against the madness because they are objects of ”fearology:” Putin, the bastard, will come and take you if you don’t pay up.
What such reasoning will cost societies on a 10-20 year horizon is guaranteed to not have been analysed before the decision was adopted.
Cultural events involving Russians are shut down in a row – exhibitions and concerts. The grotesque thing is that these measures also affect Russian artists who have explicitly denounced Russia’s invasion. In other words, they are being punished because they are Russian.
Ministers are urging scientists to stop ongoing research collaborations and certainly not to start new ones. Russian goods are removed from shops. Peace and other demonstrations go only to the Russian embassy, not to those of the NATO countries, which – extremely provocatively – have just expanded NATO and let all the wise warnings go to waste. And, as mentioned, waged wars on a scale that dwarfs Russia in comparison.
Facebook sees fit to allow hate speech against Russians – and only them, of course – as long as it’s within the context of the war in Ukraine – as Facebook explains.
I wonder how far Russians and the rest of us will be forced to suffer under this modern-day parallel to anti-Semitism: Russophobia?
I wonder where this collective psychosis, this mass hysteria with a single focus, will land us all in generations from now?
And I wonder if anyone in the Christian West will one day think of Luke: “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but do not notice the beam in your own eye? Hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye; then you will see clearly enough to take out the mote that is in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:41-42).
The slippery slope of lawlessness
There now seems to be an orgiastic heat of self-righteousness. The entire response – every single action in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine – has been decided in such a short time that there has been no time for any kind of impact assessment even 6 months ahead, let alone on a 6 year or 30-year horizon. Not within a national, European or global framework.
The G7 countries are freezing Russia’s US$ 400 billion debt. It’s pure theft. They are closing airspaces so that, for example, the Russian foreign minister cannot fly to meetings at the UN in Geneva. The EU/NATO world cuts off oil and gas imports from Russia and imposes countless sanctions on anything and anyone that can move in Russia: “We are coming to get you!” – President Biden said in his State of the Union address.
That’s not how you behave if you feel inferior or fearful of your opponent – the way you argue when you need to raise military spending.
And that’s documented very well by the former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen who says this about the prospect of war in Europe to Danish TV2 that – “Putin will be beaten to a pulp by NATO. Once NATO moves, it will be with enormous force. You have to remember that the investments we make in defence are ten times as big as Putin’s.”
And now the heavily over-armed NATO must over-arm even more?
Thousands of Western companies operating in Russia are now facing possible nationalisation. Will Western governments and/or insurance companies compensate them after they have left? Just think of the cost to German business of this on a 10-20 year horizon – that is, at best, the time it will take until we can hope for a rapprochement with Russia after this.
The boomerangs will come back to us. Be sure of that. And when it happens so badly, the only response from any decision-maker will be: Well, it was and is all Putin’s fault!
But that doesn’t hold water by the West’s own standards.
NATO has provoked Russia with its expansion for 30 years and ignored dozens of warnings about where it was going. When solid, highly experienced American statesmen and intellectuals of a very different calibre than those in the West today – like George F. Kennan, Henry Kissinger, John Mearsheimer, Jack Matlock and William Perry – warned against NATO expansion and attempts to bring Ukraine into NATO, they were simply ignored.
It has broken the promises not to expand NATO an inch, made to Gorbachev in 1989-90. It has set up The Ballistic Missile Defence that deliberately seeks to undermine Russia’s ability to respond to a nuclear attack. It has waged war in Yugoslavia, treating both Russia and the UN and international law as almost inferior.
I am not the only one who predicted years ago that there would be a reaction. Nobody listened. Now Russia has reacted – over-reacted. I agree it is an overreaction and I have argued that Putin had other options than this invasion.
Proportionality, collective punishment and violation of freedom of expression
Here we are faced with a classic dilemma and responsibility: It is possible that A provokes B, but it is still B who chooses his way of reacting and must be held responsible for it.
It is precisely this reasoning about the responsibility of the provoked side for its reaction that must also apply to the reaction of the NATO/EU countries to Russia’s invasion.
And here there are two principles which normally apply in proper politics: a) the reaction must be proportionate to the attack or provocation, and: b) there must be no collective punishment of a people for an offence for which only one or a few are de facto and de jure responsible. This is an integral element in the Geneva Conventions. About collective punishment here.
It is undeniable that the suffering we see the innocent civilian population of Ukraine undergoing right now arouses great compassion and a desire to help. The question remains, however: Why have we not seen similar reactions of similar intense depth and breadth in some of the many and far worse wars since Vietnam? Why have we not seen any, even remotely, similar condemnation, similar sanctions, similar isolation of those who violate international law, including everything in the UN Declaration?
At the time of writing, the reaction against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine is particular, disproportionate and open-ended. A criminal is put in prison and serves a time commensurate with the crime. What has now been adopted in response to the invasion is open-ended.
If Russia were to agree to a ceasefire tomorrow and pull out of Ukraine, none of the many measures would be lifted.
Because this is not Realpolitik or proportionate logical sanctions policy: when you have done X, Y and Z, then we shall lift all our measures. They are disproportionate but also non-conditioned measures.
Now to the second illegality.
Doctors Without Borders defines collective punishment thus: ‘International law posits that no person may be punished for acts that he or she did not commit. It ensures that the collective punishment of a group of persons for a crime committed by an individual is forbidden…This is one of the fundamental guarantees established by the Geneva Conventions and their protocols. This guarantee is applicable not only to protected persons but to all individuals, no matter what their status, or to what category of persons they belong…”
A group/people may never, whatever the circumstances, be punished for an act committed by one or a few. Morally, collective punishment is absolutely abhorrent and unacceptable.
It is all the more so when those who carry it out believe that they are facing a dictator. In a democracy, it might be argued that the people share responsibility for the actions of leaders because they have become leaders through free elections. The situation is quite different in what the same people call dictatorships, where the people cannot be held jointly responsible (I am not saying that Russia is a dictatorship; I am challenging the reasoning of those who think it is).
And then there’s the third illegality.
The shutdown of Russian media outlets like RT and Sputnik, social media accounts and whichever ones will now be affected in the future.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 enshrines in Article 19 that:
1) Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
It must be clear, therefoire, that excluding Russian media and other information from expression in the media spaces accessible from the West violates 1). The same is true when you actively seek to prevent people in the West from freely seeking information about how Russian media treat Ukraine and other world issues.
Further, Article 20 of the Treaty states that:
- Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
- Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Although it is difficult to judge when exactly such things actually happen and should be condemned, the whole public discussion tends to violate at least the spirit of these international law provisions. And it cannot and should not be swept off the table by reference to Russia or others doing the same. We are responsible for our actions.
The West itself tramples on international human rights 24/7 at the moment.
Such fairly obvious ethical-legal dimensions are, of course, completely sidelined.
The inner swine dog froth at its mouth and in all its lying self-righteousness can’t get enough. Regardless of decency, the spirit and the letter of international law.
The boomerangs of hate – the self-destruction of the West
We, our children and grandchildren will pay dearly for this – the self-isolation and accelerated decline and final fall of the West. And perhaps nuclear war – deliberate or by technical and/or human error.
And it is, they want us to remember forever, all one person’s fault, Vladimir Putin. And it is Putin “we” need neither understand nor take into account. The amateur psychologists and editors are now queuing up in our media to have him diagnosed as insane. He suddenly went insane on 23 February 2022.
That way this hellishly complex conflict over decades with at least 50 parties can be reduced to issues of one person’s mental health. And it also follows that “we” bear no responsibility whatsoever for the fact that the world is now in the most existentially threatening situation since 1945.
We are up against a Russian Hitler – ”Putler.” Now no trick is too small, no lie too big.
So where could this re-action to Russia’s invasion take us?
Here a few heuristically chosen possible scenarios, which Western decision-makers have hardly given a thought:
• The longer the war lasts in Ukraine – and it lasts longer than it otherwise would because huge amounts of arms and ammunition being pumped in from the West – the greater the humanitarian disaster and then the reconstruction of a country that was already the poorest in Europe and heavily marked by corruption. Internal hatred in Ukraine is also likely to be many times more intense than before the invasion.
• The probably extensive infiltration of neo-Nazism into Ukraine’s politics and military security sector – arguably the largest anywhere – will not diminish once the war is over. These circles will demand a special status in future Ukraine because of their efforts in the resistance struggle. What role might they seek to play internationally – in, say, US-like movements and in European countries with, so far, less far-right extremism? Over the years, Nazism could spread precisely because its supporters are seen as heroes in the fight against Russia.
• Russia’s people, in the long run, will suffer so much because of our sanctions that the world may face a gigantic humanitarian disaster that it cannot bear on top of all the other problems of poverty, refugees and climate change, etc.. And someone will begin to realize and say: These poor, innocent people are victims of Western sanctions that were imposed without a time limit.
• While many are talking about which countries Putin will now try to conquer, I think this is a reasonably likely scenario:
In the US view, there is now an excellent opportunity to tie Russia to the war in Ukraine and make it as long as possible by pumping weapons and everything else into Ukraine – but not participating in it directly. At the same time, the focus is now 100% on strangling the Russian economy and effectively collapsing the country like the old Soviet Union. I know too little about the Russian economy to say whether this is a possibility – but in Washington’s perspective, this is where the stakes are: drain Russia’s military strength in Ukraine and undermine its economic base at home.
By contrast, I’m pretty sure China and others won’t let that happen. Regardless, the US can then calculate that millions of Russians will have to flee – including to Europe. And there the Atlantic consensus will end: the EU will blame the US for demanding that the EU impose these suffocating sanctions whose human consequences will only affect Europe, not the US.
• Far more nationalistic and militaristic people in the Kremlin depose Putin and re-arm, like Germany, to the double and bomb the NATO installations NATO will not discuss as provocative. In that case, there is a far greater than 50% risk of a nuclear war in Central Europe.
• This conflict will legitimise any increase in the US presence with heavy equipment as close to Russia’s border as possible. This is already being planned in US military circles. In practice, the US will impose itself militarily and politically on Europe to a perhaps unprecedented extent. Until that day, the United States will have militarised itself to death by seeking to wage two cold wars simultaneously – against Russia and China – with major elements of rearmament and militaristic policy. It is called over-extension and the economy, as in the old Soviet Union, will collapse under this burden. Why are the Americans betting so much on Europe? Because NATO’s main purpose – when you peel back all the rhetoric – is to ensure that a war with Russia is fought on European soil, not US soil.
• With the weapons and ammunition that NATO and EU countries are now pumping into and around Ukraine, there is already a de facto war between NATO/EU and Russia. Moreover, with the borders open to all manner of mercenaries and adventurers from around the world, one can safely expect more suffering than would otherwise be necessary. Terrorist groups of various kinds will also no doubt feel drawn; I imagine that the terrorist groups that Russia has helped to defeat in Syria will see Ukraine as a golden territory for revenge against Russians.
• Another scenario might be that Russia does reasonably well economically with a prolonged military presence in Ukraine, converts to a kind of war economy and expands cooperation with Iran, China and perhaps India. Others outside the West will see the same writing on the wall: it is futile to try to have a reasonably trusting relationship with the US, NATO and the EU after this. If they can do that to the Russians, what can they do to us? The US-led system with allies who have lost the ability to think and act independently of the US/NATO will become a periphery of the future world order as the years go by.
The Western world’s response to Russia’s invasion has shown that the only thing that can unite it is confrontation and hate – it has not been able to unite around the financial crisis, NATO’s future and burden-sharing, the 2015 refugees or the Corona, all of which could have brought us closer together and working together for our own good and the good of humanity. More hatred brings satisfaction, inward solidarity and strengthens the sense of shared values. And so who will be the next object of hate?
• Very simply: China – even more so than hitherto. We have just seen the beginning of the US-led and -funded Cold War against China so far. The West will accuse China of not siding closely enough with the West against Russia (and China won’t, though it is certainly very unhappy with Russia over the invasion). So the future ice-cold war in the world could be between the declining Occident and the rising Orient, to simplify. The West’s gigantic rearmament in “response” to Russia’s invasion will of course drain its civilian economy – all militarisation is harmful to everyone but the arms industries – and cause the West’s economic strength to be eroded over time even more and faster by the rearmament’s mad waste of resources.
• Humanity, as we know, desperately needs constructive cooperation if we shall succeed in solving the problems of inequality, climate and the environment here in the 11th hour, create technological progress and new infrastructure for the good of all, create a new green global economy, reduce militarism and abolish nuclear weapons…etc. All this – all this – will be made impossible by the West’s destructive energy, cold war philosophy, conversion to a kind of war economy, and total lack of positive Realpolitik vision in even a 20-year horizon.
The intellectual laziness, the contempt for ‘the others’ as a kind of Untermenschen, the spine-hatred and the cocktail of self-righteousness are bound to harm the Russian people. But the longer this ‘policy’ is pursued, the more damaging it will become for the West itself.
China and the others need not lift a finger, one by one the fruits of history will fall into its basket, and the US-(mis)led system will crumble.
I know that such reasoning has not one chance in a thousand of being heard in these – fateful – hours and days. Unbearable as it is, I have felt that it should be said as I have done here.
Four months after the author’s predictions above, The Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins summed up the West’s sorry situation quite accurately under this heading – “The rouble is soaring and Putin is stronger than ever – our sanctions have backfired.” And it’s not that he supports Putin’s policies, not at all.
When NATO such strategic blunders as Ukraine’s provocative, forced membership against the preferences of the Ukrainian people and Russia’s interests, and then carry on with another blunder as cover-up: more militarism and no second thoughts, it must have lost every rational worldview. It’s neither Realpolitik nor common sense. It’s a short-sighted, a desperate – albeit collectively subconscious – fight for survival.
But it means that the West – NATO and EU countries – have just built a new Iron Curtain.
28. NATO’s past and future cracks
It is easy to stand together when feeling threatened or when in the heat of battle. Then comes the waking up. Simon Jenkins’ article just mentioned above is a wake-up call but will probably also not be taken in by the West/NATO/EU countries.
There have always been cracks in the alliance. Most likely, there is bound to be more because the alliance seems unable to re-invent itself, say and do new things in a way that keeps up with our times and, not the least, the future. As we have seen, its central concept of deterrence has failed miserably in the case of Ukraine.
The classical weak points are:
• Burden-sharing: The US pays more than any other but wants others to contribute more.
• What interventions in foreign lands to do as an alliance, as a coalition of the ’willing’ or as the US alone.
• By and large, all the wars NATO countries have engaged in from Vietnam to Syria have been fiascos in terms of winning the hearts and minds of the locals, exporting Western values and in terms of international law. They have also contributed to millions being harmed and killed. Such things have blow-back effects also in terms of reducing the legitimacy of the alliance in the eyes of the rest of the world.
• Differences of interests and perspectives on each side of the Atlantic. If there is a major, perhaps nuclear, war the US will do its utmost to limit it to Europe and remain unscathed itself.
• France versus the rest. A conflict since President Charles de Gaulle pulled France and its force de frappe out of NATO’s integrated military structure in 1967. President Macron happened to call NATO ”brain dead” in 2019 but hasn’t said it again, just to some extent running his own race. France had sought dialogue with Russia concerning its invasion of Ukraine in a way NATO as an alliance has not.
• Türkiye with its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has repeatedly been at odds with the alliance – for instance buying weapons from the arch enemy, Russia, interacting with Putin and also Iran’s leadership and building relations with ’enemies.’ Erdoğan has refused to accept Sweden as a new NATO member unless Sweden changes fundamentally its human rights policies, opens up for arms exports to his country, and more. He also demands a change in Sweden’s attitude to Türkiye and the Kurdish issue and insists that Sweden must extradite a large number of Kurds presently living in Sweden. The document signed between Sweden and Türkiye is not a compromise agreement but a diktat to Sweden; the issue is not settled and may cause serious problems for the alliance later. The US slammed sanctions on Türkiye for its purchase of Russian anti-aircraft missiles.
You may also learn from a study by the US Army University Press’ Military Review, “An Alliance Divided? Five Factors that Could Fracture NATO” from 2018.
Not to list them all back in time, what about NATO’s future crack potentials?
• Türkiye drifting out of NATO
According to a report by Russia Today (RT) on August 6, 2022, ”Six unnamed Western officials told the Financial Times that they were “concerned” about the plans of Russia and Turkey to cooperate on trade and energy. One EU official said that Brussels was monitoring relations between Ankara and Moscow “more and more closely,” given how Turkey seems to be “increasingly” becoming a platform for trade with Russia. Following a four-hour meeting with Putin , Erdogan welcomed Russia’s role in building a nuclear power plant in Turkey. The two nations aim for bilateral trade turnover of $100 billion, and are cooperating against terrorism and toward peace in Libya and Syria.
Putin pledged that Russia would supply Turkey with oil, gas and coal “without any interruptions,” after the two leaders agreed that Ankara would pay for some of this gas in rubles. Another official told the newspaper that Erdogan’s behavior is “very opportunistic,” adding that “we are trying to make the Turks pay attention to our concerns.”Although a NATO member since 1952 and an EU applicant since 1987, Turkey has broken with both blocs on several occasions, most recently over the conflict in Ukraine.”
Türkiye is not a marginal operator, it has the second largest military in NATO.
• Presidential election in the US
Donald Trump – or someone like him, or worse – succeeds President Biden. One will remember how Trump sent chills down the bones of NATO, creating serious doubts about the reliability and cohesion of the alliance when it would be needed the most.
• Future US interventionist wars sends refugees to Europe
Future US interventionist wars may send millions of refugees running toward Europe, like in 2015. Should the economic sanctions imposed on the Russians succeed (which the present author doesn’t believe), millions of Russians may try to flee to EU countries, although also to other countries. Whatever details of such a scenario, it will create unimaginable chaos.
• The psycho-political and cultural gap over the Atlantic
The psycho-political and cultural gap between the US and its European allies is bound to widen further. Europe will share fewer and fewer values with the US as time – and decline – goes by. The author has written about the signs of this back in 2018.
• NATO members become less democratic and/or do not follow the US as a leader
Intensifying tendencies in Europe and the US toward authoritarianism, extreme-right wing and/or neo-Fascism will undermine (even further) the image of NATO as an alliance for democracy, freedom and human rights, etc.
• Turmoil breaks out in the US, perhaps a civil war.
Turmoil breaks out in the US, perhaps a civil war. NATO’s leader turns inward to save itself. Who is then to lead the alliance, nobody having the experience but more European allies competing for that role?
• The Ukraine war drags out for years.
The Ukraine war drags out for years. The US goal to ”weaken” and finally defeat Russia in Ukraine and destroy Russia’s economy will cost the European NATO allies phenomenal sums and provide a fearsome breeding ground for social upheaval in Europe. And how will that transatlantic burden sharing play out when the bills must be paid?
• The China factor
NATO’s European allies may eventually recognise that they do not share interests in the US Cold War on China – Germany in particular. Add a full-fledged economic war with China to the ongoing economic war on Russia – and add that to a limitless arms expenditure increase.
• The US de-ranks Ukraine
The US has left warzones before, more or less abruptly. What if – over the years while the war in Ukraine rages – it changes priorities (and resource allocations) to other “objects” – be it Iran, China, Syria (again), or some up and coming hotspot we do not know today? It must be remembered that Ukraine is not important to the US; with declining global status and financial crisis, for how long would it be willing – and able – to support Ukraine.
• Russia defeats Ukraine (and NATO in it)
Russia defeats Ukraine (and NATO in it) and supports independent republics in parts of the country. Helping Ukraine in its struggle against Russia has cemented the alliance, given it a new momentum – ”we stand together with Ukraine for as long as it takes.” It can, however, quite soon become the main reason why NATO will become a house divided against itself. Indeed, would NATO survive if it wooing of Ukraine over three decades ends with a Russian victory and a destroyed, fragmented Ukraine?
• NATO gets directly involved in Ukraine (and elsewhere)
If, at some point, it looks like Russia is going to win – in some sense of the word – in Ukraine, there is little else for NATO to do but to get troops – US troops, too – on the ground and fight (assuming that both Russia and the US would hesitate using nuclear weapons on each other). Once again, NATO existence would be at stake.
• The West forces Ukraine to accept a ceasefire and a compromise and leaves Ukraine to its fate.
Here is, August 14, 2022, The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall – who is certainy no Putin Versteher – headlined: “As Putin’s war spreads panic across Europe, Ukrainians must fear a stab in the back”:
“Nearly six months into the war, the widening gap between rhetoric and reality grows potentially fatal. Public outrage over the invasion is giving way to concern, bordering on panic, about its alarming knock-on effects on energy and food prices and the cost of living. That in turn is feeding doubts about western staying power. How long before Europe’s already shaky unity crumbles, if and when Russia’s gas tap is finally turned off? … Parallel pressure will consequently increase for a ceasefire or some kind of doubtless temporary peace deal, to relieve Europe’s economic pain.”
Tisdall seems to believe that the West would force Ukraine to make a deal with Russia. And we ask: Who would ever trust NATO again?
• Sheer costs of tremendous added armament
Sheer costs of tremendous added armament – not the least in Germany. The West is declining in comparison with the Rest, huge funds will be needed to just maintain the present Western position in the global economy and in the spheres of technological and infrastructural innovation. The West is already hit by the so-called ”Nothing Works Syndrome” (and not only in the airline and transport sectors). So NATO members will soon find themselves in a new but classical dilemma: ”guns or butter?”
• Social unrest due to boomeranging sanctions effects
Throughout Europe, people are already feeling the rapidly increasing living costs that are unavoidable consequences of the massive sanctions the West has imposed on everything Russian. For how long will they be willing to pay that sort of price in addition to higher military expenditures? At what point will people see why that economic burden has been placed on them. And then? Falling interest in and support for Ukraine, huge protests and riots, governments falling too?
• NATO will face the classical ’imperial’ limit called over-extension – sprawling and aimless
NATO will face the classical ’imperial’ limit called over-extension, which means expanding to such an extent that it loses its managerial capacity to keep together its 30 members and 40 partners. Or put differently, if it adds a few more members (or makes partners full members), it may see Ukraine-like dynamics repeat themselves. That would spell the end of the alliance.
Says Adam Tooze, English historian at Columbia University in New Statesman in June 2022, ”What was still a compact, anti-Soviet alliance in the 1980s had, thanks to expansion in the 1990s and 2000s, grown into a sprawling and aimless organisation.”
More members would only make it even more so.
• Other countries may form more close relations in the decusity field, perhaps alliances
If, so it will be in response to NATO going global, AUKUS set up in 2021, The Taiwan Relations Act from 1979, the Five Eyes Intelligence alliance from 1941. Pressure begets counter-pressure.
NATO’s stream of self-congratulatory reports, plans and messages to the world, all of its homepage, and the Secretary-General’s statements speak volumes of the fact that NATO as an institution is unaware of such potentially very dark clouds hanging over its future.
You may of course assume that there would be an in-house awareness of them, but then that would set itself through in more cautious decision-making and new thinking. That’s not the case.
For NATO – “history’s most successful alliance” – there is only full-speed forward with what it has always done. Seeing oneself as # 1 often means teaching everybody but learning nothing.
Self-perceptions of success can be very dangerous – a bit like the man who has thrown himself out from the 37th floor and, when passing the 8th floor thinks by himself how fine this is going…
29. Peace delusional and in denial
NATO’s intellectual power stands in inverse proportion to the military power it commands. That in itself is dangerous. If you have a lot of power, you must be humble and cautious not to make fatal mistakes.
The arguments – or rather incantations – about NATO being ’defensive’ no matter what others see, feel and say and the others being aggressive lacks validity and credibility beyond propaganda.
From a professional peace point of view, NATO’s philosophy is void and, if anything, a recipe for peacelessness. There is no chance NATO’s principles of deterrence and ’defence’ – forward, expansive and based on nuclear weapons – will ever create common security with non-NATO countries or peace with the rest of the world – not even peace in the simplest sense of reducing violence or a situation of no war. None of its stated working principles and ”concepts” will ever lead NATO to conflict and to peace in a civilised and intelligent manner through predominantly civilian means.
This Catalogue shows that there is no evidence that NATO even knows about peace, peacemaking and nonviolence in a professional sense or that it has the slightest respect for Article 1 of the UN Charter. Its profession is militarized security and confrontational expansion, indeed the opposite of peace-making.
NATO is built on a militarist mindset. The alliance’s standard knee-jerk reaction to world developments is that its members must mobilise more soldiers and weapons, better weapons, more forward-deployed weapons and more funds. Its citizens who already pay for this must now also pay a huge extra price because of the EU and NATO countries’ new sanctions and attempts at isolating Russia from the West. Here is the NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg speaking about this price and telling Europe to ”stop complaining” about it.
One of his more bizarre, over-excited speeches. His tries to persuade his congregation that it must now sacrifice like never before – because, he believes, that if NATO does not stop Russia in Ukraine, Russia will take one country after the other. Without sensing the irony, he adds that NATO must never (“award” but he means “reward”) Russia for its aggression and that big countries must never establish spheres of interest and tell smaller ones what to do. We are supposed to understand that NATO members have never done such bad things anywhere.
In other words, no matter the problem to be solved, the military is the main tool. Like an addicted person, NATO regularly needs new shots of militarism. It isn’t strange since the MIMAC – the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, would not survive without it. And NATO would not survive if there were peace. It grows on postulated threats, whether real or imagined in some stage of paranoia.
Its basic self-understanding is that NATO, the innocent, never did anything wrong while the evils out there – Russia and China and various other threats – cause all the problems. Remember the metaphor of the innocent house owner guarding himself against a thief trying to get into the garden. Such a perception seems humanly immature and belongs at the level of shouting in the sandbox (an expression not intended here to offend children).
NATO and its leader have committed aggression, terrible crimes and broken international law in one war after the other. NATO flatly denies them, does not take them into account, does not apologise and does not learn the lessons from them. The only aggressions, crimes and violations that it sees and talks about are those of other countries.
It must be one of contemporary history’s biggest blame games.
To a large extent, the focus of this Catalogue has been on what NATO does and says and how it explains and justifies its policies. That has been documented empirically as good research should by a thorough reading of NATO’s own homepage and documents and other materials and contrasting them with the theories and concepts of academic peace and conflict research and other social sciences.
Empirical research, however, has a weakness: it does not study what is not said and done and why. However, one should study what NATO does not do, say or explain. True, the non-existence of something is impossible to document empirically. However, here is what the present author has noticed repeatedly while working with NATOs own materials:
For instance, NATO does not:
• Mention the human costs of its members’ and its own wars. It’s not ashamed. Instead, it seems proud of these wars.
• Mention the US-orchestrated regime change in Kyiv in 2014 that preceded Russia’s annexation of Crimea. We are supposed to believe that this annexation was also ’unprovoked.’
• Include any details about how much NATO countries have been involved in building up Ukraine’s armed forces, in particular since 2014.
• Acknowledge that it has wooed and influenced Ukraine and other prospective members but upholds the often repeated myth that they freely chose to join the alliance.
• Mention the fact that the Soviet Union and Russia have raised the possibility of becoming a member of NATO but were turned down.
• Include its own interventions when accusing others. Here is a little example from NATO’s ”Setting the Record Straight” from July 2022:
”Claim: NATO is aggressive and a threat to Russia.
Fact: NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect our members. Our official policy is that “NATO does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to the Russian Federation. NATO didn’t invade Georgia; NATO didn’t invade Ukraine. Russia did.”
The informed reader will easily notice what is not stated in this banal attempt at debunking. And since this or that is NATO’s officially stated policy, the alliance cannot be accused of any wrongdoing. So:
• NATO never reflects on why its goodness is so misunderstood by the majority of the world’s countries.
• It does not tell us why there is no peace in the Euro-Atlantic space or why its peace has not succeeded although it has tried so hard since 1949.
• Neither does it present any fair and comparative perspective. For instance, it never mentions that its military expenditures are 12 times higher than Russia’s.
• It omits every mention of the fact that that Russia has never invaded a NATO member but it does threaten us (see video above) that Russia is likely to do so unless NATO is permanently strengthened.
• As a principle, NATO does mention convey a balanced view of its appointed adversaries. There are only negative things to say about China, Iran, Russia etc. (And only good things to say about NATO).
• The alliance does not even get the idea that its basic philosophy of deterrence could be provocative or confrontational in the eyes of others. It simply lacks the ability to see itself from the outside. As is the case with echo chambers.
Many other “we-never-mention” could be listed. The point has been made. A psychologst is hardly needed to understand why NATO simply never talks about certain things and is unwilling to reflect on how others may perceive the world and NATO’s role in it.
30. Militarism as secularised religion in times of decline
Finally, back to one of the themes in the introduction – NATO and militarism as a secularised belief system giving meaning while numerous other things fall apart around us. The West is still ”second to none” in military and warfare terms, better able than anyone to destroy. The West is, however, losing out over time to The Rest in terms of economic, cultural, political and moral power.
The US Empire – not necessarily the US as a country, but there is a risk – is the next in line to fall. It’s also the last Empire to fall. Neither China nor anyone up and coming believes that one system, one way of thinking, shall be imposed on everybody else, be universalised and dominate. That is an outdated (Christian) missionary idea – mission civilisatrice, the white man’s burden, exceptionalism, racism and all that…
Instead, humanity is heading for a multi-polar, diverse but cooperative world order. If we survive the demise of the present uni-polar (dis)order.
With this rapidly growing rank disequilibrium between military power and all other types of power, the risk is extremely high that the West – through NATO – will maximise its military power because that’s where it still has a comparative advantage vis-a-vis The Rest.
We are likely, therefore, to see more Cold War thinking and wars growing out of the sense of declining power and legitimacy in the eyes of others. This military primacy will, without a doubt, accelerate the decline and fall of the West, isolate it and – in the worst of cases – make it do desperate things because of a more or less subconsciously perceived impotence where – since 1945 – omnipotence was the dominant psycho-political driving force.
Knowledge, rational analysis, vibrant diversity and debate – the convivial West – is rapidly disappearing. The West’s view of the world and its own place in the future is increasingly becoming irrational, and miscalculations are likely to follow. Getting NATO into Ukraine to get Ukraine into NATO was such a miscalculation based on the omnipotence hypothesis ”we don’t have to listen, we can get away with everything we would never allow others to do to us because we are exceptional.”
The reaction to Russia’s invasion was the next miscalculation due to a blurred, narcissistic worldview. Western leaders took for granted that, with a few exceptions, the world would join it wholeheartedly in punishing Russia with sanctions and arms export into Ukraine to defeat it once and for all. The West – US, NATO and the EU – did not even consult with The Rest of the world before it reacted the way it did.
It is now clear that the countries that actually follow the West in its response make up only about 15% of the world’s people. Allies and partners either say ”No!” or obstruct the West in implementing its sanctions. Because NATO – perhaps the United States in particular – has grossly overestimated its popularity and relevance in the eyes of the world, large and important players are now developing new types of cooperation with each other while each has its reasons, often historical, to turn its back on the US/NATO world.
The reaction to Russia’s invasion has been irrational, hateful and knee-jerk, devoid of every long-term analytical thinking and scenarios. These sanctions are without conditions for their lifting and, therefore, limitless in time. They cannot be lifted without a great loss of face for Brussels and Washington.
When you leave rational analysis, coherent knowledge-based and well-conceived politics and feel you are on your way down compared with others, what do you turn to? You turn to that last thing that still gives some meaning.
Tragically, that thing is militarism, the field where the West is still second to none.
Militarism comes in handy as a belief system at a time and in a world which is perceived as getting less friendly by the day, a world in which the politics that used to work backfires and where, therefore, you simply cannot get your acts together – and see the constructive results anymore.
In this secularised religion, NATO’s documents and strategies serve as scriptures. NATO Summits and other meetings serve to strengthen the congregation in its beliefs and its unity – vis-a-vis the evils of the world. They also determine who are the evils, the infidels who must be defeated. Pointing to evils and contrasting them with our own noble and pure beliefs cements the cohesion of any church. But, then again, you must not have other gods. There are no alternatives to NATO!
This belief and this church also convey the promise to be saved. The military includes nuclear weapons that we cannot live without because they promise salvation in some sense at end times, in their eschatological role – that might, or might not, transfer us to a new world in which evil has been eradicated.
Billy Graham – a prominent US Christian evangelist, and according to a biographer, “among the most influential Christian leaders” of the 20th century, a man close to both Martin Luther King, Jr. and several American presidents, a rightwinger on social issues but against segregation and a cold warrior but in his own way afraid of nuclear holocaust, may serve a guide for a US-led military alliance.
“I want to assure you that the world’s future is firmly in God’s hands, and the world as we know it will only pass away when God intervenes to bring it to an end.”
”What will the end be like? For one thing, it will be sudden and unexpected—and most people will be unprepared. Just as in the days of Noah’s flood, a catastrophe will suddenly overtake the earth—and then it will be too late to turn to God. The Bible also hints at total, fiery destruction. “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything … in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10).
“The good news is, we need not need fear that day if we know Christ. Is your faith and hope in Him, and are you seeking to live for Him every day? “Since everything will be destroyed … live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11-12).
Eschatology is the branch of Christian theology dealing with the biblical study of end times prophecies and the events of the last days. Eschatology helps believers understand prophetic passages of the Scriptures and how to live the Christian life in preparation for end times.
Here is one such “scenario:”: “In the last days there will be very difficult times” (1 Timothy 3:1). Jesus Christ told his followers there will be “wars and threats of wars … famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. … You will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:6–14.).
Without wanting to draw this metaphor of militarism as a secular religion too far – there are differences between NATO and a religion – one could see much of what Mr Stoltenberg does as preaching the gospel, gathering the congregation and serving as His Master’s Voice, the messenger of Washington, the capital of God’s own country – or NATO’s Billy Graham while perhaps not reaching quite up to Graham’s level of spirit and eloquence.
Be this as it may, this Catalogue ends with what is probably the most significant single quotation from the Bible that fits NATO in 2022:
”Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye,
but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
TFF – Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research(Luke 6.41-42).
Recommended readings and videos:
The 100s of inspirations
These articles and videos are purely inspirational or exploratory, not systematic or exhaustive on any subject; for that there is far too much quality materials around. They do not reflect the views of TFF or of the author, Jan Oberg. Most of them are alternatives to the Western mainstream media, politics and research; and most of them are not mentioned in the Catalogue above. More will be added as time goes by.
The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF, March 1989
Leaving the Cold War Behind. How the West Can Create Cooperation and Build Peace With the Soviets.
TFF PressInfo # 390, 2018,
Ten Articles on the New Cold War and a Reflection.
Mary E. Sarotte, 2021,
Not One Inch. America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate, Yale University Press.
Mary E Sarotte interview with The Washington Post, December 1, 2021
Putin’s fight with Ukraine reflects his deep distrust of the West. There’s a long history behind that.
Russia Today – RT – banned by the West, you may need a proxy VPN
Pravda.ru – English
Rajan Menon & William Ruger
NATO enlargement and US grand strategy: A net assessment, Springer Link
Ted Galen Carpenter, The Guardian, February 28, 2022
Many predicted Nato expansion would lead to war. Those warnings were ignored
The Putin Interviews
The Russians (1976)
The Hidden Truth about the War in Ukraine
Stephen F Cohen (1938-2020)
Articles on The Nation
Jens Jørgen Nielsen
Rusland På Tværs. Hovedland, Danmark 2021
‘Russia has a lot to lose, not much to gain,’
What You Should Really Know About Ukraine
How the United States Created Vladimir Putin
Chas W Freeman, Jr
Centre Delàs d’Studis Per La Pau
NATO Building Global Insecurity
The Transnational Foundation – Statement # 3
Leaving the Cold War Behind. How the West Can Create Cooperation and Build Peace With the Soviets, March 1989
Stephen F Cohen and John Mearshimer, 2018
Russophobia is running amok in the US
Alfred de Zayas
NATO as religion
US State Department
U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership of November 10, 2021
– in which you will note that the very broad and deep military cooperation between the two countries shall maximise “NATO interoperability.”
US State Department
U.S. Security Cooperation with Ukraine of August 19, 2022
“Ukraine is a key regional strategic partner that has undertaken significant efforts to modernize its military and increase its interoperability with NATO. It remains an urgent security assistance priority to provide Ukraine the equipment it needs to defend itself against Russia’s war against Ukraine” (my italics). This is how NATO interoperability and defence against Russia is connected.
Did you learn something from this Catalogue?
Whether agreeing or not, do you think diversity and dialogue is important?
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