NATO has completed its post-Cold War transformation from Europe's guard dog into America's attack dog
From an ostensible defensive alliance, NATO has grown into an aggressor designed to promote ‘rules’ dictated by the US
Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika: Arms Control and the End of the Soviet Union.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.
Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain, and Jens Stoltenberg, Nato Secretary General, take a tour of the conference site before the start of the Nato summit in Madrid. © Bernd von Jutrczenka / picture alliance via Getty Images
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, has just wrapped up its annual summit in Madrid, Spain. The one-time trans-Atlantic defensive alliance has, over the past three decades, transformed itself from the guardian of Western Europe into global cop, seeking to project militarily a so-called values- and rules-based posture.
NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, famously noted that the mission of the bloc was “to keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in.” In short, NATO served as a wall against the physical expansion of the Soviet Union from the perch it had established in eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War. Likewise, the creation of NATO prevented a treaty from being concluded between Germany and the Soviet Union that would enable the reunification of Germany. And lastly, the existence of NATO mandated that the US retain a significant full-time military presence in Europe, helping break America’s traditional tendency toward isolationism.
At the Madrid Summit, NATO radically redefined its mission to reflect a new mantra which could be encapsulated as “keep the Russians down, the Americans in, and the Chinese out.” It is an aggressive–even hostile–posture, premised on sustaining Western (i.e., American) supremacy. This mission is to be accomplished through the defense and promulgation of a so-called “rules-based international order” which exists only in the minds of its creators, which in this case is the United States and its allies in Europe. It also represents a radical break from past practice which sought to keep NATO defined by the four corners of its trans-Atlantic birthright by seeking to expand its security umbrella into the Pacific.
The guard dog had, it seems, been re-trained as an attack dog.
When an organization undergoes such a radical transformation in terms of its core mission and purpose, logic dictates that there exists a reason (or reasons) sufficient to justify the consequences attached to the action. There appear to be three such reasons. First and foremost is the fact that Russia refuses to accept NATO demands that it exist as a junior “partner” whose sovereignty must be subordinated to the collective will of post-Cold War Europe. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has made it clear that Russia considers itself to be a great power, and fully expects to be treated as such–especially when it comes to issues pertaining to the so-called “near abroad”–those former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine and Georgia, whose continued ties with Moscow are existential in nature.
NATO, on the other hand, while calling Russia a “partner,” was never serious about extending a viable hand of friendship, instead undertaking a thirty-year program of expansion which violated verbal promises made to Soviet leaders, leaving Russia weakened and not to be taken seriously by the self-proclaimed “victors” of the Cold War. When Russia pushed back, a process marked by Putin’s iconic speech to the 2007 Munich Security Conference, NATO undertook a more aggressive stance, promising Georgia and Ukraine eventual membership in the Alliance and, in 2014, supporting a violent coup against a government in Ukraine that kicked-off a series of events which culminated in the ongoing military operation being conducted by Russia in Ukraine.
Speaking at this week’s NATO Summit, the Secretary General of the organization, Jen Stoltenberg, ended all pretense that the bloc was an innocent bystander in the events leading up to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, noting with pride that NATO had been preparing to fight Russia since 2014–that is, since the US-led coup. Indeed, NATO has, since 2015, been training the Ukrainian military to NATO standards.
Not to bolster the self-defense of Ukraine, but rather for the purpose of fighting ethnic Russians in the Donbass. NATO, it seems, was never interested in a peaceful resolution to the crisis, which flared up when Ukrainian nationalists began brutalizing the region’s Moscow-leaning majority.
Two NATO members, France and Germany, helped perpetuate a fraudulent peace process, the Minsk Accords, which former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently admitted was nothing more than a sham perpetrated for the purpose of buying time so that NATO could train and equip the Ukrainian military for the purpose of forcibly seizing control of both Donbass and Crimea.