NATO’s strategic con trick

2nd July 2022

The NATO military alliance last week published its Strategic Concept 2022 document, outlining the objectives and priorities of the alliance over the coming decade.  The document was agreed at a meeting of NATO leaders in Madrid on 29th June.  The Strategic Concept is reviewed and updated regularly. Since the end of the Cold War, it has been updated approximately every 10 years to take account of changes to the global security environment and, in NATO’s own words, “to make sure the Alliance is prepared for the future.”  The previous Strategic Concept was adopted at the NATO Lisbon Summit in 2010.

NATO sees the document as one which describes the security environment facing the Alliance, reaffirms values, and spells out NATO’s self proclaimed key purpose of ensuring collective defence. It further sets out what NATO sees as its three core tasks, those being, deterrence and defence; crisis prevention and management; and cooperative security.

In terms of where NATO sees the major threat to “collective defence” over the next decade the Strategic Concept is categorical,

“The Russian Federation is the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. It seeks to establish spheres of influence and direct control through coercion, subversion, aggression and annexation.”

This assessment is based on the recent Russian action in Ukraine, an action NATO fails to acknowledge as one in response to increasingly provocative acts on the part of NATO itself.  The quid pro quo between NATO and the Russian Federation at the end of the Cold War was that NATO would not seek to extend its influence into the former Socialist states bordering upon Russia.  The Russians saw such expansion as potentially posing a threat to their own security and, in a world supposedly free from mutual enmity, argued that NATO had no need to extend its sphere of influence.

However, the period since 1995, when NATO published a Study on NATO Enlargement, has seen significant expansion of the military alliance’s membership and sphere of influence.  In fact, since its inception in 1949 NATO has expanded from 12 to 30 countries, with 5 others on the waiting list, including Ukraine.

In 1999 NATO saw the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.  Five years later Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO’s ranks.  Five years after that, Albania and Croatia.  None of this was in response to any Russian “coercion, subversion, aggression and annexation”, it was purely about ensuring military dominance on the European continent and making sure NATO had key strategic bases for its operations beyond Europe’s borders.

NATO has certainly taken every opportunity to flex its muscles in that regard, from the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, followed by the fuelling of opposition and direct intervention in undermining the government of Syria.

As threats “to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area” go, the Russians certainly have a lot to do to catch up with NATO’s record!  This is in spite of the unsupported statement in the Strategic Concept that,

“Moscow’s behaviour reflects a pattern of Russian aggressive actions against its neighbours and the wider transatlantic community.”

From a Russian perspective it is not hard to see how the scale of NATO’s interventions, combined with its creeping presence up to the borders of Russia itself, may be seen as threatening.

The dismemberment of the Soviet Union, following the Cold War, inevitably resulted in anomalies across the former Soviet states, with historically Russian speaking areas finding themselves in post Soviet arrangements which did not necessarily accord with their history or their future desires.  The so called annexation of Crimea in 2014, following a referendum vote to cede from Ukraine and become part of Russia, of which Crimea had been a part for 300 years prior to a Soviet administrative change in the 1950’s, is one such example.

The mainly Russian speaking Donbas region of Ukraine, the area which is the focus of much of the current fighting, is another. The Minsk agreement of 2015 saw all sides agree to a ceasefire in Donbas but in reality, Ukrainian forces have continued with their offensive in the area, resulting in over 14,000 deaths over the seven year period.  The desire of the governments of the Donbas to resist this ongoing aggression precipitated the current Russian intervention. 

NATO however is not only concerned about Russia, it also has China in its sights, stating that,

“The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values. The PRC employs a broad range of political, economic and military tools to increase its global footprint and project power, while remaining opaque about its strategy, intentions and military build-up. The PRC’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security.”

It is not hard to see where this is going and true to form NATO pitch straight into the international conspiracy playbook with,

“The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”

It is without any hint of irony that NATO makes reference to the “rules-based international order”, which they have transgressed on multiple occasions, yet still want the world to believe that they regard it as the touchstone of how to behave in the international arena.

It would be too much to expect NATO to come straight out and say that their Strategic Concept is in fact world domination for the “values and interests” it seeks to defend; the banks, corporations and military industrial complex of Western imperialism.  Yet that is clearly the objective.  A unipolar world in which US military might, backed by the economic strength of the dollar, dominates is clearly at the heart of where NATO wants to be.

An impoverished Russia and an economically and militarily constrained China would certainly be at the top of NATO’s wish list for the next ten years and beyond.  The encirclement of Russia, the weapons being poured into Ukraine and the warning signals sent out to China, over that country’s legitimate claim to Taiwan, are all indications of NATO’s aggressive posture.

Strategic Concept 2022 can put the gloss on portraying NATO as “a defensive Alliance” but the realities of its actions give the lie to that claim.  Far from being a force for peace, NATO remains a major threat to world peace and a drain on resources, which could be used for the benefit of the people of Europe, rather than lining the pockets of the arms industry and escalating the arms trade.

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