The NATO summit this week began with US President Donald Trump berating the European members in particular for “free loading” on American military power.
There were even reports of Trump warning the other 28 members of the military bloc that he was ready to withdraw US forces from the nearly 70-year-old alliance if they did not stump up vastly more financial contributions.
It sounded like a mafia-style shakedown, as Canadian lawyer Christopher Black aptly put it.
By the end of the two-day summit, all appeared to be well again, with Trump suddenly hailing the military alliance as a vital defense organization after all, and America remaining as its lead member.
One can’t help feeling that the display of American hectoring was all a show of theatrics. As soon as the European members acquiesced to the US president’s demands for increasing military spending, the military club was all one big happy family again. Or so it seems.
Befitting the theatrics was the tedious ploy of once again using Russia as a pantomime villain.
Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the NATO characterization of Russia as a security threat as a pretext for still more escalation of offensive military power on its borders. Moscow poured scorn on NATO claims that it is a “defensive” organization, when it is in fact building ever-more offensive power on Russia’s Western flank.
NATO has invited Macedonia to become the 30th member of the US-led alliance, with further overtures to Ukraine and Georgia to join the bloc in the near future. This relentless transfer of military forces towards Russia is creating more tensions in Europe, not less.
NATO keeps harping about Russia posing a unique threat to European security, but there is little substance to the claim, except for hollow allegations about Moscow “annexing Crimea” and other supposed covert aggression against Baltic states. Bogeyman boondoggle over and over.
The massive build up of NATO forces in Europe with two new command centers coordinating between the US and Germany cannot be justified by any rational assessment. Trump wants other NATO members to immediately raise their military budgets to 2 per cent of their national GDP. That translates into over $266 billion extra spend on weapon systems and troops in the next seven years.
The US and NATO budget already exceeds by ten-fold what Russia spends on its defenses. Moscow has repeatedly said its military forces are for defensive purposes and that it has no intention whatsoever of causing aggression towards any state.
It should be obvious that the US-led transatlantic military bloc is an organization desperate to find an ostensible purpose for its existence. Formed in 1949, allegedly to defend Europe from the Soviet Union, the NATO alliance lost its official raison d’être when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Instead of disbanding, the US-led alliance has only multiplied, doubling its membership and taking its forces all the way to Russia’s doorstep.
The relentless growth of NATO seems to have become an end in itself without any credible justification. The ever-massive outlay of expenditure on military power is akin to a racket that primarily serves by propping up the American military-industrial complex and its European adjuncts.
The Cold War ended more than a quarter of a century ago. But instead of a peace dividend where economies should be directed towards abundant civilian needs, the NATO alliance continues to grow like an insatiable behemoth.
NATO talks about fighting international terrorism as one of its missions. The truth is that NATO has greatly exacerbated global terrorism from a host of illegal wars it has launched in the Middle East and North Africa.
Like the alleged Russian threat, the “war on terror” is another ruse for finding a purpose and pretext for inordinate militarism by the US and its so-called European allies.
What the world needs is an epochal shift to investment in civilian economies and peaceful, productive partnerships. Not more war machinery and the inevitable deployment of destabilizing military forces.
Trump denigrated Germany and European states for their partnership with Russia over the supply of gas and oil. He said Germany was a “captive of Russia”. Again, Moscow rightly slammed this demeaning characterization of normal trading relation between nations.
As with finding an excuse for otherwise inexcusable NATO military buildup, the American president was using scaremongering about Russia as a pretext for trying to bully Europe into buying US energy supplies. Trump wants to distort normal market relations to the strategic advantage of American economic interests – at the expense of Europe – by ousting Russian energy for the more expensive US supply of hydrocarbons. So much for free-market capitalism!
The trouble with NATO is that it is well past its expiry date as a military organization. It has no objective purpose, other than forcing American hegemonic interests over its nominal European allies.
The alliance is a vehicle for projecting American imperialist power. Forcing European states to spend obscene amounts of money on military is a boon for American capitalism and its grotesque military-industrial complex.
Paradoxically, the organization claims to be for maintaining security. That is a laughable fraud. Its madcap, irrational expansion is leading to greater tensions and divisions on the European continent. Its evident function is to thwart any peaceful relations between Europe and Russia. Arguably, that was always its ulterior strategic aim from its inception after the Second World War.
Trump’s tirade about Europe being captive of Russia is ironical. Europe is captive of American hegemony. And European leaders are pathetically willing to prolong their captivity by kowtowing to an American bully.
For all his theatrics about “defending” Europe against Russia, there is something cynically disingenuous about Trump’s grandstanding. In a few days, he is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki for a full summit which he says he hopes will establish “friendly relations” with the Kremlin leader.
NATO and its anti-Russia rhetoric is a charade. The real tensions are to be found in the historic decline of American power and its inherent problems of dealing with a new multipolar world order. Beating up European “allies” is a way for America to try to re-assert its declining power. Using Russia as a ploy for asserting American hegemony is a transparent and contemptible fraud. Why European states cannot see this is conundrum.
But one thing seems clearer than ever. Europe is a collection of American vassals, not independent states. That servile relation to American militarism as expressed through NATO is one of the main security risks in our time. If Europe had any semblance of independence, it should have told Trump this week to shove his petulant extortionate demands for military spending. Europe needs to break free from this ideological game of demonizing Russia, and get on with a more natural historical trajectory of peaceful relations with Moscow.
Kowtowing to American hegemony is self-defeating for Europe’s economic development from the wasteful extravagance of militarism. The American distortion of Europe’s energy trade with Russia is a classic illustration of the pernicious geopolitical game.
One day, we can only hope that Europe will find political leaders who finally have the wit and strength of independence to shake off American bullying, and pursue peaceful relations with its neighbor Russia. As it stands, European subservience to America is a danger to world peace.
Russia’s independence is something that Europe should aspire to, not fear or demonize.