Thursday, August 21, 2008

NATO is Useless...,

NATO is useless. It has failed to bring stability to Afghanistan, as it failed to bring it to Serbia. It just breaks crockery. Nato has proved a rotten fighting force, which in Kabul is on the brink of being sidelined by exasperated Americans. Nor is it any better at diplomacy: witness its hamfisted handling of east Europe. As the custodian of the west's postwar resistance to the Soviet Union's nuclear threat it served a purpose. Now it has become a diplomats' Olympics, irrelevant but with bursts of extravagant self-importance.

Yesterday's Nato ministerial meeting in Brussels was a fig leaf over the latest fiasco, the failure to counter the predictable Russian intervention in Georgia. Ostensibly to save Russian nationals in South Ossetia, the intervention was, in truth, to tell Georgia and Ukraine that they must not play games with the west along Russia's frontier. Nato, which Russia would (and should) have joined after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is now a running provocation along the eastern rim of Europe.

There was no strategic need for Nato to proselytise for members, and consequent security guarantees, among the Baltic republics and border states to the south. Nor is there any strategic need for the US to place missile sites in Poland or the Czech Republic. This was mere Nato self-aggrandisement reinforcing the lobbying of the Pentagon hawks.

These moves were bound to infuriate the hypersensitive Russians, and did. There is no point in western pundits saying that the thrust of Nato close to the Russian border is quite different from the cold war location of Soviet missiles in Cuba. It seems the same to Russian nationalists.

Nor is it any good pundits remarking that Russia's defence of Russian minorities in Georgia is quite different from Nato's intervention to defend the Kurdish minority in Iraq or the Albanian minority in Serbia. Again, that is just how it seems to Russia.

George Bush said earlier this month that "the age of spheres of influence is over". In that case why push that most potent sphere of influence, Nato, to the Russian border? And what of the sphere-of-influence theory that underpinned Bush's neoconservative plan to conquer the Muslim world for democracy?
In Europe, as in Asia, Nato leaves a trail of catastrophe This outdated military alliance is playing with fire in Russia. In Pakistan and Afghanistan it is playing with dynamite. Strong stuff in the UK Guardian.