Friday, July 27, 2018


Counterpunch |  Joe: I think you know that the NATO you are talking about was formed in 1949, four years after the German defeat (at the hands basically, as you know, of the Red Army), as a U.S.-led anti-Soviet military alliance. It was part of the Truman Doctrine, which legitimated all efforts to contain the communist “enemy” whether by military force (the suppression of the Greek communist partisans who had heroically resisted the fascists), by rigged elections (in France and Italy in 1946-48), by espionage, political assassinations, disinformation campaigns and military alliances.

I assume you know this history anyway. It might have been taught at Pensacola Catholic High School in the late seventies, or at the University of Alabama in the early 1980s, or you might have learned it during your law school years in Florida or during your brief tenure in Congress.

Anyway (as you know), when NATO expanded in 1956 to include the U.S.-occupied West Germany, Moscow responded—you might say, somewhat belatedly—by creating the Warsaw Pact. There were then 15 members of NATO (Spain joined in 1982). But the Warsaw Pact included only 8 nations at its height. Its forces were deployed precisely once during its existence, in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to suppress the Prague Spring movement. Albania had already been expelled from the pact, and Romania in this instance refused to participate. (Indeed Bucharest denounced the Soviet-led intervention in Czechoslovakia and sought closer relations with both the U.S. and China in its aftermath.)

The Soviets were less interested in “dividing” NATO than in preserving control over their own cordon sanitaire in “eastern” Europe—their control over the sphere they had conquered while destroying the Wehrmacht in 1944-45. (Moscow was no doubt pleased when Charles De Gaulle pulled France out of NATO’s military structure in 1966, but that was clearly the French president’s decision based on French nationalism.) The Soviets of course hoped for allies win in contested elections and to be appointed to high office in western Europe (although as you know, Joe, Truman forbade allies from allowing communists into their cabinets). Of course the Soviets were interested in dividing NATO—not to invade the NATO countries, but rather to defend themselves. This remains Russia’s objective.

As the Berlin Wall fell in 1988 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to the expansion of NATO to include East Germany, as it was reunited with the West; in return he demanded a commitment from George H. W. Bush that the alliance would not advance “one inch” towards the east. You know very well that James Baker averred this publicly in Moscow.

And as you know, Joe, the U.S. has broken this promise since 1999 when Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary (the core of the Warsaw Pact dissolved in 1991 along with the Soviet Union) joined NATO. And then in 2004 George W. Bush (who had looked into Putin’s eyes and seen his soul, and welcomed his help after 9/11) further broke it when he expanded the alliance to include Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. And then in 2009 with Albania and Croatia, and Montenegro last year (so Trump could join in on the process). Look at a map and see how NATO’s expanded and ask what would you think if you were watching from Moscow.

The anti-Russian NATO military alliance numbering 16 nations in 1991 now numbers 28, including four that border Russia. It is not your daddy’s NATO. It’s foolish of you talk about Moscow now using “Soviet strategy.” What do you mean by that? Do you know yourself? Make a specific comparison; I challenge you.

Joe, if you do not see why the Russian state (and people) would view this expanding alliance with anxiety you really are ignorant of history. The Russians are at once aware that they, not the NATO countries, have more often been the victims of aggression in the past, and they have no intentions of invading Europe. The Warsaw Pact has been gone 26 years. And Russians know better perhaps than people in this country how NATO has been used since the USSR collapsed. And how U.S. governments and mass media whip up fears among the people of this country that often become pretexts for aggression.

How has NATO ever been deployed? Never during the Cold War; it was not necessary. It was first used in Bosnia in 1994-5, then in Serbia 1999, then Afghanistan, 2001-present, then Libya in that disgraceful war crime in 2011. As for Russia wanting to divide NATO—well of course! RT reports positively on the rise of Eurosceptics and nationalists in NATO member states; the fact is, there is a lot of anti-NATO sentiment in Europe, especially in some eastern European countries. The anti-Russian sanctions the EU has adopted under U.S. pressure (exercised largely through the Brexiting UK) following the Kiev events and Russia’s re-annexation of Crimea, are not popular among European farmers and manufacturers. There are internal tensions in NATO that may weaken it. The Russians can try to exploit and exacerbate the contradictions but they can’t create them.