NATO: Who’s the Aggressor?
|Michael Jabara CARLEY|
There has been much discussion recently of NATO in the mainstream and alternate media. Why was NATO founded in the first place and why did it expand so rapidly after the collapse and dismemberment of the USSR in 1991. According to widely held views in the west, NATO originated as a defensive alliance against an aggressive, menacing Soviet Union after World War II.
There is nothing unusual about this post 1945 representation of the USSR. Western negative perceptions of Russia date back to the 19th century, if not earlier. After the October Revolution of 1917 western Russophobia was exacerbated by the Red Scare. For three years the «Entente» powers tried to throttle the nascent Soviet republic. When the foreign intervention failed, the Entente constructed a cordon sanitaire through the Russian borderlands from the Baltic to Black Seas. The idea was to keep the Bolshevik revolution from spreading into central Europe.
During the interwar years, Western-Soviet relations remained antagonistic. «Russophobia and Sovietophobia are a dense forest of hostility, into which no light penetrates», observed a Soviet diplomat in 1930.
It was «a clash of two worlds», according to one historian. Who said the cold war only began after 1945? Even Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 failed to provoke a western reappraisal of relations with the USSR. France and Britain were unable to sort out their security priorities. Soviet diplomatic efforts to build an anti-Nazi alliance foundered on open or disguised western sympathies for fascism. The crisis of capitalism in the 1930s made fascism attractive, but so did western Sovietophobia.
Even after the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941, the British government could not entirely shed its anti-Soviet enmity. War Office biases were so intense that British diplomats, who were not known for their love of Russia, warned of long-term damage to Anglo-Soviet relations. For a hundred years, said one Foreign Office official in 1944. Sovietophobia went right to the top of the British government. The prime minister, Winston Churchill, worried about Red Army victories. This was a surprising position since until June 1944 the Red Army did most of the fighting against the Wehrmacht. Cabinet colleagues were at times scandalised by Churchill’s anti-Soviet exclamations. In May 1945, a fortnight after VE-Day, the British Chiefs of Staff Joint Planning Committee produced the top secret Operation «Unthinkable», an outrageous, suicidal plan for a new Anglo-American war, backed by German troops in new uniforms, against the USSR. Across the Atlantic, the pragmatic President Franklin Roosevelt sought to calm Churchill and to rein in his own numerous Sovietophobes, though after his death in April 1945 they quickly recaptured control of US policy. Not that it was a hard sell for Harry Truman, FDR’s pedestrian successor and notorious Sovietophobe.
The USSR paid a huge price for victory, no one knows the exact human cost, but estimates are around 27 million civilian and military dead, plus the physical destruction of much of European Russia from Stalingrad in the east, to the Northern Caucasus and the Crimea in the south, to Leningrad and other points to the north, all the way to the Soviet Union’s western frontiers. Some 70,000 cities, towns and villages were laid waste during the war, not to mention tens of thousands of factories, collective farms, schools, hospitals and other public buildings. While the United States became rich and suffered few casualties in comparison to the Red Army, the Soviet Union emerged from the war poor and devastated. The most urgent priority was reconstruction, and for that, Soviet generalissimo Joseph Stalin hoped for help from the Anglo-American allies. Yet in the west the USSR was regarded as a post-war threat to European security. The Russians had let victory go to their heads; they had to be put in their place.
Stalin was aware of Anglo-American hostility, but tried nevertheless for a time to work with his putative «allies» without however sacrificing what he saw as Soviet vital interests. «I am not a propagandist», Stalin said to an American interlocutor, «I am a man of business». Soviet military policy was unprovocative and the huge Red Army was demobilised to approximately 25% of its maximum wartime strength. Big political issues were Poland and Germany. Poland was settled along Soviet lines, but Germany was under joint Allied occupation and there Stalin could not obtain whatever he wished. Having been invaded twice by Germany over the span of little more than a quarter century, Stalin did not want to see the rebuilding of a German state hostile to the USSR.
This was precisely what the United States had in mind. From 1946 onward the US government went about establishing a West German «partial state», integrated into a US dominated western anti-Soviet European bloc. Essentially, it was Churchill’s idea of building a new German counterbalance to the USSR, an idea first conceptualised in Operation «Unthinkable». The eventual Soviet countermove, the Berlin «blockade» in 1948, was a clumsy attempt to gain leverage over the United States to stop the establishment of a West German state. The so-called blockade did not work and served as a splendid pretext for setting up NATO in the following year. In Moscow NATO was viewed as an alliance aimed at the USSR. The West German entry into that alliance seemed like an obvious eventuality.
Funded generously by the United States, the polarisation of Europe continued into the 1950s, and West Germany became a NATO member in May 1955. This development provoked the formation of the Warsaw pact, led by the USSR. Believing western propaganda about an aggressive Soviet Union, an ill-informed person might think that the Warsaw pact provoked the organisation of NATO and not the other way ‘round.
After the collapse and dismemberment of the USSR, NATO ought logically to have been closed down. Even if you accept the NATO line that the alliance was organised for purely defensive purposes against a Soviet threat, there was no USSR and no threat after 1991. It is well known moreover that the US Secretary of State James Baker promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand «one inch» toward the east, a promise that Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush did not keep. NATO post-Soviet expansion cannot logically be explained except as a movement to extend US hegemony eastward. It was an opportune moment. Russia was in turmoil and led by Boris Yeltsin who needed US backing to stay in power. Based on the principle «I can, therefore I will», NATO expanded quickly, inter alia, to include Poland and the Baltic states, former nesting grounds of interwar fascism and anti-Semitism and Russophobic to the core.
In Eastern Europe, NATO membership became a license for impunity: SS uniforms and banners came out of mothballs in the Baltics and a new atavistic wave of Russophobia swept over Poland.
NATO expanded to construct a new anti-Russian cordon sanitaire, suggesting that the US «Deep State» was not sure it had sufficiently weakened the much reduced Russian Federation. It was an insurance policy against any Russian resurgence, and an arm to be used against any state which failed to do US bidding.
Such was the case of Yugoslavia, a multi-national state torn apart by ethnic conflict encouraged by the United States and NATO. If you look at a map of Yugoslavia in 1941 after its partition by Nazi Germany, you will see similarities with the US/NATO dismemberment of «former Yugoslavia».
The west sided with neo-fascists in Croatia, Muslim fundamentalists in Bosnia and Kosovo, portraying its former wartime allies, the Serbs, as villains, aggressors, and perpetrators of genocide. US and NATO bombers attacked Serbia in 1999 to subdue resistance against the loss of the Serbian province of Kosovo. In a flagrant act of aggression, they blew up bridges, trains, and infrastructure and bombed Belgrade, killing civilians in the way.
Clinton invoked the «Responsibility to Protect» (R2P), and claimed NATO represented the «international» community. These were audacious, bogus claims to justify military intervention. The underlying message to any apostate of US domination was submit or be destroyed.