By Caitlin JOHNSTONE
NATO has doubled down on its determination to eventually add Ukraine to its membership, renewing its 2008 commitment to that goal in a meeting between the foreign ministers of the alliance in Bucharest, Romania this past Tuesday.
Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp writes:
The Romanian city was where NATO initially made the promise to Ukraine back in 2008, and at the time, US officials acknowledged that attempting to bring the country into the alliance could spark a war in the region.
“We made the decision in Bucharest in 2008 at the summit,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday. “I was there … representing Norway as Prime Minister. I remember very well the decisions. We stand by those decisions. NATO’s door is open.”
In a joint statement, the NATO foreign ministers, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said that they “reaffirm” the decisions that were made at the 2008 Bucharest summit.
NATO Doubles Down on Pledge to Eventually Admit Ukraine
NATO foreign ministers are holding a summit in Bucharest, where the alliance first made the promise in 2008
by Dave DeCamp@DecampDave #NATO #Ukraine #Russia https://t.co/mYqG1JHCQM pic.twitter.com/pU0uTHbv9u
— Antiwar.com (@Antiwarcom) November 29, 2022
It has become fashionable among the mainstream western commentariat to claim that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had nothing to do with NATO expansion, but as recently explained by Philippe Lemoine for the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, that’s a completely false narrative that requires snipping past comments made by Putin out of the context in which they were made. Many western experts warned for years in advance that NATO expansion would lead to a conflict like the one we’re seeing today, and they were of course correct.
The recent push to expand NATO in Ukraine along with nations like Finland and Sweden as justified by “Russian aggression” is a good example of what professor Richard Sakwa has called the “fateful geographical paradox: that NATO exists to manage the risks created by its existence.” As the late scholar on US-Russia relations Stephen Cohen explained years before the Ukraine crisis erupted in 2014, Moscow sees NATO as an “American sphere of influence,” and the expansion of NATO and NATO influence as expansion of that sphere. It reacts to this with hostility just as the US would react to China or Russia building up aggressive military alliances on its borders, and arguably with vastly more restraint than the US would.
Other future examples of Sakwa’s fateful geographical paradox are likely to include the push to reconfigure NATO into an alliance dedicated to “restraining” China, which of course means halting China’s rise on the world stage and working to constrict, balkanize and usurp it. A recent Financial Times article titled “Washington steps up pressure on European allies to harden China stance” gives new detail to this agenda:
The US is pushing European allies to take a harder stance towards Beijing as it tries to leverage its leadership on Ukraine to gain more support from Nato countries for its efforts to counter China in the Indo-Pacific.
According to people briefed on conversations between the US and its Nato allies, Washington has in recent weeks lobbied members of the transatlantic alliance to toughen up their language on China and to start working on concrete action to restrain Beijing.
US president Joe Biden identified countering China as his main foreign policy goal at the start of his administration, but his efforts have been complicated by the focus on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
But with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion in its 10th month, Washington was making a concerted effort to push China back up Nato’s agenda, the people said.
A defensive alliance doesn’t look to pick fights with a country on a different continent. This is some classic mission creep from NATO – or, more accurately, Washington.https://t.co/UWNsPuSXlD
— Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) November 29, 2022
The “North Atlantic” Treaty Organization added China to its security concerns for the very first time this past June, and ever since it’s seen a mad push from Washington to ramp up aggressions against Beijing. Another Financial Times article titled “Nato holds first dedicated talks on China threat to Taiwan” details a meeting between alliance members this past September:
They also discussed how Nato should make Beijing aware of the potential ramifications of any military action — a debate that has gained significance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid questions about whether the west was tough enough in its warnings to Moscow.
The US has been urging allies, particularly in Europe, to focus more on the threat to Taiwan, as concerns mount that Chinese president Xi Jinping may order the use of force against the island.
Senior US military officers and officials have floated several possible timelines for military action, with some eager to increase the sense of urgency to ensure Washington and its allies are prepared.
Some are noticing that Washington’s eagerness to “increase the sense of urgency” on this front can easily wind up having a provocative effect which serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told Bloomberg a month ago that Washington’s haste to prepare everyone for another major conflict could “end up provoking the war that we seek to deter.”
“NATO should be renamed ASFP: the Alliance for Self Fulfilling Prophecies,” tweeted commentator Arnaud Bertrand of the alliance’s discussions about Taiwan.
“A defensive alliance doesn’t look to pick fights with a country on a different continent,” tweeted Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic. “This is some classic mission creep from NATO — or, more accurately, Washington.”
“Nato holds first dedicated talks on China threat to Taiwan”
NATO should be renamed ASFP: the Alliance for Self Fulfilling Prophecies…https://t.co/yU6OSiRhuu
— Arnaud Bertrand (@RnaudBertrand) November 30, 2022
When you ignore all the empty narrative fluff and really boil it down to the raw language of actual behavior, NATO’s existence really does seem to be premised on the circular reasoning that without NATO there’d be nobody to protect the world from the consequences of NATO’s actions. It goes out of its way to threaten powerful nations and then justifies its existence by their responses to those threats. It’s a self-licking ice cream cone, or, if you prefer, a self-licking boot.
And this is all happening as news comes out that European nations are beginning to notice they’re bearing a lot more of the cost of Washington’s proxy warfare in Ukraine than the US is, while the US reaps all the profits. In an article titled “Europe accuses US of profiting from war,” Politico reports:
Top European officials are furious with Joe Biden’s administration and now accuse the Americans of making a fortune from the war, while EU countries suffer.
“The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior official told POLITICO.
The explosive comments — backed in public and private by officials, diplomats and ministers elsewhere — follow mounting anger in Europe over American subsidies that threaten to wreck European industry.
“Is Washington still our ally or not?”
The “geopolitical Commission” and official Brussels as a whole is apparently only learning now what critics have been saying since the beginning: America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.https://t.co/WFEBTdq9r2
— Clare Daly (@ClareDalyMEP) November 30, 2022
Washington is taking extreme risks and angering allies at this time because it’s getting to do-or-die time as far as preserving US unipolar hegemony is concerned. As Antiwar’s Ted Snider explains in a recent article, the US proxy war in Ukraine has never really been about Ukraine, and hasn’t even ultimately been about Russia. In the long run this standoff has always been about China, and about the desperate campaign of the US empire to preserve its unrivaled domination of this planet.
“The war in Ukraine has always been about larger US goals,” writes Snider. “It has always been about the American ambition to maintain a unipolar world in which they were the sole polar power at the center and top of the world.”
“Events in Ukraine in 2014 marked the end of the unipolar world of American hegemony,” Snider says. “Russia drew the line and asserted itself as a new pole in a multipolar world order. That is why the war is ‘bigger than Ukraine,’ in the words of the State Department. It is bigger than Ukraine because, in the eyes of Washington, it is the battle for US hegemony.”
“If Ukraine is about Russia, Russia is about China,” Snider writes. “The ‘Russia Problem’ has always been that it is impossible to confront China if China has Russia: it is not desirable to fight both superpowers at once. So, if the long-term goal is to prevent a challenge to the US led unipolar world from China, Russia first needs to be weakened.”
Snider quotes Lyle Goldstein, a visiting professor at Brown University, who says that “In order to maintain its hegemonic position, the US supports Ukraine to wage hybrid warfare against Russia…The purpose is to hit Russia, contain Europe, kidnap ‘allies,’ and threaten China.”
— Antiwar.com (@Antiwarcom) November 23, 2022
As the world becomes more multipolar and securing total control looks less and less likely, the empire is fighting more and more like a boxer in the later rounds who’s been down on the scorecards the entire fight: taking more risks, throwing wild haymakers, preferring the possibility of a knockout loss over the certainty of losing a decision.
We’re at the most dangerous point in humanity’s abusive relationship with US unipolar domination, for the same reason the most dangerous point in a battered wife’s life is right when she’s trying to escape. The empire is willing to do terrible and risky things to retain control. “If I can’t have you no one can” is a line that can be said to a wife, or to the world.
The importance of opposing these megalomaniacs, and their games of nuclear chicken, has never been higher.