NATO and Global Policy in Rambo Style

russia_flag

When is viewed from a world-wide perspective, America is such something as in the language of Hollywood producers is called an ”ham” or ”over-actor”. This means an actor, not very bright and talented, but possessing with very distinctive physical features who exaggerates all the techniques he knows, from gestures to his speech, trying to be noticeable or to mask obvious faults.

The typology of such a character could be found not only in action movies like Rambo, but also in the existential DNA of the big political and military strategy of the United States.


As Christofer Layne[1] wrote in his book ”The Peace of Illusion”, the US commitment to transforming the entire world is ill-founded and self-defeating. Layne argues that the history of powerful empires shows that in the end they all fall into the trap of overextension, unnecessary military entanglements, and excessive interventionism. That is exactly the kind of approach practiced by the US during the last 40 years, but especially noticeable in the last decade. Practically, it means the ”dissuasion” strategy that plans to surround other powers at their own homes with land- and sea-based nuclear missiles, submarines, and fighter jets.

But at the same time it’s the US that claim the breach of international treaties, because a foreign military division has been moved 5 km closer to the Sea of Japan. Surprisingly, the leaders in Washington seem not to understand that there is an approach that harms the US regarding its partners and public perception. One of the world’s leading economists, Professor Michael Hudson says that ”the US-led confrontational approach of NATO to Russia is driving European countries to consider disbanding or leaving the military alliance due to increased risks to security.” So, in whose interests is it to keep up this agressive rhetoric?

Prosperity of War Industry – a Constant of Great Powers

us-military-background-fullAt the end of the World War II, the US had a military presence in Europe of approximately 1,9 million of troops and more than two million vehicles ranging from tanks to dozers to Indian brand motorcycles. It’s not too difficult to see that at this ratio of forces and resources deployment, practically one third of them could not be used because there were really no one to control them. What does it mean? It means a huge business that has moved money from pockets of American tax payers into pockets of big manufacturers operating in that period. It means huge public contracts with the American state, and while they have been implemented, some food staples for the population were limited and could be bought only with ration cards (although, apparently, many still believe that ration cards were invented on the other side of the Iron Curtain).

Of all the countries involved, the United States has spent the biggest sum in wartime being surpassed only by Japan spending approximately 341 billion dollars, of which 50 billion went for resources. That’s to say nothing about loans granted to others countries. These 341 billion were at that time a huge figure for the American industry, which at the end of the conflict has fallen dramatically somewhere below 1%. So, the enemy had been defeated and it was necessary to invent a new one, equally fierce, otherwise the business had a risk to collapse and take the entire US economy along with it.

In the spring of 1948, President Truman and his administration held secret talks in Washington D.C., to discuss the impending enlargement of the Soviet power. That was the post-war context that made five members of the Western Europe (Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) to sign the Brussels Treaty, whereby they have decided to constitute a common system of defense. The decision seemed justified, the severe trauma left by the war persisted strongly in social mindset. And the rise of the Soviet power seemed unstoppable.

But Great Britain was at the low level of its economic strength, the rest of the countries were completely insignificant regarding their military force. Metaphorically speaking, it looked as if you were going to protect yourself against a dangerous animal attack by purchasing a rifle with pellets for starling. Evidently, something more than just the will was necessary. Thus the negotiations with the USA and Canada occured. At the same time other European countries, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, and surprisingly the ally of Nazi Germany, Italy were invited to participate in this process as well.

It was rather odd taking into account the fact that the majority of these states were on/under the ground from a military point of view and some of them, from the economic point of view also. France was a real loser since the times of Napoleon, Italy was ready to surrender at the first sign of troubles, and Iceland until this day does not have an army of its own. Great Britain had done some interesting moves in the North Africa, but that happened thanks to heroism of its soldiers; for its technical military equipment was disastrous (the Churchill and Matilda tanks, which did not sink together with the ships in the North Sea and were delivered to the USSR, were sent immediately to meltdown and recast into glorious Soviet T-34).

The US immediately felt the oppotunity and used the moment and opportunities for its own gain. That was an attitude fit to a power in the global rising. Washington accepted this new military alliance and took the role of its undisputed leader.

So, on April 4, 1949 in Washington the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – NATO[2] was established, an alliance with numerous principal discrepancies, disagreements that have brought much real harm since then until now. “To look big and to impress” seems to be quite logical basis when the leader, as I have already said, is an overplay.

According to the ”main goal of its creation”, NATO was meant to be a Meeting of NATO and Partner Chiefs of Defence - Opening of the 159th MC/CS Sessioncounter-force to the presence of the Soviet military forces in the Eastern Europe. The US had a real interest to quickly demonize the USSR thus getting the necessary and veridic enemy in the long term to support the alliance resilience. In the next few years Greece and Turkey have acceded and in 1955 Federal Germany itself joined this organization. On May 9, 1955 the decision of the governments of the United States and Western Europe to include West Germany into NATO generated a geo-political balance preserving move. The USSR decided to set up the Warsaw Pact in order to counterbalance the military force of NATO and the plan of the Western Europe military equipping worth over 6 billion dollars.

Warsaw Pact was designed to increase the international negotiating power of the Soviet Union. Another logic fact is that the Soviet Union has also used the Warsaw Pact as a way to develop new armies and train them under its military strategies. More to that, in the framework of the Warsaw Pact the USSR was the principal supplier of weapons and military equipment and technology for the member countries of the Warsaw Pact, except (for a period of time) for Romania. The great global powers have a similar constant: they have a military industrial complex which is one of the most effective businesses of the state.

The tensions between the two military blocks have led inevitably to the triggering of the Cold War and the expensive Arms Race. Both alliances were proposing ways to basically dominate the world and spread their beliefs of ideal governments. This is the context in which the US began to send a nuclear missiles all over the world. In 1947 the president Harry S. Truman authorized US aid (The Truman Doctrine) to anti-communist forces in Greece and Turkey. The policy was expanded to justify support for any nation that the US government considered to be threatened by Soviet expansionism. This policy, known as the George Kennan[3] doctrine, was aimed at holding back and restricting the spread of Communism worldwide. Containment quickly became the official US policy towards the USSR. The USSR began to be strangled from all sides. The constrictor rings of the Anaconda strategy started to tighten around the Soviet Union and the US nuclear missiles reached the neighborhood of Crimea and the Black Sea by means of placing outdated, but still dangerous PGM-19 Jupiter and PGM-17 Thor in Turkey sometime in 1960.

A move in return from the Soviet Block was predictable and justifiable. In response, the Caribbean (Cuban Missile) Crisis becomes a cold shower for the US. Americans, who until then had filled the planet with nuclear weapons knew Russia’s feeling very good and knew how it was when others come up with nuclear weapons near the borders that you thought were guarded by two huge oceans and thousands of kilometers of airspace. Both sides have learned from the Cuban Missile Crisis that risking nuclear war in pursuit of political goals is just too dangerous. It was the last time during the Cold War that either side would take this risk. After the Cuban Missile Crisis was over, the US and the USSR preferred to bring their competition onto local conflicts in other parts of the globe.

The Cold War has had a special feature: it reflected confrontation between the two blocks on the criterion of ideological purposes (Communism vs. Capitalism). Therefore, once the communist ideology was removed, a new similar confrontation in this part of the world seemed unlikely. But that was a miscalculation. Nowadays, the confrontation is more sharp, pragmatic and has a purpose of controlling the biggest part of resources of the planet. At the same time, the experts usually skip an important detail: the Cold War stopped due to the lack of a main combatant and not as a result of a bilateral agreement. Consequently, the claim of the United States and the Western block composed of allies/satellites to be the sole pole of power in the world and to establish a planetary way of life based exclusively on ideology and principles of their leadership has absolutely no grounds. The US strategy is to prevent neutrality. Europe’s economic interest is to achieve neutrality with Russia, and have economic unity so that there’s little chance of any confrontation with Russia. The result of such a rebellious is already visible and do not require detailed examples.

The Cold War Doctrine in Use Again

 By eliminating competition with the Warsaw Pact, NATO should not be competing for world domination especially when the money people pay is being used for missiles, bombs, and tanks rather than education, housing, and healthcare. But it still is! Although the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Act (July 1991), the Cold War was never over. Between the new planetary hegemon of the US and Russia, the heir to all good and bad things of the Soviet Union, the competition trend is always presented. In spite of the political statements, the US wanted a confirmation of being a unique worldwide leader. Russia wanted to get its revenge and return to the table of the global decision makers. The truce lasted for two decades, only as far as it has been necessary for Russia to regain strength.

nato_russia_flagsExhausted by the Arm and Space Race through the 1980s, the USSR gave to the North-Atlantic Alliance and the Euro-Atlantic community some signals that it intended to end up the Cold War on a unilateral basis. In other words, NATO remained without the „Enemy” which (for almost half a century) had been defining the Western politics as active confrontation to communism values. Based on the danger of the Soviet power, NATO created a geo-strategic plan of neutralization of the Soviet threat and its allies. Maybe surprised by the Soviet Union weekness, the West has got the message from Moscow as an unconditional capitulation. This was another misunderstanding.

Through the unilateral termination of the Cold War, the USSR did not mean its disadvantageous capitulation, but rather a truce through which it would get the time necessary either for lasting negotiations or for in-state reforms. It was a question of time before the „confrontation” would be restarted. Another error was that the West had not understood that the commitment, or the “deal” did not mean that the countries which were detached from the conglomerate and the sphere of the USSR influence, had no right to establish new alliances with former opponents, therefore, to integrate into structures of the Euro-Atlantic community.

 NATO – Preferred ”Weapon” of Advancing American Interests

On the one hand, NATO has pledged many times that expansion to the East will enhance security of Europe as a whole and not produce new dividing lines. On the other hand, the expansion of NATO to the East was accompanied by the colored revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, the Arab Spring in North Africa and the conflicts triggered and supported by the US in the Middle East, deployment of troops and weapons in Romania and Poland, launch of the missile shield elements in Romania.

On the top of all that some economic sanctions against Russia were imposed. main-qimgEven at a quick glance we can observe that a set of policies and restrictive practices of the same type of is used, a new incarnation of the containment doctrine. Besides, it is clear that America is trying to force Russia to spend more as a part of its economic warfare.

The United States and its allies from NATO are trying not only to prevent Russia from its possible expansion and retrieval of its former sphere of influence. The actions of the past few years suggest a real siege, which is composed of multiple constricting rings, intended either to kneel the Russian Federation, or to induce it to react aggressively. With the same aim, the „challenges” have a huge part of mingled defiance and arrogance. Otherwise, one cannot explain how it is possible that the largest military exercises of NATO nearby the Russian borders are called „Anaconda 2016”. Especially so that the Pentagon is well known to have talented specialists with the ‚poetical’ sense when it comes to giving names for the US military operations abroad. In the 1990s, critics warned that the NATO expansion would cultivate a new cold war. It seems that they were right.

 And regarding declarations which outraged the opponents of the republican candidate for the US presidency, Donald Trump, related to the Baltic countries and Article 5[4] of the Treaty of the North Atlantic Alliance, it appears to have been right in accordance with the principles of assistance specified by Article 6 of the same Treaty:

“With the invocation of Article 5, Allies can provide any form of assistance they deem necessary to respond to a situation. This is an individual obligation on each Ally and each Ally is responsible for determining what it deems necessary in the particular circumstances. This assistance is taken forward in concert with other Allies. It is not necessarily military and depends on the material resources of each country. It is therefore left to the judgment of each individual member country to determine how it will contribute.”

It means that the North Atlantic Treaty does not impose to the US or to another state that it must defend the military attacked ally; each state which is deemed to have been under the military attack by another state shall be free to take the measures that are considered necessary.

Basically, if the United States or any other NATO member refuses to take military intervention in favor of the Baltic states and confines to assistance and provision with helmets and anti-bullet vests (as it was done in the case of Ukraine which is not NATO member), it would not breach the provisions of this Treaty. In addition, the USA has infringed enough international treaties which it had signed and ratified: the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Convention against Torture – there were breaches of the most scandalous nature, so it’s better remember the proverb about glass houses and stones.

 Article 5 has been invoked by the US and accepted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on September 11, 2001. The US is not (at least theoretically) an exception to the rule, as the right shall apply to all parties according to international laws.

flickrBut it happens only when the US interests coincide with the interests of other governments (permanent members of the UN Security Council). If the US as NATO chief declares firmly that it will render military defence to any ally, it is not because a treaty was signed in 1949, but because such a position can best serve the US foreign policy and interests at the moment. In fact, the current strategy of the West of ensuring safety by limiting the “enemy” is by far the most inefficient approach when aiming at long-term peace. It is an option when the final aim is a military conflict.

 *** Epilogue

What would happen if Russia decides to invade a member of NATO as a reply to aggressive extension of the North Atlantic alliance up to its borders? Estonia, for example, which expresses its concern in the most explicit ways? Estonia will invoke Article 5 of the Treaty of NATO and the alliance will follow the standard procedures. And what will happens if a member of NATO – Turkey, for example, will refuse to attend confrontation ? It seems nothing. It can happens that many countries – members NATO were dissapointed. Most probably because the purpose of the start – defensive alliance – has been seriously misused and has become an instrument of (re)pression in the hands of a global Rambo.” 

Original file published by ”New Defence Order. Strategy” / «Новый Оборонный Заказ. Стратегии»

2016, №4 (41), History of Defence Industry and Military History, Military and Technical Cooperation


[1] Christopher Layne is Associate Professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. He is the author of „The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present” (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2006).

[2] www.nato.int

[3] The author of the „Doctrines of Containment” was an American diplomat George Kennan, who defined the theoretical basis of this policy in 1947 for use in America’s geopolitics.

[4] www.nato.int

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s