11 April 2014 — Strategic Culture Foundation
When asked on the foundational purpose of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its first Secretary General, Britain’s Lord Ismay, famously said: “To keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.
Ismay, the military advisor to Britain’s World War II leader Winston Churchill, was like his pugnacious boss an ardent imperialist, anti-communist and pro-American. His refreshing, if distasteful, candor about the strategic purpose of NATO has since been varnished over down through the decades.
The US-dominated military pact has been reinvented as a humanitarian mission with faux political correctness and spurious lofty claims of maintaining world peace. But Ismay’s terse words on NATO’s more sinister foundational purpose are starkly pertinent to present developments.
Today NATO seems to be fulfilling its original mission more than ever by isolating Russia and giving Washington a new lease of life in European political affairs.And the cleavage being driven between Russia and Europe will hit Germany hardest owing to possible economic repercussions.
In this divisive function we are witnessing a revival of the early Cold War rhetoric and mentality upon which NATO was first established in 1949.
The latest expulsion of Russia from the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council (PACE) following a resolution condemning Moscow for “annexation of Crimea” and “military occupation of Ukraine” is an unfortunate example of how NATO’s Cold War zero-sum logic is once again manifesting…
With honorable exceptions to the PACE suspension of Russia this week, the 47-nation Council based its decision on a tendentious report whose authors were clearly wielding a one-sided political agenda that purported to lay all the blame on Russia for the Ukraine crisis.
When the authors of the report, Mailis Reps, of Estonia, and Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, of Sweden, addressed the PACE in Strasbourg this week their description of events in Ukraine seemed to be lifted from a Washington script. The authors emphasized “condemning Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing threat posed by the Russian military on Ukraine’s eastern border.” No evidence or legal grounds were offered to support their assertions.
Reps and Pourbaix-Lundin urged: “We as an Assembly recognize the legitimacy of the new authorities in Kiev and the legality of their decisions.” There was not a mention of Western-backed subversion leading up to what was irrefutably an armed coup in February against the elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. According to the PACE rapporteurs, Yanukovych simply fled from office, inexplicably.
Nor was there any mention of the lawlessness and thuggery that the unelected fascist regime in Kiev has since embarked on. Indeed, delegates from the Kiev junta, described as “the government of Ukraine”, were given free rein to address the PACE and to spout fictional accounts of how normalcy prevails in Kiev and Ukraine, in barefaced defiance of factual reports of violence and intimidation against pro-Russian people and other political opponents. No mention of neo-Nazi Svoboda and Pravy Sector self-appointed Reich ministers, or of Sashko Bily and his gun-toting fascist hoodlums, or of public threats by Kiev demagogues to “whack Russians in the head”.
Russian delegates to the PACE, led by Alexei Pushkov, denounced the parliamentary report and the subsequent suspension of Russia it presaged.
Earlier, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, speaking in Berlin, complained that Washington and Europe were not basing their assessment of Ukraine on political facts. He said: “The Western community is discussing developments in Ukraine beyond the context of the key reason of the conflict. It is criminal to pull Ukraine in different directions, making it choose between the EU and the Russian Federation.”
From the outset of the political upheaval in Kiev this ultimatum-attitude has characterized Washington and Europe. When street protests took off last November, the incumbent Yanukovych and Moscow offered a dialogue with Washington and Brussels to find a political solution. The offer was flatly rebuffed, leading to further Western-backed street violence and the eventual coup d’état – which the Western governments and their media claim represents a “democratic revolution”.
That coup has since thrown the rest of Ukraine into turmoil with separatist moves underway in the eastern, pro-Russian cities of Donetz, Kharkov and Lugansk. Ironically, the new junta in Kiev is calling these protesters “terrorists” and “criminals” who face armed suppression if they don’t vacate government buildings that they are occupying, as the putschists in Kiev had previously done – only with a lot less violence being used in the current eastern demonstrations.
Clearly, the official views being expressed by Washington and Europe do not correspond with the facts of the situation in Ukraine. To accuse Russia of subversion and aggression simply because the people of the southern Crimean Peninsula voted in a referendum last month to join the Russian Federation is bereft of vital context. Not only bereft of context, the accusations are turning reality on its head.
Meantime, the American commander of NATO, General Philip Breedlove has now said that American troops and other forces are to be scaled up in Eastern Europe. Under the cover of contrived crisis, NATO is accelerating its long-held plans for encirclement of Russia – in complete violation of non-aggression treaties with Moscow that were signed following the end of the Cold War.
Breedlove’s plans for military expansion to Russia’s borders follow on the visit to Europe by US President Barack Obama at the end of March. Obama used Cold War rhetoric to appeal for greater NATO unity, that is, for greater American military and political presence in Europe.
It is no coincidence that since Obama’s de facto Pivot to Europe, NATO has stepped up the aggressive posture towards Russia.
NATO’s current Secretary General, Danish former Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, this week excelled in inflammatory rhetoric when he reiterated accusations of “Russian aggression in Ukraine” along with unsubstantiated claims of Russian military build-up on the frontier of Europe.
Speaking in Paris, Fogh Rasmussen called for “a readiness action plan” and said: “The current crisis poses a serious challenge to our common security. But North America and Europe stand together in facing up to it. And we stand united in our firm response. In recent weeks, we have seen the United States’ clear commitment to Europe’s security.”
Provocatively, the NATO chief went on to equate Russia with terrorism by claiming that Europe is confronted with: “Newer challenges, such as terrorism, failed states, cyber and missile attacks. And old challenges in new guises, such as attempts to redraw borders by force.”
His five-year tenure at NATO is due to end this coming September. It’s a fair bet that the Danish politician will land a plum job at some American think tank for his recent bellicose services on behalf of Washington.
Later in the week, while in Prague, Fogh Rasmussen sounded as if he was trying to imitate Churchill’s notorious Iron Curtain speech of 1946. That piece of Churchillian hyperbole is credited with having spawned the Cold War with its gratuitous offensiveness towards the Soviet Union, which only the year before had been a crucial World War II ally.
Fogh Rasmussen declared in Prague: “For the first time since countries like the Czech Republic won their freedom, and the Cold War ended, we see one state trying to grab part of another’s territory at gunpoint.”
The results of this concocted, divisive rhetoric and mentality are plain to see. As Lord Ismay once said, NATO is still keeping the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. As we saw with the Council of Europe this week, US-led NATO is continuing to set the PACE for aggression towards Russia, with the help of European friends like Rasmussen who are spewing the “Fogh” of war.