NATO: "Sing us a hallelujah!"

12:28 18.02.2010 • Armen Oganesyan , Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs

"It seems that Moscow, will never forgive NATO for being the alliance that survived the Cold War," so wrote one influential European newspaper a few days ago. This is not so at all, but try to agree with me that it is difficult to forgive those who, having survived the Cold War, have not learned their lessons. Down to the 60th anniversary of NATO, a lot has been said about the fact that it saved the world from a Third World War, consolidated Europe and provided a peaceful conclusion to the Cold War. These words are similar to the views and opinions once expressed by Margaret Thatcher, that nuclear weapons saved us from a Third World War. Why not the Yalta conference, why not the UN Charter, why not Kennedy and Khrushchev, why not the Helsinki agreement on the discharge of weapons and the negotiations on the reduction of strategic weapons, why not the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany, and why not the good will of millions of people to live in peace in the world with each other, why were these not the reasons?. .. However, this list can be endless. As one witty Frenchman said, "let the United States and NATO tell you step by step how important their meaning was in saving the world, and the Lord God will just quietly shut the door behind him. NATO says to the world: "Sing us a hallelujah."


By the way, something about the French. The famous NATO panegyrist Brzezinski said in his commemorative statement, one can find, in his opinion, irrefutable proof of the fact that NATO has not lost its purpose. "France's decision to return to full participation in NATO's integrated military structures after a forty-year absence ... speaks louder than words," he argued. The American political scientist expressed surprise why on this occasion so little applause was sounded. In this regard, I am reminded of a conversation with two French politicians, which explains the very same move by Paris: "Try to understand, NATO’s actions are becoming less and less predictable and increasingly global. The French cannot be held hostage to decisions made without our involvement. We will be able to play a sobering role in the Alliance. Russia should not be concerned about this, in fact just the opposite. "


In reality, it is the overestimation of itself, and the lack of a self-critical approach to its own actions that make NATO’s decisions more and more unmotivating in the eyes of those who are not part of the Alliance. However, the "NATO-centrism" denies the pact the possibility to objectively assess their role and not to implement a facade, but a profound reform. This is most convincingly evidenced by the reaction of the NATO leadership to the new Russian military doctrine, which states that for it the expansion of the pact it is one of the dangers for war, as well as the locating of missile defense systems close to its borders. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that "the new military doctrine does not reflect the real world ... NATO is not an enemy of Russia." Here, of course, there is an obvious substitution of the concepts "danger", "threat", and “enemy." The word "enemy" does not exist in Russian doctrine. Moreover, it says in it that in recent times "there has been a reduction in the likelihood of the outbreak of a large-scale war with the use of conventional weapons and nuclear weapons against the Russian Federation." The enemy is the one who has already invaded the territory of the country or has been truly exposed for harboring such plans. But just as in the developing inertia of the North Atlantic bloc, inherited from the time of the Cold War and clearly shown in the extensive doctrine (absorbing the area) and the promotion of military infrastructure in the East, there is a real threat to Russia. And it can’t be seen in any other way. Is there is even a question of how familiar Mr. Rasmussen is with Russian history?


To address Russian concerns, it is necessary not only to listen to her voice, and specific proposals, but also to find the inner resolve to restructure NATO doctrine, especially regarding its European dimension. Today, being outside of the North Atlantic Treaty, Russia is practically excluded from the process of the formation of European security. NATO is trying to impose on Russia the principle of interaction “on demand”, when NATO itself deems it necessary and useful. The European Security Treaty (EST) offers a solution to this issue, as it is able to address the concerns of Moscow, unless, of course, it remains not just on paper, but is embodied in specific cases.


One needs to recognize that this will require some NATO sacrifices, mainly, in terms of its ideological past efforts. As the same Rasmussen correctly observed, "NATO is now at a crossroads." But the path to reform, which has been offered so far, does not reflect the desire to overcome the new dividing lines in Europe, not to mention the guarantor of global peace. The NATO Secretary-General understands that the actions of the Alliance far from its borders, even bypassing UN Security Council decisions, demands a new "legitimacy" to the pact. So he puts forward the idea of turning NATO into a "center for discussing the problems of global security." So far history does not know of such an example, as when a military-political bloc representing a limited number of states, would claim such a comprehensive role. Of course, there is no comment on statements about reducing the role of the United Nations or the "Conference on Disarmament" but, in fact, it is an attempt to monopolize the global interaction in the sphere of security. The logic is simple –power attracts, and "who is not with us is against us." It is interesting that this is happening against the background of paralysis in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, which has undergone unusually harsh criticism from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. As the Swiss newspaper “Les Temps” rightly observes, “the Conference of the 65 states, established in 1979, is the only forum in the world in which multilateral negotiations on the topic of disarmament are conducted." Of course, NATO can only usurp, but not get a mandate for the ambitious role of a global forum in matters of war and peace.


However, you should listen to the other reformist initiatives inside of NATO. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that the Alliance is not a threat to Russia, because it has changed its tasks from the Cold War period and has focused on the fight against global challenges such as terrorism and drug trafficking. In turn, Mr. Rasmussen expands the list of the new features of NATO to "the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, piracy and even climate change." And for all of this there are the latest tanks, guns, missiles, aircraft, missile defense systems and huge military budgets. But, firstly, to effectively combat terrorism, drug trafficking and piracy requires special units that can actually be combined into an international organization under the auspices of a wide range of countries, acting much more promptly and effectively than any bulky military structure. Of course, in some cases, they may be supported by international military forces. As for the fight against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it is the same picture: NATO takes in most of the "nuclear club" powers, although, of course, it will try to bring in Russia and China, but the vector of effort will be again directed to the area that is outside the borders of the geographical Alliance. The struggle by military means against climate change, this seems to be a last word in politics and science, which cannot comment on, but reflects a desire to expand their powers at the expense of what the international community cannot cope with.


Finally, there is a very interesting thought regarding the transformation of NATO's military organization to peacekeeping - an idea which is supported by some Russian political analysts. But there is the same stumbling block in the way of this transformation. After all, even expanded with new members, NATO remains a closed system of individual groups of countries, even if their own interests do not fully coincide; they are subject to the bloc’s tough discipline. Peacemaking by its nature is so pervasive that it cannot be delegated to such a narrow association connected to the same corporate obligations. Still, the Alliance has a way out of the historical impasse, and not just one. Firstly, NATO can open its doors to new members without conditions restricting their wishes, and might claim to be the "center of the discussion of global security." Secondly, NATO can be transformed into a service agency of the international community to act solely in accordance with its mandate, and then, in collaboration with other countries (through the signing of the Collective Security Treaty) it de facto implements the transformation of the Alliance's military organization to peacekeeping. Thirdly, NATO can decide to dissolve itself.


Needless to say that the Alliance is hardly ready for such profound reforms, or is it capable of overcoming its tendency to inertia in practice, ideology, and, more importantly, psychology. As a princess once said, "I'm as used to my thoughts as I am to my dresses."<!--EndFragment-->


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