Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bush Tries to Push the Envelope Very Far in NATO

by Norman Markowitz

George W. Bush is in Romania for his last NATO conference. That in itself would lead the late John Foster Dulles to jump for joy, but it isn't enough. Bush is supporting a process that might end in the former Soviet Republics of Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO, even though the two major NATO European powers, Germany(which in its West German form was re-armed against massive European opposition so that it could become a centerpiece in NATO), and France, (which along with Italy was a founding member of a treaty) are opposed to this. NAT0 began with two initial purposes; to serve as a military alliance against the Soviet Union and to make it impossible for Communist parties in NATO bloc countries, particularly the powerful Communist parties which existed at the time in France and Italy, from coming to power. Americans should also remember that France, which was particularly upset by German re-armament at the time, was given aid by the U.S. to prosecute its colonial war in Indochina as a sort of bribe to accept German re-armament (while there is substantial debate on this issue, a number of scholars, myself included see this as a major reason why the U.S. first involved itself in Indochina).

But that was then and this is now. The German Democratic Republic began to be annexed to the capitalist Federal Republic of Germany with Mikhail Gorbachev's approval nearly twenty years ago. The Warsaw Treaty Organization that the Soviets had largely crafted to defend themselves and their East European socialist country allies from the NATO bloc was dismantled with Mikhail Gorbachev's approval nearly twenty years ago. And the Soviet Union was literally dismembered, with Mikhail Gorbachev looking as Boris Yeltsin and other former CPSU leaders who re-invented themselves as anti-Communist renegades, profiteers, and leaders for a "new class" of compradores and gangster capitalists lsigned the Soviet Union's death warrant without the approval of the people of the various Soviet Republics.

Without going over the history of the last seventeen years, it is important to mention that many of the Warsaw Treaty states are now NATO states; that NATO has been transformed from a nuclearized military alliance to fight World War III against the Soviet Union and its allies in Europe to the military muscle for global imperialism, intervening in the Yugoslav Civil War to dismember Socialist Yugoslavia and participating in military interventions in Afghanistan and other threatened military interventions outside of Europe.

From the outset, NATO, which included the U.S. the U.K. France, Italy, and most of the Western European States (all the old powerful colonial empires except Japan) was the most powerful military alliance in human history. NATO was created to serve the interests of imperialism in the cold war. Now that the Soviet Union has been dismembered, anti-Sovietism, the linchpin of the alliance, is no longer present, which presents both problems and opportunities for the U.S. and its allies who are also increasingly its rivals.

First, there is the anti-Soviet essence of of "old" NATO is being aggressively transformed into a policy of anti-Russian encirclement. This is of course not capitalist encirclement, since the anti-Communist Kremlin government can in no way be seen as representing socialist or anti-imperialist interests. But that government is both very weak and also in possession of huge resources that of great value to the major capitalist countries, oil, natural gas, industrial facilities, tens of millions of skilled workers. Gaining access and eventual control over those resources, fighting for control over them, is what the major capitalist states were doing with Czarist Russia before the revolution while Czarist reactionaries deluded themselves that they were "players" with Britain, Germany, et al, in the great imperialist game. That is essentially what they are doing now. Former Soviet Asian Republics have already provided the U.S. with military bases. Eastern Europe, the "new Europe," as Rumsfeld absurdly called it, is now a NAT0 pistol pointed at the New Russia.

So why not let Ukraine and Georgia join NATO? The "new Russia" of Yeltsin and Putin, et al, is not admired and respected by working class and progressive people throughout the world. The Red Army which triumphed over Hitler fascism is today the army of "new Russia" which is humiliated in conflicts with Chechens on the soil of the Russian Federation. All that the ''new Russia" is to the capitalist states today is raw materials, a possible market for its parasitic elites for luxury goods, so why not simply put NATO even more directly on Russian borders?

The answer is two fold. First, weak as it is, lacking any serious respect from anyone, including the anti-Communist media who hailed gangsters as democrats and saw the looting a great nation built with socialist labor as the victory of freedom, "New Russia" still has the nuclear weapons systems that would enable it to obliterate much of the world in the WWIII that NATO was supposedly created to deter. So who in his right mind would seek to so crudely threaten such a state, to rub in its humiliation, and all in the name of "democracy and reform." The answer is George W. Bush, whose approach to foreign policy has been consistently unilateralist and that is what he is doing.

The Germans and the French are angry and their leaders, Merkel and Sarkozy, represent rightwing governments. Bush is continuing to "push the envelope" Along with advocating that Georgia and Ukraine be brought in the preliminary to full membership in the NATO bloc, the so-called "Membership Action Plan or MAP, which the Germans and the French are against at this time, and the Russian government, as any Russian government regardless of its character, would have to fear, Bush wants anti-Russian "missile defense" systems in Poland and the Czech Republic (an invitation to make those societies, as a German critic of NATO's original nuclearization said in the 1950s, a "nuclear shooting gallery." He also wants more NATO troops for Afghanistan (there are already 47,000). We wants to use the NAT0 bloc more crudely to advance the goals of his administration and U.S. imperialism than previous U.S. administrations during the cold war period, when anti-Sovietism and anti-Communism really did unite the NAT0 bloc under the U.S. leadership. Besides being in much greater direct danger from these policies, the conservative French and German leaders quietly but increasingly oppose these policies because they are a threat to their own ruling classes interests globally.

Perhaps it is time to start thinking about getting rid of NATO. What is it supposed to deter today? Why is the U.S. still footing the largest amount of the bill for NATO in a world where it is, like the old fashioned monopolies, seeking to absorb its former competitors whom it has forced out of business? Increasingly it is an alliance that provokes conflicts rather than brings about any real stability(not that I believe that it was ever a source of stability).

Eliminating the material basis for nuclear war rather than enhancing that basis, creating United Nations peacekeeping forces that really are international and function as peacekeeping forces, not an expanded bloc of the major imperialist states absorbing former Warsaw Treaty states and Soviet Republics, is really the only possible military policy that has anything to do with peace.

Bush in Romania is playing the last cards of his discredited policy. Hopefully the next administration will begin to rethink NATO's role generally, rejecting not only Bush's unilateralism but the NATO expansion fostered by the Clinton administration in favor a genuine peace policy.


Harold said...

The time to start thinking about getting rid of NATO was years ago, when the Warsaw Treaty was dismantled. What's interesting about NATO is that it, with U.S. "leadership" (read: coercion), is fighting the war in Afghanistan. Just how close to Europe, or moreover, to the North Atlantic, is Afghanistan? Not very.

Still, many Americans see the war in Afghanistan as the "good war," as retaliation for the 9/11 atrocities.

Anonymous said...

Harold's points are well taken, although the struggle against what NAT0 is today remains a central issue in the stuggle against imperialism, which today goes by the name of "globalization" in the capitalist world.
Turkey was an early and an important member of NAT0 and its relationship to Western Europe was also a major example of what NAT0 really was, namely an anti-Soviet military alliance whose relationship to the "North Atlantic" was very flexibl
As for Afghanistan, the "good war" eliminating the clerical fascist Taliban regime was the result of the very bad war of the 1980s, which resulted in both the establishment of Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime, the war that the Reagan and Bush I administrations funded and organized against the Communist led government of Afghanistan. Without that war, the September 11 attacks would not have taken place because the terrorist international organization, which the U.S. government praised at the time as "freedom fighters," would and could not have come into existence.

As an update to my blog article, the NAT0 bloc as expected has rejected Bush's attempt to push Ukraine and Georgia into NAT0(not for any anti-imperialist reasons, but because they see the timing as very bad) but has approved Bush's "missile shield" plans for Poland and the check Republic, which is of course, a dangerous destabilizing move in regard to the Russian Republic.
Norman Markowitz

Harold said...

There is also fear that the Missile Shield could also be used a first strike weapon against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Given that the three Presidential candidates regard Iran as a threat, the U.S. stance against Iran is unlikely to change, making the Missile Shield an apparent threat to stability.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't think the Missile Shield in Central East Europe would really be necesssary for a first strike against Iran by Air, which could be achieved without great difficulty(invading Iran, whose military is quite superior to what Iraq's was in 2003 or even 1991, would be a very different affair and have disastrous consequences).
But that is less important than the fact that Bush administration has led us to a point where first strikes against Iran, against North Korea, against whomever the administration wishes to attack, is taken very seriously, along with the fears that are widespread that the administration will either launch some war or provoke some new terrorist attack or both in order to stay in power.
I would also say that Senator Obama is by far the least likely of the three to launch a war against Iran and McCain is qualitatively more likely to launch such a war than Obama or Clinton

Norman Markowitz

Harold said...

Indeed, the Missile Shield is by no means necessary to launch a first strike against Iran, but some would argue that it would be quite convenient.

I don't think the administration need concern itself with staying in power - there is now way that the people of this country would allow such a thing. We've seen how low Bush's approval ratings have become, and the people for the most part know that the war in Iraq is a "failed venture," at least under the auspices that it was launched. People will not tolerate a war against Iran unless, of course, it is "justified" as retaliation for a terrorist attack. And as you said, that would have to be provoked, because Iran is not, as the administration has told us, a terrorist stronghold.

And I agree with you that Obama is the least likely to launch a war against Iran, but that does not necessarily make him unlikely to do so. McCain is a war-monger, and must be seen as a threat to any country that is not currently aligned closely with the U.S.