NATO at 70: Retirement or Renaissance?
US Vice President Mike Pence has recently referred to NATO as, “the most successful military alliance in the history of the world.” Of course, “success” needs to be defined, especially when casual observers note the trail of death and destruction left in NATO’s wake from Eastern Europe to North Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia over the last several decades.
For the casual observer, the NATO-linked Atlantic Council would attempt to offer a (very) short list of “NATO’s accomplishments in recent years.” The article was published in 2013, and time has not been kind to this list.
NATO’s Failures in Recent Years
The list’s author, James Stavridis, was then NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. He is now operating executive of the dubious private equity firm, The Carlyle Group which holds large investments in the defense sector.
His list included Afghanistan where (at the time) he claimed, “Afghan Security Forces are nearly fully in the lead – 90% of Afghans are now protected by their own security forces as opposed to virtually none four years ago.” Fast forward to today, there are still entire regions of Afghanistan not controlled by the NATO-backed government in Kabul, with NATO troop withdrawals repeatedly postponed specifically because nothing about Stravridis’ claims were true.
And, the very Taliban NATO claimed it was fighting for control over Afghanistan for are now sitting at the negotiation table across from Western representatives virtually dragged there kicking and screaming after years of vowing no negotiations, ever.
Next on Stravridis’ list is Libya.
He boasts of NATO’s operation in Libya being “the fasted deployment in the history of NATO.” He characterized the systematic destruction of a now utterly failed, warring state, as “incredible teamwork in the service of the people of Libya at the specific request of the United Nations Security Council. Evidence of the positive and powerful reach of NATO.”
Today, Libya’s capital of Tripoli is surrounded by the military forces of Khalifa Haftar who seek to wrest control of the city and assume control over a (slightly more) united Libya. The Western media is currently publishing articles such as the Guardian’s, “Fighting in Libya will create huge number of refugees, PM warns,” or, in other words, admitting to the failed, destroyed state NATO’s “incredible teamwork” left the North African nation in.
Those refugees have only one place to go… Europe.
The very region NATO could conceivably claim it is defending, Europe, now faces yet more refugees fleeing from the handiwork of “the most successful military alliance in the history of the world.” The social and economic fallout from the ongoing consequences of NATO’s intervention in Libya continue to contribute to Europe’s collective security challenges, not guard against them.
Finally, Stravridis grants NATO credit for curbing piracy off the coast of Africa despite nations from around the globe, including nations opposed to and targeted by NATO, contributing to these efforts.
If NATO’s list of “accomplishments” in 2013 was an exercise in stretching the truth, revisiting them today snaps the truth in half. NATO would since find itself in the middle of overthrowing the elected government of Ukraine in 2014, backing and even arming Neo-Nazi militias that have been warring with Ukrainians in the east near the border with Russia ever since, and NATO itself provocatively edging itself ever closer to Russia’s borders.
NATO’s intervention in Ukraine led to Crimea requesting Russian protection and its eventual rejoining with Russia through a referendum. For a military alliance pledged to protect members and allies from “Russia” and other supposed threats, nothing but categorical failure could describe NATO’s intervention resulting in territory shifting (justifiably) in favor of Russia.
Clearly, NATO’s “successes” are in fact a list of dismal failures, but only if peace, prosperity, security and the protection of human life were among any of NATO’s genuine goals.For those boasting that NATO is “the most successful military alliance in the history of the world,” despite its long list of abject serial failures, some other definition of “success” must be held in mind.A 2018 CNBC article titled, “America has spent $5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says,” reported that:
The US wars and military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001, according to a new study.
For the multitude of defense contractors, weapons manufacturers and other moneyed special interests receiving that $5.9 trillion, NATO is a huge success.
When we understand that people like Vice President Mike Pence and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Stavridis serve those moneyed interests (in Stravridis’ case, he literally serves them now as operating executive at Carlyle) the amount of money wrung from the death, destruction and otherwise abject failure of NATO’s wars stretching halfway around the world would seem like “success.”
The scale of money and power wrung from these serial wars are certainly unrivaled “in the history of the world,” but for all the wrong reasons.
Retirement or Renaissance?
At 70 years, is NATO’s deception still sustainable? Surely a criminal racket extracting trillions of dollars from taxpayers from across NATO’s many member states is too lucrative and tempting for those involved to voluntarily “retire” this “alliance.” But a forced retirement may not be as unlikely.
The media monopoly NATO has enjoyed for decades has come to an end. Its ability to trample nations around the globe with impunity granted to them by complicit Western corporate media outfits has been put in check by a growing alternative media comprised of opposing state and individual interests, many of whom are either past, current or potential future victims of NATO’s global crime spree.
The military monopoly NATO has for decades enjoyed is also coming to an end. The technological edge NATO nations enjoyed over targeted nations has been blunted. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Syria where Western aggressors have had their proxy forces eliminated and their own military forces cornered in Syria’s eastern deserts, rendered impotent and removed from the conclusion of the conflict they themselves engineered and precipitated.
With nations like Russia and China on the rise and even developing nations around the globe finally catching up to and competing with Western economic and military might, the notion of NATO acting around the globe with a continued free hand is unlikely.It is clear that for NATO and the many economic, political and media circles who promote and benefit from it are intent on keeping this aging alliance on life support, there will be no renaissance.
In a global order predicated on “might makes right,” NATO’s leading members find themselves no longer mightiest. Just as they swept aside entire nations over past decades, they themselves now face being swept aside by a growing tide of opposition to what NATO really stands for and the measures of “success” it truly uses to justify its continued existence.
Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
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