Is NATO Cracking?
NATO member Turkey is worried. Could missiles or aircraft armed with chemical or biological warheads hit Turkish targets from Iraq? Because of these concerns, Turkey has requested emergency consultations with its allies, invoking the mutual defense article (Article 4) of the NATO charter. France, Belgium and Germany, however, have vetoed Turkey's request. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that America would assist Turkey even if the NATO alliance had been momentarily neutralized.
Officially, the White House regards the opposition of France and Germany as a momentary glitch. Turkey says that it understands French and German concerns about "timing" in relation to an upcoming report from the UN inspectors in Iraq. The diplomatic optimists of the moment assure us that France and Germany will ultimately stand with America. But angry words have been exchanged. One American diplomat has said, "NATO is now facing a crisis of credibility."
It is alleged that French and German officials want to beef up the weapons inspections in Iraq. Moscow, always helpful in a crunch, was glad to pour fuel on the fire. The Russian defense minister said on Monday that Moscow was willing to send its own inspection teams to Iraq along with reconnaissance aircraft. This offer, if taken up, would kill any American plan to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein.
According to the German magazine, Der Spiegel, there is a French-German plan to put thousands of United Nations soldiers into Iraq. Although Germany and French officials have denied the plan's existence, there must be some truth behind it. The Italian Defense minister says this French-German plan is "confused." During his visit with the French leader on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that a U.S. invasion of Iraq without U.N. approval would be a "grave error." It is well known that Putin, a fluent German speaker, has also been talking to Germany's leaders about the Iraq situation.
It is obvious that Russia approves the French and German move to block Turkey's defense. Moscow would like to encourage disagreements within NATO and block an American invasion of Iraq. Especially, Russia would like to see NATO collapse into ineffectiveness.
During a 1999 dinner party I overheard a conversation between a European politician's wife and a former Russian military officer. They were talking about NATO. The politician's wife commented that the breakup of NATO would be a good thing. After all, international organizations compromise the sovereignty of the member states. The Russian looked back across the table. "The breakup of NATO is a major aim of Russian policy in Europe," he explained. "You would be playing into Russia's hands."
And why would that be?
The answer has to do with collective security. The many small countries that make up Europe are incapable of defending themselves against Russia. By combining into a solid bloc under America's nuclear umbrella, by coordinating military policy, Western Europe, Greece and Turkey remain safe.
Many in the West do not understand Russia's position on Europe. The Kremlin has long dreamt of a United States of Europe. To be sure, the dominant power within this formation would be Russia. With the largest population in Europe, with a powerful nuclear arsenal, with the most advanced weapons, Russia would find itself king of the European heap. Rather than being led by Washington, Europe would be dominated by Moscow.
In 1984 French President Francois Mitterrand asked the visiting Mikhail Gorbachev, "Why not assume the possibility of gradual advance to a broader European policy?" When Mitterrand visited Moscow a year later he said, "It is necessary that Europe should ... become the main protagonist of its own history once again so that it can play in full measure its role of a factor of equilibrium and stability in international affairs."
Gorbachev was quick to seize upon Mitterrand's remarks. "My thoughts went along the same track," wrote Gorbachev in 1987. "Some in the West are trying to 'exclude' the Soviet Union from Europe," he complained. Gorbachev then said that Europe should be united with Russia. "We are Europeans," he argued. "Old Russia was united with Europe by Christianity." (Italics added.) Gorbachev's then blamed the division of Europe on Truman and Churchill, who "launched the Cold War against the socialist countries and set up the NATO bloc as an instrument of military-political confrontation in Europe." He further accused President Reagan of turning Europe "into an arena of nuclear missile confrontation."
Gorbachev's policy - the policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Soviet Union - was to eliminate NATO's nuclear arsenal: to uproot the nuclear minefields from the East-West border, to strip the tactical nuclear capabilities from Western Europe's ground and air forces. The final step would be the elimination of NATO itself. "For a start," wrote Gorbachev, "we have repeatedly suggested scrapping the military blocs, or at least the military wings of the two alliances."
The ranking Czechoslovakian defector, Jan Sejna, wrote about Moscow's long-range strategy as it was described to him in 1967, twenty years prior to Gorbachev's statement on eliminating the military blocs. According to Sejna, Phase Three of Moscow's plan was called "The Period of Dynamic Social Change." Here Gorbachev's future policy of "perestroika" is fully explained in strategic terms. The purpose of this so-called "dynamic social change" would be "to smash the hope of false democracy" (i.e., Western democracy). "Our relationship with the United States would be a vital element in this phase," explained Sejna. "By fostering belief in our policy of friendship and co-operation with America, we planned to receive the greatest possible economic and technological help from the West, and at the same time convince the Capitalist countries that they had no need of military alliances." Sejna further explained that the erosion of NATO, "begun in Phase Two would be completed by the withdrawal of the United States from its commitment to the defence of Europe, and by European hostility to military expenditure, generated by economic recession and fanned by the efforts of the 'progressive movements." Then Sejna penned the following, striking, explanation: "To this end we envisaged that it might be necessary to dissolve the Warsaw Pact, in which event we had already prepared a web of bilateral defence arrangements, to be supervised by secret committees of Comecon."
According to this high-ranking defector, the breakup of NATO was a key objective. In order to achieve this breakup Moscow would dissolve its own military bloc in Eastern Europe, but only on the surface. Today the communists still control the top jobs in the military organizations of Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe's support for American policy in Iraq is therefore a deception, a way of winning favor and sowing confusion. Again and again reports filter in from the East that communism is not dead. It has merely submerged itself in the surface epiphenomena of "dynamic social change." This change is known in America by the phrase "collapse of communism." This collapse is something akin to the "man in the moon." Everyone sees it winking from on high, but the effect is a trick of light and imagination.
If Sejna was the only defector to write of this long-range Soviet plan we might be justifiably skeptical. But he was not alone. In 1984, prior to the elevation of Gorbachev as General Secretary of the Communist Party Soviet Union, KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn wrote a book titled New Lies for Old. In this book Golitsyn stated that Moscow's aim was the elimination of NATO as a military bloc. This would be achieved by the liberalization of Eastern Europe and calls for "the simultaneous dissolution of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and ultimately for the establishment of a neutral, socialist Europe." Golitsyn further explained that "false alignments between communist and noncommunist powers [would eventually] ...break up the existing NATO structure and replace it with a system of European collective security entailing the ultimate withdrawal of the American military presence from Western Europe and the growth of communist influence there."
Sejna adds a critical detail to this overall picture. In 1982 he wrote, "The Soviet view was that during Phase Three [of the plan] Capitalism would suffer an economic crisis that would bring Europe to its knees and stimulate the influence of 'progressive' forces in European governments." At this juncture Moscow's plan called for an anti-American propaganda campaign. According to Sejna. "[During this phase] we should apply ourselves to convincing the Europeans that the U.S. was pursuing a self-interested policy and even conspiring actively against them; thus we would increase America's isolation."
The key to everything was explained by Sejna in the following way: "Europe was the principal area in which to reduce U.S. influence in the free world. The Russians planned to play upon the nationalist, bourgeois prejudices of the leading European countries in order to convince them that Europe must strive to become a distinct entity, separate from the United States."
The current split within NATO has been visibly encouraged by Russia. This is no accident. American leaders and the American public must understand the nature of the present geo-political game. The proposed war in Iraq has led to a disagreement within the Western alliance. This disagreement is being exploited to the detriment of the West.
Let us hope that the damage to NATO is superficial.
About JR Nyquist
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