In Defense of NATO

“We want a diplomatic solution but we cannot close our eyes to tanks that are crossing the border from Russia and coming into Ukraine. We cannot close our eyes to Russian fighters in unmarked uniforms crossing the border, and leading individual companies of so-called separatists in battle.” ~ Secretary of State John Kerry

Yes we can.

We can close our eyes. It is called a foreign policy of neutrality, minding our own business. We should close our eyes. It is called a foreign policy of nonintervention, staying out of European wars. This is not isolationism; it is Jeffersonianism: Superpower Illusions: ... Jack F. Jr. Matlock Best Price: $2.76 Buy New $29.57 (as of 02:45 EDT - Details)

I have used my best endeavors to keep our country uncommitted in the troubles which afflict Europe, and which assail us on every side.

We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country, nor with the general affairs of Europe.

I am decidedly of opinion we should take no part in European quarrels, but cultivate peace and commerce with all.

I am for free commerce with all nations, political connection with none, and little or no diplomatic establishment. And I am not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of Europe, entering that field of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of Kings to war against the principles of liberty.

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none.

But let’s suppose for a moment that every lie in the media about Russia and Vladimir Putin is instead the gospel truth. Suppose that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is not a puppet of the United States. Suppose that Russia forcibly annexed Crimea. Suppose Putin is a liar and a War, Empire, and the M... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $16.00 Buy New $9.95 (as of 05:50 EDT - Details) monster. Suppose there are not neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine’s government and military. Suppose that the U.S. State Department was not complicit in creating the coup that ousted democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanuyovch. Suppose that Ukraine has not been a bankrupt failed state since 1991. Suppose that Ukraine is not run by incompetent politicians, gangsters, and oligarchs. Suppose that the events in Ukraine were not promoted by neocons to undermine Russia and pull Ukraine into their ideological orbit. Suppose that Russia wants to take over the Baltic republics and other eastern European countries that once were satellites of the Soviet Union. Suppose that Russia is the aggressor and the sole perpetrator of the violence that has taken place in Ukraine. Suppose that anti-Kiev fighters are all just pro-Russian rebels. Suppose that Russia designs to resurrect a Soviet-style empire.

What should the United States “do” about Russia and Putin?

Absolutely nothing.

As Ron Paul said after Russia “annexed” Crimea in March of 2014: “Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?”

This is where NATO comes in. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was established in 1949 by the North Atlantic Treaty. It initially War, Christianity, and... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $4.00 Buy New $9.95 (as of 05:50 EDT - Details) had twelve member countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since that time, sixteen other countries have become members: Greece (1952), Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), the Czech Republic (1999), Hungary (1999), Poland (1999), Bulgaria (2004), Estonia (2004), Latvia (2004), Lithuania (2004), Romania (2004), Slovakia (2004), Slovenia (2004), Albania (2009), and Croatia (2009).

According to NATO:

  • NATO membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.”
  • NATO’s essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means.
  • NATO is committed to the principle that an attack against one or several members is considered as an attack against all. This is the principle of collective defence, which is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
  • NATO provides a unique opportunity for member countries to consult and take decisions on security issues at all levels and in a variety of fields. The War on Drugs Is a ... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $8.95 Buy New $5.95 (as of 05:50 EDT - Details)

And according to NATO’s official history:

It is often said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union. This is only partially true. In fact, the Alliance’s creation was part of a broader effort to serve three purposes: deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.

Nevertheless, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the deposing of the Communist governments of Eastern Europe, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact during the period from 1989-1991 and the subsequent rise of the European Union made NATO obsolete. It certainly meant that it was time for the United States to withdraw and let the Europeans handle their own security and defense.

But not only did the United States not withdraw from NATO, it sought to expand NATO up to the borders of Russia. Jack Matlock, the former U.S. ambassador to the USSR who retired from foreign service in 1991, touches on this subject in his 2010 book Superpower Illusions: How Myths and False Ideologies Led America Astray—And How to Return to Reality:

The Clinton administration’s decision to expand NATO to the East rather than draw Russia into a cooperative arrangement to The Other Side of Calv... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $23.98 Buy New $29.95 (as of 05:35 EDT - Details) ensure European security undermined the prospects of democracy in Russia, made it more difficult to keep peace in the Balkans and slowed the process of nuclear disarmament started by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev.

Two decisions in particular turned Russian public opinion during the years of the Clinton administration from strongly pro-American to vigorous opposition to American policies abroad. The first was the decision to extend the NATO military structure into countries that had previously been members of the Warsaw Pact—something Gorbachev had understood would not happen if he allowed a united Germany to remain in NATO. The second was the decision to bomb Serbia without authorization from the United Nations Security Council.

There was no need to expand NATO to ensure the security of the newly independent countries of Eastern Europe. There were other ways those countries could have been reassured and protected without seeming to re-divide Europe to Russia’s disadvantage.

Matlock also points out how George Kennan, the author of the “containment” policy, warned that enlarging NATO would be the “most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era.” King James, His Bible,... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $2.46 Buy New $61.01 (as of 05:45 EDT - Details)

But regardless of how NATO expands and regardless of what NATO does, the United States should withdraw from it, close its European military bases, and let the Europeans handle their own defense and security. Whether NATO is dissolved, continues in its current form, or morphs into something else is none of our concern. If the countries of Europe think they need to band together to combat what they think is Russian aggression against Ukraine, destroy ISIS, confront radical Islam, fight terrorism, or end global warming, it is none of our concern.

If an American of Ukrainian ancestry or any individual American doesn’t like what is happening in Ukraine, he can arm the government in Kiev with “lethal weapons,” go fight against the “pro-Russian separatists,” or donate money for others to do these things. But he must do it as an individual, not on behalf of all other Americans.

And why would any American get upset with anything that Russia has done since the demise of the Soviet Union without getting ten times as upset with the actions of his own government? The crimes of U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. military since that time are legion. As Dave Lindorff wrote of the U.S. government last year:

The US, at this point, after eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration and five years of the Obama administration, has forfeited any right to criticize any country over violations of international law, or even to criticize tyrannical regimes over their repression of their own citizens. The sad truth is that the US no longer has any moral or legal standing at all in the world. It stands these days fully exposed as a naked aggressor and trampler of international law globally and as a police state at home.

I write not in defense of Russia or Putin. I write in defense of the Europeans to have a NATO if they so choose, but without the money and military of the United States.