THE WAR IN UKRAINE AND WHAT NATO’S “DEFENSIVE” ALLIANCE ACTUALLY MEANS



The rationale for the creation by the U.S. of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was that it would be a defensive alliance necessary to stop the former Soviet Union from invading Western Europe. However, when the Soviet empire collapsed in the late 1980s, if its claims were entirely truthful, then this organization would have been dismantled, its purported purpose now moot.

Instead, since the mid-1990s successive U.S. administrations have regularly pushed for NATO expansion in Eastern Europe. The Russians saw this as a betrayal of a promise made by the U.S. government on the collapse of the Berlin Wall that NATO would never advance “even one inch to the east”.

Ukraine is now a “close partner” and NATO reports providing “unprecedented levels” of military support to its government. Since 2014, NATO “has helped to reform Ukraine’s armed forces and defence institutions, including with equipment and financial support. Allies have also provided training for tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops [and] Ukrainian forces have also developed their capabilities by participation in NATO exercises and operations”.

The U.S. government has over the years created justification for wars when the international law does not authorize them, as with the bombing of Serbia, Russia’s closest Balkan ally, in 1999.

Curiously, there are some parallels between the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and what happened in Serbia in the late 1990s.

The first of more aggressive NATO unilateral interventions in that region, without U.N. backing, occurred in the war for independence of Kosovo against Serbia, in 1999. Since that war was illegal under international law, having not been authorised by the U.N. Security Council, western leaders spoke about the “innovatory quality” of that war.

In February 1999, NATO issued an ultimatum to Belgrave, demanding total autonomy for Kosovo and the right for its troops to occupy the entire territory of former Yugoslavia. It was an absurd demand that was intended to force the Serbs to reject it, as they did on 23 March 1999, and three days later NATO bombing began.

To justify that bombing, western leaders then claimed that a “racial genocide” was happening in Kosovo. That claim was unsubstantiated because “the total death toll turned out to be about 500, not including the several hundred Serbian and Albanian civilians whom NATO had killed with its bombs”.

According to John Laughland, an English political theorist, “just as millions had died for Bolshevism, many tens of thousands of lives were sacrificed to the West’s determination to see the post-modern and post-national constructivist project of Bosnian state-building succeed”. Opposed to the project of creating an independent Bosnia, “the Serbs represented an apparently reactionary national force, and existential threat to the new European ideology”, he says.

The post-war international system created after World War II was based on the “Nuremberg principles” of peaceful resolution of conflicts and equality of sovereign states. However, the invasion of Serbia by the U.S. and its allies was intended to overthrow these principles of international law.

Of course, the war in Kosovo was waged in support of its Muslim population which was said to be suffering persecution at the hands of the Serbian authorities. To do battle with them, NATO formed an alliance with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a radical paramilitary group which was heavily involved with drug- and people-smuggling and had its roots in the Maoist regime of Enver Hoxha in neighboring Albania.

Perceiving a natural parallel between the situation in Ukraine and NATO’s intervention in Serbia, in 1999, at the end of February 2014 Russian military forces occupied the Crimea after the pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych, was unconstitutionally removed from office in February 2014 in a U.S.-backed coup d’état.

When the U.S.-backed coup succeeded in expelling Ukraine’s elected president, the Russians almost immediately retaliated by annexing the Crimea, in March 2014, but only after a popular referendum that was not recognized by the U.S. and its western allies. Crimeans, who mostly speak Russian, voted overwhelmingly to join the Russian Federation in a referendum in which 97 per cent of the people voted for reunion with Russia.

Writing for The American Conservative, foreign policy expert Dominick Sansone comments:

“The move into Crimea came as a response, to secure Russia’s key naval interests in the warm-water port at Sevastopol. The coinciding uprisings in the Donbas were additionally a response to the situation in Kiev … The official position of the Kremlin has subsequently been that these ethnically Russian citizens should not be forced to live under the rule of an illegitimate rebel group that illegally came to power by overthrowing the duly elected government”.

Arguably, the consequences of that U.S.-backed coup in 2014 should be blamed, at least in part, for Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. “With regards to Ukraine”, writes John J. Mearsheimer, professor of political science and international relations at the University of Chicago:

“It’s very important to understand that, up until 2014, we did not envision NATO expansion and E.U. expansion as a policy that was aimed at containing Russia. Nobody seriously thought that Russia was a threat before February 22, 2014. What happened is that this major crisis broke out, and we had to assign blame, and of course we were never going to blame ourselves. We were going to blame the Russians so we invented this story that Russia was bent on aggression in Eastern Europe”.

Be that as it may, after the occupation of Crimea with the support of its population, NATO gave more than US$ 3 billion in military aid to the present Ukrainian regime, helping it to modernize its weaponry and train its troops in joint military exercises.

To make it worse, the Zelensky regime in Ukraine has recently applied for NATO membership, although, as Rod Dreher correctly points out in The American Conservative, “there is no strategic benefit to the West in increasing the likelihood of NUCLEAR WAR WITH RUSSIA” (emphasis his).

Apparently, the same military complex which got us into disastrous incursions in Iraq and Afghanistan has now gotten us into an even bigger mess in Ukraine. Let’s hope and pray the result is not another World War.

FOR A FULL, FOOTNOTED VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE, VISIT THE WEBSITE OF CALDRON POOL.

Prof Augusto Zimmermann PhD

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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