Thursday, December 1, 2016

'NATO, an aggressive organization in search of a mission' Jim Jatras

NATO is a product of the Cold War. It does not fit into our time anymore. My party and other parties; we can imagine a treaty which is for defense but not against Russia but more or less against another kind of threats, for example, terrorism…We should rearrange NATO and give NATO another structure and philosophy. In NATO there are still a lot of people in power who are attached to this old philosophy.Joachim Paul, from Alternative for Germany Party (AfD)
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/368063-nato-russia-threat-europe/

"NATO is essentially a tool of Washington to maintain control over Europe in security affairs" Jatras
© Yves Herman
Donald Trump has said that NATO is obsolete because it is not really defending its members’ territory against Islamic terrorism, which is the only real threat Europe suffers, Jim Jatras, former US diplomat and geopolitical analyst, told RT.
Washington says it is worried about Moscow's deployment of Iskander short-range ballistic missile in Russia's western exclave of Kaliningrad in response to new US cruise missiles being placed just across the border.
Tension with Moscow is not the only thing bothering the military alliance.
With a new US president soon to enter the White House, Western media is raising concerns over his plans for NATO. The European elites are growing increasingly worried about what any changes Trump may bring to the NATO alliance.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Stoltenberg urged NATO members to follow the British example and contribute two percent of GDP to the military alliance.
Besides the UK, Poland, Estonia, Greece, and the United States are the only members of the 28-country alliance meeting the two percent threshold. The US contributes the highest proportion of its GDP to the military block, some 3.61 percent, according to NATO’s 2015 Annual Report.
RT: What do you make of Western media raising fears over Donald Trump’s plans for NATO?
Jim Jatras: When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact were out of business in 1991, NATO should have gone out of business as well. That didn’t happen. Unfortunately, NATO doesn’t have any particular function as a defensive organization - as we saw in Bosnia and Kosovo - it has behaved as an aggressive organization. It is an organization in search of a mission. Right now, we have Donald Trump who said that it is obsolete because it is not really defending its members’ territory against Islamic terrorism which is the only real threat Europe suffers. So frankly, what good is it?
NATO is a product of the Cold War. It does not fit into our time anymore. My party and other parties; we can imagine a treaty which is for defense but not against Russia but more or less against another kind of threats, for example, terrorism…We should rearrange NATO and give NATO another structure and philosophy. In NATO there are still a lot of people in power who are attached to this old philosophy.Joachim Paul, from Alternative for Germany Party (AfD)
RT: Why are the European elites concerned about changes Trump may bring to the NATO alliance?
JJ: It seems that there is still a very strong consensus for NATO in the American political establishment. Part of this is simply inertia that it is something that has been around forever. And let’s keep in mind: NATO is essentially a tool of Washington to maintain control over Europe in security affairs. Remember back in the 1990s, the EU indicated it wanted to develop its own defense capability, and that provoked near panic in Washington. The Washington establishment moved very quickly to quash any such independence from the Europeans and to insist that security affairs must be governed by NATO and only NATO as the premier security organization in Europe. The Europeans could help out if they wanted to, but they were not in control of the process.
RT: If we imagine that NATO breaks up one day, what could be the consequences?
JJ: If NATO actually breaks up, then we would see the assertion of more national interests based policy of its various member-states who will be promoting their own sovereign state interests and not basically subservient to a bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels and even more so in Washington. I think it is also very interesting to see what is happening to NATO’s twin – “Euro-Atlantic organization” – the EU, which is under threat of a break up with the British withdrawal, with the hopeful election of Marine Le Pen in France next year. I think we have many Europeans saying that ‘We want our country back.’
RT: The US claims that NATO is a “defensive alliance” that is not threatening Moscow. Is that true? Is it defending Europe?
JJ: Defend themselves from whom? One of the criticisms that Donald Trump has made of European countries and NATO is that they don’t spend the two percent threshold on defense which he considers rightly to be free-loading on the US. Why don’t they spend that much? These are wealthy countries. They can spend that money if they want to. Even Greece, which is not in a very good position, is actually one of the countries that does spend more than the threshold because they do perceive the threat, but from Turkey, a fellow NATO member. The reason these countries don’t spend the money is because they don’t feel threatened. For all the hype of a so-called Russian threat, with the absence of maybe Poland and the Baltic States, nobody in Europe feels threatened by Russia or any other external threat. The only real threat they face is the threat of terrorism. And NATO doesn’t seem to know what to do about that.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Europe Turns Towards Russia in Major Foreign Policy

Europe Turns Towards Russia in Major Foreign Policy Change

Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, believes that Europe does not need to dependent on US foreign policy regarding its relationship with Russia.
In his interview with Euronews, the EU Commission President said that he «would like to have an agreement with Russia that goes beyond the ordinary framework, bearing in mind that without Russia, there is no security architecture in Europe». Mr. Juncker noted that «Russia must be treated as one big entity, as a proud nation». The president emphasized that he «would like to have discussions on a level footing with Russia». He thinks that President Obama was wrong saying that Russia was only «a regional power».
There are reasons to make Mr. Juncker make such a statement at this particular moment.
With Donald Trump in office, the US European policy on is expected to go through drastic changes and a period of uncertainty will last in Washington at least until January 20.
This is also the time the so-called «pro-Russian» politicians gaining more clout in the Old Continent. Actually, they are not exactly pro-Moscow but rather pro-national, putting national interests at the top spots of their priority lists. For them, the interests of their countries are more important than the priorities of the US or the EU. They believe that normalizing the relations with Moscow is what meets the national interests to make it part of foreign policy plans.
Two weeks ago, such leaders came to power in Bulgaria and Moldova. The EU’s image has been damaged in both countries, where the public perceives economic progress as too slow and sees a failure to tackle corruption by nominally pro-EU leaders.
Fran├žois Fillon - a politician advocating rapprochement between Russia and the EU - won the center-right nomination for French presidency on November 27. His victory means that two «pro-Russia» candidates - Fran├žois Fillon and Marine Le Pen – will probably face each other off at the presidential election in April 2017.
A presidential election will take place in Austria on December 4. Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party has a good chance to win. According to what he has said during the election campaign, Mr. Hofer will consider pulling out of the EU and visit Moscow, if elected president. He promised «to show my strong commitment to the withdrawal of sanctions against Russia because I am firmly convinced that sanctions hinder communication».
If the Italian referendum on December 4 says «no» to the major government overhaul plans, then a snap election will become a possibility to benefit the Italy's Northern League party, which advocates the improvement of relations with Russia. Its leader, Matteo Salvini, has visited Moscow and Crimea a number of times and called for lifting the EU-imposed sanctions.
Some signs to confirm the trend of changing EU’s policy on Russia are largely kept out headlines. In late October, the EU lifted a cap on Gazprom's use of the Opal pipeline in Germany, opening the way for Russia to expand Nord Stream's capacity and bypass Ukraine as a gas transit route. The Nord Stream-2 has been recently supported by London. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is an outspoken advocate of the project.
It has been reported recently that large Western companies, like IKEA, Leroy Merlin, Mars, Pfizer, have started to reinvest in Russia. They are pumping billions of dollars into Russian economy expecting the consumer demand in the country to grow.
There are calls to address European security concerns. A large group of European leaders has recently called for launching a dialogue with Moscow on a new arms control treaty within the framework of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). There is also a group of EU members who have started to openly challenge the anti-Russia sanctions policy.
There are NATO members who express their will to develop military cooperation with Russia. Turkey - a NATO member - has stated it mulls turning towards the Shanghai Cooperation Organization led by Russia and China, instead of trying to join the EU «at all costs».
All these events testify to the fact that NATO and the EU have started a turn towards Moscow. The cooling period of Russia-West relations is becoming a thing of the past giving way to more pragmatic approaches. Mr. Juncker stated the obvious fact – the rapprochement between Russia and Europe is one of the trends shaping the contemporary political landscape in Europe.
Meanwhile, the idea to recognize Russia as a global power and make it part of the global US-Russia-China equation is floated among US foreign policy pundits. In his recent MSNBC’s «Morning Joe» comments, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a well-known foreign policy guru, said, «America is needed to pull together some larger coalition that can deal with global problems. And in that larger coalition America, China and changing Russia could be preeminent». Actually, what Mr. Brzezinski suggests makes remember the Yalta Conference held in February, 1945.
Indeed, the «big three» format talks is the right place to address global issues: trade, finances and global security architecture. Will Mr. Trump listen to what foreign policy pundits say? Anyway, the pivot to Russia is becoming a global trend.