The story appears on

Page A7

April 1, 2014

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Opinion » Foreign Views

It’s NATO, not Russia, that poses threat to peace and security

WHEN Crimea chose to join Russia, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called it “the gravest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War. Rasmussen should be more introspective. In 2008, Putin called the expansion of NATO a “direct threat to our country’s security.”

Putin is right that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a threat; not just to Russia, but to the West itself.

Western national security hawks are quick to point to Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and now its invasion of Ukraine, as evidence that Russian expansionism needs to be countered by an aggressive West. It’s a very convenient argument. Many of these same hawks have been pushing for NATO expansion long before Russia pushed back.

Western expansion

Since the end of the Cold War, it has been the West, not Russia, that has continued expanding its scope of influence. In 1990, US Secretary of State James Baker, discussing the inclusion of a unified Germany in NATO, said, “If we maintain a presence in a Germany that is a part of NATO, there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east.”

German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said at the time, “For us, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.”

Since then, NATO has expanded three more times, adding 12 more countries.

Even the overthrow of the Ukrainian government has been supported by America and Europe rhetorically and financially. The Obama administration has spent over US$100 million on democracy-related programs in Ukraine, and they promised aid to Ukraine’s unelected pro-Western interim government. It’s only rational that Russia doesn’t want multiple NATO-allied countries directly on its borders and that Russia would try to prevent that situation.

Bad for US, Europe

The expansion of NATO, however, isn’t just bad for Russia’s self-interest, it’s also not in America’s or Europe’s own national interest.

For Ukraine to join NATO would mean that NATO members would have to defend Ukraine militarily if Ukraine were attacked. Do America and Europe really want to get pulled into a conflict there?

Russia today does not pose a threat to Europe. Russia’s economy and military spending pale in comparison to that of the West. The original purpose of NATO is no more. Without a Soviet threat, NATO has struggled to define itself. It has been used for whatever conflict the big Western powers decide to fight at any time.

“The US and NATO have literally authorized themselves to go to war anywhere in the world,” Canadian analyst Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya wrote in the book “The Globalization of NATO.”

Even for America, the conflicts are wearing thin. Adding each new member adds more commitments to a war-weary nation. The United States and Europe need to end their failed efforts towards expanding NATO and the EU. It is not only in the interest of the world that they do so; it is in their own interests.

The author is a freelancer in Hong Kong. The views are his own.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend