Why the United States is so attached to NATO
Former French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud described the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a hammer in search of a nail. It was diplomatic language to say that NATO – the military alliance between 30 European and North American countries – had no reason to exist.
Originally designed to block Soviet expansionism, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 followed by the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 rendered the collective security alliance unnecessary.
Yet decades later, the United States proclaims that international security requires military readiness on the part of NATO members.
The last NATO summit in Brussels saw the United States ask each member state to spend the equivalent of two percent of its GDP on military spending. Currently, 11 of the 30 NATO members spend more than 2% on the military. The United States spends over $ 800 billion on “defense,” which is 3.52 percent of GDP.
Member states’ armaments spending is directed towards NATO-approved weapons, the specialty of American arms dealers.
NATO serves the entire military-industrial complex that plays such a key role in America’s political economy. Senators and key figures in Congress receive funding for the re-election campaigns of major manufacturers of military weapons. This makes them NATO supporters.
NATO’s expansion to the former Warsaw Pact countries – an eastern bloc of countries including the Soviet Union established during the Cold War to counter NATO – was sparked by arms manufacturers seeing a decline in their activities. This happened despite a solemn pledge to Russia by former US President George HW Bush that there would be no expansion after German reunification.
The arms manufacturers convinced US President Bill Clinton to break the US commitment to Russia. Of course, this move has exacerbated tensions with Moscow, making Russia a more threat than ever before.
NATO welcomed new members formerly into the Russian sphere of influence: the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004; Albania and Croatia in 2009; Montenegro in 2017; and, North Macedonia in 2020.
The Russians naturally interpreted NATO’s enlargement as a threat to its security. President Vladimir Putin has been able to exploit the growing concerns of the Russians to consolidate power.
Currently, in what amounts to a direct provocation from Russia, NATO recognizes three aspiring members: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine.
Over the years, NATO has served American presidents not for any particular military purpose, but as an embodiment of American hegemony – with all the influence that this entails in international affairs.
US nuclear capability has been brandished as a guarantee of European security, but it has also served as an instrument of persuasion among European leaders in international institutions and bilaterally on a multitude of issues such as trade, commerce and government. investment.
Survey data shows that large numbers of Europeans – like other citizens of the world – view the United States as the greatest threat to world peace. However, European leaders prefer not to publicly criticize American foreign policy, much less denounce the United States for its unnecessary military spending.
The Obama administration embarked on a high-profile “pivot to China” after deciding that China’s strong economic performance was a threat to US hegemony.
The result was that China decided to establish closer relations with Russia, signing long-term contracts for the delivery of Russian gas and the construction of pipelines between the two countries.
China has redoubled its efforts to improve its economic relations with emerging market economies through the Belt and Road Initiative, committing some $ 4.2 trillion in infrastructure loans.
The Biden administration’s response was unveiled at the recent G7 meeting: the “Build Back a Better World” or B3W program to promote cooperation on infrastructure projects.
From the 1960s, discussions of international affairs revolved around the idea that concerted action on common security issues should supplant military spending for national security.
NATO has been a major obstacle to moving beyond military spending and instead tackling climate change, environmental degradation, social and global inequalities and health issues.
While it now takes symbolic steps to acknowledge the reality of climate change, NATO’s role remains the same: to act as an instrument of US foreign policy, to promote the US arms industry, and to let the states- United dominate their allies in international politics.
Duncan Cameron is President Emeritus of canaille.ca and writes a weekly column on politics and current affairs.
Image credit: Office of the Prime Minister