NATO Decline: Reality and Propaganda

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NATO requires its members to spend 2% of their GDP on military, but  only Estonia, Greece, Poland, the UK and US will do so in 2015

This article originally appeared at Katehon

During the last NATO summit in Wales in September 2014, the member states promised to keep their military budgets for the needs of alliance at not less than 2% of their annual GDPs.

NATO Decline: Reality and Propaganda

Latvia, the target of “Russian agression”, will spend just 1% of its GDP on military in 2015

But the official data from NATO’s projected 2015 expenditures shows that the vast majority of NATO states haven’t managed to hit the 2% target. Only Estonia, Greece, Poland, the UK and US have earmarked 2% or more. The remaining members have budgeted far less. For example, Belgium only spends 0.9%, despite having spent 1.5% in 1995-1999.

This logic clearly reflects that almost all NATO members are reluctant to believe in the alliance’s presumed needs for militarization and reorganization. Even amid the current crisis in relations between the EU and Russia and ongoing problems in the Mediterranean, there is a need for political action rather than military action.

Intuitively or rationally, Europeans aren’t complying

Business Insider notes that “The relative lack of military spending also frees NATO countries to spend on domestic programs, providing a social and economic baseline that could itself be a stabilizing factor in European affairs. But with Russia looming, the days of NATO’s ‘free rider’ status might have to come to a close.”

This means that Washington is going to put more pressure on the EU states to participate in NATO. Sticks and carrots will be used as standard instrument of US politics to “stimulate” all members of the alliance.

Ukraine is a special topic in European politics and presents a reason to think about the security dilemma. The classical “scapegoat” last year in the Western corporate media was Moscow. In any event, messages between senior EU officials and Kiev about the necessity of giving full autonomy to the Donbass region should be taken in context of understanding that the US just manipulates the EU through Brussels (both via NATO and the European Parliament). The irresponsible behavior of Ukrainian politicians who came to the power after February 2014 hasn’t been seen favorably by European leaders. The question of gas supplies and the overreached status of the country as a delinquent borrower which continues to seek funding from Europe and international institutions (IMF, World Bank) are key geopolitical problems, which will have a long term impact on international relations in the region.

Nevertheless, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO will increase practical aid to Ukraine. It is not about training assistance and data sharing. A new trust fund will be created to demine the fate of the country.

These are new and unplanned expenses, and the high level of corruption and cronyism inside the Ukrainian bureaucracy (which has been confirmed by senior officials within the current government) is also a clear signal to Europeans about the reality of this country.

Note that the OSCE has repeatedly documented Kiev’s violations of the ceasefire agreement. In light of these breeches of multi-lateral peacekeeping efforts, how can Europe synchronize its efforts with the government of the country with respect to NATO activity in Ukraine?

Against the background of current political processes, we see strong pro-NATO propaganda within non-member countries. Last week, it was announced that later this year Montenegro will join the alliance. The Balkans and Scandinavia have found themselves bombarded with anti-Russian PR campaigns while hybrid groups of politicians, scientists and activists are now in the active phase of promoting the NATO agenda, where facts and speculations are mixed in the melting pot.

Regina Karp from the Swedish Institute of International Affairs wrote some time ago that “It is time to take national security seriously and join the only strategically relevant security organization.”

She, together with her colleagues from the euro-atlanticist camp, is committed to dredging up Cold War myths and images.

But the problem is that NATO is not relevant; it’s just a relic of the Cold War. Its activities haven’t been successful, even in third world countries. Let’s remember its mission in Afghanistan: US troops are currently in the process of withdrawing, and the NATO contingent will be as well. What are the results of the operations, which have lasted over a decade? Peace and stability? Far from it. The intervention of NATO and the US in Afghanistan resulted in the presence of ISIS there and in the escalation of violence, because the Taliban is uneasy with this new product of radical Salafism (partially created because of US and EU involvement in the North Africa and Middle East).

Europe is now in a really difficult position. Its problems have less to do with allies and strategic partners and more to do with the Union’s own interests and economics. If the EU collapses, it’s likely to create a Domino effect. The foremost worry is a “Grexit” scenario, but Portugal has similar debt problems and there are more complicated issues at hand, such as the interests of the UK. The leaders of Europe, both in Brussels and in the individual capitals will have to carefully address European affairs, European interests and the future of Europe, but not on behalf of the Trojan horse the US has presented in the form of NATO or any other euro-atlantic institution.

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