Written by Patrick Armstrong; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org
In previous essays I argued that NATO tries to distract our attention from its crimes by accusing Russia of those crimes: this is “projection“. NATO manipulates its audience into thinking the unreal is real: this is “gaslighting“. NATO sees what it expects to see – Moscow’s statements that they will respond to medium range missiles emplaced next door are re-jigged as the “threats” which justify NATO’s earlier act: this is “confirmation bias“. And, finally, NATO thinks Russia is so weak it’s doomed and so strong that it is destroying the tranquillity of NATOLand: this is a sort of geopolitical “schizophrenia“. (I must acknowledge Bryan MacDonald’s marvellous neologism of Russophrenia – a condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world.)
I wrote the series partly to amuse the reader but with a serious purpose as well. And that serious purpose is to illustrate the absurdities that NATO expects us to believe. NATO here being understood as sometimes the headquarters “international staff”, sometimes all members in solemn conclave, sometimes some NATO members and associates. “NATO” has become a remarkably flexible concept: Libya was a NATO operation, even though Germany kept out of it. Somalia was not a NATO operation even though Germany was in it. Canada, a founding NATO member, was in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. Some interventions are NATO, others aren’t. The NATO alliance today is a box of spare parts from which Washington assembles its “coalitions of the willing”. It’s Washington’s beard.
NATO and its members are inexhaustible sources of wooden language and dishonesty. Take Washington’s demand that Iran get out of Syria while US forces stay there. Syria has a recognised government, that government invited Iran in; no one invited the USA and its minions in. A child could see the upside down nature of this: it’s a housebreaker demanding the host evict the guests and hand over their bedrooms. This, apparently, is what NATO calls the “rules-based order”. Here’s the American official insisting it’s all legal: “our forces are there under a set of legal and diplomatic documents… “; but he only mentions one and it’s an American one. Putin is condemned for saying “Whatever action a State takes bypassing this procedure are illegitimate, run counter to the UN Charter and defy international law“. We are expected to solemnly nod our heads rather than contemptuously laugh when unilateralism is meretriciously named “rules-based”. These inversions of reality are routinely fed to us by NATO and its mouthpieces.
A very recent revelation of NATO’s gaslighting is the Integrity Initiative (such a gaslighting name!) busy trolling away with a couple of million from the British taxpayer. Its remit, apparently, includes infiltrating political movements of an ally and it “defends democracy against disinformation” by smearing its own political actors with disinformation. Does Russia do this? Well there’s RT and Sputnik and “Russians” did spend nearly $5000 on Google and $7000 on Facebook fixing the US election. And almost one dollar on Brexit ads. And one should never forget the insidious effect of Masha and the Bear. But don’t dare laugh at these preposterous assertions: the BBC earnestly assures us that humour is Putin’s newest weapon. Against this mighty effort, there can be no vigilance too strong! The only way to protect our values is to trash them: defend freedom of thought by secretly planting fake stories, defend democracy by smearing the opposition as Russian stooges. Pure gaslighting, defended by projection and confirmation bias: “This kind of work attracts the extremely hostile and aggressive attention of disinformation actors, like the Kremlin and its various proxies“.
NATO hyperventilates about “Russia’s military activities, particularly along NATO’s borders“. Only in NATO’s counterfeit universe could this be imagined; in the real world Russia’s military is inside its own borders. Once again, the proper response is a contemptuous sneer rather than solemn head nodding.
NATO collectively and severally manifests a detachment from reality. Its website is full of pious assertions about being a defensive alliance that brings stability wherever it goes, replete with valuable values. And it always tells the truth. The reality? No rational person would regard Moscow’s concern about a military alliance creeping ever closer as “aggressive”. There is less stability in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan than before NATO entered them. Fooling around in Yugoslavia, Georgia and Ukraine have sparked actual shooting wars. NATO’s activities in Syria (illegal by any standards of international law, be it remembered) has not brought stability. More civilians killed, Raqqa obliterated, hospitals methodically destroyed. All “tragic accidents” of course; but don’t look here! look at Russia! Only in its imagination is NATO a bringer of stability. As to its values, they’re mutable – it’s good to break up Yugoslavia, invade Iraq and Afghanistan and destroy Libya but Crimeans taking the opportunity to return to Russia is a heinous crime. NATO’s so-called values are whatever NATO does. And as to NATO’s promises: well it did expand, didn’t it? (Here’s NATO’s official weasel-wording: “Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus and do not constitute formal NATO agreement”. And suddenly its narrative jumps to President Clinton. Wrong POTUS, actually; NATO’s caught gaslighting again.) Its intervention in Libya was very far from what the UN resolution approved: it was an armed intervention against the government on false pretences.
Here’s what NATO’s so-called “stability projection” has actually produced: riots in France, partly connected with the influx of “migrants” coming from the Libya that NATO destroyed. But, we supposed to believe it has nothing to do with NATO, it’s Putin! Only an idiot could believe that.
NATO had a purpose when it was formed, or at least it thought it did. It is true that, at war’s end where the Soviet Army stood “elections” were held and socialist or communist parties came to power and stayed in power. (Austria being an exception). There were at least two ways that one could understand this extension of Soviet power. One was that they were the actions of an expansionist hostile power that fully intended to go all the way to Cape Finisterre if it could and, if not prevented, would. In such an case the Western Allies would be fully justified in forming an defensive alliance to deter Soviet expansion. Another possible interpretation was that, after such a hard victory in so fearfully destructive a war, Moscow was determined that never again would its neighbours be used as an assembly area and start line for the forces of another Hitler. Such an interpretation would call for quite another approach from the Western Allies. We all know which of the two interpretations was followed by. I have speculated elsewhere that Reinhard Gehlen may have had a strong influence on that decision. But, for whatever reason, the NATO alliance was founded on that first assumption and it shaped the world in one direction rather than another.
Since the USSR broke up, taking with it NATO’s original raison d’être, NATO members, sometimes under the NATO flag and sometimes not, have helped break up Yugoslavia and Serbia, invaded Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Syria, destroyed Libya, incited a war in Georgia, carried out a coup d’etat in Ukraine and participate in the civil war there. That’s not stability. And, where NATO has set foot, it stays. KFOR is still bringing “peace and stability” in Year 19 and Kosovo is home to a huge US base. Afghanistan is in Year 15. Iraq is in Year 14. Syria is Year 4 and set to run forever. Ironically Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians are back in Afghanistan; different flag, same place. That’s not stability either.
And still the wooden language rolls out. But turn off your brain when you read it.
POLITICAL – NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
MILITARY – NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.
Has post-USSR NATO ever peacefully resolved a dispute? Anywhere? Any time? It’s always military power. What did Article 5 (an attack on one is an attack on all) have to do with NATO’s war on Libya? Did it attack one of them? How about Serbia? One can argue that someone in Afghanistan attacked the USA but who did in Iraq? As to “democratic values”, well, it will be amusing to watch NATO’s reactions to Ukraine President Poroshenko trying to avoid the election. And nobody likes to mention the pack of organ harvesters and drug runners NATO gave a whole country to.
If NATO were a human individual on the couch, a case could be made that it is living in a fantasy world in which everything is reversed.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Delenda NATO est!