The worst political effect is much broader. The impression is now created that “the West”, Europe and North America, are barricading themselves by a military alliance against the rest of the world. In retrospect, the French dissent accomplished a service to the whole West by giving the impression, or the illusion, that independent thought and action were still possible, and that someone in Europe might listen to what other parts of the world thought and said. Now, this “closing of ranks”, hailed by the NATO champions as “improving our security”, will sound the alarms in the rest of the world.
The empire seems to be closing its ranks in order to rule the world. The United States and its allies do not openly claim to rule the world, only to regulate it. The West controls the world’s financial institutions, the IMF and the World Bank. It controls the judiciary, the International Criminal Court, which in six years of existence has put on trial only one obscure Congolese warlord and brought charges against 12 other persons, all of them Africans – while meanwhile the United States causes the deaths of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of people in Iraq and Afghanistan and supports Israel’s ongoing aggression against the Palestinian people. To the rest of the world, NATO is just the armed branch of this enterprise of domination. And this at a time when the Western-dominated system of financial capitalism is bringing the world economy to collapse.
This gesture of “showing Western unity” for “our security” can only make the rest of the world feel insecure. Meanwhile, NATO moves every day to surround Russia with military bases and hostile alliances, notably in Georgia. Despite the smiles over dinner with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, Hillary Clinton repeats the stunning mantra that “spheres of influence are not acceptable” – meaning, of course, that the historic Russian sphere of interest is unacceptable, while the United States is vigorously incorporating it into its own sphere of influence, called NATO.
Already China and Russia are increasing their defense cooperation. The economic interests and institutional inertia of NATO are pushing the world toward a pre-war lineup far more dangerous than the Cold War.
The lesson NATO refuses to learn is that its pursuit of enemies creates enemies. The war against terrorism fosters terrorism. Surrounding Russian with missiles proclaimed “defensive” – when any strategist knows that a shield accompanied by a sword is also an offensive weapon – will create a Russian enemy.
The Search for Threats
To prove to itself that it is really “defensive”, NATO keeps looking for threats. Well, the world is a troubled place, thanks in large part to the sort of economic globalization imposed by the United States over the past decades. This might be the time to be undertaking diplomatic and political efforts to work out internationally agreed ways of dealing with such problems as global economic crisis, climate change, energy use, hackers (“cyberwar”). NATO think tanks are pouncing on these problems as new “threats” to be dealt with by NATO. This leads to a militarization of policy-making where it should be demilitarized.
For example, what can it mean to meet the supposed threat of climate change with military means? The answer seems obvious: military force may be used in some way against the populations forced from their homes by drought or flooding. Perhaps, as in Darfur, drought will lead to clashes between ethnic or social groups. Then NATO can decide which is the “good” side and bomb the others. That sort of thing.