Sputnik & Reuters – 2016-02-14 01:24:44
Washington’s NATO Agenda for Europe
Is ‘Worse Than the Cold War’
MOSCOW (February 11, 2016) — NATO’s policy of European expansion put the region on a path to war, and are cooked up in Washington before being signed off by leaders in Europe without any democratic input, political writer Diana Johnstone told Sputnik.
NATO’s policy of expanding its European presence is devised in Washington, which then forces its will on European leaders, Diana Johnstone, a Paris-based political writer specializing on European politics and Western foreign policy, told Radio Sputnik.
“NATO is relentlessly pursuing its own fictional version of the world. It speaks of some separate world where Russia is a threat and they have to respond to it. None of this has anything to do with either the reality of Russia behavior, or with the people of European countries.”
“There is very little if any media coverage of this sort of thing, these very dangerous policies that could lead to war are being made over the heads of the Europeans with frankly orders coming from Washington.”
Johnstone called the recent proposal by Turkey and Germany for NATO to help control the migrant crisis by carrying out maritime patrols in the Aegean Sea “quite ironic, because NATO is very much part of the migrant crisis.”
Johnstone cited NATO interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria as the major causes of the current refugee and migration crisis, as well as problems in the region caused by Turkey, another NATO member.
“You cause disaster and then you come in to do something about it. I cannot believe in anything beneficial from NATO.”
“I’m very suspicious when NATO says it’s going to go anywhere to do anything, because usually it comes out doing something even worse than it said it was going to do.”
Johnstone also expressed her suspicions about the outcome of assistant US secretary of state Victoria Nuland’s visit to European capitals this week; on Wednesday she arrived in Warsaw to meet Polish government officials. Nuland is traveling on to Germany on Friday to join John Kerry at the Munich Security Conference, and will also accompany Kerry to the Albanian capital Tirana on Sunday.
“She’s a notorious neocon” and her visit to Europe serves several purposes, including the sale of weapons to form part of a “military Keynesianism” for Europe that is also proposed by George Soros, Johnstone said.
“Of course spending money on military buildup means in fact purchasing American weapons in order to have them all fit together, so this is also a sales pitch for European countries to buy military equipment and hardware to threaten Russian with it.”
“Of course it’s not the Cold War but it’s something even worse because it’s a military buildup against Russia which has no ideological pretext as it did when Russia was communist, now it’s simply based on false information or distortions.”
A World of Pure Imagination:
NATO Rhetoric About Russian Threat is ‘Absurd’
MOSCOW (February 12, 2016) — The justification for the latest NATO buildup in Eastern Europe — the idea of the so-called ‘Russian threat’ to Eastern Europe is “simply absurd,” according to former US diplomat and Senate policy advisor Jim Jatras. Effectively, Jatras says, the buildup is an attempt by the US to keep Germany and France in line.
On Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the alliance plans to significantly strengthen its presence on its eastern flank. The official described the buildup, featuring increased air and naval patrols, more exercises, and “more boots on the ground,” as “the most significant boost to our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.”
Asked for comment, Jim Jatras, a former US diplomat and long-time foreign policy adviser to the US Senate Republican leadership, told the Russian foreign broadcaster RT that Washington’s main aim appears to be to prevent a rapprochement between Moscow and Europe.
“Let’s remember, NATO is an American-run operation. And I think what we are seeing here is the US teaming up with some of our newer allies in the East — the Poles, the Balts, the Romanians, to some extent the Turks — to try to make sure that there is not a rapprochement between some of the core members, like Germany and France, with Moscow,” Jatras explained.
“And this unfortunately means escalating tensions, playing silly games with whether the deployment in Eastern Europe will be a ‘rotation’ or permanent deployment as the Poles would like,” the foreign policy analyst added. “I think this is simply more brinksmanship and more escalation of tension for NATO to justify its existence.”
With the Russian envoy to NATO saying that Moscow “won’t compromise its security interests,” and other senior officials noting that Russia would be forced to “strengthen its defensive potential,” in the form of the nuclear deterrent, RT asked Jatras whether NATO’s moves signal the danger of escalation.
“Absolutely,” the analyst responded, “and that’s why I think this is really irresponsible.”
“For example, when we are talking about this deployment in Eastern Europe but [also] increased activities in the Black Sea and cooperation with Turkeyâ€¦the prospects of something happening accidentally go up dramatically,” especially given the Turkish president’s unpredictability.
When asked whether some sort of compromise can be found Friday during the meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Mr. Stoltenburg in Munich, Jatras said that it’s unlikely.
“Again, [regarding the idea that] ‘NATO has no hostile intentions toward Russia’: How would we feel if some extra-continental power put an allied country and its troops right on our borders here in the US? We would not be reassured by them saying ‘that’s ok; we don’t intend to threaten you anyway.’
“The whole question here is why NATO is doing this — is there any credible Russian threat to Poland, to the Baltic states. This is simply absurd. And I think those assurances mean absolutely nothing.”
Ultimately, the analyst notes, Washington’s Eastern European allies, especially Poland and the Baltic states, favor the NATO buildup. “Unfortunately, this also plays into the intra-European politics where Poland, for example, is having its problems with Germany and with Brussels and they want to turn to the big brother — the US, to come and reinforce them.”
“It also unfortunately meets with the agenda of American policymakers which is to make sure that Europeans, especially the Germans and the French, stay on the reservation. So, we don’t mind teaming up with some of these smaller ‘new Europe countries’ that can help keep everybody in line,” Jatras concludes.
NATO Ramps Up Military Forces
Near Russia to Cold War Levels
Francois Lenoir / Reuters
BRUSSELS (February 10, 2016) — NATO defense ministers, meeting in Brussels Wednesday, are due to confirm a huge buildup of its military presence to Cold War levels in what it calls “an enhanced forward presence in the eastern part of the alliance.”
NATO has been gradually building up its forces in Europe for over a decade, but has recently undertaken a huge increase in its presence in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe. The NATO Response Force (NRF) was originally set up following the Prague summit in 2002 as a multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces (SOF) that could deploy quickly.
Since then, there has been a steady buildup of forces, particularly around Russia. NATO Allies decided to enhance the NRF in 2014 by creating a “Spearhead Force” within it, known as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).
In June 2015, the alliance held a huge exercise in the Baltic, with 49 ships, 61 aircraft, one submarine, and a combined amphibious landing force of 700 US Finnish and Swedish troops alongside NATO partners Finland, Georgia and Sweden. Overall, 5,600 troops took part.
n November 2015, the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Slovakia have called for an increased NATO presence in Eastern Europe and the Baltic. The defense ministers meeting in Brussels Wednesday are due to confirm plans for a massive presence in the Baltic and Eastern Europe region.
Eight New Headquarters in Eastern Europe
British media reported ahead of the meeting that five UK warships and about 530 Royal Navy personnel will be sent as part of what sources described as “NATO’s largest military buildup in eastern Europe since the Cold War.”
At a press conference before the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO was: “increasing our presence in the eastern part of the alliance with more assurance measures meaning planes, air policing, naval presence in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, increased naval presence and also more boots on the ground with more exercises and troops.
“And we are also increasing our ability to reinforce, we have tripled the size of the NATO Response Force to around 40,000 troops and this is a force which can move quickly and the core element or the lead element is the Spearhead Force which can move within a couple of days,” Stoltenberg said.
The ministers are due to announce the formation of eight headquarter units in eight Eastern European countries and are due to discuss a further increase of its presence in the “eastern part of the alliance and also to increase our defense and deterrence posture by this combination of forward presence and ability to reinforce if needed.”
Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has admitted to its alliance the former Warsaw Pact states of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania and Croatia.
Russian ‘Threat’: Every Time Pentagon
Needs More Money a ‘Bad Guy’ Appears
Danielle Ryan / Sputnik
MOSCOW (February 9, 2016) — A nonsensical story of Russia’s potential invasion of the Baltics has caught a second breath in Western mass media just a day after the Pentagon announced it would seek to quadruple its budget for Europe in 2017. Coincidence? Irish journalist Danielle Ryan does not think so.
There is something mysterious about the unanimity demonstrated by the Western media and think tanks in the past few days regarding the prospects of a Russian invasion of the Baltics.
Nothing hinted at any trouble in July 2015, when Financial Times finally admitted that the Kremlin is obviously not planning to rebuild the Russian or Soviet Empire in “a literal sense” anytime soon.
“A piece published by the Financial Times last July admitted that the ‘consensus’ among diplomats and analysts was that Putin had ‘not embarked on a rampage’ to recreate an empire ‘as some feared last year’,” Danielle Ryan, an Irish freelance journalist and media analyst, narrates in her article for RT.
“Given that new-found consensus, one might have suspected that the lull in stories about a forthcoming invasion could be chalked up to journalists deciding to put the subject to rest — but one would have been wrong. For they were back last week with a vengeance,” she continues.
Indeed, on February 3, the UK’s BBC broadcasted a controversial show that simulated a Russian invasion of Latvia, accompanied by a nuclear attack on Britain.
On the same day, the RAND Corporation, an influential American think tank released a report saying that Russia is able to overrun the Baltic NATO member-states in 60 hours.
Ryan calls attention to the fact that a month ago, the Atlantic Council — “whose primary founding aim is to defend NATO interests” — began to bang the drums over Russia’s imaginary imperial designs for the Baltic states.
“Most anxieties focus on the Baltic states as Russia’s next potential military target,” Stephen Blank, a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, warned. “The piece was then re-published by Newsweek with the headline: ‘Counting down to a Russian invasion of the Baltics’,” Ryan points out.
So, what was the root cause of the propaganda campaign?
According to the journalist the answer is obvious: on February 2, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Pentagon would seek to quadruple its budget for Europe in 2017. The pretext for the increase is a “military threat” posed by Russia to Central and Eastern Europe.
“This happens every time the Pentagon wants more money to play with. Various ‘studies’ about the danger posed by whichever bad guy is in fashion start appearing. Experts suddenly realize that the US military is drastically underfunded in said area of immediate strategic importance.
“Officials begin making even more outlandish statements than usual. And the media eat it up, apparently completely unaware of the fact that they are being taken for a ride,” Ryan underscores.
In light of this, the question arises why, for God’s sake, would Russia attack the Baltics?
“So what would Russia gain from attacking the Baltics?” Doug Bandow, a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, asked in his op-ed for The National Interest, commenting on the RAND report.
“[Russia would gain] a recalcitrant, majority non-ethnic Russian population. A possible temporary nationalist surge at home. A likely short-lived victory over the West. The costs would be far greater. Grabbing the Baltics likely would spur population exodus and trigger economic collapse,” Bandow stressed, highlighting the absurdity of the assumption.
Unfortunately, the voice of reason is being silenced.
“We need to understand more and condemn less,” Kent University Professor Richard Sakwa wrote in his letter to the Guardian last week, as quoted by Ryan. The academic argued that constant “demonization” of Russia would only deteriorate the current state of affairs.
“We note with alarm that public discourse about Russia is colored by militaristic and dangerous terms which may talk us into war. The country’s portrayal as an aggressive power increases its perception of threat, accelerating a military and ideological escalation. Irresponsible talk of conflict is risky and mistaken,” Sakwa underscored.
However, his letter remains largely unnoticed placed in the ‘Letters’ section, while leading articles continue to fan the flames.
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