Part 4q. US and NATO policymakers blame Putin, and not themselves, for violating the post-cold war settlement

 

False Bias #17. This Confrontation Is Not America’s or NATO’s Fault. Russia Is to Blame for “Rolling Back” the Post-Cold War Settlement. In his January 29, 2019 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee for the Senate Hearing of the National Defense Strategy, Damon Wilson, at the time executive vice-president of the pro-NATO Atlantic Council, and currently the President of the National Endowment for “Democracy,” claimed: “Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is determined to roll back the post-Cold War settlement, undermine the sovereignty of former Soviet states, and overturn the US-led rules-based order that has kept Western Europe secure since the end of WWII and enlarged to countries of Central and Eastern Europe after 1989.”

This is one of the most preposterous statements I’ve heard, though so many of these US “experts’” quotes are so wildly false that it’s hard to rank them. What post-Cold War settlement exactly is Russia determined to roll back? It’s been NATO who’s been rolling east across Europe into Slavic lands! And why in the world is Russia expected to observe a US-led rules-based order? How could a US-led rules-based order possibly have been part of any post-Cold War settlement?

In this essay we’ll focus on Wilson’s claims about the “post-Cold War settlement rollback” and the implied loss of European security. In the next essay, we’ll look at the “US-led rules-based order.” As we analyze Wilson’s claims, let’s consider the Mental Escalators of Violence in US foreign policymakers’ minds that cause them to steer the planet directly towards increased hostility and conflict. We’ve already discussed several of these Mental Escalators of Violence, introduced in the earlier essay Part 4B. Here let’s look at another approach by applying the work of Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward, who wrote about Transactional Analysis, a type of psychological analysis developed by Eric Berne.

One example taken from Transactional Analysis and James and Jongeward’s book, Born to Win, was already used in the first group of essays/videos on this topic of the Ukraine crisis. I talked about a “cultural script” in which US foreign policy and media makers are playing out the false drama that “we are noble heroes who must use violence to rescue innocent Ukrainians, freedom, and democracy from evil Russia.” This popular drama flooding US mainstream media currently serves to falsely justify weapon shipments and sanctions in reaction to Russia.[1]

Transactional Analysis (TA) divides the personality into three states, the Parent Ego State, the Adult Ego State, and the Child Ego State. Each of these states has particular characteristics, and I’ll explain them because we’re going to apply them to an evaluation of the psychological maturity of US foreign policy and Wilson’s claims.

According to Berne’s theory, the first state that humans develop as infants is the child ego, which consists of the positive and negative programming received from one’s own natural childlike impulses, including affection, warmth, laughter, playfulness, curiosity, aggression, fear, impatience, and selfishness, as well as the positive and negative childhood adaptations one made to repress one’s impulses and abide by others’ rules and expectations.

Next, young children develop the parent ego, which consists of the positive and negative programming received from one’s parents, including their nurturance, love, anger, sense of responsibility, strictness, rules, prejudices, values, ignorance, and wisdom.

As children grow they next develop the adult ago, which largely consists of the objective gathering of information and the rational, calm analysis of information; it’s organized, adaptable, and dispassionate.[2]

The ideal state is a certain mix of these three, which James and Jongeward describe as a “fully integrated adult ego.” I’ll simply call it the “wise ego.” In this state, the individual is maximizing her human potential by retaining only the positive features of both the child and parent egos and also by developing the positive features of the adult ego. She’s free from negative features of the parent ego, such as being biased, narrow-minded, punitive, and overly critical, and free from negative features of the child ego, such as being impatient, self-centered, self-indulgent, fearful, and aggressive.

However, the wise ego doesn’t screen out child and parent ego features completely, for that would result in a person who’s only an adult ego and simply a data-processing machine devoid of charm, playfulness, affection, joy, wisdom, nurturance, and experience. Instead, she retains positive features of the parent and child ego, such as the parent ego’s sense of responsibility and nurturance and the child ego’s feelings of affection, spontaneity, and playfulness—features that have been filtered through the adult ego and accepted as worthwhile. Frankly, it brings to mind 5th grade, when suddenly my classmates didn’t want to play tag at the bus stop anymore. I think they were mistaking a lack of playfulness and warmth for maturity. So they just stuck their hands in their pockets and looked grim.

In the wise ego state, the adult ego is in the driver’s seat, the decision-making position. That ego has spent time and energy becoming aware of the parent and child egos, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of various parts of these egos, integrating the positive aspects, and filtering out negative aspects. In each situation, the adult ego governs behavior by choosing from the broad repertoire of positive parent, adult, and child ego behaviors and ideas.[3]

Now apply this analysis to reflect upon US and foreign policymakers, militant group leaders, speakers, preachers, and talk show hosts advocating particular foreign policies. Do any exhibit a wise ego?

Without a wise ego, the individual or group will have an inability to maturely and rationally analyze information and therefore will:

Fail to search for and candidly share the full truth;

Manipulate others with partial truths;

Make decisions based upon prejudice and fear rather than truth and analysis;

Engage in black-and-white thinking that indulges in parent ego prejudices;

Scapegoat others instead of responsibly assigning fault.

Without a wise ego that has screened out the negative and retained the positive human relations features of the parent and child egos, the individual and nation may likely:

 

Lash out with impatience and aggression;

Lack a sense of responsibility and caring toward others;

Lack concern about harming others;

Demonstrate an inability to rise above both sides in conflict to create the best outcome for all;

Lack ethical behavior.

What do you think, Reader?  Do any world leaders pass the test of having a wise ego? And why can’t this test be a part of the campaign process?

In terms of Transactional Analysis, how would you evaluate US behavior towards Russia in the current Ukraine crisis? In my opinion, US policymakers’ behavior towards Russia, in fact, towards any group or nation considered an enemy, has routinely featured a combination of the negative elements of the parent ego—prejudiced, obsessed about control, hasty and shallow in judgment, and punitive, and the negative elements of the child ego—impatient, self-indulgent, and aggressive, like the self-centered child who wants everything his way.

Clearly, US foreign policy and media makers lack wise egos, and this absence places a major drag on our nation’s and world’s true potential for peace and justice. In fact, they’re making a similar mistake to my school classmates: they think they’re being mature by throwing away playfulness, warmth, friendliness, and curiosity—all positive characteristics of the child ego, and they’re making the mistake of retaining self-centeredness, self-indulgence, and aggression—the negative characteristics of the child ego. They likely perceive their prejudiced outlooks and punitiveness toward so-called enemies as mature, when these are merely negative features of the parent ego.

Consequently, US policymakers—or at least those policymakers who dominate US policymaking—are unable to gather comprehensive information from all perspectives, review the information rationally and impartially, and make responsible, reasonable, unbiased decisions. Similarly, media makers are unable to produce news reports based on comprehensive, impartial information. The capacity for intelligent analysis and decision-making in our nation’s highest offices of government and mainstream media is totally and frightfully absent.

Why frightful? Well, add to the undeveloped, unwise ego the ingredients of groupthink conformity, a massive weapon industry, and access to billions in tax payer dollars, and you’ve a dangerous, deadly recipe capable of destroying the entire planet. In their own eyes, US policymakers feel that being Mr. Tough Guy exporting weapons, developing nuclear warheads, and shooting down enemies is adultlike and serious, but those are merely negative behaviors of the child ego—aggression, impatience, fear, and self-centeredness, combined with negative behaviors of the parent ego—unwarranted hatred, prejudice, and punitiveness.

Let’s you and I objectively consider the current facts with regard to Wilson’s statement, as ones with wise egos would do. Wilson accuses Russia of rolling back the “post-Cold War Settlement” and undoing a certain state of alleged order that has kept Europe “secure.” Yet it was NATO who went back on verbal assurances in 1990 that it would not expand further east than East Germany if West and East Germany were reunited. In his 2007 Munich speech, President Vladimir Putin states: “I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said that at the time that: ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.’ Where are those guarantees?”[4]

NATO, pushed by a profit-hungry US weapon industry eager to sell weapons to new NATO members forced to purchase them, has steadily rolled east to Russia’s doorstep, with NATO bases and missile launchers now in Poland and Romania. Keep in mind that Damon Wilson was a former member of the Atlantic Council, an organization that appears to harbor the anti-Russian prejudices of the parent ego, an organization that places NATO on a pedestal for furthering the tight North American—European relationship of its mission. Note that other Atlantic Council members mentioned in these essays, Daniel Fried and Peter Dickinson, both inaccurately perceive Putin’s essay and speeches as indicative of aggression.[5] This tendency to see Russian aggression where it doesn’t exist can result from prejudice. It could can also be a function of jealousy and rivalry to protect an exclusive US relationship with non-Russian Europe.

Anyone who thinks that Russia has rolled back the post-Cold War settlement should listen carefully to the words of Putin’s February 21, 2022 speech, yet another speech erroneously summarized by so-called US “experts” as rambling, a “re-hash” of his “bizarre essay” of July 2021 and “proof of empire.” What US “experts” don’t tell you is that in this speech, Putin refers to the 1999 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Charter for European Security and the 2010 OSCE Astana Declaration. These agreements, Putin states, “expressly stipulate the principle of equal and indivisible security, which includes obligations not to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of the security of other states. . . . In other words, the choice of pathways towards ensuring security should not pose a threat to other states, whereas Ukraine joining NATO is a direct threat to Russia’s security.”[6] US “experts” babble on that Putin is deluded and unhinged, but quite frankly, I think his intelligence runs circles around theirs. He’s raised an excellent point.

Can we have some public discussion, a national or international hearing on this matter? If this is true, then this is yet one more way in which NATO’s expansion across Europe violated earlier agreements, for by joining NATO and acquiring NATO’s military back-up, numerous Eastern European nations and potentially Sweden and Finland are strengthening their own security at the expense of the security of other states who have not joined NATO.

As Putin points out, NATO is not a universal organization. Only some nations are allowed to join. This gives an unfair advantage of power to some nations over others that thus destroys the balance of power amongst European nations, including Russia. Add to that the nuclear threat from NATO, and NATO members’ power becomes infinitely greater than non-NATO members, thus destroying the balance necessary for security. Unbelievably, despite popular protests and the clear violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, five European nations already host US nuclear weapons. Ukraine may be next.

In fact, Putin’s point is confirmed entirely on the OSCE’s website, which contains both the 1999 Istanbul Document, including the Charter for European Security, and the 2010 Astana Commemorative Declaration. Both documents include this paragraph, in points 8 and 3 respectively:

“Each participating State has an equal right to security. We reaffirm the inherent right of each and every participating State to be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance, as they evolve. Each State also has the right to neutrality. Each participating State will respect the rights of all others in these regards. They will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other States. Within the OSCE, no State, group of States or organization can have any pre-eminent responsibility for maintaining power and stability in the OSCE area or can consider any part of the OSCE area as its sphere of influence.”[7]

It seems to me that NATO’s assumption of pre-eminent responsibility for maintaining power and stability in Europe is a blatant violation of this provision.

The idea of joining NATO also seems odd given that a major lesson learned from WWI is that two systems of entangling alliances helped provoke WWI and turn it into the geographically enormous and tremendously fatal war that it was. Nations agreed that if one were attacked, others would help defend it. Instead of helping to extinguish a fire, such alliances can act like grease that spreads the fire until the entire continent is inflamed, especially if you’ve got an alliance member such as the US who insists on sending billions in weapons.

The OSCE was created in 1975 as a regional arrangement under Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations as a multilateral forum for dialogue and negotiation between East and West during the Cold War. With such a well-meaning, impartial background and mission, one would think that the OSCE, not NATO or the US policymaking establishment—both incapable of impartiality and non-violent conflict resolution, would be allowed to exercise its influence to help resolve the Ukraine crisis non-violently and impartially.

At the time of the 1999 charter, the OSCE included 57 nations, mostly from Europe, but also including the US and Canada as well as nations of Central Asia. Unfortunately, as the OSCE notes, the “decisions are taken by consensus and on a politically, but not legally binding basis.” Of course, even if it were legally binding, it’s doubtful that NATO and the US would comply since they so light-heartedly violate international law, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the war-making provisions and procedures of the UN Security Council.

Putin later states in his speech: “In 2008, Russia put forth an initiative to conclude a European Security Treaty under which not a single Euro-Atlantic state or international organization could strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others. However, our proposal was rejected right off the bat on the pretext that Russia should not be allowed to put limits on NATO activities.”[8]

In other words, if I understand correctly, Russia appeared to be trying to create a legally binding version of the statement in OSCE’s 1999 (and later 2010) declaration, a statement to which 57 nations had agreed.  How could Russia’s proposal be falsely portrayed as an attempt on Russia’s part alone to limit NATO? Fifty-seven nations had agreed to this principle of not strengthening security at the expense of the security of others! The popularity of Russia’s 2008 proposal was again proven with the passage in 2010 of the Astana Commemorative Declaration.

Of interest, Russia was trying to create a legal agreement that would have the effect of an arms agreement: it would enable nations to stop the arms race, stop wasting tax dollars, and stop trying to create this elusive sense of so-called “security” manufactured by using enormous sums of tax dollars to top other nations’ arsenals and enrich the weapon industries while we all sink into poverty and greater insecurity. Russia’s proposal was to create a sense of security by means of parity in security, not a never-ending arms race. An excellent idea!

But no!  That was no good for the competitive US foreign policymakers who not only obsessively view relations competitively, but who obsess over this wild goose chase of catching security by making the addiction to weapons ever greater! Moreover, accepting a Russian proposal would be equivalent to admitting that Russian ideas can be moral and just, an admission that would destroy the black-and-white thinking and scapegoating of Russia that underlies US foreign policy foundational beliefs of good US vs. evil Russia—a type of pseudo-religion based upon parent ego prejudices and child ego fear, self-centeredness, and aggression.

Acceptance of such a proposal would also harm US politicians whose treasure chests are filled with US weapon industry campaign contributions! After all, weapon industry CEOs need their arms race to reap increasing profits, and US politicians need financial contributions to win their elections, since they never could win on votes alone! And for those irrational fears inherent in the unrestrained child ego, nothing feels quite so secure as steadily increasing supplies of weapons—a conclusion that wise egos would quickly discard as unreasonable.

So why is Damon Wilson claiming that it is Russia who has rolled back the post-Cold War settlement and the security of Europe, when it is clearly NATO that has violated the security principles of both the 1999 OSCE Charter for European Security and the 2010 Astana Commemorative Declaration? He’s not here to defend his claims. Perhaps he’d have some interesting, reasonable remarks to add.

I’d note that the 1999 and 2010 OSCE documents’ declaration of the right to neutrality is another principle with which US policymakers historically and currently have had difficulty accepting. Whether in their antagonisms throughout the official Cold War, throughout the War on Terror, or currently towards Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Venezuela, and beyond, US foreign policymakers typically cringe at the thought of any other nation rising above US conflicts to remain neutral or to seek non-violent solutions. US policymakers instead bribe and intimidate nations to choose sides—the US side, with the belief that “You’re either with us or against us.”

Obviously, such a rejection of others’ right to neutrality, such as Ukraine’s right to have alliances with both EU nations and Russia, is an immature indulgence in the aggression and self-centeredness of the child ego, an ego demanding that friends prove their loyalty with violence, an ego that’s never expanded beyond its own self-oriented perimeter of consciousness, never seen that opportunities for a higher state of mind exist outside its conflict.

Here are more words from Putin’s February 21, 2022 speech. Unlike the so-called US “experts,” I won’t misrepresent Putin’s words, twist them, or take them out of context. Putin states that in December of 2021:

“We handed over to our Western partners a draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees, as well as a draft agreement on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and NATO member states.

“The United States and NATO responded with general statements. There were kernels of rationality in them as well, but they concerned matters of secondary importance and it all looked like an attempt to drag the issue out and to lead the discussion astray.

“We responded to this accordingly and pointed out that we were ready to follow the path of negotiations, provided, however, that all issues are considered as a package that includes Russia’s core proposals which contain three points. First, to prevent further NATO expansion. Second, to have the Alliance refrain from deploying assault weapon systems on Russian borders. And finally, rolling back the bloc’s military capability and infrastructure in Europe as to where they were in 1997, when the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed.

“These principle proposals of our have been ignored. . . .

“. . . when our proposals for an equal dialogue on fundamental issues have actually remained unanswered by the United States and NATO, when the level of threats to our country has increased significantly, Russia has every right to respond in order to ensure its security.”[9]

It’s absolutely unbelievable that US leaders are so inept, negligent, and aggressive that they’d refuse to take up Russia’s proposal for cooperative dialogue. And notice the American public never heard about Russia’s proposed draft treaty. That would destroy the good and peace-loving vs. evil and belligerent script to which the US policymaking and media establishments fraudulently cling. In terms of Transactional Analysis, US leaders are indulging in both the unreasonable anti-Russian prejudices of the parent ego and the aggression and self-centeredness of the child ego. They’d rather bring us all to the brink and beyond of nuclear war then agree to these three core proposals which anyone with common sense can see are entirely legitimate, reasonable, and non-aggressive.

US policymakers have been raised to believe that they can’t “stoop” from their thrones to agree to anyone else’s conditions or else they’re giving away way too much power and status. Talk about a power obsession. They’ve managed to maintain extremely negative parental attitudes of control while also engaging in the self-centeredness of the child ego. I wonder if these Americans allow their children to even ask for more food at the supper table. Or is that a threat to parental authority?

Incidentally, if Russia were trying to roll back NATO’s capability and infrastructure to where it was according to the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, how can Wilson possibly point the finger at Russia for rolling back the post-Cold War settlement? Unless he has other information to support his claim, Wilson appears to be scapegoating Russia rather than responsibly assigning fault. In my opinion, Wilson’s testimony provided inaccurate information that likely manipulated the minds of the Senate Armed Services Committee and encouraged these US senators to make decisions based upon prejudice and fear rather than truth and analysis.

Putin states:

“Let me remind you that at the Bucharest NATO summit held in April 2008, the United States pushed through a decision to the effect that Ukraine and, by the way, Georgia would become NATO members. Many European allies of the United States were well aware of the risks associated with this prospect already then, but were forced to put up with the will of their senior partner. The Americans simply used them to carry out a clearly anti-Russian policy.

“. . . All the while, they are trying to convince us over and over again that NATO is a peace-loving and purely defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia. Again, they want us to take their word for it. But we are well aware of the real value of these words. In 1990, when German unification was discussed, the United States promised the Soviet leadership that NATO jurisdiction or military presence will not expand one inch to the east and that the unification of Germany will not lead to the spread of NATO’s military organization to the east. This is a quote.

“They issued a lot of verbal assurances, all of which turned out to be empty phrases. Later, they began to assure us that the accession of NATO by Central and Eastern European countries would only improve relations with Moscow, relieve these countries of the fears steeped in their bitter historical legacy, and even create a belt of countries that are friendly to Russia.

“However, the exact opposite happened. . . .”[10]

So US policymakers want trust but offer no reason for trust. What kind of flimsy basis is that for international security? Do US policymakers have any sort of skills in cooperative negotiation at all? And if US policymakers think trust is all it takes to feel secure, why does the US have 800 military bases around the world and 4,000 nukes?

Again: why isn’t NATO’s expansion across Europe accurately identified by Wilson as a violation of the post-Cold War settlement? As Putin observes in his February 21, 2022 speech:

“Today, one glance at the map is enough to see to what extent Western countries have kept their promise to refrain from NATO’s eastward expansion. They just cheated. We have seen five waves of NATO expansion, one after another—Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were admitted in 1999; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004; Albania and Croatia in 2009; Montenegro (Chernogoriya) in 2017; and North Macedonia in 2020.

“As a result, the Alliance, its military infrastructure has reached Russia’s borders. This is one of the key causes of the European security crisis; it has had the most negative impact on the entire system of international relations and led to the loss of mutual trust.”[11]

If NATO’s expansion violates verbal agreements made in the 1990s, if NATO expansion is one of the key causes of the European security crisis, how can Wilson claim that it is Russia who has rolled back the post-Cold War settlement and endangered security in Europe?

And why isn’t NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia in the 1990s a violation? It had no authority from the UN Security Council to wage war! As William Blum writes in Rogue State, “In Russia, most people strongly opposed the bombing and were shocked that it was the United States that was mainly responsible.”[12] And why isn’t NATO’s military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq considered a violation? Why haven’t NATO’s years of cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia—when neither one was a NATO member—considered a violation? Why isn’t NATO’s expansion of mission to include pipeline protection a violation?[13]

Is NATO so trustworthy, good-hearted, and wise, the closest thing to God there is, that it’s completely trusted to use its killing powers wisely without restrictions by any sort of settlement? And is Russia, as part of the former so-called “Evil Empire,” so remote from any form of goodness that it must be bound as a junior, fledgling partner to this agreement? Was this the understanding of the late Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev—that he was signing Russia up to submissively agree to one-sided deals that Russia should not violate but the US and NATO could?

According to Transactional Analysis, the wise ego gathers comprehensive information and rationally makes decisions based upon an impartial review of that information. These double standards, these good vs. evil prejudices, and the unrestricted powers of NATO are nothing that a wise ego could ever support.

In fact, in his 2007 speech at Munich, Putin corrects another diplomat who evidently slips up in his belief that the NATO, the EU, and the UN all share equivalent power to legally wage war.

“Either I did not understand what our colleague, the Italian Defense Minister, just said or what he said was inexact. In any case, I understood that the use of force can only be legitimate when the decision is taken by NATO, the EU, or the UN. If he really does think so, then we have different points of view. Or I didn’t hear correctly. The use of force can only be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN. And we do not need to substitute NATO or the EU for the UN.”[14]

Did the Italian Defense Minister actually think that NATO and the EU can substitute for the UN in declaring the use of force legitimate? Why was such an inaccurate thought even in his mind? Is it because NATO and the EU have covertly taken it upon themselves to acquire this illegitimate authority? Is it because NATO already acts this way—as if it doesn’t need UN approval for war?

Yet the entire purpose of the UN is to prevent war! The multilateral composition of the UN Security Council is intended to help prevent war by opening dialogue and negotiation to different perspectives on conflict and by forbidding war unless there’s unanimity for war from nations with very different perspectives! NATO, on the other hand, is unilateral, biased, and one-sided. Its very specialty is the use of military force! It’s geared towards thinking of solutions in terms of war and weapons! Obviously, it’s in no position to make wise decisions about whether or not war is necessary.

Why aren’t these new powers taken by NATO to wage war and proxy war without UN approval recognized as a violation of the post-Cold War settlement? How can NATO have the power to call upon its members to ship billions of dollars in weapons for years to Ukraine in an obvious proxy war against Russia and an obviously one-sided perspective on the conflict? I don’t recall Gorbachev saying, “Oh, yeah, we’ll dissolve the Warsaw Pact and you go ahead and ramp up the power, wealth, membership, territory, and jurisdiction of Captain NATO. I agree with you that NATO should have the authority to declare war, with or without UN Security Council approval. I trust NATO to know whom to bomb and whom not to, whom to save, whom to arm, and whom to kill. All good people feel this way.”

One person questions Putin at the end of his 2007 Munich speech:

“First of all, on your opinion of NATO and NATO expansion, a phenomenon that you consider dangerous to Russia. Would you acknowledge that this phenomenon is, in practice, not expansion but rather the self-determination of democratic states who want this? And that NATO finds it difficult to accept states that do not declare this readiness? You could admit that thanks to NATO expansion eastern borders have become more reliable, more secure. Why are you afraid of democracy? I am convinced that only democratic states can become members of NATO. This stabilizes neighbours.”

Putin responds:

“NATO is not a universal organization, as opposed to the UN. It is first and foremost a military and political alliance, military and political! Well, ensuring one’s own security is the right of any sovereign state. We are not arguing against this. Of course we are not objecting to this. But why is it necessary to put military infrastructure on our borders during this expansion? . . . expanding infrastructure, especially military infrastructure, to our borders is not connected in any way with the democratic choices of individual states. And I would ask that we not mix these two concepts.”[15]

Putin is absolutely right to separate the fact that NATO is a military organization from this supposed feature that it encourages the growth of democracy. Any connection NATO has with democracy cannot eclipse the huge fact that it’s a military organization. And, as Putin states, it’s not a universal organization. It defends the interests of only certain nations’ policymakers.

Furthermore, even if NATO does encourage democracy in some sort of shallow form, I get the sense that it also demands allegiance to certain nations’ policymakers’ interests, to capitalism rather than socialism, to US pipeline control, to US privatization of other nations’ resources, to the US weapon industry, and so forth. It’s an extremely partial organization with a sense of right and wrong not based upon impartial morality and not based upon democratic decision-making. As Blum describes, by the 1990s, NATO had become the military arm of the New World Order, headquartered in Washington, DC, which, unencumbered by things such as international law and the UN, militarily enforced an economic program of globalization and privatization under a fraudulent banner of freedom and democracy.[16]

In other words, NATO’s alleged promotion of democracy is more a good-guy cover for its promotion of certain economic and military policies favored by and partial to certain people—which itself is entirely undemocratic. If NATO members disagree with these points, it would be an excellent topic for cooperative dialogue. How do NATO policymakers believe that they promote or thwart democracy? Do they automatically assume that those who dislike NATO are bad guys? If so, do they define as democratic the use of their power to stifle the political, economic, and military power of those who dislike NATO? Do they realize that decent, democratic people can fear and hate NATO and have a right to be represented in government?

Has NATO ever accepted for membership any nation that’s socialist, that rejects US investment, that rejects US military bases, that seeks to retain economic and political alliances with Russia, Cuba, or Iran, that refuses to send troops or aid to US points of military conflict, or that rejects austerity plans that impoverish their populations? Or does NATO pressure potential new members to align their policies with those of US policymakers, regardless of their own population’s opinions? I don’t know. It’s worth discussing.

Of interest, former US Representative Dennis Kucinich read the document that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was expected to sign with the EU—the document he then refused to sign before being toppled in a US-supported coup in 2014. Kucinich read the whole thing and found that the document was not merely an agreement to join the EU, it was an agreement to cooperate with NATO, even though the word NATO wasn’t literally spelled out. It was a military agreement cloaked as an economic agreement that would enable NATO to extend itself to the Russian border.[17] Why does joining the EU require supporting NATO?

Keep in mind a goal stated by the neoconservative Project for the New American Century in its 2000 document: “it is important that NATO not be replaced by the European Union, leaving the United States without a voice in European security affairs.”[18]

Without a voice? This is absolutely preposterous! Tell me, what was the purpose of the American Revolution? To secure the American people’s right to representation in their own government, or to secure the American government’s right to representation in all governments of the world? The way I see it, the Revolutionary War didn’t work: the American people never did win representation in their own government, but US policymakers have won representation in foreign governments.

PNAC clearly wants NATO to be used to enable US policymakers to worm their way into every region of the world, all under the cover of this pseudo-democracy! It’s as if representing US policymakers is the definition of democracy! Does NATO actually agree with PNAC’s goal? How does NATO’s power in relation to the EU align with the “post-Cold War settlement”?

This brings us back to another point: this alleged NATO connection with democracy is quite mysterious. How is NATO membership an expression of Ukrainian democracy if membership has been made possible by a US-supported coup that put a pro-NATO leader into power? And how can the speaker who questioned Putin at Munich in 2007 possibly call such NATO membership “self-determination” if the decision was brought about by a coup? This is what happened in Ukraine and reportedly Georgia, and perhaps other nations, as well.

Certainly, I don’t think much of the Italian population was thrilled to join NATO. Despite Italy’s WWII history under right-wing fascist dictator Mussolini, the CIA has had a strong history of keeping left-wing parties out of power in Italy beginning in the 1940s, even if that meant supporting pro-Mussolini parties. This is undemocratic: the suppression of the real expression of the people. Loans promised to Italy from the US were also frozen for unclear reasons, but the indication, based on the resumption of aid following “good” behavior, is that the loans were linked to Italy’s obedience in throwing left-wing members out of government.[19]

And get this: a major reason the CIA interfered in Italy’s elections at least eight times to keep the left-wing parties out of power was precisely to ensure that Italy would be part of NATO![20] But if the CIA felt it had to intervene or else the left-wing parties would win and vote Italy out of NATO, in other words, if most Italians didn’t want to be a part of NATO, how can NATO claim to promote democracy?

Even in the 1970s, part of National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger’s fear pertaining to the victory of a Marxist, Salvador Allende, in Chile, is that he was afraid Allende’s success would poke holes in US anti-Communist propaganda and influence Italy! “Kissinger saw the notion that Communists could participate in the electoral process and accept the results peacefully as the wrong message to send to Italian voters.”[21] Of course, the US had Allende destroyed. It seems France, like Italy, experienced similar CIA interference, pressure to throw out left-wing parties, suspected manipulation with US loan offers, and pressure to join NATO.[22] What does NATO have to say about this?

Obviously, just because certain foreign leaders are pro-NATO doesn’t mean the population’s majority is pro-NATO. I realize that’s the flimsy way in which US policymakers envision democracy: they don’t seem to care about actually representing Americans’ viewpoints, just replacing Americans’ viewpoints with their own, so why should US policymakers be concerned about foreign leaders’ representing their own populations? But frankly, if a foreign leader is pro-NATO, it could easily mean he’s been bribed or intimidated to vote for NATO membership or he was installed with US help for his willingness to be pro-NATO.

But let’s pretend the decision to join NATO actually were the result of a democratic referendum within a nation. A “yes” result from a democratic referendum would not deny the fact that increasing NATO membership is also an obvious fact of NATO expansion. It is not an either-or situation. Increasing NATO membership could be both a democratic expression and a case of NATO expansion. The speaker questioning Putin tries to make it seem like NATO membership is only an issue of democratic self-determination, not NATO expansion. But this is absurd. NATO is obviously not shrinking or remaining the same size. It’s expanding. I don’t see how democratic opinion can modify the laws of physics or the metrics of geography.

Moreover, Putin is not afraid of democracy nor repulsed by it. He’s afraid that missiles, including nuclear missiles, which are equally lethal whether they’re coming from so-called democratic or undemocratic nations, can devastate Russia when these missiles are deployed so close to Russia. Even if NATO actually did represent and promote democracy, how can the speaker possibly confuse Russia’s fear of missiles with a fear of democracy? It’s like my walking towards you with a gun aimed at your chest. You ask me to put down the gun. I say, “How can you be afraid of a woman?” You see, that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter whether I’m a woman or a man. The point is, I have a gun and I’m pointing it at you. The speaker’s question was loaded. He seems to be assuming that all NATO nations have absolutely moral, benign foreign policies, their missiles are just for show, and they should never be feared.

Lastly, I don’t see how NATO membership stabilizes nations or borders. I don’t see how coups to install pro-NATO leaders stabilize anybody. It seems to me that NATO expansion has been extremely destabilizing. NATO’s arming of Ukraine with weapons since the 2014 coup—again, NATO has the mindset that weapons are the solution—has only helped destabilize the Minsk Agreements and promote civil war which eventually provoked Russia to invade. Perhaps the speaker or NATO policymakers have information showing that NATO membership has stabilized some areas. This information, along with the definition of “stabilizing,” could be discussed in cooperative dialogue.

Yet even if NATO has stabilized some region and managed to do so in an impartial, democratic way, I would say it’s a small point compared to the other points, particularly Putin’s remarks about the destabilizing existential threat to Russia’s existence and the violation of several past agreements. After all, I hardly think the US would have been reassured about Soviet missiles in Cuba during the “Cuban Missile Crisis” even if the Cuban population had democratically voted to host a Soviet base. It’s the missiles, not the presence or absence of democracy, that’s threatening. Note that NATO missiles in Poland aren’t labeled the “Poland Missile Crisis” by US policymakers!

In his February 21, 2022 speech, Putin remarks:

“. . . Russia has fulfilled all of its obligations, including the pullout from Germany, from Central and Eastern Europe, making an immense contribution to overcoming the legacy of the Cold War. We have consistently proposed various cooperation options, including in the NATO-Russia Council and the OSCE formats.

“. . . When then outgoing US President Bill Clinton visited Moscow in 2000, I asked him how America would feel about admitting Russia to NATO.

“I will not reveal all the details of that conversation, but the reaction to my question was, let us say, quite restrained, and the Americans’ true attitude to that possibility can actually be seen from their subsequent steps with regard to our country. I am referring to the overt support for terrorists in the North Caucasus, the disregard for our security demands and concerns, NATO’s continued expansion, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, and so on. It raises the question: why? What is all this about, what is the purpose? All right, you do not want to see us as friends or allies, but why make us an enemy?

“There can be only one answer—this is not about our political regime or anything like that. They just do not need a big and independent country like Russia around.”[23]

Once again, I think Putin has hit the nail on the head. For decades on end, US foreign policymakers—possessed with an unrelenting obsession to acquire increasing amounts of wealth and worldwide control—a self-centered obsession springing from child ego fears, self-indulgence, and aggression and enforced by parent ego prejudices, controlling desires, and punitiveness—have despised and punished nations that are independent from US policymakers and their dictates.

The immature psychologies ruling our nation are now leading the planet to ultimate destruction. It is unfortunate that, after 245 years, Americans were never able to create a political system that brought wise egos into power, only fools with immature, utterly irresponsible, and dangerous psychologies.

Kristin Christman has been independently researching US foreign policy and peace since 9/11. Her channel focuses on US-Russian relations at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuNEw9-10lk-CwU-5vAElcg. Kristin graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a BA in Russian, and she holds Master’s degrees in Slavic languages from Brown University and public administration from SUNY Albany. She has been a guest with former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter and UNAC coordinator Joe Lombardo on Cynthia Pooler’s program, Issues that Matter, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDlaLNJih7U. Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice recently published her article on suicide, culture, and peace in their special edition on suicide, Vol. 33 No. 4.  kristinchristman956@gmail.com

[1] Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward, Born to Win (New York:  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1971), 76-97.

[2] James and Jongeward, Born to Win, 10-11, 17-18, 23.

[3] James and Jongeward, Born to Win, 259, 297-99.

[4] Vladimir Putin, 43rd Munich Conference on Security and Policy, Feb. 11, 2007, https://russialist.org.

[5] Daniel Fried and Kurt Volker, “Opinion: The Speech in Which Putin Told Us Who He Was,” Politico, Feb. 18, 2022, https://www.politico.com.

Peter Dickinson, “Putin Admits Ukraine Invasion Is an Imperial War to Return Russian Land,” Atlantic Council, June 10, 2022, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org.

[6] Vladimir Putin, “Address to the People of Russia on the Donbas Problem and the Situation in Ukraine,” American Rhetoric Online Speech Bank, Feb. 21, 2022, https://www.americanrhetoric.com.

[7] Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, “Istanbul Document 1999,” Nov. 18, 1999, https://www.osce.org.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, “Astana Commemorative Declaration,” Dec. 3, 2010, https://www.osce.org.

[8] Putin, “Address to the People,” Feb. 21, 2022.

[9] Putin, “Address to the People,” Feb. 21, 2022.

[10] Putin, “Address to the People,” Feb. 21, 2022.

[11] Putin, “Address to the People,” Feb. 21, 2022.

[12] William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 2005), 322.

[13] Robert Hunziker, “Chomsky and the United Nations Warn of Collapse,” Countercurrents, July 8, 2022, https://www.countercurrents.org.

[14] Putin, Munich, 2007.

[15] Putin, Munich, 2007.

[16] Blum, Rogue State, 210-11, 240-41.

[17] Ria Novosti, Interview with Dennis Kucinich, “NATO ‘Anachronistic Nightmare’ and Should Be Disbanded—US Politician,” Apr. 9, 2014, http://en.ria.ru.

[18] Project for the New American Century (PNAC), “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt, Project Co-Chairmen; Thomas Donnelly, Principal Author (Washington, DC, 2000), 16.

[19] William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, rev. ed. (London: Zed Books, 2014), 27-34.

[20] Kim Hjelmgaard, “The US Is the Biggest Election Meddler of Them All, New Book Claims,” USA Today, Sept. 4, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com.

[21] Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House (New York: Summit Books, 1983), 270.

[22] Blum, Killing Hope, 29.

[23] Putin, Munich, 2007.


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