After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern Europe quickly fractured into a jigsaw puzzle of nation-states. The European Union and NATO not only rushed to recognize the independence of nations like Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Macedonia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and others but began the process to absorb them into the EU and NATO.
However, the tide of separatism and fragmentation may soon be brought home to a financially-collapsing Western Europe as the advent of an independent Scotland, Catalonia, and Flanders, born from the decaying carcasses of Western European nation-states, becomes a distinct possibility.
NATO has had to take a bit of a breather in its plans to move to the Caucasus and beyond to take stock of how it is going to keep an independent Scotland and Flanders in the NATO fold.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has long been known for its anti-NATO and anti-Trident nuclear submarine stance. The British Royal Navy maintains a Trident base in Scotland and the US Navy once based its Polaris and Poseidon nuclear submarines at Holy Loch, Scotland.
After SNP First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond signed an agreement with British Prime Minister David Cameron on holding an independent referendum for Scotland, the SNP’s recent party conference in Perth voted to reverse course and proclaim that an independent Scotland would join NATO. The SNP also said the British Queen would remain head of state of Scotland and Scotland would keep the British pound as its currency and reject the euro. Salmond’s stance on the Trident submarines has not changed, he wants them out of an independent Scotland.
However, the entire NATO issue has caused a split in the SNP, with many party faithful of the left-wing faction wanting Scotland to become neutral like Finland and Sweden. Some anti-NATO leaders of the SNP have expressed a willingness to join the anti-NATO Scottish Green Party.
The wrangling over NATO in Scotland has the colonels and captains on the NATO staff in Brussels worried about a situation not unlike that which exists between historical foes Greece and Turkey within NATO. Although it tries to present a united front, NATO is wracked by old feuds, especially when it comes to Greeks and Turks serving together on NATO military staffs.
Although NATO officials and the Eurocrats in Brussels are conspiring with the central bankers of Frankfurt, the George Soros operatives of the Open Society Institute, and the intelligence agencies in London and Washington to ensure that Scotland votes “No” on independence in 2014, there are worries about how well English and Scottish officers, loyal to different governments, will mingle on NATO staffs. Salmond has agreed that Scotland and the rest of Great Britain would maintain a common armed forces structure but others in the SNP want a total break from London and NATO.
The NATO fears about Western European separatism do not end with Scotland. In NATO’s own backyard, there is a distinct possibility that the Dutch-speaking Flemish region of Belgium will opt for total independence, leaving French-speaking Wallonia and the French neighborhoods of Brussels to fend for themselves.
The leader of the New Flemish Alliance (NVA), which is more pragmatic than the far-right Flemish Interest, has indicated an independent Flanders would remain in NATO. NVA leader Bart DeWever, who is mayor of Antwerp and is intent on declaring Flemish independence, has, like Salmond, insisted that Flanders would maintain a common armed services structure with the remainder of Belgium.
Catalonian President Artur Mas is watching developments in Scotland closely. Spain’s austerity budgets under its neo-fascist Popular Party government has spurred Catalonian demands for independence from Madrid with Mas and his Catalonian independence supporters arguing that wealthy Catalonia should no longer carry the financial burden for Spain. Mas, like Salmond and DeWever, has indicated an independent Catalonia would remain in NATO.
If all NATO had to contend with were Scotland, Flanders, and Catalonia, it might be manageable for the organization, which has plans to expand into a global military bloc. However, there are other movements in Western Europe that will be quick to jump if the Scots, Flemish, and Catalans break free.
Recently, Venetians have called for a restoration of the independent Republic of Venice that would no longer be responsible for shouldering the financial burden for the southern part of Italy. Wales would see a successful independent Scotland as an option for itself. The Basque Region of Spain would want to follow Catalonia out of Spain.
This all spells the possible end of NATO, something that should have occurred when the Berlin wall collapsed and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact disintegrated. NATO may still be rejoicing over the fall of the international border between West and East Germany but it may soon have to contend with the rise of an international border between Flanders and Wallonia just outside its main gate near Zaventem Airport in Brussels.