Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden has blamed Russia for “tearing up our alliances”. By “alliances”, he means euphemistically the US empire lording it over vassals among the NATO military bloc.
It’s a tedious charge repeatedly made against Moscow by Washington which views Russia as an ever-present bogeyman, masterminding chaos and undermining US power. If it were not for those damn Ruskies, so the reasoning goes, how happy and harmonious the “free world” and its American patron would be.
What Biden fails to notice or admit is the US-led transatlantic alliance is doing a pretty good job at blowing itself up without any help from Russia whatsoever.
And a big factor has been the open contempt and bullying by the Trump administration over the past four years which serves to starkly show how subservient the European “allies” really are.
Ironically, just as Russia is accused yet again of sowing division, Moscow has in recent days called for the calming of tensions between NATO members Turkey and Greece in their dispute over East Mediterranean energy resources. Russia offered to mediate in the crisis. So much for trying to tear up alliances.
That’s not the only fracture line in the 30-nation military club. For months now, France and Italy are backing Greece in its long-running territorial conflict with Turkey over Cyprus and surrounding maritime areas. French President Emmanuel Macron has warned of “red lines” against Ankara.
Macron and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan are but the two lightning-rod figures for current tensions within NATO.
Their jousting has taken on explosive heat this week over the controversy about French secularism and “Islamist separatism” after the beheading of a schoolteacher near Paris for displaying caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
Erdogan has slammed Macron for “encouraging Islamophobia” and being mentally retarded, a verbal onslaught which has prompted leaders from Germany and Netherlands to express solidarity with the French president.
There are musings on whether Turkey should be allowed to remain part of NATO given the divergence in “shared values”.
The bad blood is oozing over other theaters of conflict where NATO members are in effect waging proxy wars. In Libya’s civil war, Italy has at times lined up with Turkey to back the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, while France and Greece are on the opposing side of strongman Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army.
That stand-off has even seen reports of Turkey’s navy targeting French warships in the Mediterranean. Paris reacted furiously to “extreme aggression” by Turkey and withdrew from the NATO mission Operation Sea Guardian in protest. Macron said the clash underlined his earlier statement about NATO being “brain dead”.
Then there are other NATO tensions: Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air-defense system; and European disapproval of Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria against Kurdish militia, while the Trump administration was out of step with Europe by acquiescing to the Turkish operation.
The flare-up in war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave has elicited more turmoil within NATO with Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan challenging the mediatory role of the US and France – along with Russia – as part of the OSCE Minsk Group supposedly overseeing peacekeeping in that three-decade frozen conflict.
Germany is at odds with Poland and the Baltic states over the planned redeployment of American troops from the former to the latter. US President Trump has ordered the relocation of forces as a form of chastisement of Berlin for not meeting its spending commitments to NATO.
That has been part of a wider drive by Trump to berate European allies for not pulling their weight on military budgets. This has, in turn, led European allies to doubt Washington’s strategic commitments to joint defense.
Presidential rival Joe Biden says he will repair the tattered NATO alliance if he is elected and thereby restore confidence in America’s leadership. That implies a Biden administration will increase US forces across Europe and take a more belligerent tone towards Russia.
Could Washington’s tone get any more belligerent, one may ask? Biden last weekend called Russia the “biggest threat” to “our security and alliances”.
More than 70 years after its founding in 1949 and nearly three decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, it is evident that NATO is an unwieldy military behemoth that is desperately in need of a unifying purpose. It’s a floundering relic of the Cold War.
Russia, as usual, is being targeted as an enemy, as well as China, with the desired objective of galvanizing NATO members and US “alliances”, which provide Washington’s traditional position of dominance over assorted minions.
The logic implies the pursuit of conflict, even war, with either Russia or China in order to shore up the US position and its NATO facade.
However, in a time of diverging national interests, severe global economic downturn, and social turmoil over the coronavirus pandemic, the NATO fractures are growing ever sharper – and Russia’s alleged malign ambitions have nothing to do with the inherent dynamic of disunity.
Biden’s latest bid to scapegoat Russia for undermining US alliances is tantamount to papering over the cracks within.
Russia no doubt would like to see the back of NATO given the relentless provocations on its borders from increasing maneuvers by warplanes and the installation of missile systems.
The US withdrawal from arms control treaties with Russia adds to the NATO threat. Nevertheless, the root problem of US alliances tearing at the seams is an intrinsic part of emerging Western rivalries and the loss of American grip over its vassals.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.
Published by Rt.com
Republished by The 21st Century
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 21cir.
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