‘West’s foreign policy leaders - intellectual dwarfs compared to Cold War’

Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Western leaders seem not to have a clue about conflict resolution and confidence building and their mentality will sooner or later lead to war, says Jan Oberg director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research.

Poland is on its way to hosting NATO heavy weapons. Warsaw has confirmed it expects ongoing talks to come to an agreement. Neighboring Lithuania is also considering some NATO weaponry will be stationed on its territory too. Heavy weapons would be also stored in Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria and possibly Hungary.

RT:Some are comparing today's tension with the Cold War. What about you?

Jan Oberg: Of course there is a political tension and it’s backed up particularly by this type of steps which you can interpret as signaling, and which you can also interpret as a preparation for a future war under certain circumstances. I think that what we see is conflict illiteracy. It’s that these men who decide these things and it’s particularly the US, put in NATO’s headquarters and in foreign ministries and defense ministries in Europe - simply they don’t have a clue about reconciliation conflict resolution, confidence building and all the things that we actually worked with during the first, old Cold War. This is what they have on the shelves, this is the way they think, that mentality will sooner or later lead to war.

READ MORE: Poland, Lithuania discussing plans with Washington to harbor US army equipment

RT:It could be the first time NATO permanently deploys weapons in member states that were once part of the USSR. What do you make of the timing?

JO: I should be joking about it and saying “I’m looking forward to the Russian forces or equipment being stationed in Mexico or close to the US border in Canada.” There is no doubt about that this is foolish from a realpolitik security policy viewpoint. Secondly the timing of course has to do with the fact that they see it as a buildup necessitated by the annexation of Crimea and the tension in Ukraine. However instead of talking, meeting, you avoid meetings when you have a chance to meet President Putin, you avoided the 70th anniversary of the end of the WWII, whereas what you do is you use weapons to signal with. And this is not a kind of mature politics that we had during the first Cold War where we had brilliant figures like Urho Kekkonen and Willy Brandt and others in Europe who knew how dangerous these things were, but today’s foreign policy and security policy leaders in the West are intellectual dwarves compared with what they were during the first Cold War.

RT:NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has been saying the Alliance wants a healthy and friendly relationship with Russia. Are the latest developments helping?

JO: It’s the usual nonsense that we point offensive hard hitting weapons at you, and then we tell you that we do not have any bad intentions. Everybody does that, Russia and the Soviet Union have done that, the West does, small countries in Africa do it against each other, it’s a whole conceptualization of foreign and security policy that is wrong. Because you do one thing and you say another thing and you ask people to trust your good or non-evil intentions although you point offensive weapons against each other. Now we have to discuss what is defensive defense, that would not be considered a threat in the eyes of anybody else, but which would be helpful in case confidence building breaks down, and there is an invasion or an overreaction somewhere. What we have now is a hellishly dangerous system because the thinking underlying it is madly wrong and it’s been madly wrong since [19]45. We have long range offensive weapons, we are pointing them at you but we ask you to believe that we have only friendly intentions. This is intellectually so low level and the world could end by that type of thinking.

READ MORE: US considers storing heavy weapons in Baltic and Eastern Europe – report

RT:Eastern Europe has seen large protests against NATO when it was parading its military hardware earlier this year. How will the new hosts of NATO arms deal with public discontent?

JO: We have public discontent in the West, in the East. Ordinary citizens do not want war; they do not want their tax payers money spent on these types of toys which could undermine their security. People are willing to pay for something if they feel more secure. Now they are paying horrendous sums for the militarization of the world and getting less secure, more likely seeing a war in this generation or in the next one thanks to this policy. I would say if you want prepositioning which we abstained from in the first Cold War, if this dangerous policy is now being the policy vis-à-vis our policy pursued in the East - then let’s have a referendum about it. Let the people decide whether they want it or not. Let people in the nuclear countries for the first time in human history have a referendum about whether they want nuclear weapons on their territory or not. Practice democracy in security politics or admit that you are dictatorial kinds of regimes that want militarism rather than peace.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.