'Russia threat is bombast': Brian Becker on NATO summit
RT discussed the issue with Brian Becker, from the anti-war Answer coalition.
Warsaw, Poland, is holding NATO's largest summit since the Cold War. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg confirmed the bloc will have a four-battalion rotational presence in Poland and the Baltics from 2017.
RT: NATO states aren't all on the same page when it comes to determining threats. How significant is this divide between members?
Brian Becker: There is quite a big divide, in fact. You have the both houses of the French Parliament saying sanctions against Russia should be lifted. The French foreign minister, when he met with the Russian foreign minister last week, also said France wants the sanctions lifted. Italy, again, wants the sanctions lifted.
Donald Rumsfeld at the time of the Iraq war made the point that there were two Europes. There was the old Europe and the new Europe, because they couldn’t get the old Europe – meaning Germany and France to go along with the US criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003. We have the Chilcot report, and we can see what a disaster that was.
But he was talking also where we have new Europe. Who was new Europe? It was the former socialist bloc countries that have been incorporated step-by-step first into the EU and also into NATO. And we have irony of ironies: in Warsaw, Poland on the 25th anniversary of the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact countries, the formidable Soviet-led military alliance that took the same states in the confrontation with NATO starting the 1940’s – you have NATO meeting in Warsaw, Poland to say: “Yes, in fact the Cold War never really did end escalating. We’re sending four battalions to the Baltics and Poland.” But most importantly is this defies what President Obama said: “The US quadrupled its military budget for Eastern and Central Europe” and in its quadrennial report the Pentagon identifies Russia as the number one threat, not ISIS. Russia is the number one threat for the US.
RT: A supposed "Russian threat" is on the summit's agenda. How justified is the use of that term?
BB: It is just bombast. It is provocative in and of itself. President Obama, when he came in 2009 to the presidency, said: “We’re going to press the reset button. We’re going to improve relations.” But the US government’s reckless neo-conservative driven policy, including the toppling of the democratically elected government of Ukraine and replacing it with a new government that now says: “I am Russia’s border,” the Ukraine, the historic ally of Russia, the second biggest republic in the old Soviet Union, now says that the top priority is to move Ukraine into NATO. We see that President Obama has reneged on the basic agreement; the reset button was nothing of the sort. The neoconservatives were allowed to drive foreign policy and now the term ‘Russian threat’ is used as bombast. It is turning reality upside-down – it’s Alice in Wonderland. Russia has been victimized or threatened by US and NATO’s very, very provocative policies on its border, including possibly using German troops on the 76th anniversary of the end of the WWII in military exercises again in the Baltics, in Poland on Russia’s border. Terribly provocative!
RT: What about the timing? This summit has been dubbed NATO's largest since the Cold War. Why is such a large-scale meeting needed now?
BB: It is a big show: you have a 2,500 officials; you have 2,000 media, and you have the 28 members of NATO plus 26 partnering countries. That is almost a quarter of the countries in the world will be there under a US-led military alliance threatening Russia. It is perceived as such in Russia, and it should be perceived as such. It is a political event. The four battalions by themselves in the Baltic – that is 800 people per battalion – that is 3,200 troops – that is not a military game changer. This is the symbolism of the Cold War. It is the prevocational language of the Cold War. Ultimately, it is the justification for war increasing military budgets, especially in the US, where the military industrial complex and its corporations profit very, very handsomely by the ‘Russian threat.’
NATO took advantage of USSR collapse
Jonathan Steele, international affairs commentator said that NATO members considered the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 to be their victory, and expanded the alliance by bringing in eastern European countries and even former Soviet Republics.
RT: The Polish President yesterday slammed NATO’s official cooperation agreement with Russia as unviable. But that is almost 20 years after the document was signed. Why would he suddenly say this now?
Jonathan Steele: Well, he is trying to list the whole series of violations, which he claims Russia has made to the agreement. He is not actually saying that the agreement has to be torn up. There will be a meeting of the Russia-NATO council next week. So it is kind of verbal[ly] separating it, and doesn’t yet mean that they are going to completely break relations with Russia and NATO.
RT: The agreement has to be based on “enduring political commitment” and lead to a lasting and inclusive peace. What went so wrong, do you think?
JS: The end of the Cold War. I think the feeling was very different in Russia and in the West. In Russia it was seen as some kind of liberation and an end to the division of Europe and the chance for people to travel freely and to meet across what used to be the iron curtain. In the West it was seen as a victory and that Russia had somehow been defeated.
Unfortunately, the victors were not magnanimous in what they thought was a victory; they just tried to rub it in and seize as much ground as they could from the retreating Soviet Union; which is why they decided to keep NATO instead of getting rid of it in line with the abolition of the Warsaw Pact. They decided to increase NATO by bringing in more members from what used to be eastern Europe and even from the former Soviet Republics like the Baltic States.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.