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From Nato to Pesco - Rodolfo Ragonesi

US Navy amphibious personnel carriers take part at a NATO military exercise in Capu Midia, Romania.

US Navy amphibious personnel carriers take part at a NATO military exercise in Capu Midia, Romania.

Thanks to Wikileaks’ release of correspondence, leaked by transparency hero Chelsea Manning in 2009, which gave rise to Cablegate, the world became privy to all the secret lobbying and deals made involving Nato build-ups and expansion in Europe. From released cables, we know that Nato officials had been so lobbying for years, but Germany would have none of it, and it came to nothing.

Until, that is, Chancellor Angela Merkel, daughter of a pastor, was returned to power in October 2009 with an exclusive right-wing coalition with the FDP and CSU, rather than with the Greens and Social Democrats. Her new government promptly supported Nato lobbyists’ policy for a build-up in Poland and the Baltic States right on Russia’s doorstep, in what was called Project Eagle Guardian, in blatant breach of firm undertakings given to President Gorbachev in the 1990s. This sudden volte face was kept secret from the German electorate and European citizens.

Such commitments to Russia were vehemently denied, until archived documents were unearthed by the Washington State University, showing that on the February 9, 1990, US Secretary of State James Baker declared in Moscow that the US would make “iron-clad guarantees” that Nato would not expand “one inch eastward”.  Just days later, Gorbachev agreed to begin German reunification talks. The Iron Curtain fell and the Warsaw Pact was dismantled.

In a leaked 2009 communiqué the US and German ambassadors agreed to add the Baltic States to hyped up military plans, and recommended that this be kept hidden from the public. In one stroke of the pen, Germany’s long standing policy of rapprochement with Russia, initiated by Chancellor Willie Brandt and pursued by his successors Helmut Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder and Helmut Kohl, was suddenly dead in the water, killed behind the back of the German electorate, despite Secretary Baker’s “ironclad guarantees”.

So we know that Nato military policy of pushing for build-ups on Russia’s borders began in secret long before the crisis in the Ukraine, and before the coup against a Ukrainian government about to foster economic ties with Russia. And all this when Russia’s military spending was no threat to anyone.

From 1989 to 1999 this had fallen drastically from $300 billion to just $50 billion. In 2009 it stood at $46 billion, while the military budget of UK, with its tiny borders, exceeded $60 billion. The US military budget is well over $600 billion, and this excludes many other substantial hidden military costs.

It is time for Nato to be dismantled and leave the European stage, for the good of peace and prosperity in the region. It has become a warmonger which foments strife, like Eris, ancient Greek goddess of strife, whom Homer associated with the war goddess Enyo. Eris’s main strategy was sowing discord among people in order to lead to eventual conflict.

Some Nato generals have done precisely that. Philip Breedlove, former supreme commander of Nato, was even dismissed by President Obama for being caught doing that. We know this courtesy of DC Leaks.

There has been a growing movement in Europe to forge an independent defence policy that ties in with socio-economic integration with its neighbours. On December 11, this crystallised in the formation of the Permanent Structured Cooperation, Pesco for short, to serve as a deepening of defence cooperation, comprising 25 member states, exactly 10 years from the Treaty of Lisbon which launched the idea, but which was being vetoed by Britain right up till Brexit.

Nato has outgrown its shoes and its purpose, and has become a US military tool. Economic warfare has become the new norm

Some argue that this is a waste of resources because there is Nato to do the job. The riposte is precisely that Nato is not doing the job. With so many US military bases rooted in European soil, with 120,000 American troops, it begs the question whether Europe is truly free.

With undue military influence from across the Atlantic and the North Sea, how much is Europe free to forge its policies of peace and prosperity with its neighbours?

Making matters worse, generals have now become so cocky with their rediscovered political and military muscle that they have even started speaking publicly about perceived military threats, even launching threats of their own. They have absolutely no political or constitutional mandate to speak on behalf of people, governments and nations.

That is the strict remit of elected officials and their diplomatic corps, not of unelected military musclemen charging at windmills, who are speaking out of turn, influencing and unnerving people, getting media coverage and stoking fires.

Nato has outgrown its shoes and its purpose, and has become a US military tool. Economic warfare has become the new norm. Whatever happened to Europe building on the fabric of economic and social integration with its neighbours? And who benefits from a weaker euro and rouble, if not the dollar? Why is Europe appearing to have become just an annex of the US, and being pushed around?

It has a golden opportunity to become stronger with its easternmost region. Why are we blowing it with senseless sanctions that hurt both sides?

Military machines that are supposed to concentrate on defence have become increasingly more hostile and aggressive, in an endless effort to justify their own pathetic, diabolical existence, while lining the pockets of power brokers who move from military appointments to ones in the arms industry, and back, as if the principle of conflict of interest has been reduced to a dead letter, a mere fairy tale.

Meanwhile Joe Citizen is left picking up the huge tab through his taxes, while politicians, Merkel the first among them, ram austerity programmes down his throat, like the quacks of old, selling bottles of Dr Good from their passing caravans, as the promised all round panacea.

It is time we spoke out in unison against persons and institutions who sow discord and broker massive arms deals paid for with European taxes. We must pressure leaders of European nations to dump the dinosaur called Nato, which has become not just an expensive behemoth, but a security, economic, political and moral hazard.

It is a cell that has grown to become a tumour, a Trojan horse now festering inside of the gates, and ironically threatening peace and prosperity in our times, rather than safeguarding them. Furthermore, once the US military sets up shop in a foreign land, it never seems to leave. If tiny Malta closed foreign military bases 40 years ago, surely power houses in Europe could do likewise.

Out with the old, in with the new. Let Pesco grow in line with Europe’s vision at Lisbon. And let Nato and US bases in Europe go the way of the dinosaurs.

They should have gone a long time ago, and are well past their expiry date

Rodolfo Ragonesi is a lawyer and researcher in international affairs.

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