- Date published:
3:23 pm, June 21st, 2022 - 62 comments
Categories: capitalism, China, climate change, defence, Europe, Pacific, Peace, Russia, Ukraine, uncategorized, us politics, war - Tags:
Not content to stay in the North Atlantic, a NATO conference in Madrid is shortly about to reveal its next ten-year plan to contain China. Jacinda Ardern will be there, who knows why. Are we nailing our colours to a flag at half-mast?
Politik’s Monday newsletter reports:
Asked at her weekly press conference yesterday if her presence at the summit indicated New Zealand was moving closer to NATO, Ardern said: “No, it means we have been for the last roughly ten years a NATO partner. We’ve worked alongside NATO in other areas before, and of course, in this current war in Ukraine, you’ll have seen that New Zealand has, through the NATO trust fund, supported the distribution of aid and support. But again, we maintain the status that we’ve had for the last ten years.”
That is not quite how NATO sees it. We are in NATO’s sights, as shown by a preparatory document commissioned by Stoltenberg:
NATO should deepen consultation and cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners – Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. This could be done using the existing NATO+4 Format or the NATO-Pacific Partnership Council, or through NATO engagement with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, potentially including other regional states such as India, as appropriate. Such a format would seek to heighten coordination on managing the strategic and political implications of China’s rise
There has been very little discussion about the wisdom of this move. The question is, are we backing a lame horse, or even the wrong horse? What does this mean for our vaunted “independent foreign policy?’
The world is at an inflection point, economically as well as geopolitically. The so-called ‘liberal international order,’ oxymoronic in its terms, is changing fast. US hegemony is being replaced by a multi-polar world. This has been obvious economically for some time. NATO has been described as the military guardian of the neo-liberal order, explicitly recognised as under threat in the 2018 US Defense Strategy which designated China, Russia, Iran and North Korea as its competitors.
NATO was set up after WW2 to contain Soviet Russia; in the words of the UK’s Lord Ismay, its first Secretary-General, to keep the “United States in, Russia out, and Germany down.” In the light of recent events, it could be said to have failed in the second objective and over-achieved in the third. The US is not only in NATO but runs it and the UK now just follows along.
Russia’s challenge has come because it is fed up with the lack of any acknowledgment of the threat posed by NATO’s short-range missiles encroaching their borders after the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the INF treaty. The Special Military Operation is the promised ‘military-technical’ response to the lack of response to their security concerns. But in the West, history began on the 24th of February. Everything prior to that is cancelled.
If the main purpose of NATO has been to contain the Russian Federation, the successor of the Soviet Union, it is not doing a very good job. President Biden has wisely ruled out NATO intervention in Ukraine, preferring to fight the Russian incursion to the last Ukrainian with mostly obsolescent and cast-off equipment. NATO has been training Ukrainian forces since the 2014 Maidan coup, but they are proving to be no match for Russia’s strategy, even while heavily dug in to positions fortified over several years.
The NATO strategy now may be to try to string out the war for years, but this may in fact work to Russia’s advantage. As former Indian diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar writes at Indian Punchline:
Ukraine is a test to destruction of both NATO and the EU, and the wider, western-dominated multilateral system they are both part of. NATO, in particular, has just been confronted by exactly the kind of situation that its founders expected—the exercise of Russian military power—and it did effectively nothing. No amount of hand-waving, no amount of sanctions or arms deliveries, can change that fact, which in turn changes everything. NATO and the EU can prolong the war, cause more suffering, and destroy many economies, including their own. But they can’t fundamentally affect the result, and the nature of their responses, beneath the surface posturing, demonstrates that they know this.
And another writing under the pseudonym Aurelian:
Fundamentally, the Western economies are facing a systemic crisis. The complacency that the reserve-currency-based US economy is impervious to ballooning debt; that the petrodollar system compels the entire world to purchase dollars to finance their needs; that the flood of cheap Chinese consumer goods and cheap energy from Russia and Gulf States would keep inflation at bay; that interest rate hikes will cure structural inflation; and, above all, that the consequences of taking a trade-war hammer to a complex network system in the world economy can be managed — these notions stand exposed.
Russia of course is well aware of these factors, as President Putin laid out in his speech to the St Petersburg International Economic Forum last week. NATO’s options in Europe do not look good, and there is evidence that behind the scenes some of the Europeans understand that and are trying to urge Zelensky to negotiate. Boris Johnson continues to bluster.
NATO’s strategy for the last ten years, doing nothing in Europe and failing in Afghanistan is not stellar. Calling up the same club that is sanctioning Russia, and as is widely noted is white, colonial or occupied does not augur well for its next iteration. It does not include the global south. As another commentator Graham Fuller, former Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council at CIA, writes:
Indeed the West may come to look back at this moment as the final argument against following Washington’s quest for global dominance into ever newer and more dangerous and damaging confrontations with Eurasia. And most of the rest of the world–Latin America, India, the Middle East and Africa– find few national interests in this fundamentally American war against Russia.
Confronting Eurasia does not represent the future, and it should not represent our future. The NATO conference is clearly not business as usual, as Jacinda Ardern argues. NATO is not doing well at containing Russia, and it has no hope of containing China.
And of course our invitation to the party comes with a price. More money for useless weaponry that we are never going to use.
Instead, we should seek co-operation with all the countries in our region for the development of our economy and for the safety of our planet. We share enough issues with the south and east, starting with climate change.