The summit and recent statements by NATO officials highlight the fact that there is no military or diplomatic course U.S. imperialism can take that will bring stability to the unraveling world imperialist order, from the Mideast to central Asia and Europe. This is the opposite of what the U.S. ruling class expected a quarter-century ago, when Washington mistakenly believed it had won the Cold War.
“The security environment in and around Europe is, perhaps, the most dangerous and unpredictable it has been in decades, since the height of the Cold War,” declared NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow in a June 13 policy speech in Geneva. “Chief among the challenges” in this “disrupted world,” he said, “are the actions of a more aggressive and assertive Russia, and the tide of violence and instability which has swept across the Middle East and North Africa.”
Vershbow, a U.S. diplomat, was outlining Washington’s perspective for the upcoming summit, which drew government and military leaders from the United States, Canada, most countries in Europe and Turkey. He called for an “enhanced forward presence” of NATO armed forces in eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Formed under Washington’s domination following its victory in World War II, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization codified the permanent presence of the U.S. military on European soil. Comprising 28 countries today, it has no military resources of its own but draws on those of member states, above all Washington. The Warsaw gathering reflected the rivalry that exists between these competing ruling classes.
Just a few days after Vershbow’s address, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticized a NATO military exercise in Poland as “saber-rattling and warmongering” and called for dialogue and cooperation with Moscow.
Arriving in Warsaw July 8, French President Francois Hollande said, “NATO has no role at all to be saying what Europe’s relations with Russia should be,” adding that “for France, Russia is not an adversary.”
For more than four decades, nuclear-armed NATO forces in Europe faced off against Moscow’s Warsaw Pact alliance. The Warsaw Pact crumbled along with the disintegration of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-91. Washington and its closest imperialist allies believed they now had free rein to impose their will in eastern Europe and the Middle East. The consequence has been ongoing wars and instability, beginning with the 1991 U.S.-organized slaughter in Iraq, where Washington has carried out nonstop military intervention for 25 years since.
Washington began taking steps to incorporate former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO membership in 1994. That same year the Bill Clinton administration pushed for NATO intervention in Yugoslavia, in what became the first combat operation in the reactionary alliance’s history. Placing the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan under NATO command in 2003 was the first NATO operation beyond Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reacted to NATO’s eastward expansion by seeking to maintain a buffer zone near the Russian border, including carrying out military interventions in Georgia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
NATO held its largest war games since the end of the Cold War in Poland in June, with 31,000 troops from 24 countries. In response the Russian military has held exercises on its western borders.
In May, Washington inaugurated a ground-based anti-ballistic missile system in Romania, with another planned in Poland. Moscow then announced it would deploy nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic coast between Poland and Lithuania.
The July 8-9 summit agreed that up to 4,000 troops under NATO command will be rotated through eastern Poland and the Baltic states for the first time. Washington will send 1,000 troops to Poland. German forces will lead a similar-sized battalion in Lithuania, the U.K. in Estonia, and Canada in Latvia. Moscow regards this as a violation of an earlier NATO pledge not to permanently station foreign troops there.
Expanding role beyond Europe
The summit projected that NATO forces in Afghanistan will remain at close to the current level of 13,000 troops, roughly 6,700 from the U.S. and most of the rest from Germany, Italy and Turkey. On July 6, President Barack Obama announced that Washington would maintain a total of 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, reversing a previous projection to cut U.S. forces there to 5,500 by next year.
The NATO summit agreed to establish a military training mission in Iraq, provide air surveillance for the U.S.-led coalition there and in Syria, and help combat Islamic State and other Islamist groups in Jordan and Libya. A naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea is to be set up for “counterterrorism” and to stem the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe from North Africa.
In a further escalation of the U.S. intervention in Iraq, Obama announced July 11 that Washington will increase its troop deployment to Iraq by 560, bringing the official total to 4,647.
Ukraine workers protest price hikes, demand wage raises
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