Is NATO the New Bully in Town?


by Mustang

My argument (for quite some time now) is that the U.S. State Department is not only inept, but it has also been so for a long time — and is only getting more so over time.  I’m not sure I understand it — other than to suggest that our universities have so embraced the leftist ideology that they no longer produce anyone destined for the foreign service capable of independent thought.  Does it matter?  In light of the current situation in Ukraine, I think the answer is yes.

New Nato Headquarters

NATO Headquarters

In early July 1997, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) admitted three former Soviet satellite states: the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.  I can understand why these countries would want to join NATO; I’m not sure why our past presidents and cabinet secretaries would wish to increase Russia’s natural paranoia by actively recruiting NATO members from former Soviet states.

It is as if President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright, neither of which was exceptionally bright in the performance of their duties, wanted to recreate post-World War II (Cold War) instability.  If that was their goal in 1997, it’s worked 25 years later — but to no one’s advantage.  Nor can we credit Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman as particularly gifted diplomats.  Since then, no President or Secretary of State, and I include Ronald Reagan, seems to know how to answer the question, “What is power and how should we use it?”

Did anyone after 1992 stop to consider that the Russian Federation lost half of its human population, that its economy was in shambles, and that every Russian leader after Gorbachev would have to spend a great deal of their time addressing these and related issues?  Should the “free world” have welcomed Russia to their new era rather than blame them for the 72 or so years of communism?  Isn’t that much like living in the past at the expense of the present and future?

In 1945, the power club consisted of London, Moscow, and Washington.  That later changed to London, Moscow, and New York (the UN).  Now the power club includes Brussels, Berlin, and Washington … and only Washington because that’s where the money comes from to sustain the UN and NATO.  At a time when NATO was keeping its eye on a post-communist Russia, the Russian Federation had to keep its eye on NATO and China.

One criticism of the U.S. military between 1960 and 2001 was that it had lost sight that Russia was no longer the global threat that it once was under the Soviet Union.  One may understand why the military lost its focus when they realized that the State Department and Depart of Defense, the two senior-most cabinet officials, continually provided lousy advice to the chief executive (among whom few have an adequate understanding of global power politics).

Let’s review: The Soviet Union (Reagan’s Evil Empire) collapsed in 1991.  Why, then, has NATO continued to treat Russia as if it were still a massive communist juggernaut?  Why has the U.S. State Department pushed NATO into ignoring its primary mission statement: to foster an alliance of democracies?

Can we say that the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were democracies in 1997?  No.  They were working in that direction, but democracy takes time.  It took Spain 40 years to achieve that status, yet NATO put these three former Soviet client states on the fast track.  Why?  And can we see an effect of this today as we mull the Ukraine vs. Russia?  Has NATO migrated from an advocate of collective security to a gang of bullies?

Let’s not confuse ourselves.  Several former Soviet states have achieved capitalism; few have achieved democracy.  Has NATO’s focus on the Balkan states reduced stress in that region or created more of it?  Did NATO learn any lessons at all from the Bosnian Civil War?  Where is Ukraine just now?  It may not be pure capitalism, but it’s working on it.  It has corruption down well enough.  But is Ukraine a democracy?

We may need to stop swimming and tread water for a while … to get our strength back.  NATO today is not too far off the mark from Otto von Bismarck’s Austro-Hungarian apparatus that led us into World War I … with the tables turned.  Rather than NATO, it has become the European Treaty Organization and a damnable bully.  Is this what we Americans are happily paying for?  If the answer is yes, then none of us should be surprised by the perilous situation in Ukraine.  Russia has legitimate concerns — and we ought to at least listen to what they are.

Photo credit: “New Nato Headquarters” by NATO is licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Mustang also blogs at Fix Bayonets and Thoughts From Afar

33 Responses to “Is NATO the New Bully in Town?”

  1. Baysider Says:

    Your picture of the building helps answer the question “WTF NATO.” They are an institution, and have interests in self-perpetuation. “Has NATO’s focus on the Balkan states reduced stress in that region or created more of it?” A fertile question to ponder. And yes, everyone is watching. And learning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Baysider Says:

      Although in fairness, if you have read the state of stress in the Balkan region the Europeans managed to create without NATO’s help in this region that was a buffer zone with the Ottomans, it would be hard to say NATO has been that bad.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Elizabeth Kanas-Gonzalez Says:

    @Mustang Russia has legitimate concerns — and we ought to at least listen to what they are. Would you or could you kindly explain to me what those “legitimate concerns” might be or are, and why? I am never saying we should not listen, but your statement baffles me. When did Russia have any legitimate concerns that were not self-serving “Mother Russia?”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mustang Says:

      The legitimate concerns, at least in my opinion, are two principal issues. The first is positioning NATO missiles, radars, and air bases surrounding Russia. The second involves threats to Russia’s economic endeavors, such as might involve restricting or denying Russia’s access to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

      In the first instance, and perhaps my best argument, is to review how the United States reacted to Russian missiles in Cuba (1962), and more recently, Russia involving itself in the affairs of Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil. Since no one in our government feels comfortable with a Russian military presence in any of these nations, why on earth would Russia feel comfortable with a NATO footprint in the former Soviet republics?

      If we (on the one hand) have a concern about Russia’s footprint, why wouldn’t Russia (on the other hand) have concerns about ours? I should note that Russia isn’t the only country trying to take advantage of our rather dismal record of friendship with Latin American neighbors: China has a very heavy footprint in Latin America today, as does Al-Qaeda.

      In the second instance, it seems to me that U.S. and E.U. leaders brainlessly ignore the fact that Russia provides 40% of Europe’s oil and gas. Russia provides 75% of gas and oil consumed by Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, and Finland.

      So, all I am doing is questioning the sensibility of creating and maintaining a hostile relationship between nations that rely on one another for a better quality of life. I don’t think we should necessarily get into bed with the Russians, but I certainly do think (given the horror of bloody warfare) that our diplomats could be doing a lot more to keep the world at peace. And, I feel our diplomats could do that if they weren’t idiots.

      My bottom line is that today’s Russia is not yesterday’s Soviet Union. Mutually assured destruction was the order of the day during the Cold War. The world has moved past that. And if that’s true, then why is NATO’s behavior trying to resurrect the “bad old days” of the Cold War? I see no justification for it.

      Anyway, that’s my thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bunkerville Says:

        With any of these folks, here today and gone tomorrow…. a coup at any time and then instead of the worries of Russia, the worries shift to her neighbors.. hindsight is good…but if history has taught us anything people like other peoples stuff. I am not in any way saying that NATO was/is the answer…

        Liked by 3 people

    • Elizabeth Kanas-Gonzalez Says:

      Mustang you bring up good points, and I can agree with you on this issue as with many. I am not as well versed in NATO as you. This is why I was asking you this question. My only concern would be for the Russian people who are already suffering under Putin’s regime, but I suspect that part of the world may never change.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Elizabeth Kanas-Gonzalez Says:

      Bunkerville what you are saying makes a lot of sense and is very true.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mustang Says:

    Well, as to the photograph, it’s nice to see that the American taxpayer’s money is being well-spent. I wonder if Putin has the map coordinates of that brand new facility.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kidme37 Says:

    I’d say Trump was very correct when he originally said NATO was obsolete. He had to backpedal because not being a politician he didn’t realize how not ready the world would be for such a concept. Or probably moreaccurately, how much money would have to be distributed to how many people all over the world over a long period of time to get that to happen.

    NATO countries couldn’t even defend themselves today. If they tried to band together to do something they’d look like the Chinese Fire Drill segment of a Marx Brothers movie.

    And as written on another blog, Russia isn’t going to allow a missile armed country on its border anymore than the US would allow Cuba to be such a thing.

    I’m just going to sit back and wait for AOC and Jen Psaki to tell me what to think about all this.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. peter3nj Says:

    The thousands of incompetent idiots in our bureaucracy along with countless corporate military vendors are frothing at the mouth as they ready to send 8,500 of our soldiers where we have no business. Money talks bullshit walks (as we say in Jersey,)

    Liked by 4 people

  6. markone1blog Says:

    “It is as if President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright, neither of which was exceptionally bright in the performance of their duties, wanted to recreate post-World War II (Cold War) instability.”
    I remember how the press formerly continually played up the fact that Ms. Albright was a college professor. They seemed to throw that out as if it meant she couldn’t make a hair-brained decision.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. markone1blog Says:

    “Why, then, has NATO continued to treat Russia as if it were still a massive communist juggernaut?”
    One quote that comes to mind is “a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth” (and since this is a extra-governmental bureaucracy, it is even worse).

    Liked by 4 people

    • markone1blog Says:

      That is, NATO is treating Russia like a massive communist juggernaut because that is what they were created to counter.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Mustang Says:

      Excellent point. We’ve been asleep at the switch for far too long.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bunkerville Says:

        Does anyone think the Ukraine has a chance in hell of being accepted into NATO? Germany would nix it for one…they have a long way to clean up their act… but no worries…Biden and Hunter’ s little problem will go away when Russia moves in.

        Like

      • peter3nj Says:

        It’s Wag The Dog Volume II which puts selling the office of the VP and influence peddling on a par with Oval Office BJ’s and Johnny on the pony. No biggie it’s only those pesky democrats doing that thing they do.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mustang Says:

        Well, let’s see. Denmark is sending jet fighters to Lithuania and a frigate to the Baltic Sea; France has offered their troops and a white flag. Spain is sending a rowboat. Biden is sending a transgender brigade, and Germany is sending indecision. Should work out okay.

        Liked by 1 person

      • peter3nj Says:

        Whew! There shouldn’t be any pregnancies among our troops. Oh snap, can they adopt while their deployed on a war footing?If allowed I would and then leave the front lines for six weeks.,

        Liked by 2 people

  8. bunkerville Says:

    Mustang… there was no guarantee that after the collapse of the Soviet Union that those who rose to power would remain benign. Looking back millions had died at the hands of Stalin. In the end, it was the KGB in the form of Putin who got rid of most of the positive changes that had occurred who rose to power and in the end installed himself forever it appears.
    I think of Hungary in 1956… Poland.
    China was to become “civilized” too… lots of luck with that. It is little wonder that the smaller more vulnerable countries would seek protection in case Russia went off the rails. That includes the smaller European countries as well.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Mustang Says:

      It’s a bit complex, but I think it is fair to say that the “old Soviet leaders” have gone the way of the dinosaurs. In the post-war period, they were mostly foolish men seeking to create multi-state buffer zones around the motherland. Soviet policy was economically unsustainable, and in the face of that, between 1945-1980, the great lie was untenable as well. Nothing proved this with greater clarity than the U.S.S.R.’s jaunt to Afghanistan. Reagan/Thatcher drove the Soviets into bankruptcy. Russia’s new leadership, particularly under Putin, wanted to retain a small part of the old plan but realized that no matter how many tanks the Russian’s had in their inventory, they were worthless without the fuel to drive them.

      Under these circumstances, what was NATO thinking in its plan to convert the old Soviet Republics into staging areas for NATO missiles and radars? In my mind, NATO poking the bear with a stick doesn’t seem very responsible. So today, we have Putin objecting to NATO armaments strategically placed around his country, and his desire to protect the Russian economy by maintaining its access to warm water ports (Crimea). Putin has done nothing we (U.S.) wouldn’t do if the situation was reversed. Russia in 2022 is not the Soviet Union in 1956. Since American taxpayers are paying for NATO (the largest share of it), and since America’s armed forces make up the lion’s share of NATO troop lists, we should be asking, “Hey … what are you assholes doing?” Surely there is a better way of protecting western Europe than NATO going out of its way to irritate Russia.

      As I mentioned previously, while the U.S. was spending itself into oblivion in the stupid Middle Eastern wars, Putin was traveling around making deals with the oil-producing countries, which was easy to do since nearly everyone one in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, and Pakistan hates our guts. In this regard, Putin has been almost as clever as the Chinese.

      What could “we” be doing? Well, for starters, we could stop being stupid; we could stop digging that hole. And, by the way, don’t think for a second that China isn’t watching the U.S. China, no doubt, finds Biden’s incompetence interesting. Plan on China invading Taiwan in the not too distant future. And what will Biden do about that? Exactly what the Chinese are planning on … which is that Biden will do nothing but threaten economic sanctions. Given our economic situation, it is laughable — proving my point. American diplomats are idiots. Where we are today is the likely consequence of putting people in charge of the State Department like Albright, Clinton, Kerry, Blinken, and Nod.

      Liked by 2 people

      • bunkerville Says:

        I can’t argue against your points and they are well taken. Alliances have been the fabric of societies since forever…if not NATO and I agree as well, it has outlived its usefulness…those who have the “big ones” will rule. Syria and Libya would probably be in a different place had they retained/developed their nuclear power.
        All we need is one madman to threaten and we shall see how fast countries tumble. After all how can one argue with 76 virgins. We assume that Russia, China whoever is in power will be rational. Good luck with that. Have we learned nothing from WWII.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    “the U.S. State Department is not only inept, but it has also been so for a long time ”
    Is that related to it being a haven for homosexuals in government?
    How does that mindset reflect on ability or temperament in decision making and negotiations?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Mustang Says:

      I don’t know about their sexual orientation, Ed. What I do know is that since around the 1950s, the universities that train up-and-coming state department “area experts” have transformed these Rolex-wearing nimrods into radical leftists. As I said earlier, U.S. foreign policy today is not too far off the mark from the schemes that brought us two world wars. Foggy bottom is the right description of the U.S. State Department.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Linda Says:

    The “world” knows how weak we are. Plain and simple. I noticed the news/media didn’t pick up on the fact that Biden and his family made over $31 million from the Chinese government. How convenient, right?

    Liked by 5 people


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