Category Archives: NATO

The US/NATO Enlargement Project: Building a Russian Wall

Renee Parsons writes for CounterPunch:

In February, 1990, US Secretary of State James Baker (1989-1992), representing President George HW Bush, traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev regarding the possible reunification of Germany and the removal of 300,000 Soviet troops. There is little serious dispute that as the Berlin Wall teetered, Baker promised Gorbachev “there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east.” Gorbachev is reported to have taken the US at its word and responded “any extension of the zone of NATO is unacceptable.” “I agree,” replied Baker.”

Unfortunately, Gorbachev never got it in writing and most historians, at the time, agreed that NATO expansion was “ill conceived, ill-timed, and above all ill-suited to the realities of the post-Cold War world.”

President Bush’s National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and Bill Clinton’s Defense Secretary were also in agreement. But by 1994, that verbal contract had not deterred the concerted efforts of a handful of State Department policy professionals to subdue the overwhelming bureaucratic opposition according to James Goldgeier in his classic “Not Whether but When: The US Decision to Enlarge NATO.” By 1997, the Gorbachev-Baker-Bush agreement was a forgotten policy trinket as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic were accepted into NATO. In 2004, former Soviet satellite countries Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were admitted and in 2009, Croatia and Albania joined NATO.

Currently, the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are pending membership and all five former Soviet republics in Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan) provide NATO with logistical support for the US war in Afghanistan.

As the US-led NATO alliance tightens its grip on the Caucasus countries, the American public has not been informed about the Ukrainian Parliament’s approval for a series of NATO military exercises that would put US troops on Russia’s border, even though the Ukraine is not yet a member of NATO. Rapid Trident is a 12-nation military ‘interoperability’ exercise led by the US who will commit the majority of participating troops and Sea Breeze is a naval exercise that will take place on the Black Sea adjacent to Russian ports. The NATO buildup includes joint ground operations with Moldova and Romania.

Most recently, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that the military alliance has cut Russia off from civilian and military cooperation and that there would be the deployment and reinforcement of military assets including increased air patrols over the Baltic Sea and AWACS surveillance flights over Poland and Romania.

It goes without saying that the NATO build up is in addition to the deployment of US troops and F-16 warplanes to Poland, F-15C warplanes to Lithuania and aircraft carriers to the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

All this raises the question about whether a promise and handshake in the world of international diplomacy is a real commitment and what is a 1991 international promise made by a Republican Administration worth in 1994 to a Democratic Administration? Apparently zilch.

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Putin says annexation of Crimea a reaction to NATO expansion, US missile defence plans

From Reuters:

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Russia had been forced to respond to NATO enlargement and that its annexation of Crimea, home to its Black Sea Fleet, was partly influenced by the Western military alliance’s expansion into eastern Europe. Putin said Moscow will respond if the United States moves ahead with plans to base elements of a missile defence shield in eastern Europe, accusing Washington of fuelling a Cold War-style arms race.

“When the infrastructure of a military bloc is moving toward our borders, it causes us some concerns and questions. We need to take some steps in response,” Putin said in a televised call-in with the nation. “Our decision on Crimea was partly due to … considerations that if we do nothing, then at some point, guided by the same principles, NATO will drag Ukraine in and they will say: ‘It doesn’t have anything to do with you.’”

Putin accused the military bloc of 28 nations of seeking to squeeze Russia out of its historic stomping ground in the Black Sea region, where Russian warships are based in the Tsarist-era city of Sevastopol. “NATO ships would have ended up in the city of Russian navy glory, Sevastopol,” Putin said.

Putin said Moscow wants to continue talks with Washington over its objections to U.S. missile defence plans, but would take all steps necessary to ensure its security.

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Map: NATO Expansion 1990 to 2009

John Pilger: From China to Ukraine, the US is pursuing its longstanding ambition to dominate the Eurasian landmass

John Pilger writes for The Guardian:

Men wearing military fatigues in the eastern Ukrainian city of KramatorskI watched Dr Strangelove the other day. I have seen it perhaps a dozen times; it makes sense of senseless news. When Major TJ “King” Kong goes “toe to toe with the Rooskies” and flies his rogue B52 nuclear bomber to a target in Russia, it’s left to General “Buck” Turgidson to reassure the president. Strike first, says the general, and “you got no more than 10-20 million killed, tops”. President Merkin Muffley: “I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler.” General Turgidson: “Perhaps it might be better, Mr President, if you were more concerned with the American people than with your image in the history books.”

The genius of Stanley Kubrick’s film is that it accurately represents the cold war’s lunacy and dangers. Most of the characters are based on real people and real maniacs. There is no equivalent to Strangelove today because popular culture is directed almost entirely at our interior lives, as if identity is the moral zeitgeist and true satire is redundant, yet the dangers are the same. The nuclear clock has remained at five minutes to midnight; the same false flags are hoisted above the same targets by the same “invisible government”, as Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations, described modern propaganda.

In 1964, the year Dr Strangelove was made, “the missile gap” was the false flag. To build more and bigger nuclear weapons and pursue an undeclared policy of domination, President John F Kennedy approved the CIA’s propaganda that the Soviet Union was well ahead of the US in the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles. This filled front pages as the “Russian threat”. In fact, the Americans were so far ahead in production of the missiles, the Russians never approached them. The cold war was based largely on this lie.

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NATO Chief: US Troops May Be Sent to Eastern Europe

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove continued to play up the idea of an imminent Russian invasion of eastern Europe, saying the alliance ispreparing “countermoves” in the region that may include US ground troops deploying. Gen. Breedlove said the plan right now is for a buildup of land, air, and naval assets in the region to “build assurance for our easternmost allies,” and that it would mean troops from several nations, including potentially the US, heading to “front-line states.”

Breedlove’s comments at the conference centered around commercial satellite photos of Russian military bases in the westernmost portion of the country, which he presented as proof Russia has troops “ready to go” in the area. He went on to say that Russia’s assets include “fixed and rotary wing aircraft,” unsurprising since a major Russian air force base is in the area near the Ukrainian border.

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The Forgotten War: Libya After NATO

‘With the Libyan war, like so many wars before it, the public was lied to just enough to convince them that war was necessary to maintain peace. And now that the real mission has been accomplished and Libya’s gold has been stolen and its central bank has been established and its AFRICOM-resisting leader has been killed and it has been established as an operations base for NATO’s Al-CIAda mercenaries, the political misleaders who started the war couldn’t care less about the lives of the Libyan people. Find out more about what’s happening in Libya today in this week’s Eyeopener report.’ (Boiling Frogs Post)

NATO chief to allies: Spend more on defence to deter Russia

Editor’s Note: To a man with a hammer, everything tends to look a lot like a nail. And even when it doesn’t, he’s going to try to convince you that it’s a nail. The largest and most expensive military alliance in the world is always looking for excuses to prevent a drop in its defence spending and now they have it in the form of the Red Hitler who apparently wants to reform the Soviet Union and invade Eastern Europe. NATO chief Rasmussen steps down this summer, but his replacement and fellow Bilderberger will continue to push the same war hype propaganda. Last year the U.S. was talking about cutting its military budget in Europe as part of its ‘Asia Pivot’, now they’re looking to increase it. Never let a good opportunity go to waste the saying goes, especially if it keeps your job from becoming irrelevant. 

David Blair reports for the Telegraph:

Photo: ReutersBritain and its Nato allies must respond to Russia’s “illegal aggression” against Ukraine by spending more on defence, the alliance’s secretary general has said. Writing in The Telegraph, Anders Fogh Rasmussen appeals for Nato members to modernise their armed forces as Russia tries to “carve up” Europe.

“Every ally needs to invest the necessary resources in the right capabilities,” writes Mr Rasmussen. “That means modern equipment, intensive training for our forces, and closer cooperation among Nato allies and with our partners. I know how challenging this is in today’s economic climate, but the security climate makes it vital.” Mr Rasmussen adds: “In the long run, a lack of security would be more costly than investing now and we owe it to our forces, and to broader society.”

The burden of defending Nato’s 28 members falls increasingly on just one: the United States. Last year, America accounted for 72 per cent of Nato defence spending, up from 59 per cent in 1995. This reflects cuts in military budgets across Europe. Of the 25 European members of Nato, only Britain, Greece and Estonia met an unofficial target of spending at least 2 per cent of national income on defence last year. The average figure was only 1.3 per cent. America, by contrast, devoted 4.4 per cent of its national income to defence.

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Pepe Escobar: Why the EU won’t annex Ukraine (It’s all about NATO)

Pepe Escobar writes for RT:

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy (R) exchanges documents with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk during the signing of the political provisions of the Association Agreement with Ukraine at the EU headquarters in Brussels on March 21, 2014 on the second day of a two-day European Council summit. (AFP Photo)[...] Hysterical 24/7 Western spin conveys the impression Ukraine will be annexed by a (mostly bankrupt) EU tomorrow. No so fast! The final deal will be just an association agreement; afterwards there would be a long and winding road towards EU admission (which, by the way, the absolute majority of EU member-nations don’t want.)

Article 7.2. of the association agreement states that Ukraine will have to comply with the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the European security and defense policy (ESDP). The conditions are spelled out here and here.

The obscure – even for most Europeans – ESDP happens to be the key European pillar of NATO. Translation: it details how the EU is subordinated to the US (which controls NATO). For instance, the EU may only act in a determined case if NATO first declines to. Additionally, the March 2003 Berlin-plus agreement allows the EU to use NATO’s hardware and software for military operations if NATO declines to.

What this essentially means is that Ukraine is on the road to become legally bound to NATO’s overall project. Along with other independent analysts, I’ve argued from the start that this whole geopolitical drama is first and foremost about NATO annexing Ukraine.

The NATO-Ukraine twisted love affair started in the early 2000s. After some soul-searching, it was decided NATO or no NATO should be the subject of a national referendum in the future. In the 2008 Bucharest summit NATO opened its arms, stating that Ukraine could join as soon as it met the criteria. In 2010 Yanukovich announced Ukraine was not interested anymore. Still, Ukraine remains quite a muscular member of NATO’s innocent-sounding Partnership for Peace (PfP).

No wonder NATO is now in overdrive selling the notion that Ukraine is “under threat” – and should join as soon as possible. NATO’s secretary-general – the astonishingly mediocre American poodle, Anders Fogh Rasmussen – said we’re living the most serious threat to Europe’s security since the end of the Cold War: “This is a wake-up call. For the Euro-Atlantic community. For NATO. And for all those committed to a Europe whole, free and at peace.’’

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Russian Officials See Growing Threats From US, NATO

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Top Russian security official Alexander Malevany says his government faces growing threats from the United States and its allies in NATO, stemming from US “hysteria” about the annexation of Crimea.  Malevany warned he is seeing a growing number of US efforts to “weaken Russian influence in a region that is of vital importance,” referring to Eastern Europe.

Earlier this week President Obama began talking up a significant increase in US and NATO deployments into Eastern Europe, supposedly to reassure Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania that NATO would defend them from Russian invasion.

Instead of being a stabilizing influence, such deployments have fueled concern in Russia, and have Russia’s regional allies, notably Belarus, pushing for bigger Russian deployments in the area to reassure them against NATO expansion.

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Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg (another Bilderberger) appointed as new NATO chief

Raf Casert and Mark Lewis report for The Associated Press:

Former Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg will take over as NATO chief starting in October, the second Scandinavian in a row to lead the military alliance.

Friday’s announcement comes at a critical time as the crisis over Ukraine and Crimean Peninsula has suddenly made the 28-nation alliance a more important security force in Europe.

Stoltenberg called the crisis with Russia over Ukraine “a brutal reminder of how important NATO is.”

“I want to express my support that NATO does not accept the changing of borders by force within Europe,” he said in Oslo. “NATO has once again proven its relevance.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who took up the role in 2009, will step down after a NATO summit in Wales later this year.

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Time to Disband NATO: How Should the US Relate to the Rest of the World?

Alice Slater writes for Counter Punch:

With 16,000 of the world’s 17,000 nuclear bombs in the US and Russia, the US should certainly not be fanning the fires for a new cold war after the distressing events in Crimea and the Ukraine.   Rather, we should acknowledge our broken promise to Gorbachev that we wouldn’t expand NATO if Russia didn’t object to a reunified Germany’s entry into NATO when the wall came down, and promise not to invite the Ukraine or Georgia to become members of our old Cold War military alliance.   We should be disbanding NATO and working for reform of the UN system so that it can fulfill its peacekeeping mission without archaic reliance on regional military competitive alliances.

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NATO and Serbia, 15 Years On: The Bombs that Failed

Binoy Kampmark writes for CounterPunch:

A US F-15C Eagle flies a mission over Yugoslavia 08 April 1999 (AFP Photo)

Credit: AFP Photo

It is never fitting to be too morose. Sigmund Freud’s distinction between those who mourn from those who are melancholic was fundamental. To mourn is to concede that an act has happened, that it lies in the realm of the undoable and irreversible. One can only learn. To be melancholic is a concession that things have never entire left, that it lingers, the memory haunting like the sun defying shadow.

The wars in the Balkans have tended to foster the melancholia of a past that never leaves, granting it the status of a permanent stand in for the ever present. Such sentinels can make poor company, but they are unavoidable. As Ukraine’s situation accelerates with actions of sanctions, annexations, coups and counter-coups, it is worth noting how another compact was firstly dissolved and then subsequently tortured in the 1990s. The trends are similar – the moralising, the external interference, the bullying of powers extraneous yet obsessed with holding the levers of a disintegrating country.

The Yugoslavian Federation, an experiment bound by the iron fist and held by the iron glove, frayed and then fell apart during the early 1990s. By the time NATO revealed itself, not so much as a defensive alliance as an offensive one, Serbian civilians found themselves the target of a military offensive ostensibly to punish them for their government’s ruthless policies in Kosovo. Never mind the fact that there was a secessionist movement on home soil also dedicated to extreme violence. Nor did it matter that many Serbs were against the authoritarian insanities of the Milošević regime. As some protesters in Maidan can feel sorrowful over, their voices became the distant echoes of intrusion and interference, railroaded and road blocked by other powers.

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Ex-Australian PM, Malcolm Fraser: ‘US thinks rules are for inferior nations, it’s in their DNA’

Poland calls for larger U.S. military presence in eastern Europe

From Reuters:

The U.S. should increase its military presence in Poland and in other NATO members in central and eastern Europe in light of the Ukraine crisis, Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said on Saturday.

Siemoniak said Washington was open towards the idea but detailed talks were yet to begin.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Poland last Tuesday and confirmed plans to deploy elements of a U.S. missile shield in Poland by 2018 and met with the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Bronislaw Komorowski.

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The US Promises to Go to War For More Than 54 Countries

John Glaser writes for Antiwar:

There are 54 different countries on Earth that the U.S. is legally obligated to militarily protect and defend if they get into their own conflicts… This [State Department list via Micah Zenko] illustrates rather well the sheer magnitude of U.S. commitments around the world. It’s worth remembering, too, as Nima Shirazi noted, that not every state that Washington commits itself to militarily is listed here (Israel is conspicuous for its absence). So, U.S. military commitments go beyond even this lengthy list.

Why? Politicians will tell you this is about defending freedom and democracy (right…). Policy wonks will rattle off old chestnuts about global security and international cooperation. More accurately, this helps institutionalize U.S. hegemony (that is, unrivaled power over all other states in the system). This doesn’t merely demonstrate how taxpayer money and resources go to the defense of other countries. It illustrates the pervasive conviction in Washington that there are few, if any, spots on the planet that aren’t vital U.S. interests that require military interventionism. America’s mandate is limitless, it would seem.

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Former US Ambassador to USSR.: Behind Crimea Crisis, Russia Responding to Years of “Hostile” US Policy

‘The standoff over Ukraine and the fate of Crimea has sparked the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on top Russian officials while announcing new military exercises in Baltic states. Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian government says it is considering changing its stance on Iran’s nuclear talks in response to newly imposed U.S. sanctions. As tensions rise, we are joined by Jack Matlock, who served as the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991. Matlock argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting in response to years of perceived hostility from the U.S., from the eastward expansion of NATO to the bombing of Serbia to the expansion of American military bases in eastern Europe.’ (Democracy Now!)

Jacob G. Hornberger: Disband NATO

Jacob G. Hornberger writes for MWC News:

In a recent New York Times op-ed, John McCain, the man who hoped to be president, said that Russia’s invasion of Crimea has nothing to do with NATO expansion into Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Oh? Well, now, let’s see how McCain would be responding if the shoe were on the other foot.

Let’s assume that when the Cold War ended, the United States disbanded NATO. That, of course, wouldn’t have been too illogical given that NATO was brought into existence to protect Western Europe from Soviet aggression during the Cold War. Since the Soviet Union was dismantled with the Cold War’s end, there was certainly no reason to keep NATO in existence. Let’s assume that Russia, on other hand, decided to keep the Warsaw Pact in existence, albeit with new members. Let’s assume that ever since 1990, the reconstituted Warsaw Pact expanded into the Western Hemisphere with such new members as Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Let’s also assume that Russia proposed a Warsaw Pact anti-missile system in Cuba, purely as a defensive measure.

Oh, let’s have one more assumption. Let’s assume that Russia instigated protests in Mexico against the violence of the U.S-instigated drug war. Those protests, let us say, have resulted in the recent ouster of the democratically elected president of Mexico and in the installation of a pro-Moscow unelected regime. I ask you: What would John McCain and his merry band of U.S. conservative and neoconservative interventionists be saying about this chain of events? Would they be sitting silently by or even praising the actions of the Warsaw Pact? Would they be embracing Russia as a friend and ally? Would they be placing their trust in Russian president Vladimir Putin as the Warsaw Pact came up to America’s southern border?

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John McCain: Moldova ‘country to watch’

Lucy McCalmont reports for Politico:

Arizona Sen. John McCain warns that following Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin could extend Russian aggression into other areas of Europe, specifically Moldova and Latvia. “Moldova is a country to watch next,” the Republican senator said Wednesday on Fox News’s “Happening Now.” McCain, noting that Moldova is not a member of NATO, also said there are already Russian troops in an area of the country.  “There’s already this kind of demands for Russian help,” he added as well as “the kind of provocations that we saw in eastern Ukraine.”

McCain also cast doubt as to whether Putin will not move into eastern Ukraine, saying the Russian president “still has forces masked around it.” He warned of the possibility of further violence in Crimea, saying there are still thousands of Ukrainian troops in Crimea. The senator also suggested that Putin could “be using same the same kind of strategy” in Latvia, noting the country also has a large Russian population. “I don’t know how far he goes,” McCain said, adding it depends on the U.S. and European response, which he criticized as “unbelievably weak.”

Are We Stumbling into World War III?: Interview with Stephen Cohen

‘Thom Hartmann talks with Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus-New York University and Princeton University / Contributing Editor-The Nation Magazine & Author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, for his take on the situation in Ukraine.’ (Thom Hartmann)

The Flaw in ‘Cornering’ Russia

Melvin A. Goodman writes for Consortium News:

U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan who is credited with devising the strategy of deterrence against the Soviet Union after World War II.Twenty years ago, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union marked a virtual end to the long-standing military and ideological threat that Moscow represented to the United States. Yet, instead of “anchoring” Russia to the political and economic architecture of the Western alliance system, which George F. Kennan’s “containment doctrine” endorsed, successive U.S. administrations have not only kept the Kremlin at arm’s length but have drawn the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) closer to Russia itself. This is central to the current crisis over Crimea.

In expanding NATO, the United States has been guilty of betraying a guarantee that Secretary of State James Baker gave to Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in 1990, when the United States stated that it would not “leapfrog” over East Germany to place U.S. military forces in East Europe in the wake of the Soviet military withdrawal from Germany. The administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush ignored that commitment when the United States sponsored the entry of eight former Warsaw Pact members as well as three former Soviet Republics into NATO. The Obama administration, meanwhile, appears ignorant of the geopolitical context of its foreign policies, which have not taken this betrayal into account in the Crimean crisis.

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The Globalization of NATO: Military Doctrine of Global Warfare

A synopsis of the book ‘The Globalization of NATO’ by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya:

glo_nato.jpgThe world is enveloped in a blanket of perpetual conflict. Invasions, occupation, illicit sanctions, and regime change have become currencies and orders of the day. One organization – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – is repeatedly, and very controversially, involved in some form or another in many of these conflicts led by the US and its allies. NATO spawned from the Cold War. Its existence was justified by Washington and Western Bloc politicians as a guarantor against any Soviet and Eastern Bloc invasion of Western Europe, but all along the Alliance served to cement Washington’s influence in Europe and continue what was actually America’s post-World War II occupation of the European continent. In 1991 the raison d’êtreof the Soviet threat ended with the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless NATO remains and continues to alarmingly expand eastward, antagonizing Russia and its ex-Soviet allies. China and Iran are also increasingly monitoring NATO’s moves as it comes into more frequent contact with them.

Yugoslavia was a turning point for the Atlantic Alliance and its mandate. The organization moved from the guise of a defensive posture into an offensive pose under the pretexts of humanitarianism. Starting from Yugoslavia, NATO began its journey towards becoming a global military force. From its wars in the Balkans, it began to broaden its international area of operations outside of the Euro-Atlantic zone into the Caucasus, Central Asia, East Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian Ocean. It has virtually turned the Mediterranean Sea into a NATO lake with the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, while it seeks to do the same to the Black Sea and gain a strategic foothold in the Caspian Sea region. The Gulf Security Initiative between NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council seeks to also dominate the Persian Gulf and to hem in Iran. Israel has become a de facto member of the military organization. At the same time, NATO vessels sail the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. These warships are deployed off the coasts of Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen as part of NATO’s objectives to create a naval cordon of the seas controlling important strategic waterways and maritime transit routes.

The Atlantic Alliance’s ultimate aim is to fix and fasten the American Empire. NATO has clearly played an important role in complementing the US strategy for dominating Eurasia. This includes the encirclement of Russia, China, Iran, and their allies with a military ring subservient to Washington. The global missile shield project, the militarization of Japan, the insurgencies in Libya and Syria, the threats against Iran, and the formation of a NATO-like military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region are components of this colossal geopolitical project. NATO’s globalization, however, is bringing together a new series of Eurasian counter-alliances with global linkages that stretch as far as Latin America. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have been formed by Russia, China, and their allies as shields against the US and NATO and as a means to challenge them. As the globalization of NATO unfolds the risks of nuclear war become more and more serious with the Atlantic Alliance headed towards a collision course with Russia, China, and Iran that could ignite World War III.

What’s Really Going On: Bahrain vs. Ukraine, Can You Spot the Difference?

From chycho:

What amazes me is that sane intelligent people have become hysterical by consuming western mainstream media propaganda designed to divert our attention away from the root cause of what ails our society.

For example, with the Ukrainian crisis shock doctrine tactics are being used to bombard us into a frenzy, the ultimate purpose for which is to distract us from the great gameZbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard (2), our economy’s addiction to indefinite growth, the transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street (2), the resource warsThe Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the geography of energy pipelines, the misconception of American exceptionalism and how it influences our foreign policy specifically on how it relates to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the significance of war being a racket (2), and the inverted totalitarian nature of our governments waging war on information (23).

To have a better understanding of what all this is about, below you will find a brief summary of what’s been going on in two major conflict zones, Bahrain and Ukraine. Can you spot the difference?

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US to bolster military support to Poland, Baltic States

From AFP:

The United States plans to expand military cooperation with Poland and Baltic states to show “support” for its allies after Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said Wednesday. “This morning the Defense Department is pursuing measures to support our allies,” including expanded aviation training in Poland and increasing the US role in NATO’s air policing mission over Baltic countries, Hagel told lawmakers.

NATO’s top commander and head of the US European Command, General Philip Breedlove, also planned to confer with Central and Eastern European defense chiefs, Hagel said. “This is a time for wise, steady, and firm leadership,” Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“It is a time for all of us to stand with the Ukrainian people in support of their territorial integrity and sovereignty, and their right to have a government that fulfills the aspirations of its people.” At the same hearing, General Martin Dempsey, the US military’s top-ranking officer, said he had spoken to his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov earlier Wednesday, urging “restraint.”

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Kiev dismisses reports of Ukraine-U.S. missile defense talks

From Xinhuanet:

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has dismissed reports Kiev is allegedly in talks with the United States over a possible deployment of missile defense systems in Ukraine. “There are no negotiations on this issue and there’s not even a hint of them,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Eugene Perebiynis was quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying Wednesday. Perebiynis said Kiev and Washington were in talks on possible financial aid to Ukraine, with no strings attached. Earlier in the day, local media, citing Ukrainian ambassador to Belarus Mykhailo Yezhel, reported missile systems were on the table as part of the aid talks. Yezhel served as Ukrainian Defense Minister from 2010 to 2012 under the leadership of the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

Ukrainian Hangovers: Russia, Crimea and the Consequences of NATO Policy

Jeffrey Sommers and Michael Hudson write for CounterPunch:

Russia’s incursion (invasion if you prefer) into Crimea, with prospects for movement into Eastern Ukraine, is the culmination of US/NATO policy since 1991. The unraveling of the USSR and its Soviet bloc (the Warsaw Pact) dismantled the largest empire in modern history. Even more striking, it was the most peaceful dissolution of a major empire in history. The fact that an empire stretching over a dozen time zones that included hundreds of ethnic groups with concrete historical and contemporary grievances with each other broke up without a bloodbath is nothing short of a miraculous – and a reflection of the destruction of spirit and even of economic understanding that marked the distortions of Stalinism, neither capitalist nor socialist but a bureaucratic collectivism whose final stage proved to be kleptocracy.

Part of the reason that this went off with such little violence was due to the mutual desire of President George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War’s threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Gorbachev for his part recognized that the Warsaw Pact nations needed to be let go, in order to free resources to build up a more middle class consumer economy. Demilitarization was to be achieved by disarmament, all the more remarkable in view of the largest human losses suffered in world history from military invasion had occurred just two generations earlier. Germany became the focus, pending its reunification in1990. It had invaded its neighbors every generation or so since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In World War II it laid waste to the USSR and left 25 million of its people dead. Other East European nations, including Romania (and, along with victims of Stalinist oppression, e.g., the Baltics and Ukrainians, welcomed the Nazis and fought against Russia). The NATO alliance thus remained the main threat that had held the Soviet Union together

So Russia had vital security concerns that could only be met by assurances that NATO would not move into the Warsaw Pact states, where so much Soviet blood had been shed in World War II. President George H. W. Bush (#41) made assurances that if the Soviets were to dissolve the Warsaw Pact, Russia must be assured that the NATO would not fill the vacuum. But his successor, Bill Clinton, broke this promise by quickly taking the former Warsaw Pact states into NATO, and then moved into territory formerly occupied and incorporated into the USSR with the Baltics. It should have been foreseen – and probably was inevitable – that these new entrants wanted NATO, given their own experience with Soviet occupation. But the eagerness of a triumphalist United States to surround Russia militarily rather than disarm led Russian leaders to feel betrayed by the US breaking its word.

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Ukraine crisis stokes Baltic nerves over Russia

Andrius Saytas and Aija Krutaine write for Reuters:

The Baltics fear Russia’s military buildup over Ukraine will lead to Moscow sowing more trouble in their region after it curbed important exports last year and buzzed their borders, forcing NATO to scramble jets dozens of times. The former Soviet republics of Estonia and Latvia have their own large ethnic Russian minorities and are alarmed by President Vladimir Putin’s justification for Russian actions in and around Ukraine as protection for Russian speakers there. While all three Baltic republics have joined NATO – and Lithuania next year should be the last of the three to adopt the euro – these small countries are largely dependent on energy from Russia and have strong trade ties.

“Thanks be to God, we are NATO members,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters on Monday. Grybauskaite said she was concerned about Russian military exercises in Kalinigrad, a Russian enclave tucked between Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic sea and headquarters of Russian Baltic fleet. “We are following the situation with (Russia’s) increased military readiness and drills at our borders,” said Grybauskaite, adding Lithuania and Poland could bring up the issue with NATO.

A repeat of a situation like in Crimea is highly unlikely in the Baltics because of the region’s NATO and EU membership, which Ukraine does not have. “The risk is much lower for Russia intervening in the Baltic states,” said Michael Taylor, a senior analyst for Europe at Oxford Analytica. “It will be a real challenge to the U.S. and EU, and the West will not be able to ignore that,”  But Russia has long complained the rights of ethnic Russians are being undermined in the Baltics and they have long been vocal in warning of Russian soft power assertiveness. Ahead of Latvia joining the euro this year, foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics was unequivocal – entry was an “insurance policy” over Russia.

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Ukraine crisis: John Kerry and Nato must calm down and back off

Jonathan Steele writes for the Guardian:

Both John Kerry’s threats to expel Russia from the G8 and the Ukrainian government’s plea for Nato aid mark a dangerous escalation of a crisis that can easily be contained if cool heads prevail. Hysteria seems to be the mood in Washington and Kiev, with the new Ukrainian prime minister claiming, “We are on the brink of disaster” as he calls up army reserves in response to Russian military movements in Crimea. Were he talking about the country’s economic plight he would have a point. Instead, along with much of the US and European media, he was over-dramatising developments in the east, where Russian speakers are understandably alarmed after the new Kiev authorities scrapped a law allowing Russian as an official language in their areas. They see it as proof that the anti-Russian ultra-nationalists from western Ukraine who were the dominant force in last month’s insurrection still control it. Eastern Ukrainians fear similar tactics of storming public buildings could be used against their elected officials.

Kerry’s rush to punish Russia and Nato’s decision to respond to Kiev’s call by holding a meeting of member states’ ambassadors in Brussels today were mistakes. Ukraine is not part of the alliance, so none of the obligations of common defence come into play. Nato should refrain from interfering in Ukraine by word or deed. The fact that it insists on getting engaged reveals the elephant in the room: underlying the crisis in Crimea and Russia’s fierce resistance to potential changes is Nato’s undisguised ambition to continue two decades of expansion into what used to be called “post-Soviet space”, led by Bill Clinton and taken up by successive administrations in Washington. At the back of Pentagon minds, no doubt, is the dream that a US navy will one day replace the Russian Black Sea fleet in the Crimean ports of Sevastopol and Balaclava.

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Pakistani party ends blockade of NATO route after change in US drone policy

From the Daily Times:

The provincial government in Pakistan’s northwest state of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has said it has ended a more than three-month blockade of a NATO supply route to Afghanistan over contentious US drone strikes in the country, citing change in policy, Aljazeera reported. Until Thursday, the Tehreek-e-Insaf party, led by cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, had been blocking the route to pressure Washington to end drone attacks targeting armed groups in the region bordering Afghanistan. Khan himself has led these protests and has been a vocal critic of drone attacks in Pakistan.

In a statement, Khan’s party said it ended the protest after seeing a change in the US drone policy. Their decision also comes days after a Pakistani court ordered authorities to end the blockade of transit goods into landlocked Afghanistan. The party’s top leadership also “felt that the pressure of the blockade had already resulted in a shift in the Obama administration’s drone policy and as a result drones had been stopped for the present”, the statement read. It also said it ended the protest to respect the court order.

Party official Fiaz Ahmad Khalil said the blockade lasted 97 days. “We are happy that the American government has stopped drone attacks, and we are also positively responding by ending our protest,” Khalil said. Khan’s party launched the blockade after a US drone strike in November killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

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US Urges Georgia to Align With EU, NATO

Matthew Lee writes for AP:

The United States on Wednesday warned Russia against a military intervention in Ukraine as it renewed demands that Moscow withdraw troops from disputed enclaves in another former Soviet republic, Georgia. The U.S. also urged Georgia to further integrate with Europe and NATO in calls that come amid growing tensions between Russia and the West over the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president.

In pointed comments likely to fuel already heightened Russian suspicions over Western intentions in its backyard, Secretary of State John Kerry said Russia should be “very careful” in how it proceeds in Ukraine. In addition, he announced additional, but unspecified, U.S. assistance “to help support Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic vision.” And, he denounced Russia’s continued military presence in the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in violation of the cease-fire that ended the 2008 Russia-Georgia conflict.

Kerry, speaking at a meeting of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission at the State Department, insisted that U.S. policy toward Ukraine, Georgia and the other states that once made up the Soviet Union is not aimed at reducing Russia’s influence in its neighborhood. Instead, he maintained that U.S. encouragement for former Soviet states to integrate with the West is driven by America’s desire to see them succeed as robust democracies with strong economies.

“We don’t make that urging … as some sort of zero-sum game between the East and West or between us and any other party,” Kerry said. “We simply want people to be able to exercise their freedom of choice and be able to maximize their economic opportunities. That doesn’t mean that it can’t also mean engagement with others.”

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The Libyan Bedlam: General Hifter, the CIA and the Unfinished Coup

Ramzy Baroud writes for CounterPunch:

On Friday, Feb 14, 92 prisoners escaped from their prison in the Libyan town of Zliten. 19 of them were eventually recaptured, two of whom were wounded in clashes with the guards. It was just another daily episode highlighting the utter chaos which has engulfed Libya since the overthrow of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.

Much of this is often reported with cliché explanations as in the country’s ‘security vacuum’, or Libya’s lack of a true national identity. Indeed, tribe and region seem to supersede any other affiliation, but it is hardly that simple.

On that same Friday, Feb 14, Maj. Gen. Khalifa Hifter announced a coup in Libya. “The national command of the Libyan Army is declaring a movement for a new road map” (to rescue the country), Hifter declared through a video post. Oddly enough, little followed by way of a major military deployment in any part of the country. The country’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan described the attempted coup as “ridiculous”.

Others in the military called it a “lie.” One of those who attended a meeting with Hifter prior to the announcement told Al Jazeera that they simply attempted to enforce the national agenda of bringing order, not staging a coup.

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