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Retired Norwegian General Blames Fallout With Russia on 'Western Exceptionalism, US Hubris'

© Sputnik / Vladimir TrefilovRussia-US-NATO
Russia-US-NATO - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.01.2022
Despite the fact that the idea of Russia joining NATO has been floated at different times by both Western and Russian leaders, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Vladimir Putin, no serious discussions were ever held.
Retired Lieutenant General Robert Mood, president of the Norwegian Red Cross and former Inspector General of the Norwegian Army, has lamented the fact that 30 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia remains outside of what he dubbed “the good society” and urged the West to develop a “new thinking” to avoid escalation and war.
Addressing the recent tensions between Russia and the West in his opinion peace in the newspaper Aftenposten, Mood blamed the West for “distorting reality” by portraying Russia as “the great villain” and the US and the West as “flawless defenders of democracy”.
Mood drew parallels between NATO's expansion eastward in the aftermath of the Cold War and World War I, when France and Great Britain placed all the blame on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. Together with major reparations, military restrictions and demands to relinquish territory, the national humiliation resulted in the rise of Adolf Hitler, a former WWI soldier, and the Nazis. By contrast, after World War II, Germany was treated with respect and quickly ushered into the European community despite the atrocities committed under the Nazi banner.
According to him, Russia may understandably “experience the national humiliation as real”.

“The last 30 years have not been marked by mutual respect and involvement. They have been characterised by Western exceptionalism and American hubris”, Mood wrote. “I also don't remember seeing a single movie or TV series where the Russians are the good ones and Western characters are the bad ones. The cultural expression of the West promotes the US and Europeans as the good ones. It cultivates the image of Russia and Russians as evil, low villains,” Mood added.

In conclusion, Mood called for mutual respect and personal diplomacy so that everyone could break away from habitual thinking, citing the 20th century experience as a basis for his argument.
“Is it possible to envisage new institutions or fundamentally reform the existing ones? Is it possible to envisage a more defensive NATO that is open to everyone, including Russia? And where members renounce bases and nuclear weapons outside their own territory?”, Mood concluded, warning that without “new thinking” we are likely to steer towards conflict and war in both the short and long term.
Incidentally, while the idea of Russia joining NATO has been floated at different times by both Western and Russian leaders, including, for instance, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, as well as numerous experts, no serious discussions were ever held. During a series of interviews with film-maker Oliver Stone, President Vladimir Putin admitted that he floated the possibility of Russia joining NATO to President Bill Clinton when he visited Moscow in 2000.
Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that NATO could seriously consider Russia's membership once Moscow can prove it can “uphold democracy and human rights”.

Russia's twin proposals

However, amid the recent bout of tensions, in mid-December, Russia published a pair of security proposals designed to dramatically ease tensions with the Western alliance. The Russian proposals were dubbed “Moscow's red lines” by President Vladimir Putin. They were spelled out in response to three decades of NATO expansion, despite pledges by US officials on the deathbed of the USSR not to move “one inch” eastward beyond what was formerly East Germany.
Among other requests, Washington is asked to make several unilateral commitments, including a pledge not to continue NATO's eastward expansion into Ukraine or other post-Soviet states, as well as halt its military cooperation with them. The proposals also call for legally binding guarantees by both Russia and NATO not to deploy troops, aircraft and warships in areas that may threaten national security, as well as suggest a limit on the deployment of intermediate and shorter-range missiles within striking distance. Last but not least, Russia and NATO are also asked to explicitly affirm that they don't consider each other adversaries.
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