US-UK Antagonism of Russia Threatens to Pull NATO Apart at the Seams
00:14 GMT 28.01.2022 (Updated: 13:28 GMT 06.08.2022)
© AP Photo / Olivier MatthysFlags of member nations flap in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014.
© AP Photo / Olivier Matthys
The NATO alliance was formed by Western capitalist powers in 1949 as a deterrence to potential invasion by the Soviet Union. Dependent on the US for support, Western Europe had little other choice; however, in the 21st century, that they will have convergent interests can no longer be taken for granted.
On paper, the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is united in its support of non-member Ukraine and opposition to a perceived threat of Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, in reality, the crisis is being driven by the United States, a North American power, and the United Kingdom, which sits off Europe’s western coast and is recently divorced from the European Union, experts told Sputnik.
‘Another Straw Onto the EU Camel’
Dr. Matthew Crosston, Executive Vice Chairman of ModernDiplomacy.eu, chief analytical strategist of I3, a strategic intelligence consulting company, and former director over all Intelligence Programs at the American Military University said that the US has continued to behave as if the Cold War never ended and refused to consider that Russia might have legitimate security interests that need to be acknowledged, respected and addressed.
“If you are stuck in the cognitive closure of Cold War psychosis, where the rival across the table can never be anything except the adopted shadow inheritor of the Soviet menace, then the possibility for a diplomatic change, of course, becomes near impossible,” he said. “It is just wheel-spinning for the sake of wheel-spinning.”
“How it can play against the US is if other members of the European community, the ones most likely at risk by all of this game-playing, decide that enough is enough and they want the two sides to come together not just to declare their perspective points and retreat, but to actually engage with the real possibility of compromise on positions. That kind of pressure from traditional allies has never been faced by the United States in the past, so if that were to happen it would be interesting to see how things would then progress,” Crosston observed, adding that if that happened, it would “clarify” and make explicit the divide between the UK and EU.
Talking about the UK Crosston said that the country has continued to show its intent to follow Washington down the diplomatic path, regardless of the outcome.
However, according to him, the EU at least theoretically sometimes entertains the idea that it could consider some non-US positions or non-American interests.
"I have my own skeptical doubts, however, if Ukraine is the platform that the EU would decide to capitalize on that difference. I doubt it feels Ukraine is important enough to end up siding against the US-UK political position. So, while the Ukraine crisis perhaps can be seen as adding yet another straw onto the EU camel, I doubt it is the straw that will break the EU's camel back. But it is one more step in that inevitable direction.”
“While Russia may officially have many different points and requests surrounding this crisis, there really are only two points that truly matter for the long-term: the guarantee that NATO will never accept a former Soviet state into its membership and an agreement to pull NATO troops back and off of Eastern European territory that is considered too close to Russian Federation territory,” he said.
“The US, representing NATO in real terms, will always unilaterally reject these two requests, because to give ground on them will be seen in the domestic political market as an acquiescence to the enemy it supposedly vanquished thirty years before with the end of the Cold War. Russia will never change these two requests so long as NATO remains at its heart an organization that exists exclusively as a deterrence to Russian power and its expression of power.”
© Polish Air ForcePolish F-16s and MiG-29s escort a B1B Lancer during a training mission for Bomber Task Force Europe, May 29, 2020.
Polish F-16s and MiG-29s escort a B1B Lancer during a training mission for Bomber Task Force Europe, May 29, 2020.
‘The Most Bellicose Because They Have the Least to Lose’
Daniel Lazare, an independent journalist, author, and writer, noted that the European powers are still afraid to stand up to Washington, but the present crisis poses the possibility of forcing their hand.
“The split within NATO is a function of geography. Those farthest away from the conflict zone, e.g. the US and UK, are the most bellicose because they have the least to lose. Those closest, most notably Germany, know that they're direct in the line of fire and therefore are the most trepidatious. After two wars with Russia in a little over a century, the last thing Berlin wants is to get dragged into a third - yet that's what NATO is pushing for,” he said.
“The same goes for France: [French President Emmanuel] Macron knows full well that the US is largely responsible for drumming this crisis up and that, after years of deference to US imperial policy, he has no choice but to begin pushing back before things get completely out of hand. But he also knows that the US can't stand criticism and that it will therefore respond precisely as it did in 2003 when France said no to an invasion of Iraq, i.e. with childish petulance. This will cause the split to widen even more -- not because America necessarily wants it to, but because it is locked into a rhetorical mode that is incapable of brooking dissent.”
Anglophone Five Eyes Leading Europe to War
Tony Kevin, the former Australian ambassador to Poland and Cambodia and former carrier officer of the Australian Foreign Ministry, noted that NATO’s rejection of Moscow’s “honorable” diplomatic overtures aimed at deconfliction in Eastern Europe was likely to encourage Moscow to respond - but not necessarily in Ukraine, or even in Europe.
“There are many ways, many military technical means by which Russia can make its presence felt in the Western world. It all adds up to an increase in tension; an increase in estrangement; the already very small prospects for detente are now even smaller. And Russia's focus, I believe, will continue to move towards the east and the south of Russia, towards the countries of Asia, the Pacific and Latin America. So it will go back to a situation of something like the Cold War that I worked in the [1960s and 1970s], where you had a Western bloc, you had a bloc led by Russia and you had a very large non-aligned group who were quite inclined to support Russia,” he said.
“Russia has no fear of Western sanctions - now that's clear, and it is rather interesting to say that most of the Western aggression against Russia at the moment is being led by the Five Eyes group - that is to say, the four Anglophone countries of the former British Commonwealth or Empire: the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia."
“If you look at continental Europe, attitudes of key leaders like Macron and [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz in Germany and the leaders of Italy and Spain, are much more, much more balanced and they are not inclined to be let alone by the Anglophone four or really just two, Canada and Australia, supporters,” Kevin noted.
“I mean, the key players are America and Britain, but the continental leaders are not going to be swept away by this anti-Russian fever. So I think [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has a lot of options and as I say, I don't think he's likely to invade Ukraine now. My idea with regard to Russia's focus would be they will move the playing field to a broader sphere and they will concentrate on the things they are very good at already, which is showing that they are a supporter of the United Nations Security Council system, that they believe in detente in mutual respect between all these large and small [nations], that they reject the spheres of influence as proposed by the West, which hide within the words of rules-based order, the rules-based order is simply an euphemism for an American-led based order. And everybody knows that.”