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What does NATO really want?

According to our government, the great NATO exercise that is going on in Central Norway these days should give us a sense of security. But does the course NATO has stood out in recent years, a sense of security?


Kay Bailey Hutchison – US ambassador to NATO – recently stated that "we are considering taking out" Russia's new missile system SSC-8. This statement should make it go down cold on most people. In addition to being an irresponsible statement, it says a lot about where we're headed.

Western press is currently hammering Russia in a gigantic demonetisation campaign whose aim is that no one should question that NATO is both upgrading and moving its positions right up to Russia's borders.

And that the new situation in Europe is entirely the fault of the Russians; that the Russians have suddenly become aggressive and have new ambitions to expand their territory.

But is it so safe? Maybe it's time for us to question our dispositions and our truths? Is it really the case that Russia is our enemy? Or are there other reasons why this situation has arisen?

South America during the Cold War

After Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán was democratically elected president of Guatemala in 1951, he embarked on extensive land reforms in the country. He wanted to evict United Fruit Company and give the land back to the locals. The Americans now suspected Soviet interference in Guatemala's internal affairs (which later turned out to be wrong). But this prompted US Ambassador to the United Nations Henry Cabot Lodge to lash out at the Soviet delegation at a meeting in the UN Hall in New York: "Stay out of this hemisphere!"

(Notice the words: Stay away from this western hemisphere!)

Ten years later, the Soviet Union was really trying to establish itself in the western hemisphere – this time in Cuba. As we know, the United States reacted with threats of the use of massive military force after launching ramps for Soviet nuclear missiles appeared in the spy plane's photographs. This was unthinkable! Rockets 1800 kilometers from Washington? President Kennedy said in a televised speech to the American people: "The purpose of these missiles, can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western hemisphere."

Barely 20 years later, it was Nicaragua's turn. The Reagan administration stated that they saw a possible Soviet intervention and establishment there as "a threat to our vital strategic interests".

The Americans simply do not allow foreign powers to establish themselves anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. This was enshrined as early as 1823 in the Monroe Doctrine; who briefly states that the United States – after the countries of Central and South America had thrown out their European colonial lords – would regard any establishment of foreign power in the Western Hemisphere as an unacceptable threat to its security (core strategic interest).

New power struggle after Bucharest 2008

In light of this, it is interesting to take a closer look at NATO's enlargement from 1990 to the present. If one agrees that Russia is still a global superpower, or at least a significant regional superpower, it should be possible to realize that Russia, just like the United States or China, is very interested in its strategic security. And therefore in its relatively close, and quite close, areas. This is sensitive to all major powers. The United States includes the entire Western Hemisphere in its immediate vicinity.

"Russia has become more concerned with its immediate area," says Thomas Slensvik at the Armed Forces Staff College in an article in Dagbladet on July 10 this year. This statement represents in many ways the view that is repeated daily in the Western press. It is a gross simplification, if not a distortion, of reality. Russia, like all great powers, has always been concerned with its immediate area.

Let's say that in the near future Mexico and the Bahamas will become members of a military alliance with Russia. How had the United States reacted? 

And after the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, with the sudden prospect of Georgia and Ukraine becoming NATO countries, they were, of course, intensely – or better phrased – panicked about this. It is 45 km from the northeastern corner of Ukraine to Moscow.

Because it was the meeting in Bucharest in 2008 that really changed everything. The inclusion of neighboring Georgia and Ukraine as members of NATO, as the NATO Protocol meeting confirmed, was such a threat to the Russians that their vital strategic security was immediately set aside and figured out what countermeasures they could take. One can imagine what they felt and said in between, when suddenly they were imagining American soldiers in the mountains of the Caucasus or Sevastopol.

Let's do a thought experiment: Let's say that in the near future Mexico and the Bahamas will become members of a military alliance with Russia. How had the United States reacted? Had the United States felt this was a threat to its security core area? Russian soldiers just a few kilometers from the US border with Mexico? Russian rockets in the Bahamas?

And let's say that just over half the population of the Bahamas, for example, was for the country to join the alliance with Russia. Would the US take this into account?

NATO responsible for the crisis in Ukraine

It is interesting how NATO has skipped basic political power balance principles on issues that are so important to us all. Many people today believe that it was precisely the balance of power that prevented the Cold War from getting hot. And it is almost even more interesting how the media in the West is constantly hammering the message of the new, aggressive Russia – without anyone questioning what has led to this new international situation. Where will this end? What is it that will lead to this?

The American George F. Kennan was the man who in 1946 formulated the doctrine of the need to stem the possible future expansion of the Soviet Union. He was an adviser to President Harry S. Truman.

More than 50 years later, he warned of NATO's expansion eastward toward Russia's border following the collapse of the Soviet Union with the words: "a strategic blunder of potentially epic propotions."

What makes the West seem to think that the Russians think it is acceptable to get NATO on its doorstep when the United States does not tolerate a strategic competitor in the entire Western hemisphere? What does NATO really want?

Even the American professor and perhaps the world's foremost expert on strategic security studies, John Mearsheimer, is unable to answer it. Although he gives lectures with titles such as: "Why the West, not Putin, is responsible for the Ukraine crisis." It gives a special taste in his mind to think of Gorbachev's vision of "the Common European House" these days. How did we receive his outstretched hand? Russia is now the backbone. And in the east, a giant has woken up.

Meanwhile, Jens Stoltenberg is moving around as an avid ambassador for renovation. To everyone's joy Russia has become aggressive!

In the period 1991–2008, the newly independent nations Ukraine and Georgia served as neutral buffer states between east and west. It is no coincidence that both countries have experienced war since NATO's 2008 decision.

And that's a blank lie when NATO leaders, including Jens Stoltenberg, say that Russia's reactions have come as a surprise.

Pressing a superpower so hard on its vital security interests that it eventually gets desperate is not a responsible foreign policy.

For what does the strongest boy in the class do when all the other boys come together and push him into a corner?

Fredrik Lund
Fredrik Lund
Lund is professor of architecture at NTNU.

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