THE INCEPTION POINT OF A NEW ERA
We are fast approaching the 33rd anniversary of Mikhail Gorbachev’s decision to untie the Soviet knot that held back the countries of Eastern Europe from moving in an independent, democratic direction. A decision that led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, and, subsequently, to the overturning of the Communist regime in Eastern Europe.
It was a turning point, a hopeful moment, that marked both the beginning of the end of the Cold War conflict and the inception point of a new era of cooperative possibilities between East and West.
THE U.S. AND EUROPE PROMISE TO END NATO EXPANSION
With the breakup of the Soviet Union it became clear to pretty much everyone involved in the diplomatic and political instigation of these major changes, that NATO had become obsolete. Washington and Europe met with Mikhail Gorbachev to create a new security pact that aimed to bring Russia into the cooperative fold. The Reagan administration, along with their West German allies, promised Gorbachev that once German unification was underway NATO would, for certain, cease expanding itself in an eastward direction.
This promise to end the expansion of NATO, which France and Great Britain also agreed to, seemed to signal the onset of a new era of global cooperation. It was agreed then and there by all parties present that a de-escalation of military spending and weapons production was in order now that the Cold War was winding down.
THE PROMISE IS BROKEN
In the years that followed, the war industry completely went back on the aforementioned promises. In fact, a massive eastward expansion of NATO was set in motion along with an unprecedented increase in military spending, weapons production and global weapons sales. NATO added Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia to its fold.
These countries were all forced to restructure and reconfigure their militaries to become compatible with NATO’s military alignment policies. Most of the aforementioned countries achieved this realignment via large loans, creating debt and dependence on corporate lenders.
NO NEW ERA OF COOPERATION
Over the course of the last two-plus decades NATO has become a multi-billion-dollar cash cow for huge corporations that depend on the Cold War for profit. There has been no new era of cooperation with Russia, as promised by all who were involved in setting the new age of supposed partnership in motion. On the contrary, NATO has ignored Russia’s constant warnings and requests to stop its campaign of expansion. Instead NATO, led by the US, has pushed itself right up to Russia’s border, all the while generating a steady stream of new Cold War propaganda, demonizing Russia while proceeding to encircle its territory.
THE SACRIFICE OF UKRAINE
Seven years ago the Obama administration prudently refused to sell arms to Kiev. This act of cautiousness was subsequently cast aside by the Trump and Biden administrations. Over the past several years weapons from the U.S. and Great Britain have been pouring into Ukraine.
By flooding Ukraine with weapons (which is what the US did in the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia) over the past few years and refusing Russia’s constant requests that NATO drop its plan to annex Ukraine, an extremely volatile and deeply dangerous situation was created for Ukraine. A situation that has basically amounted to the sacrifice of the people of Ukraine.
There is no justification for the savage actions that Vladimir Putin has undertaken in Ukraine over the past week and a half. Putin is responsible for the bloodshed that he has generated. What this article is pointing to has nothing to do with absolving Putin for the violence in Ukraine. What this article is pointing to is the fact that the US and NATO have been myopic and reckless. What this article is illustrating is that what is going on now in Ukraine is, in part, the result of a thirty-three year history of broken promises and careless, greed propelled decisions made by the US and NATO.
MANY SAW THIS COMING
Over the past three decades, dozens of diplomats and historians have warned that a situation like the one we are seeing now in Ukraine was inevitable if NATO expansion continued. I’m going to end this article here with a quote from George Kennan who was considered by many to be the most respected voice on the matter of US-Soviet relations:
“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the founding fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a lighthearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs. What bothers me is how superficial and ill-informed the whole Senate debate was. I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe.
Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime. And Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia. Of course, there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”
– George Kennen 1998