NATO’s civilian figurehead Jens Stoltenberg this week urged Russia to be a partner against terrorism. He was speaking the day after the deadly gun attack on a magazine in Paris where 12 people, including three police officers, were killed by assailants purporting to be affiliated with radical Islamists.
During a visit to Germany, the NATO general secretary called upon Moscow to be “an ally in the fight against terrorism” – adding: “We think it is important that Russia, which is our biggest neighbour in Europe, and NATO are working together on important issues like fighting terror.”
Well, how about that for a screeching U-turn? After all, has it not become NATO policy, since the Ukraine crisis blew up last year, to terminate all security co-operation with Russia in a bid to ostracise the latter?
Only a few weeks ago, Stoltenberg and other NATO officials were accusing Russia of being the biggest threat to security in Europe, asserting without evidence that Moscow has aggressive designs on Ukraine, the Baltic states and other eastern European countries. According to NATO, Russian leader Vladimir Putin is on a revanchist revamp of the Soviet Empire, casting a sinister spectre over the entire continent.
The former Norwegian premier has been banging the war drum against Russia in perfect timing with the same hostile beat as his predecessor, the insufferable Danish robot Anders Fogh Rasmussen. When Stoltenberg took over the NATO role last mid-year his first official visit was to rush to Poland in a pointed show of solidarity with eastern European members of the US-led military alliance, who he claimed were living under the shadow of Russian “expansionism”.
Stoltenberg’s military counterpart in NATO, four-star American General Philip Breedlove has for months been sounding like a broken record, reiterating over and over that Russian forces have invaded Ukraine to subvert the Western-backed Kiev regime. Breedlove has never produced any verifiable evidence to support his wild assertions that are posited as “top intelligence”.These tiresome incendiary claims have strangely become muted recently, suggesting more than a hint of disingenuousness from the General. How can Russia be launching military invasions month after month with no cumulative evidence to that effect, and then, lo and behold, all is quiet on the eastern front, as must be gleaned from Breedlove’s recent insouciance on the matter.
Nevertheless, such shrill alarmism from Breedlove and Stoltenberg has been used to justify NATO warplanes multiplying their patrols over the Baltic Sea and eastern Europe; as well as NATO warships streaming into the Black Sea; and an inordinate increase in US military hardware, including missiles, tanks and troops, in the region under Washington’s so-called Atlantic Resolve initiative. All this to allegedly protect the European damsel-in-distress from drooling Russian aggression.
This war-footing by NATO and its tendentious accusations against Moscow have formed the basis for unprecedented American and European economic sanctions on Russia. The Western sanctions have been met with Russian counter-measures, which together have led to the worse deterioration in relations since the formal end of the Cold War. The toll on European farmers and the EU’s economic power house Germany have been particularly severe, threatening to plunge the bloc into deeper recession.
That alarming context makes Stoltenberg’s appeal to Russia this week – to be a partner with NATO in the fight against terrorism – all the more spectacularly incongruous.
On the one hand, NATO has been vilifying Russia for behaving like a tyrant threatening European borders and freedom, waging a “hybrid war” against small defenceless nations to snuff out their dreams of Western democracy; then on the other hand, simultaneously, NATO is appealing to this same Russian tyrant in order to help defeat terrorism. This breath-taking contradiction involves a stupendous feat of double think that reveals more than it was supposed to.
Recall, too, that US President Barack Obama has on at least two high-profile occasions publicly equated Russia with international terrorism. When he addressed the UN General Assembly in New York and the G20 forum in Brisbane, Australia, at the end of last year, Obama explicitly framed Russia’s alleged aggression in Europe along with the terrorism of radical Islamists as the top threat to world peace.
Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry, America’s supposed urbane diplomat, has waxed lyrical with faux historical analogies comparing Russia’s President Putin to fascist European dictators during the darkest episodes of the 20th Century, accusing the Kremlin of trying to change the borders of countries “down the barrel of gun”. (The Americans have some cheek to bandy about that particular complaint given their track record of destroying countries and killing millions of civilians that do not comply with their strategic interests.)
However, with the flip of a coin, it seems, all this grave anti-Russian bombast is suddenly redundant, with the US-led NATO alliance, through its European civilian cypher Stoltenberg, apparently stretching out the hand of co-operation to Russia.
No doubt, the Norwegian NATO clerk has by now received a sharp phone call from his American bosses for this week daring, or being stupid enough, to waver from the official narrative of Russia being the consummate menace to Western values and world peace. One can imagine the consternation in the Pentagon and White House: “Who the hell does that Norwegian puppet think he is blabbing about Russian partnership?”
What to make of Stoltenberg’s U-turn and the hilariously mixed messages from NATO? Is Russia a menacing threat to world peace or is it a partner in safeguarding world peace? Or is NATO suffering from degenerative schizophrenia?
One deduction is that the NATO general secretary evidently does not believe the propaganda claims of his own organisation and his own previous words, which have sought to denigrate and criminalise Russia over the Ukraine crisis. How could he mouth such arrant contradictions otherwise?
If Stoltenberg is not convinced about the narrative of Russia as “the aggressor” that’s simply because the claims made by NATO, and further politicised by Washington and Brussels, are groundless. They are concoction, fabrication, fiction, lies, you name it, all used for nefarious political reasons to serve elite power interests in Washington and Europe. Those interests revolve around driving a geopolitical wedge between Europe and Russia and to undermine the latter as new pole in a multipolar global economy, thus shoring up the decrepit US dollar as reserve currency and the hegemony of Western finance capital – which, by the way, is crucifying millions of Western citizens.
Despicably, this baseless propaganda is driving the global economy into deeper difficulties, inflicting misery on millions of workers and their families, including American, European and Russian. Not only that but NATO’s anti-Russian propaganda has led to a dangerous militarisation in Europe on Russia’s borders, leading Moscow to belatedly change its defence doctrine to define NATO as its main threat. NATO’s reckless posturing against Russia is heightening the risk of all-out war – all for the sake of satisfying elite Western power interests.
Yet in the blink of an eye, Jens Stoltenberg, the most senior civilian representative of NATO, lets us know the truth with his conspicuous U-turn this week inveigling Russia as a partner against terrorism. The truth being that Russian is evidently not a threat to world peace. The real threat to world peace, by deduction, is NATO and its political masters in Washington and Brussels.