That great American philosopher Homer Simpson once observed that alcohol was the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.
One might say, as Pepe Escobar has, that “NATO may indeed incarnate the ultimate geopolitical/existential paradox; an alliance that exists to manage the chaos it breeds.”
They’re both right: NATO now exists to attempt to – or more accurately, to pretend to – manage the problems it created the last go round. That is now NATO’s chief purpose. Apart, of course, from making money for weapons companies. Which it does quite satisfactorily.
NATO is a geopolitical alcoholic: last night’s binge is the need for this morning’s hair of the dog which lays the foundation for tonight’s bender. Every weekend is a lost weekend for NATO.
The first case of alcohol causing the problems it solved was NATO expansion itself. In 1998 George Kennan predicted the future: “There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else…. 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.” NATO expanded; Russia reacted; Russia is a threat; NATO was right to expand.
In my diplomat days in Moscow in the early 1990s NATO expansion was just beginning: it will bring stability said wooden American diplomats when I and a colleague from another NATO country questioned its wisdom. Well, we have had at least two wars now – the Ossetia War of 2008 and the ongoing civil war in Ukraine – that have a connection to NATO expansion. But they are both used as a justification for the application of more alcohol to solve the problems of the earlier binge.
Now, apparently, Russia is about to invade the Baltics. (Of course Kennan foresaw that too: “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 attacked Libya on flimsy grounds. Indeed, as the Clinton e-mails tells us, on the most meretricious grounds. But grabbing Libya’s gold is what you might call the real NATO (the distillers’ profits, so to speak) and supporting the heist by fake atrocity stories and R2P is the advertising campaign. But the NATO bender in Libya, or as we say in Canada “defence of our cherished democratic principles“, has led to another drinking problem. Quite apart from waking Moscow up to the reality of NATO.
And the other problem, requiring another lost weekend, is of course the thousands of refugees/migrants from Syria, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya and Afghanistan – all places that have received the blessings of NATO’s attention. But, never fear, NATO steps up to the bar to buy another round: “We have just agreed that NATO will provide support to assist with the refugee and migrant crisis.” When it’s not blaming Russia for it, that is.
First, it would require establishing a safe zone in Syria, providing the millions of would-be refugees still in the country a place to stay and the hundreds of thousands who have fled to Europe a place to which to return. To establish such a zone, American military officials estimate, would require not only U.S. air power but ground forces numbering up to 30,000. Once the safe zone was established, many of those troops could be replaced by forces from Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, but the initial force would have to be largely American.
NATO will be curing its hangovers with the hair of the dog for years to come.