The Guardian • Issue #2085

NATO, USA war drills and the threat of imperialist war

NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The next three months will see NATO forces flexing their muscles in a provocative set of war games and manoeuvres in Europe. 90,000 troops will take part. US military forces will be bolstered by 20,000 UK, 15,000 Polish, 10,000 German and 5,000 Dutch troops. Fifty ships, 80 aircraft, and 1,100 combat vehicles will be used in these drills. The intent is to threaten Russia and project a sense of power in the face of the disaster that has been NATO’s war on Russia; its proxy war that has devastated America’s client state in Ukraine.

The lengthy series of ‘drills’ will raise the level of threat perception in Moscow. A key factor that led to war in Ukraine was the breaking of a promise made in 1991, that NATO would not move one inch eastwards. The result of the American refusal to abide by anything resembling international law is on show for all to see.

The language employed by NATO when announcing its ‘Steadfast Defender 2024’ exercise is designed to further raise that threat level. It speaks of a preparation, or rehearsal, for a conflict with a ‘near-peer adversary’ by the USA, if it were required to ‘reinforce’ its allies on NATO’s ‘eastern flank.’

A largely compliant bourgeois media has interpreted the term ‘adversary’ to mean Russia and it is obvious that imperialism will continue to have Moscow in its sights. NATO has, however, made no bones about its intention to move into the South China Sea to play its part in encircling and threatening China. The USA and its allies, in the face of a weakening of power and influence, and a threat to its hegemony both economic and military, is showing every sign that it is preparing to campaign on more than one front. It is making the claim to be confronting two ‘near-peer’ adversaries, where, in reality no actual adversaries need exist.

At the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg was unambiguous about imperialism’s two-front offensive. Speaking in a panel discussion he said that ‘we will remain a regional alliance. But the transatlantic region faces global threats. Security is no longer regional; security is global … China’s heavy investments in modern military capabilities, including war and more advanced nuclear weapons, China’s way of behaviour especially in the South China Sea, and the way China is actually violating core principles for NATO democracy … all of that matters for NATO.’

He was speaking among ‘friends.’ No one took him to task for the fabrications and distortions of reality with which he engaged. The Western media largely chose to ignore his comments that “this is not about NATO moving into Asia, but instead about the fact that China is coming close to us. We see them in Africa. We see them in the Arctic, we see them trying to control critical infrastructure. Not so many years ago, I had a big discussion about 5G and many Allies said this is only a commercial issue. No, it’s also an issue about our security.”

A country engaging with other countries, through trade and diplomacy, according to such as Stoltenberg, threatens NATO security. None of this was questioned. It cannot be questioned because the USA and its NATO allies are engaged in a Cold War struggle against socialist China, and so the media must remain solidly anti-Chinese.

Because the battlelines have so clearly been established, Stoltenberg was emboldened to utter the ludicrous line that “the more success Putin has in Ukraine, the more likely it is that Beijing will use force. So we have to have a global approach even though we are regional countries, regional organisations. The world is interconnected. And of course NATO has taken the consequences of that.” It certainly has.

NATO as Beijing observed, has demonstrated its role as a ‘strategic tool of the US.’ Canute-like, the forces of imperialism seek to ‘contain’ the rise of China. The US has been spectacularly unsuccessful in this not-so-grand endeavour, but has brought regional allies further into its dangerous orbit. Japan has announced that it is purchasing Tomahawk cruise missiles which all but ends its military policy of self-defence. From Japan to Australia the ring of missiles is closing around China. NATO is now seeking to open an ‘office’ in Tokyo, thereby establishing itself in the region. The UK navy has become more closely engaged in the region.

NATO exists as a regional military alliance. It was founded as the Cold War against the Soviet Union was being launched. The Cold War ended but NATO’s expansion did not. Today it exists as an armed alliance to support the requirements of the USA, while also promoting European imperialist agendas.

Its expansion into Asia simply confirms this simple truth.

None of this augurs well for peace in the region or the world. But even as the dogs of war have all but been unleashed, China continues to grow, strengthen its defensive capacities, and expands its economic and diplomatic influence around the world.

The sabre-rattling and warmongering have been an intensely one-sided affair. China has not been in the business of parking its fleet off the shores of America. It has not ringed the USA with missiles. It has not threatened anyone. Its only threat to the USA has been an ideological one.

Truth, however, has no place in the designs of capital and imperialism. Its core business is expansion and survival. This is why the US and its loyal henchmen in NATO are actively contemplating war on two fronts. The desperation that accompanies loss of empire is so patently obvious. The same tired phrases ‘defending democracy,’ or ‘maintaining the international rules-based order,’ or ‘standing up to authoritarian regimes’ are bandied about.

The USA and NATO’s deployment of 90,000 troops and materiel in Europe in the next months is designed to threaten Russia and to warn China of what might await them. It is also being used in a clumsy manner to show that their adventure in Ukraine still has some potential to achieve imperialism’s goals.

There is a problem with such thinking. It shows the rest of the world that things are not working to plan. Russia is not facing defeat. China continues to strengthen. Stoltenberg and his ilk may speak of “steadfast defence” but what they are seeking to defend is imperialist power, domination and subjugation of the world. The world, and the interests of billions of people are not being served by militarism and threat.

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