Under cover of supporting Ukraine, NATO hides its aims
Published: Jul 01, 2023 12:08 PM
NATO's dance of death. Cartoon: Carlos Latuff

NATO's dance of death. Cartoon: Carlos Latuff

Several anonymous "senior government sources" in the UK were quoted in the media recently urging the nation to prepare for the "sudden collapse of Russia" and the downfall of Vladimir Putin.

The story, published initially in the supposed newspaper of record The Times, was quickly picked up by other print outlets, citing the same unnamed state officials. It is not unreasonable to assume this was information pushed into the public arena with the full - but deniable - blessing of the London government. That news organizations presented it in a way which implied the information could be trusted means it might not be news, but propaganda. It might also reveal some wishful thinking at the heart of Downing Street.

As one senior UK politician, a former British Army officer and head of the Commons Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, told a broadcaster in February: "We are now at war in Europe. We need to move onto a war footing. We need to face Russia directly."

Why should the UK government wish to shape public perception of the war in Ukraine in this way? This planted story was merely one example of a ploy used to manufacture consent - in this case, consent for prolonging a war which has cost the UK, the US and the countries of the EU billions of pounds, dollars and euros in both military and humanitarian support for Ukraine, at a time of great financial hardship at home. Perhaps governments worry their citizens will develop aid fatigue, and that any support for Ukraine against Russia could wane. For Western governments, the support of the people (if they believe what they are told) makes it easier for them to wage what is undeniably a proxy war to not only support Ukraine but also - foremost - to weaken Russia, their old foe. They do this not for humanitarian reasons but to further their own geopolitical ambitions. For some Western governments, effectively the membership of NATO, the war is less a tragedy and more of an opportunity. Sadly, never has killing two birds with one stone cost so many lives.

The world's biggest military alliance is locked in a vicious circle from which it has little chance of escape, and which is prolonging and exacerbating the crisis. It seems to have little interest in talk of peace. China's 12-point plan has been widely criticized by Western governments. Yet no Western government has its own realistic proposals to end the fighting. 

Part of NATO's response has been to fast-track new memberships. Finland became the 31st member in April. Sweden's application - which normally would take years - is well underway. Until it is approved, Britain, America and Germany have sworn to defend the Stockholm government. Norway, a member since 1949, has agreed to accept five new US military bases on its soil. Negotiations with Finland are well underway for similar bases which will - to all intents and purposes - function as sovereign American territory on Russia's doorstep.

This month, NATO held its largest ever air defense drill Air Defender 23 involving 25 countries - including still-neutral Sweden and (an indicator perhaps of where NATO's future expansion plans lie) Japan. When Norway agreed to the new bases, the world's largest aircraft carrier the USS Gerald R Ford - with its 75 aircraft and helicopters and escort vessels, including possibly a nuclear-powered attack submarine - sailed into Oslo Fjord for a "visit." Had Russia responded to any of this in any way it would have been accused of "unprovoked" aggression. Washington is hoping to give the alliance new reach into the far north, and in the process further encircle Russia as the US seems intent on encircling China. It's the strategy of a bully. At the helm of the largest military presence in the world, it is emboldened with a renewed sense of purpose: expansion, and neutralizing the old enemy.

Under cover of supporting Ukraine, America is expanding and reinforcing its military footprint in Europe in a way that threatens to push the world's Doomsday Clock even closer to midnight. It risks an accelerating vortex of action and response, until there seems to be no way out but continuing conflict.

The appeal of the carefully-placed story predicting the imminent collapse of Russia is easy to see. Nobody wants war, and if an end is foreseen, any ongoing sacrifice is easier to justify. America and the UK do not have a good recent track record in war. Afghanistan dragged on for a full 20 years. During that time the civilians and combatants on both sides were slaughtered. In Iraq, Allied efforts at regime change cost by between 400,000 and a million lives. Nobody wants an Afghanistan or an Iraq in Europe, but Western actions prolong it.

The author is a journalist and lecturer living in Britain. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn