Cause of War Cartoon: Liu Rui/GT
NATO was created in 1949, just four years after the end of World War II, to provide military infrastructure for the US-led Cold War alliance. Its existence enabled the positioning of American troops and armaments in Europe, ready for rapid deployment against the Soviet Union and the newly formed people’s democracies in Eastern and Central Europe.
NATO’s purported raison d’être was to protect its members from Soviet aggression and expansion. Yet when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991, there was no serious discussion about dissolving NATO. In fact, NATO has only become more aggressive.
No one can seriously claim that NATO is fundamentally defensive in character. It is an aggressive nuclear alliance designed to impose American hegemony.
In the decades following the Soviet collapse, NATO grew from 16 countries to 30 – reneging on repeated promises made to Soviet and Russian leaders in the early 1990s that NATO’s borders would not shift ‘one inch’ east of Germany. In fact, NATO’s borders have shifted to the gates of Russia.
This NATO enlargement process is the underlying cause of the current crisis in Europe. In 2014, the US backed a coup in Ukraine that brought a pro-Western government to power. This government has been explicit from the outset about its intention to join NATO.
The Russian government has made it clear that Ukraine’s NATO membership would cross a red line in terms of Russia’s security concerns, given that the two countries share a 2,000 kilometer border.
Russia has repeatedly called for dialogue with Ukraine, the United States and NATO to address its legitimate concerns, but these requests have been rebuffed. In the meantime, NATO has conducted several joint military exercises with the Ukrainian army.
This is the trigger for the Russian military operation in Ukraine. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has stated bluntly that the current war “could have been avoided had NATO heeded the warnings of its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to a greater, not less, instability in the region”.
China has consistently called on all parties to the Ukrainian crisis to recognize the principle of indivisible security. Ukraine’s NATO membership would be a threat to Russia’s security, and therefore it should be taken off the table and Ukraine should commit to neutrality. As Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, puts it, Ukrainian neutrality will help keep NATO and Russia apart – “a positive good for all parties and for the world.”
In the future, the peoples of the world may well wonder whether a stable peace is possible as long as NATO continues to exist. As Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin recently noted: “NATO serves no purpose other than war. It has never contributed to the peace and security of our world and never will.
The crisis in Ukraine is caused primarily by NATO aggression and expansion. Achieving lasting peace means stemming this aggression and expansion; however, the United States is using the war as an elaborate advertisement for NATO, promoting a bloc-based version of collective security based on opposition to Russia. Sweden and Finland have long thrived under a policy of military non-alignment, but are now under pressure to abandon neutrality in favor of NATO membership. Such a policy will foment collective insecurity and further plunge the European continent into chaos.
Collective security was the global watchword in the aftermath of World War II and the defeat of German fascism and Japanese militarism. However, collective security cannot work on the basis of division and exclusive blocs, in which the security of one country compromises the security of another. It was precisely for this reason that the Soviet Union offered to join NATO in 1954, a year before the establishment of the Warsaw Pact. What Europe needs is a collective security mechanism that encompasses the whole continent, has a legitimate basis in international law and pays attention to the legitimate security concerns and national rights of all parties. .
The immediate minimum condition for peace in Europe is to ensure that there will be no further NATO enlargement. In the longer term, Cold War blocs such as NATO and AUKUS should be dismantled, so that humanity can realize its long-held common dream of world peace.
The author is a British author and freelance political commentator. [email protected]