Russia and NATO: “Not a Piece of Furniture”

The results of the NATO summit were as predictable as a Soviet Communist Party congress, with the word “peace” replaced by “war”. NATO’s embrace of the US agenda of missile defence, nuclear arms, and its new role as global policeman surprised no one. No word about the United Nations or peacekeeping. In deference to Russia, the only mention of eastern expansion was continued “partnerships” with former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia. Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan were also offered special status. The new Strategic Doctrine, replacing the more modest Euro-centric 1999 model, really just reaffirmed US control of the foreign policy of what Zbigniew Brzezinski called its “vassal states”.

There were a few ripples. France’s new defense minister, Alain Juppe, openly said the Afghan conflict was a “trap” for NATO and called for an exit strategy, unlike Head of the British Armed Forces Sir David Richards, who opined, “NATO now needs to plan for a 30 or 40 year role.” The Euro-spat continues over the continued presence of nuclear weapons in Europe, between France, which prides itself on its force de frappe, and Germany, which was denied any such private nuclear toys during the Cold War.

But they agreed to disagree and the summit was all smiles and photo ops, at least centre-stage. On the sidelines, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev told a warm United States President Obama Barack that he was ready to cooperate on missile defence but only in “a full-fledged strategic partnership between Russia and NATO”, and Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai told a frosty Obama that he should scale back military operations and night raids that inflict heavy civilian casualties.

Through NATO’s integration into the Pentagon’s world command structure, it can be said that now, officially, the US rules the world. NATO has its Istanbul Initiative, attempting to militarise the Mediterranean Dialogue and Gulf Cooperation Councils covering the entire Middle East, including Israel. Even in Africa, only Eritrea, Libya, Sudan and Zimbabwe do not (yet) have relations with USAFRICOM. But then, NATO’s two major “out of area” police roles — Kosovo and Afghanistan — are not encouraging signs, nor are the Pentagon’s efforts in Iraq. The bigger NATO gets, and the more far-flung the US military, the more unwieldy and expensive both become. How do Malaysian soldiers in Afghanistan converse with Albanians? As Muslims, they may know their prayers in Arabic, but only by rote. And can they be trusted to kill their Afghan brothers?

What Russian strategists really think of NATO’s “new” doctrine is difficult to tell. The professed preference for closer relations with the West by Atlantist Medvedev and the Russian elites he represents differ markedly from his predecessor Putin’s. Despite Medvedev’s assurances, his appearance at the NATO conference did little to dissipate the confusion about relations with NATO. His offer of a joint missile defence network is not the one that the US has in mind. He told the gathering that Russia won’t join NATO missile defence as “piece of furniture”. A senior Russian diplomat told Kommersant, “Yes, we will defend countries to the west of Russia. Equally, NATO must commit to the same responsibilities — any missiles that fly against us over Europe, they must all be shot down by American or NATO forces.”

Despite Russia’s apparent weakness, it still casts the biggest shadow over the alliance. There are signs of meaningful cooperation in the Russia-NATO Council Action Plan as described by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is taking part in NATO’s antiterrorist Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean Sea and fighting against piracy off the coast of Somalia. Rather than a will-o-the-wisp missile defence, he emphasised the joint radar system near completion along Russia’s western borders “to prevent seizures of aircraft by terrorists” and the ongoing assistance “during floods, fires and man-made disasters”.

But Lavrov said there are “international problems on which we do not see eye to eye”, that in any missile defence system there must be “no actions that may adversely affect the legitimate interests of each other”. He was more concerned about reducing conventional forces in Europe and “a systemic discussion about military restraint”. NATO “must be guided by the UN Charter, especially in regard to the possible use of force in international relation, and by international law”. Meaning, of course, that at present NATO policies adversely affect Russia, and NATO and the US are operating outside of international law.

Quite possibly more significant than the hot air emitted in Lisbon was the tete-a-tete between Medvedev, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel a month earlier on 18-19 October at their own mini-summit in Deauville, calling on the EU to launch a “modernisation partnership” with Russia, establishing an economic space with “common security concepts”, including visa-free travel and cooperation on European security. The United States was pointedly not mentioned though the security issues involved “the Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian zones”, a half-step towards Medvedev’s proposal for a new European Security Treaty in 2008.

Despite the professed devotion of the French and German leaders to the US and the war in Afghanistan, this clear outreach to Russia by the EU’s most important members is an expression of the geopolitical logic at work as the US flounders and Russia matures into an unavoidable and increasingly desirable Eurasian partner. It is Russia that provides Europe with access to a large market and source of raw materials — a peaceful gateway to the entire continent. This contrasts with the US/NATO forced march from Eurasia’s underbelly, creating enemies from the Middle East through Iran to China. Spoiler Britain was pointedly left out of the Deauville summit. Even at its most Atlantist, Russia is establishing a new configuration without the Ango-American empire at the centre.

Both the power struggle among Russia’s political elite and the developing facts-on-the-ground in Afghanistan and Washington, where START is probably not going to be ratified by the Senate, will determine just how US-Euro-Russian relations fare, and whether calls for Putin to run for president in 2012 result in a return of Russian geopolitical strategy to the Eurasian path it was taking prior to Medvedev. Medvedev’s abrupt cancellation of the S-300 missile deal with Iran was not a popular one; it “undermines Russia’s prestige and erodes its security, making the world less safe for every one of us. At the moment, the Islamic world has reasons to believe that Moscow has switched to the camp of its foes,” warns former Russian Joint Chief of Staff member General Leonid Ivashov.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, taking a leaf from both Lavrov and Ivashov, insisted at the summit that any missile defence shield should protect NATO members from real threats, which translates into Turkish as “protecting NATO members from Israel, not Iran”. He called for a nuclear weapons-free zone ranging from Iran to Israel. Davutoglu might have felt more comfortable outside the summit with members of the “No to War – No to NATO” alliance, who continued their tradition of using NATO summits as platforms of protest against war and militarism. They installed a Square of Peace and held a counter summit and International Anti-war Assembly, suggesting their own Strategic Doctrine for NATO — euthanasia.

Eric Walberg is a journalist who worked in Uzbekistan and is now writing for Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo. He is the author of From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-Emerging Islamic Civilization and Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games. Read other articles by Eric, or visit Eric's website.

16 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. MichaelKenny said on November 25th, 2010 at 10:01am #

    Not a bad analysis, but it suffers from Mr Walberg’s, admittedly half-hearted, return to his traditional “America always wins” mantra. As the article in fact makes clear, NATO didn’t “embrace” anything and America doesn’t rule the world, officially or otherwise. What comes out of the meeting, like all recent NATO meetings, is that the US and its European “allies” agree on practically nothing, other than that they should pretend to agree on everything! An interesting point is whether the attack on Ireland was intended to pressure the EU Member States to kowtow to US wishes. If my memory serves me well, the attack on Greece came just before a NATO summit where the US wanted to get more cannon fodder for Afghanistan (and got the same agreement to everything but concrete action as now!) The American dinosaur is in its death throes and all Europe’s leaders need to do is to keep out of the way of its flailing claws and wait until it keels over.

  2. bozh said on November 25th, 2010 at 11:04am #

    medvedev ready to cooperate on missile defence but only in a full partnership with between russia and nato???
    please take over the role of decyphering the actual meaning of just ‘defence’ let alone cooperation, missile defence, partnership, etc.
    in view that nobody ever attacks anybody else or has an offensive forces, what is there to defend, then.
    does medvedev really think russia is going to be allowed to have as much say in what goes on as even belgium let alone nato or nato-u.s?
    probably not?
    or is all this a big show and don’t tell.
    fortunately, we still have eyes to see and that’s all we need. tnx

  3. Don Hawkins said on November 25th, 2010 at 11:21am #

    Where’s the big hand now on the clock? Where’s that alien force from far far away when you need them? ” People of Earth…………………….”.

  4. hayate said on November 25th, 2010 at 1:21pm #

    “But Lavrov said there are “international problems on which we do not see eye to eye”, that in any missile defence system there must be “no actions that may adversely affect the legitimate interests of each other”. He was more concerned about reducing conventional forces in Europe and “a systemic discussion about military restraint”. NATO “must be guided by the UN Charter, especially in regard to the possible use of force in international relation, and by international law”. Meaning, of course, that at present NATO policies adversely affect Russia, and NATO and the US are operating outside of international law.”

    The Russians are sticking by their guns. They learned their lesson well back in the early 90’s about how much nato can be trusted. IE: nil.

  5. shabnam said on November 25th, 2010 at 8:05pm #

    {The new Strategic Doctrine, replacing the more modest Euro-centric 1999 model, really just reaffirmed US control of the foreign policy of what Zbigniew Brzezinski called its “vassal states”.}

    It is true that Russia was not give a specific ROLE by the Zionist stooge, Obama, who is directed by his masters, Judeofascists, not Brzezinski as you imply, at the NATO conference, but Dmitri Medvedev has reduced himself and Russia to not ‘a piece of furniture’ but ‘ a toilet paper’ like Pakistan, to be used and then discarded. Medvedev directed by Zionist oligarch is trying to win the empire’s favor to improve, as you have written Russian crippled economy and weakened military. To do so, Russia has used Iran card as a bargaining chip to expand her interest while obtaining economic concession from Iran due to lack of competitions because racist Russia and China repeatedly HAVE VOTED FOR the SANCTIONs AGAINST IRANIAN CHILDREN TO SERVE THE ZIONIST POLICY to protect their interests. For this reason NO ONE IN IRAN TRUST RUSSIA or CHINA. In fact you hear DOWN WITH RUSSIA from every single corner because Iranian people do remember Russian imperialist attitude towards Iran throughout her history even during the ‘communist’ era. Medvedev is playing A STUPID GAME where many Russian nationalists and ‘communists’ are against it because Russia has not gained much by betraying and insulting Iran and Iranians to serve the interest of IRAN’S ENEMIES. NO ONE TRUSTS RUSSIA in the region.

    {Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, taking a leaf from both Lavrov and Ivashov, insisted at the summit that any missile defence shield should protect NATO members from real threats, which translates into Turkish as “protecting NATO members from Israel, not Iran”.}

    Why are you misleading the public AGAIN? No one has said anything like that. Turkey is pursuing his interest in the region with the support of the black Zionist stooge, Obama, and is looking to strengthen his position among Arabs, Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrian, so to be the voice of the empire in the region, isolating Iran. The United States reserving this position for Turkey, allowing Turkey a greater space to serve the interest of the empire at the expense of the Iranians, Palestinian, Lebanese and other Zionist victims. Turkey is a ‘Muslim’ country who has SERVED THE INTEREST OF ISRAEL from the beginning. No one should pay any attention to Turkish leadership rhetoric which is for the public consumption but Turkey’s policy is to serve the interest of the empire for the position of the leadership in the region using Iran, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon card.

    One of the Turkish leader objected to Turkish representatives at the NATO Summit. He clearly said that NO TURKISH LEADER at the summit said “insisted at the summit that any missile defence shield should protect NATO members from real threats, which translates into Turkish as “protecting NATO members from Israel, not Iran” AS YOU IMPLY.

    Stop misleading the puboic. Devlet Bahceli said:

    {Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli has said a NATO summit agreement reached last week to build a European missile shield is not satisfactory for Turkey and accused the government of deceiving the public.

    Speaking during his party’s parliamentary group meeting yesterday, Bahçeli argued that the government is trying to deceive the public by saying Turkey played a critical role in the summit.
    Ankara has long insisted that NATO’s strategic concept document should have no specific references to any country as a threat and that the legitimization of the missile system should be made in general terms. Ultimately, at the summit held in Lisbon on Friday and Saturday NATO leaders did not explicitly identify any potential enemy, although Iran is its main concern.
    “As of today, TURKEY is a country which has, albeit IMPLICITLY, approved that IRAN IS THE BIGGEST SOURCE OF THREATS and building a missile shield system on this basis,” Bahçeli said. Noting that he wonders how the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will go ahead with its “zero-problems with neighbors” policy, he said the sincerity of the government will be questioned.}
    Your suggestion that the missile shield in Turkey is against ISRAEL, is nothing but RUBISH.

    [http://www.todayszaman.com/news-227762-mhp-leader-bahceli-says-lisbon-deal-not-satisfactory-for-turkey.html]

  6. efgh1951 said on November 26th, 2010 at 2:21am #

    >TURKEY is a country which has, albeit IMPLICITLY, approved that IRAN IS THE BIGGEST SOURCE OF THREATS and building a missile shield system on this basis,” Bahçeli said.

    Bahceli is wrong. In the new Turkish ‘Red Book’ of threats to Turkey, Iran was removed and Israel added. Davutoglu explicitly said that Turkey would join the missile boondoggle only if no specific country (Iran) was singled out.

  7. hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 1:25pm #

    efgh1951 said on November 26th, 2010 at 2:21am

    By some “odd coincidence” the countries shabnan concentrates his smearing most against all happen to be targets of zionism, inc. for regime change, isolation and war. Shabnan takes things out of context and also misrepresents the articles he links to. I’ve shown this on another thread. His above post is is a smear of israel’s enemies. He never supports his smears. The above post used a 2 year old article in Taday’s Zaman to back up his claim Turkey is a puppet of israel. An article written during the Gaza war crime, before the recent split between Turkey and israel really got started. It’s an outdated article that doesn’t apply to now, any more, and Shabnan knows this. It’s dishonest how he represents this info and he probably posted it because he couldn’t find anything else more recent to use to support his Turkey smears – at least not anything outside of the white suprmacist/zionist far right that any one here would take seriously. This is the act of someone not interested in discussion, but who is spamming unsubstantiated smears instead.

    His smears against China and Russia are even more ridiculous. He has never supported even one of these smears, but plays games, like with the Turkey smear above, and just continues spamming the same israel coined lies about these countries. It’s the exact same sort of smear tactics israel uses against Hamas. By claiming Hamas is an israeli puppet, the zionists hope to whittle support for Hamas among those opposed to israel and it’s criminality. It’s called false association.

  8. shabnam said on November 26th, 2010 at 1:37pm #

    {By some “odd coincidence” the countries shabnan concentrates his smearing most against all happen to be targets of zionism}

    YOU ARE AN ILLITERATE AND IDIOT PERSON WHO DESERVE NO TIME. YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO COMPREHENT, THUS, RESORT TO ATTACK.

    {By claiming Hamas is an Israeli puppet}

    Where did I say the above statement LIAR? YOU ARE A CHARLATANT. I hate Charlatan.
    As I say earlier, you are not in a position to tell me anything. Get lost.
    You Charlatant can’t label me as ‘zionazi’. It fits you well liar.

    YOU MUST BE A RUSSIAN AGENT. Register for history 101.

  9. shabnam said on November 26th, 2010 at 1:48pm #

    To the editor:

    Is the editor going to allow a new comer, a charlatan, to twist people’s comments so he can label them as ZIONIST? To label a Person who has solid writing as an ANTIZIONIST for the past 4 years at this site. I consider the following as an INSULT and I want to be taken off

    hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 1:25pm #

    immediately. Why such a lies is allowed at this site?

  10. hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 2:26pm #

    Correction:

    I mixed up shabnan’s Turkey/Russia/China smears – they are all over the place and essentially the same basic smear job. I was referring to this post after the “BDS Update: Anti-apartheid Hagues” article:

    shabnam said on November 25th, 2010 at 5:37pm

    It wasn’t a Today’s Zaman that he quoted, but a 2 year old article here on Dissident Voice to “prove” Turkey is a zionist puppet. On another thread, he used israeli official’s statements, quoted in the nyt, saying Turkey-israel relations were great, to “prove” Turkey is an israeli puppet.

    On this thread, shabnan, misrepresented the TZ article by leaving out the conclusion:

    “Over the past decade, Ankara has been proactively engaged in a zero-problems policy with its neighbors, the wider Middle East and former Soviet republics. Turkey said any clear reference to Iran or any other neighboring country as a threat in the missile defense system would run counter to Ankara’s chief foreign policy objective: zero problems with neighbors.”

    He also left out the fact that this Devlet Bahçeli and his Nationalist Movement Party are far right nationalist opposed to the AK party (Erdoğan/Gul) and that Bahçeli’s misrepresentation of the Turkish position serves his partisan politics, rather than the facts. 10-1 this guy and his mhp party are israeloamerican tools, working to oppose the AK party. When shabnan posted that, he hoping no one would do their homework and look up who this Bahçeli and his party represent.

  11. hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 3:36pm #

    shabnam said on November 26th, 2010 at 1:37pm

    shabnam said on November 26th, 2010 at 1:48pm

    BTW, shabnan, throwing an hysterical tantrum like that when your propaganda is challenged is a pretty clever move.

    ;D

  12. hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 7:52pm #

    While we are on Turkey:

    Report: WikiLeaks Docs to Show US Military Supporting PKK in Turkey’s Civil War

    Military Praises PKK as ‘Warriors for Freedom’ Against NATO Ally
    by Jason Ditz, November 25, 2010

    (excerpts)

    but perhaps the most damaging content could be related to the US military, which according to media reports will be shown to have secretly backed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in its ongoing civil war against Turkey.

    The PKK has been officially listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department since 1979, which would be reason enough that the Defense Department cannot legally back them. It is doubly problematic in this case, however, as the PKK has been fighting Turkey, a NATO member and close military ally of the US.

    The Pentagon is said to have praised the PKK as “warriors for freedom” in official documents and has ordered detained PKK captured inside Iraq released. They are also said to have provided the organization with weapons.

    [http://news.antiwar.com/2010/11/25/report-wikileaks-docs-to-show-us-military-supporting-pkk-in-turkeys-civil-war]

    “in its ongoing civil war against Turkey.”

    Let’s us the proper terminology here:

    in its ongoing terror campaign against Turkey.

    I wonder if there will be anything in those documents about israeli and other zionist support for this terrorist org.

  13. hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 8:14pm #

    Also:

    Erdogan: Turkey will stand by Lebanon if it is attacked by Israel

    Nov 25, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    (Excerpts)

    ‘Does (Israel) think it can enter Lebanon with the most modern aircraft and tanks to kill women and children, and destroy schools and hospitals, and then expect us to remain silent?’ Erdogan said during a conference organised by the Union of Arab Banks.

    ‘We will not be silent and we will support justice by all means available to us,’ he stressed.

    Erdogan on Thursday toured southern Lebanon and inaugurated a medical center for treating people with burns in the southern port city of Sidon. The previous centre was destroyed by Israeli shelling in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict of 2006.

    [http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/middleeast/news/article_1601499.php/Erdogan-Turkey-will-stand-by-Lebanon-if-it-is-attacked-by-Israel]

  14. hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 8:21pm #

    Weekend Edition
    November 26 – 28, 2010
    Lights of Rebellion
    Evo Answers NATO

    By FIDEL CASTRO

    (excerpts)

    “Evo Morales, president of that country, elected by the vast majority of his people, with indisputable arguments, information and facts, perhaps even before being aware of the monstrous NATO document, provided an answer to the policy that the United States government has historically been carrying out with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

    The policy of might expressed through wars, crimes, violations to consitituions and the laws; training the officers of the armed institutions in conspiracies, coups d’état, political crimes that were used to overthrow progressive governments and install regimes of force to which they regularly offered political, military and media support.

    Never was there a more timely speech. ”

    [http://www.counterpunch.org/castro11262010.html]

  15. shabnam said on November 27th, 2010 at 12:08pm #

    For charlatans and illiterate people to read to know the kind of liars they are:

    {To present Erdogan as a saviour for the Palestinian masses is to disregard a series of contradictions that hold his government hostage to the status quo in the Middle East. The first and most obvious is the utter hypocrisy of the AKP when it comes to the Kurdish question. The historical framework of the Palestinian and Kurdish questions differ considerably, but there is similarity in the way they are subjected to national oppression, by Israel and Turkey respectively (although in the case of the Kurds, there is the additional factor of the fragmentation of this people among many Middle Eastern states). To stand up for the rights of the Palestinians and yet deny the Kurds their most elementary rights is a contradiction in the simplest sense of the term and this is exactly what the AKP government is doing.

    Erdogan has recently come out and declared that, having won a lanslide victory in the elections, Hamas cannot be considered a terorrist organization, forgetting that the legal arm of the Kurdish movement polls more than two thirds of the vote in quite a number of Kurdish provinces! The much-vaunted ‘Kurdish overture’ or ‘opening’ that was launched by the AKP government last fall (and abruptly abandoned only months later) amounted to no more than an attempt to liquidate the PKK’s (Kurdistan Workers’ Party – Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan) influence on the Kurds of Turkey in return for token reforms. Given the hegemony of the party, it turned out to be a dismal failure.

    Erdogan, co-chair together with prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain of the so-called Alliance of Civilisations, a product of the Bush era, in effect acts as a Trojan horse of imperialism in the Arab world.}

    {http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19722}

  16. shabnam said on November 28th, 2010 at 11:04am #

    The charlatans at this site must note that Israel’s boot lickers are spreading Erdogan’s lies, agent of US imperialism, to fool ARABS. No one should pay any attention to these imposters and illiterate.

    Abdul Rahman al-Rashed, chief Editor of Al arabiya, funded by Saudi Arabian ruling elite, terrorists in the service of US and Israel, is trying to fool Arabs to fall behind Erdogan, against Iran.
    Only gullible people with zero knowledge of the HISTORY believe Erdogan’s lies which are said to capture Arab’s heard and mind to serve the interest of the US imperialism so US helps Turkey to become ‘power of the region’ against Iran. When this imposter says: “We will not be silent if Israel attacks Lebanon” he is lying to attract desperate Arab people behind the interest of US imperialism which is controlled by Zionism. This liar has done nothing for Palestine except CHEAP RETHORIC.

    During the Gaza genocide, Endogen did not call Turkey’s ambassador home even for one hour, but Chavez asked his ambassador to leave the occupied land at once. Shame on Endogen and those gullible and imposters who believe Erdogan’s cheap talk. Only people with no knowledge of the region’s history believe lies because they are illiterate.

    {http://www.alarabiya.net/views/2010/11/27/127651.html}

    According to Sungur Savran:
    Erdogan, co-chair together with prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain of the so-called Alliance of Civilisations, a product of the Bush era, in effect acts as a Trojan horse of imperialism in the Arab world. So it is clear that the Erdogan government is constitutionally unfit for a full-scale defence of Palestinian rights.
    There is finally the indisputable fact that an overwhelming majority of the Arab governments with which Erdogan is planning to work on increasingly closer terms, from the secular Egyptian dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak (complicit in the blockade on Gaza) to the medieval fundamentalists of Saudi Arabia, have for decades remained deaf to the plight of the Palestinians simply because they are servile followers of the U.S., their great benefactor. The AKP government is itself painfully aware of this situation: one of Erdogan’s ministers has gone on record for saying that even Pope Benedict XVI showed more sensitivity to the Mavi Marmara incident than many Arab governments.

    {http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19722}