Rossiyskaya Gazeta 26 May 1999 NATO Is Playing, Everyone Is Losing Two Months of the Balkan War. Interim Results. by Rossiyskaya Gazeta Political Observer Vladimir Lapskiy In NATO's 50 years of existence the bloc's politicians and generals should in theory have accumulated a great wealth of experience; they have been very well aware of each other's potential and the potential of their partners and their enemies. First-class players, it would seem that they would know how to calculate their reactions many moves ahead. But, as an ancient philosopher said, knowing a great deal does not make you intelligent. NATO has deluded itself. There is no end in sight to the Balkan war, which they had intended to resolve in a few days. And the alliance does not want to or cannot now "retreat," and is displaying the same obstinacy and pushiness as its main opponent, Slobodan Milosevic. With the help of topographical maps, one of the most picturesque countries in Europe is being systematically destroyed, hundreds and thousands of civilians are dying, and enterprises, hospitals, and historical and cultural monuments are being demolished. Europe has not experienced such arbarity since the times of World War II. I will not try to guess how the Balkan war will end, when this will happen, and who will consider himself the victor. Something else is clear today: In real terms everyone who has participated or not participated in it has lost. Europe and the United States may be paying for it for decades. Already this war is costing the West 300 billion euros, and how much more is yet to be smashed and destroyed, burned down or ruined?! But this is not just a question of material damage. The old world order formed after 1945 has been consumed by the flames of the Balkan war, along with the achievements of the past 10 years, when people believed that we could live in cooperation and mutual understanding. In the past two months an essentially new political psychology has emerged, and mistrust and fear lie at its heart. Why did the United States and NATO need the Balkan war? To my mind, there are several reasons. The United States and its allies needed to change the political situation and the geopolitical situation as a whole in the Balkans to their own advantage. Averting a humanitarian disaster in the province was the pretext for NATO interference. This, however, has led to a far more terrible disaster. And it is symptomatic that there is no clear sign that in the prevailing dramatic events NATO is prepared to end the war. That is, it has turned out that people's lives do not particularly worry NATO, and that the pretext was a forced one. NATO is dragging the Yugoslavs' neighbors -- Albanians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, and others -- into the war against them and is creating a kind of collective security system. Why? The answer is plain: The bloc needs an extensive Balkan springboard. I would like to note in passing that it is appalling how easily Yugoslavia's neighbors are allowing themselves to be drawn into the conflict, making their territory and air space available to the bloc's forces. Sometimes it looks as if NATO's feeling of impunity has been passed on to them. Another reason is to prove "in practice" the continuing need for NATO, which logically should have disappeared 10 years ago. "This organization has been deprived of its traditional role of an anti-Soviet gendarme," the Canadian Le Devoir newspaper writes. "And it has not acquired a specific new role in the present international situation." Strong-arm intervention in Yugoslavia was in theory supposed to show that NATO is needed by the democratic world as the guardian of civil rights and humanity. Admittedly, what has happened in the Balkans is the exact opposite. Finally, the U.S. desire to establish a world order in which it will be the unquestionable leader in everything is clearly visible in the bloc's open aggression. The Americans have already proved their economic might and political influence, and now it is time for them to flex their military muscles too. "Only the United States has the military capability to launch Tomahawk missiles, cruise missiles, and other weapons," the Voice of America broadcast a few days ago. "We have the world's greatest capability in terms of rear services support. We have the best satellite communications, which provide intelligence information about the situation throughout the world." So, first in everything. Two months of war have brought a new dimension to international life. "The new model of alliance behavior has given the signal for a revision of Western countries' attitude to the world order," Britain's The Times writes. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has defined the international relations of the future as "new internationalism." The newly coined term means that after the Yugoslav precedent NATO will interfere in the affairs of sovereign states as it sees fit. The Times also noted in this connection that "The West now has a powerful and dangerous mechanism for standardizing social, ethnic, and legal principles throughout the world according to its own model." Note: throughout the world. The Balkan war has muddied the relationships that Russia had so painstakingly built up with NATO and its individual members. The Founding Act has been frozen, and our representatives have been recalled from Brussels and Mons. By not taking the Russian stance into consideration, the alliance has wrecked European peace, and this means that there can be no partnership. Russian politicians and the military commonly believe that there is no question of cooperation with the alliance on the previous principles in the foreseeable future, that it is more likely to be a question of suppressing it. Appeals to build up nuclear forces can already be heard. Might NATO not be tempted one day to try to settle an interethnic conflict in Russia by the proven method? Is this paranoia? "Henceforth operations such as the Yugoslav one will be a routine task for NATO," Bill Clinton said at the jubilee assembly in Washington. "The alliance's members are stating that, to strengthen their own security, they will now have to be prepared to operate not only on the territory of member states but also on territories both geographically and essentially connected with NATO." It could not be stated more plainly. For its part the West has started talking about how a "strategic triangle" of Russia, China, and India could emerge as a reaction to NATO's challenge, on the grounds that the modern world is unthinkable without a second focus of power. Speculation on this subject intensified when a NATO bomb hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. By the way, those who are talking about the "triangle" include the major American political analyst Ariel Cohen. The Russian government has no intention of suggesting the formation of a military alliance to Beijing and Delhi because the consequences of this are easy to calculate: The world would go back to a Cold War once and for all. There is another unpleasant consequence of the NATO aggression: It is launching an arms race everywhere. India has started talking about reinforcing its defense, and the Ukrainian parliament has questioned its country's non-nuclear status. There are plenty of examples. The danger has emerged that many so-called "threshold states," which have the potential to quickly create their own nuclear weapons, will start doing so contrary to UN admonitions. And what role has this venerable organization played in the new circumstances? The question is also being asked about what role it will be allotted in the "post-Balkan world." The United Nations has received a lot of censure for being practically powerless to do anything effective to stop the war. General Secretary Kofi Annan did visit Europe, but his trip left practically no trace. The United Nations has found itself unable to carry out its own charter. This says, among other things, that it is obliged to take effective collective measures to remove threats to peace and suppress acts of aggression. Has the United Nations now become obsolete? It seems not, and that the weakness of will it has displayed in the Balkans is a temporary phenomenon. It is clear, however, that its structure must be changed, that its Security Council must be effective in any critical situation like the Balkan one. How should this be done? There are no stock remedies. To my mind it could possibly be done by expanding the Security Council, including among its permanent members representatives of major and developed countries such as, for instance Japan, India, Brazil, Egypt, and neutral states. The successor to the League of Nations must be capable of putting any violator of the world order in his place, even such a strong and self-confident one as NATO. The Balkan war has also influenced NATO itself, in which both centripetal and centrifugal phenomena have been strengthened. On the one hand, serious differences have taken shape between the NATO countries and within them (a few days ago a BBC commentator stated unambiguously: "The assumption is being expressed that the NATO operation in the Balkans will be the beginning of the end of the North Atlantic alliance."). Positions have become utterly polar. Some (for example, Greece, Italy, and the Czech Republic), are in favor of the immediate cessation of hostilities,others (Britain) are in favor of conducting full-scale, that is, ground combat operations. The war has raised a major wave of anti-NATO feeling practically everywhere: There has not been such a reaction since the aggression in Vietnam. In Germany the Green Party, which is in the government coalition, has split over the Balkan question. The war has divided Europe into camps and has instilled panic in the hearts of Europeans who until recently lived in peace and comfort. An awareness is growing in Europe that the European members of the alliance are following the Americans without a murmur, indulging them in everything, not always seeing the danger for themselves in this. An event occurred in mid-May which was written and spoken about quite glibly but which was, to my mind, very symptomatic. A conference of foreign ministers and defense ministers of the Western European Union [WEU] countries -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg -- was held in the German city of Bremen. The ministers concertedly advocated the revival of this strictly European defense structure. No, they did not directly set the WEU against NATO. In an evasive way, however, they made it clear that critical situations may emerge on the continent in which the interests of the Europeans and the Americans will be at variance, and then the Europeans will act independently, without U.S. commanders. Europe wants a new style of relations with the United States.
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