The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the subsequent reunification of Germany were followed by the quick dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Mikhail Gorbachev timely withdrew his support from the collapsing GDR. In June 1989, the former Soviet leader stated in Bonn, where he received a rapturous welcome: “I don't think the Berlin Wall is the sole barrier between East and West. We must improve many situations in Europe." That was a very wise and poignant remark. The fall of the Berlin Wall, allowing the re-unification of Germany, was meant to be the start but in no conceivable way the end, of the project of building constructive relations between the East and the West. The jubilant mood began to spread through the following months: "a gentlemen's agreement" with the Bush administration was reached in February 1990 that NATO would not expand eastward beyond Germany. Gorbachev acknowledged that since no one could imagine then that the Warsaw Pact would shortly disappear, he had not pressed for formal commitments about other countries, and the US leadership had therefore not given them.
However, nobody can deny that George Bush senior promised, on the West’s part, that NATO would not take advantage of the situation by expanding eastwards. The European citizens, in particular, and the world citizens at large, naturally nurtured high expectations that the Cold War was approaching its end and that the demise of the East-West confrontation which troubled the old continent since the end of the catastrophic Second World War would soon be an accomplished fact.
As the Eastern bloc dissolved its military alliance, one would anticipate that the Western bloc would honour its part of the deal by dismantling its own military alliance. After all, what is NATO’s raison d’ être once the Warsaw Pact seized to exist? Instead of the mutual dismantling of military alliances, in the twenty years that lapsed since Germany’s reunification, the international community saw the Western military alliance do exactly the opposite: expand eastwards in an unprecedented way.
Driven by Washington, NATO has been encroaching closer and closer to Moscow’s vital space. The expansionist designs have been implemented at the expense of solving long running sores within the alliance itself. For more than a generation’s time, NATO failed dismally in resolving the complex sovereignty disputes between Greece and Turkey, its two old South-Eastern European allies.
Moreover, the Cyprus imbroglio involving importantly also the UK, in addition to Greece and Turkey, continues unabated, with no solution in sight. Alternating from a hot to a cold to a frozen conflict for more than two generations the Cyprus affair features probably as the longest running sore in the list of conflicts where NATO proved unable to come up with a lasting settlement. It is perhaps little known that the sizeable Eastern Mediterranean Island controlling strategic routes to Asia and Africa continues to hold the abominable record of being the most militarized place on earth. This fact has been repeatedly recorded in successive UN Secretary General reports to the Security Council.
Moving to more recent years, one cannot fail to notice Kosovo as another NATO failure: ten years after the Western alliance’s humanitarian intervention the Kosovo conflict remains unresolved; the future of this southern Serbian province is now placed in the hands of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which is obliged, however belatedly, to issue a non-binding but influential ruling. NATO may have stopped the hostilities between the Serbs and the Albanians. Nevertheless it has failed in resolving Kosovo’s political future.
It seems that those who take decisions in NATO, intoxicated with their success of rampant expansion at the expense of the former Soviet Union meticulously plan to bring Moscow down to its knees by enlisting more and more members. The newcomers’ registration is by no means free of charge. It comes at a cost. The ‘novice’ member-states have to foot the bill of the so-called modernization of their armies to bring them up to NATO standards. I recall, a young major from Skopje, FYROM, at the Indian Army’s UN Peace Keeping Training Centre in New Delhi (February 2008), noting the tens of millions of dollars of US military hardware his impoverished country was obliged to order in order to gain the ‘wished for’ NATO membership, which is pending because of the country’s name (and minority) dispute with NATO-member Greece.
Skopje claims that it can use the geographical region’s name Macedonia - which taken as a geographical entity, extends also into Northern Greece and Eastern Bulgaria - to designate its independent state and accuses Athens of mistreating a small Slav minority. The dispute originating from FYROM’s secession from Yugoslavia in 1992 remains unsettled despite long years of mediation by UN special envoy Matthew Nimitz. At the NATO summit in Bucharest (April 2008) Greece’s name objection withheld an invitation issued to FYROM to join the alliance. Yet the Skopje government instead of channeling the country’s scarce resources to eradicate rampant unemployment at home chooses to increase the number of troops in its ISAF contingent in … Afghanistan. FYROM stations no less than four per cent of its armed forces in the chaotic Asian country committing more human resources than Greece does.
Once more, the Macedonia name/territorial dispute follows the unresolved pattern of the other NATO scope conflicts referred to above. The Atlantic alliance is facing a fair list of security questions in South East Europe that it cannot resolve. Apparently, NATO’s mechanisms prove inefficient in establishing sustainable security arrangements in SE Europe. Logically, the question arises: what purpose does it serve to reaching out to faraway places such as Afghanistan when the alliance proves incapable of resolving disputes in the very region where is seeking to recruit membership?
Feeding the Weapons Industry
In response to standing NATO directives, several member states have actively implemented new vessel procurement programmes. New members, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania are modernising their largely Soviet-era fleets. As argued above, the Aegean dispute for thirty-five years remains unresolved whilst Greece and Turkey continue to be the US best sophisticated weapons-systems customers worldwide, spending the highest GDP’s percentage for defence, which are more than double the alliance’s average and the two per cent that the Bush administration wished for from NATO’s allies.
Arguably the expansion of NATO, the doubling or tripling of its membership list of sovereign states coming under the US spell of influence does not necessarily mean that it is also a success story. It is rather a mess story. This short discussion of NATO’s record in Europe, challenges the ‘received wisdom’ that the Western Alliance, the most powerful military alliance in today’s world, is actually providing lasting solutions to problems of European security.
2010: A Landmark Year for Comprehensive Security
Evidently, NATO’s thirty-five year record in the Eastern Mediterranean and since 1999 in the Western Balkans - not to mention Afghanistan - has shown its limits. One would plausibly pose the question: what is to be done? In regard to European and global security structures, 2010 is a landmark year. A series of significant meetings, events and treaties attest to the turning point we are reaching in the annals of international security. Vital indicators signal that we are allowed to hope for a more democratic and safer world.
The First Lisbon EU Treaty Enters into Force , 1 Dec 2009
First, the club of 27 EU member states ratifies the Lisbon Treaty (LT) and manages to enter it into force as early as 1 December 2009. What is the most important feature of the new treaty? Undoubtedly ‘the new exercise in democracy’. As the literature emanating from Brussels trumpets: ‘the European citizens initiative is intended to make the EU more democratic by giving citizens a more direct say in its policies’. The LT offers the possibility for the EU to taking steps ahead in the direction of upgrading its international role as security provider. For the first time, the European Union is equipped with an External Action Service headed by a High Representative for Foreign Policy who is also the Vice President of the European Commission.
The European Parliament (EP) is given a say in defence and foreign policy issues. Thus accountability as opposed to unaccountability, democratic control as opposed to the hitherto substantial lack of it comes into play. The civil society organizations, the non-governmental organizations together with the national parliaments of the western democratic societies will, hopefully, no longer be silent onlookers.
Clearly there is a tremendous European momentum in favour of democratic control of policy-making, importantly of foreign, security and defence policy making. As we all know, there is a substantial overlap in membership between the EU (27) and NATO (28). Consequently, the twenty-one European Union member states that are also NATO full members carry the potential - if not the burden - of democratizing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization policy-making processes.
Heading for the Second Lisbon: NATO New Strategic Concept Summit, Nov 2010
Second, the 2010 global defence calendar features NATO’s strategic review. On 5 May, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s Secretary General, announced in Brussels the submission of a report by the Group of Experts. Indeed the US head of this Group, veteran politician, Dr Madeleine Albright, presented their report on NATO’s New Strategic Concept at a press conference (17 May 2010). It is also published on NATO’s website. Consequently, Rasmussen will begin drafting the initial Strategic Concept draft this summer, with the final document to be agreed by all Allies at the Lisbon Summit in November – interestingly (or ironically?) right on the first anniversary of the EU Lisbon Treaty entering into force.
The substantial overlapping between the two multi-state organizations means that the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, marking the deepening of Europe’s democratic credentials, will be put to the test at the NATO collective security organization. On the one hand in the case of the EU, the implementation of the LT seeks to cover much ground in the democratization of decision-making procedures. Of course, this being a new endeavour, it may falter. However, the orientation is clear: democratization of the decision-making mechanisms through increased participation of the elected bodies of the European citizenry; in addition via initiatives taken by ‘an ad hoc alliance’ of individual European citizens across national borders. Indeed, Baroness Ashton, the new head of the EU's External Action Service in her opening address urged the members of the European Parliament to pull together in order to safeguard European interests. ‘If not, others will make decisions for us’ she concluded. Her words sound promising for the construction of a consensual European foreign policy – especially as they are uttered by a politician of a country that traditionally owed more allegiance to Washington than to Brussels.
On the other hand, NATO with its rigid structures continues to take decisions marked by a democratic deficit – the very situation that the EU seeks to relegate to the past with the ratification of the LT. From a European continent’s perspective, one might argue that Europe may leave NATO behind and concentrate on the effective implementation of the LT. This would have been a valid argument had there been seasoned structures, real assets and human resources in place for the Europeans to effectively implement an independent foreign, security and defence policy. However, in reality, NATO continues to play the leading role in European defence and security policy with its overarching transatlantic dimension. It does so because of its primary assets and well-tested command structures. (Hence the Berlin-Plus arrangements between NATO and EU which continue to be in place) Nevertheless, NATO’s democratic deficit may be addressed if the EU lobby really ‘means business in democratization’. The ‘Club 21’ - the common EU-NATO member states - may seek to prove that they really mean to take control of the European defence structure into their own hands.
The forthcoming summer strategic review of the western alliance offers a golden opportunity for reform. In the decade 2001-2010 the war on terror dominated the alliance’s agenda. It is high time the alliance took stock of the results of Bush’s declaration of ‘war on terror’. Ten years down the line since September 11, 2001 is the world any safer from terror? Has the invasion of Iraq, the dismantling of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the continued occupation by the ‘alliance of the willing’ led to the prosperity of that country? Has the ongoing ISAF intervention produced stability in Afghanistan? In fact, have western societies been freed from terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslim extremists, bent on taking revenge on the West’s meddling with their own affairs? It does not really take a high level of political sophistication to find that the answer to such a bunch of questions and many related others do not lie in the affirmative. If anything, the number of Al Qaeda and other terrorist attacks on scores of innocent civilian targets in the West has increased since the War on Terror was launched by a victory-thirsty American president.
Before convening to map out the new strategic concept of the alliance, NATO leaders should ponder over the real results of the alliance’s unrestrained interventionist policies in the Muslim world in the past decade (2001-2010). Is it not that a continued expansion of military operations further and further afield nurtures more and more suspicions among Muslim societies that the West is seeking to impose its own system of values and customs on a part of the world that is simply different from the western? Has the UN or any other broad multilateral organization assigned NATO the role of the world’s policeman? Are actually the NATO-member-states’ electorates happy with blindly following Washington’s dictations to the alliance?
New START Treaty, Prague, 8 April 2010
The year 2010 has already seen a third important development in arms reduction. Engulfed by the voluptuous surroundings of presidential palace of the Czech capital, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged to keep the arms reduction process alive by giving the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) a new lease of life. The two presidents vowed to further reduce their countries’ respective nuclear arsenals together with their sophisticated launching devices. Ban ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, and most senior representative of the world’s broadest multi-lateral organization, hastened to hail the agreement urging the powerful and the mighty to work strenuously and incessantly towards the goal of a nuclear free world.
The 2010 NPT Review Conference, New York, May 2010
Hard to find any concerned world citizen who is not happy with the new START. START is signed. Well done! However, what about non-proliferation? In fact, the fourth global security vital event took place in early May in New York. The forty year old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) underwent its five-year review conference at the UN Headquarters. At the time of its signing in 1970 there were five nuclear states (USA, UK, France, China and the USSR) who committed themselves to work for a nuclear weapons free world by dismantling their own arsenals while making sure that nuclear weapons technology does not proliferate to other states. The situation today is worse as the non-proliferation regime is in jeopardy: four more states have gone nuclear: India, Pakistan, Israel and lately North Korea which pulled out of the Treaty. In addition, the future is unknown as to whether the nuclear programme of Iran is targeted on civilian or on military use. The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the only Head of State to address the New York review conference. In his speech (3 May 2010), Ahmadinejad accused the US, the UK and France for double standards. In particular, he singled out the US as the ‘main suspect’ for the stockpiling, spread and the threatening of other nations with nuclear weapons. However, he went on to suggest ways for reforming the NPT and adopting transparent and binding mechanisms to monitor major nuclear weapons states such as the United States, on whom he called to dismantle its nuclear bases around the world as a step to create a nuke-free world.
Ironically, the US government officially announced the level of its nuclear arsenal for the first time in half a century. Washington last declared the number of its nukes in 1961. Today the US unblushingly told the world that it possesses 5,113 operational nuclear weapons. Yet in a conspicuous display of disrespect the US along with the UK and French delegations walked out of the meeting room as Ahmadinejad was about to deliver his speech.
Medvedev’s Proposal for Comprehensive Security Treaty, 29 Nov 2009
Fifth, and last but not least, a serious enough security proposal was issued in Moscow a couple of days before the Lisbon Treaty entered into force. It has been on the table for six months without any serious attention being paid to it in the West. This is the comprehensive European Security Treaty issued for discussion by the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on 29 Nov 2009. Moscow worried about the continued expansion of NATO eastwards (and perhaps encouraged by the concurrent implementation of the EU Lisbon Treaty) naturally seeks assurances from the West that the so far unchecked NATO encroachment on its ‘own vital space’ would be finally put under control.
Medvedev’s proposed treaty does not seem to harm the interests of any particular country. The Russian proposal appears to be well balanced. It makes reference to all background security treaties machinery, acknowledging adherence to the UN Charter as being of absolute importance, and supporting the central role of the UN Security Council as the primary guardian of international peace and security. The Moscow document ushers in the principles of indivisible, equal and undiminished security on the basis of which it requires the prospective parties to cooperate. All in all the proposed treaty hailing from the Eastern pole of the European continent will neither harm nor damage prospects for achieving lasting world peace if it is given a chance. On the contrary it would add to the existing mechanisms of securing a more peaceful world.
With all the above described activity around new enhanced mechanisms of global security, the world certainly finds itself at perhaps the most important crossroads. The year 2010 could be a real turning point in the annals of European and global security.
* Dr. Yiorghos Leventis is ISF's Director. This paper was presented at the conference on 'The Future Architecture of European & Global Security' organised by the International Security Forum in the Republic of Cyprus, on 29 May 2010.
written by William Mallinson, May 24, 2010
This is the sort of piece that I like to read.In 1989, the communists lost their god, and the capitalists their devil.Yet the US, supported by Britain and the former Eastern European Russia-hating(and Germany-hating, in the case of Poland)slave nations began their greedy expansion plans,beginning at arms length with Iraq, after the US Ambassador, April Glaspie, had told Saddam Hussein that Kuwait was not their problem. NATO was already past its shelf life,so the fanatics looked for ways of prolongong its existence, although the North Atlantic Treaty was due to expire in April 1999. So the US performed another diplomatic sleight of hand, when its Balkan envoy, Richard Gelbard, called the (Albanian) KLA a 'terrorist organisation', thus giving Serbia every reason to intensify their attack on the terrorists. As in the case of Iraq, the US then changed its mind, and its envoy. Richard Banker Holbrooke had a love-in with the KLA terrorists, and at Rambouillet, NATO found its PR excuse to attack Yugoslavia unilaterally and to expand its membership to the former slave countries. See Richard MccGwire's celebrated article in 'International Affairs', vol.i, no. 1, January 2000).
Then came the Godsend to the Manichean neo-con financial NATO fanatics, namely 9/11 which, to cut a long and dirty story short,led to the opportunity to divide the EU.This of course suited NATO's purposes very well, since the US and its bed-boy Britain wish to expand and strengthen NATO,and destroy any idea of a true CFSP, as opposed to the current arrangement, which depends on NATO.
Russia knows all this, and is, undersandably, slowly but surely, coolly and logically, strengthening itself and increasing its influence southwards.The Ango-Saxon fanaticism is replicating itself around Cyprus, where a solution suiting NATO is being pushed for, with only lip-service paid to EU norms of individual rights.
Unfortunately, the current supine Greek government is following the financial terrorist instructions of the the US, to Russia's irritation.This risks losing Russian support for an equitable NATO-free solution for Cyprus.
In sum,despite the alleged Obama phemomenon, the NATO financial fanatics are still with us.
Leventis's article is jolly good.
Searching for global security
written by A. Fragkis, June 09, 2010
The global monster at work! Dr. Leventis's article, hits the nail on the head
Senior Academic Officer, UNU Tokyo
written by Vesselin Popovski, August 18, 2010
I agree with Leventis points that 2010 is a turning point for global security architecture. The hope comes from Barack Obama new foreign policy, that denied neo-con emphasis on militarism and George Bush war on terror and created additional tensions in every corner in the world. Still the heritage from the 8 years of militarism in DC is not easy to overcome. Obama still needs to deal with the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan being regular targets of insurgencies and the huge costs of the wars. Al Qaeda may still plan and attack.
Still the global security situation improves, particularly with the nuclear free world idea suggested by Obama in Prague last April. Russia and China are willing to talk and reduce weapons, even North Korea nuclear issue seems under control, though incidentally some tensions may continue erupt, but they are more muscle training, rather than real threats.
European Union is gradually dealing more with economic, and less military and political matters, which also indicates low intensity security concerns. NATO is still trying to find its lost mission in 1990 (well presented by Leventis) and no matter how political and less military it may want to be, its raison d'etre is under question. There was so much talks about NATO new strategy and so little happening. After Yugoslavia conflicts, NATO has played role mostly outside Europe, and what it did inside Europe in the last years was to exaggerate tensions between Russia and countries such as Georgia, Ukraine -not a solid record. The security concerns in Europe are moving far away from traditional military threats, the concerns are much more about xenophobia, anti-Muslim feelings, drugs, crimes, but these are for law-makers and law-enforcers to deal with, not armies.
written by Nope, October 17, 2010
This started well but lost the intelligent reader when the bias became palpable.
Captain R.Sw.N. (retd)
written by Lars Wedin, November 07, 2010
Very interesting piece. However, I do not agree on all points.
To begin with - we will not know if 2010 is a Crucial Turning point until afterwards. Maybe it will, maybe not. Which doesn't mean that there are very important issues to handle.
I'm not sure that George Bush could promise "on the West's" part that Nato should not enlarge? Was there a consensus within Nato about this issue? And what about other countries not members in Nato but still belonging to the West)
It's not possible to compare the former WP with Nato in this way. The WP was a bloc of occupied countries under the uncontested leadership of the URSS. Nato is an organisation of free and democratic countries. If Nato didn't dissolve, that's because the members did continue to find Nato useful.
Nato did not enlarge "driven by Washington". In fact, Washington was very reluctant to enlarge. The Partnership for Peace was invented exactly as a way of giving the newly liberated countries something but still short of full membership. This did not work of course. Most difficult was the membership for the Baltic states as it was - and is - difficult to see how Nato would be able to defend them according to art 5. However, not to let them in became impossible when Russia said "no". Otherwise, the West had accepted that these states were a part of a Russian sphere of interest.
It's also difficult to understand the idea about "Nato rampant expansion at the expense of the former Soviet Union". The URSS is now happily placed in the dust-bin of history and their opressed peoples liberated. This is something to be happy of, not to regret.
But yes, Nato has not succeeded in solving the dispute between Greece and Turkey. One could wonder, though, what had happen if they hadn't both been members.
I agree that Macedonia should not try to put scarce resources in Afghanistan as they hardly will make any difference there.
I agree that "the West" should accept to negotiate the treaty proposed by Russia. However, such a treaty must be based on the acquis of the OSCE. Any idea of negotiating from a clean slate would mean weakening of existing regimes on human rights, confidence and security building measures (CSBMs) etc. My view on this subject could be found on http://www.strato-analyse.org/...article198