Leading experts warned NATO expansion would lead to conflict. Why did no one listen? — Analysis

From Kennan to Kissinger, Western foreign-policy thinkers saw NATO’s eastward march was a dangerous game

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has provoked serious backlash around the world, particularly in the Western world – an understandable reaction against a war of aggression in violation of international law. However, it’s also true that this outcome had been predicted by the world’s foremost foreign-policy experts for decades.

Specifically, experts have consistently warned that NATO’s eastward expansion would provoke conflict with Russia. It begs question: how did this happen? These are just a few examples of warnings that were given before we get into the answers.

For starters, the top American Russia scholar George Kennan, the man who laid the foundation for US Cold War foreign-policy strategy, said NATO’s expansion into Central Europe in the 1990s was “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era.”He stated that NATO’s expansion could cause so much damage to US-Russia relations that Russia would not be able to become a partner but would instead remain an enemy.

Nine days prior to invasion, the US Ambassador to Soviet Union (1987-1991) wrote an essay in which he answered the question “Can the crisis that was brewing be avoided?” “In short, yes,”He explained. He was unsure if it was predicable. “Absolutely. NATO expansion was the most profound strategic blunder made since the end of the Cold War.”

Leading international relations scholar John Mearsheimer gave an interview after the Russian invasion, explaining that the situation “started in April 2008, at the summit in Bucharest, where afterward NATO issued a statement that said Ukraine and Georgia would become part of [NATO].”

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His words: “The Russians made it unequivocally clear at the time that they viewed this as an existential threat, and they drew a line in the sand.” Mearsheimer discussed in the interview, as he has maintained for years on this issue, that the issue of Ukraine joining NATO is key to Russia’s core national security interests.

The famed Russian-studies scholar Stephen Cohen likewise warned in 2014, during that year’s conflict in Ukraine involving Russia, that “if we move NATO forces toward Russia’s borders … it’s obviously gonna militarize the situation [and]Russia will not back down. This is existential.”

Henry Kissinger (former US Secretary of State), is one of America’s most respected strategic thinkers. He said it in an op-ed published in 2014. “Ukraine should not join NATO.” Because it would render Ukraine an East-West theater. He claimed that “to treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West – especially Russia and Europe – into a cooperative international system.”

There are many others, including former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, Russian-American journalist Vladimir Pozner Jnr., economist Jeffrey Sachs, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General Pino Arlacchi, former CIA director Bill Burns, former US Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and others listedArnaud Bertrand has a fantastic Twitter thread about this topic.

All of these things are well-known and widely discussed. Now we need to ask the question “Why?” Well, it most likely has to do with controlling Europe and making sure that NATO itself doesn’t fall apart. In that sense, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ensured this goal and then some.

Madrid will be hosting a NATO summit in June. This will include the creation of the NATO’s first strategic document. It will also address the issue of conflict over the NATO strategy document. It will be the alliance’s working strategic framework for at least the next decade and will clearly define its goals.

We had seen, prior to this, that Europe, particularly France, was pushing for a common European defense strategy – which, to be fair, was said to “complement NATO”Washington consistently resisted the US’s refusal to change its stance. After actions by the US that rattled European leaders, particularly the AUKUS agreement, the administration of President Joe Biden made clear concessions that it probably didn’t enjoy.

It was evident from the September 2021 readout of a conversation between Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the passage. “The United States also recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense that contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seemingly rejuvenated NATO overnight and put Europe on high alert. This is evident in Germany’s foreign-policy pivot and the announcement that it will be increasing its military spending to over 2% of its GDP in direct response to the situation in Ukraine; Sweden and Finland having reportedly given consideration to joining NATO; and even Switzerland ending its neutral status and joining the EU’s sanctions on Russian assets.

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The June summit in Madrid will undoubtedly elevate pro-NATO voices that would otherwise be regarded as extreme, discussion of more bifurcation of the international system and, no doubt, direct mentions of Russia – maybe even China – in the organization’s strategic concept document. This is all in keeping with US foreign policies.   

At the same time, this all has the benefit of increasing dependency on America – especially in the case of natural gas, with Nord Stream 2 now scrapped and Russia being choked economically – and on military hardware, which the military-industrial complex is surely happy about.

None of this minimizes Russia’s role in the conflict. Russia invaded Ukraine without any justification and committed an international crime. However, strategic thinkers from the West predicted that this would occur and we can only conclude that it is part of the wider agenda.

With that in mind, it’s clear that anyone who really supports the Ukrainian people must be principally against NATO’s expansion. The economic and physical consequences for EU citizens will be felt by all EU residents. But let’s remember that, until Russia’s invasion, Europe – mainly Germany and France – was doing all it could to diffuse the situation in spite of Washington’s brinkmanship.

These opinions, statements and thoughts are the sole opinion of the author. They do not necessarily reflect those made by RT.



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