Economic war instead of climate policy
Destruction of nature
Sustainability and capitalism do not go together. Because capitalism needs growth and drives environmental destruction. The consequences: Species extinction, drought stress for trees, water scarcity. A consistent climate policy would have to get down to the nitty-gritty, but at present it is overshadowed by the economic war.
By GEORG AUERNHEIMER | Published 3 days ago in: Environment
Low water, like here near Au am Rhein, endangers nature. And is a problem for shipping and industry.
[This article posted on 8/18/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.hintergrund.de/globales/umwelt/wirtschaftskrieg-statt-klimapolitik/.]
The climate catastrophe is here, it’s not coming first. But people are mostly concerned with the consequences of the economic war. How expensive will gas become? How will I get through the winter? Many are looking for distraction at events. And people go on vacation as usual by car to the south or to the seaside. Traffic jams on the highways, long lines at the airports. For the government, the climate catastrophe is not an issue either, at least not for the time being. For them, weakening Russia has priority.
Meanwhile, water is running short in some communities. Many villages in France and Spain have run out of water. Fish and other aquatic animals are dying because the rivers and streams have little water, some are already dry, and are warming up too much. Trees are losing their foliage ahead of time. In the cities, the heat is unbearable. No more proof is needed for their inhospitability. Shipping has to be reduced, partly stopped. Farmers complain about crop failures because of the drought. The farmers’ association is demanding financial bridging aid from the state and – this is already the ultimate in foresight – funds to promote drought-resistant varieties. No doubts about monocultures and factory farming.
Sustainability has been invoked for decades. All kinds of products and facilities are certified as climate-neutral. Often, this turns out to be a deceptive package that is expected to be effective in advertising. Enterprises make themselves climaticneutral by a tricky compensation business in the emission trade. A plantation is set up somewhere, for example in Kenya. Thanks to the newly created CO2 sink there, they can continue to emit greenhouse gases here.
So much for the cunning of reason!
Whoever has read Marx and has become aware of the connection between the ruling mode of production with its immanent urge for growth and the heating of the atmosphere, is currently faced with the following situation: The government, in which a green party is significantly involved, proclaims that one must become independent of Russian gas and that this is good because it will also make one independent of fossil fuels. However, since weakening Russia is a priority for them, they are not afraid to import fracking gas and continue to operate coal and nuclear power plants at the same time, in contradiction to this. If sufficient substitutes for gas from Russia cannot be obtained, as many experts assume, the economy, already weakened by the pandemic, the disruption of global supply chains and inflation, will indeed collapse. But rearmament and war are simultaneously driving CO2 emissions to record levels. No breathing space, then, to help the climate. If businesses have to close and the cost of living skyrockets, it will only bring mass unemployment and poverty.
Only a peace policy would also be a climate policy. For peace could offer the chance to gradually transform the economy in international cooperation. Admittedly, this is an almost utopian idea, if one is aware of the economic drivers of this system and also considers the international balance of power. Hardly anyone but them dares to think of a “radical system change,” as participants in the “System Change” camp in Hamburg are currently calling for1.
The growth imperative
How is sustainable development to be possible with this economic system? As early as 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, participants had to admit to “conflicting goals” between the desired ecological sustainability and economic interests. The existing economic system could not be questioned at such a summit. Capitalism had just emerged victorious from system competition. Nothing has come of the great announcements and plans of Agenda 21 adopted at that time.
The ruling system follows the growth imperative. Yes, one can speak of growth compulsion. Certainly, no modern economy can manage without growth. Population dynamics alone will force it to do so. And where there is still poverty, and poverty that is not caused by extreme distributive injustice, the efficiency of the economy must be increased. But growth in capitalism is not geared to the needs of people, of society. The driving force is profit, or more precisely, the increase of profit. The promise of use value attached to goods is only the prerequisite for their sale and thus for profit. The shoe industry, as soon as all consumers have shoes for every purpose and every season, must create a new shoe fashion. Bicycle manufacturers must launch new models as soon as sales stagnate. They must make it clear to consumers that today you can no longer be satisfied with a touring bike, that modern, sporty temperaments need a road bike and a mountain bike, perhaps even a fat bike. Innovation is in demand. The drive to innovate historically made up the progressive trait of this economy, something Marx and Engels well recognized. The relief of many heavy physical jobs by machines was definitely progress.2 But today, many innovations are superfluous or even harmful. It is just a matter of opening up a new market. They are inventions or creations like the energy drinks of the beverage manufacturers3 or mowing robots or some apps on the ICT market. It is also possible, in order to prevent the market from becoming saturated one day, to build devices that only work for a limited time, or vehicles that become obsolete prematurely – built-in obsolescence. When nothing else helps, the state sometimes steps in, for example with a clunker premium.
Money must “work,” is the motto. The money that is supposed to work or be exploited becomes capital. Thanks to the work of those who have been contracted, surplus value is generated. For those who work, whether they are employed directly in production or in the organization of production, can appropriate only a portion of the wealth they generate. What is siphoned off as profit by the owners of capital awaits new investment.4 Economic growth is also driven by competition. Every company must see that it maintains market share or, rather, conquers new ones. Those who leave new ideas and customers to the competition are out of the game.
At this point, advertising must not go unmentioned. Services for capital, such as advertising or management consulting, offer an opportunity for profitable value creation. In addition to labor, advertising itself consumes resources, sometimes on a gigantic scale. Just think of the huge consumption of paper.
The reference to the “persistent lull in accumulation “5 that has been going on for decades does not solve the problem that capitalism is always looking for new opportunities for exploitation. It may be that they are not always directly linked to resource consumption. If money can no longer be invested in products because the market no longer offers anything, then it is invested in valuable objects that promise an increase in value, such as land or buildings. Financial products are in demand whose value, insofar as they do not promise value enhancement through mere speculation, ultimately results from the purchase of company shares, sometimes even entire companies. Agricultural companies are now attractive. In turn, loss of value can only be secured through growth. And growth is not possible without constant intensification of the exploitation of labor and thus without metabolism with nature.
Ecologically disastrous is the to a large extent socially senseless growth. This is the crux of the matter. The reference to the investment fatigue in the industrial sector, which has already lasted for decades, therefore does not invalidate the critique of growth. One industrial sector that is currently booming is the defense industry. Is there a more senseless, destructive growth? Zinn (2015) speaks of “the unproductive use of society’s surplus product. “6
Consumerism long habitual
When, after the last great war, there was no more money to be made from the production of tanks, fighter planes, bombers and bombs, at least for a time, consumers with greater consumption needs were needed. To make the so-called economic miracle possible, citizens with new ways of thinking and behaving had to be brought in. Educational personnel were not needed for this. We children learned in the 1950s to help ourselves to vending machines to get sugar stuff or chewing gum. In general, we were open to all the temptations of the new world of goods, which the older generation did not understand at all. Sayings such as “Save in time, then you have in need” could still be read on kitchen towels for a while. The next step in this socialization process was the supermarkets in the 1950s. There was no more thinking: What do I need? People simply let themselves be guided by what was on offer. Especially in the supermarket, one also found the fruits of the unfair trade with the countries in the South, for which the banana symbolically stands. Then everyone who could afford it got excited about the new mobility with the car, even if it was only a Goggomobil or a Lloyd at the beginning.
So much for the gateway drugs to consumerism. The attraction of automobility is maintained by ideological attributions. It allows for a seemingly self-determined life, more individuality and, as crazy as it is, it makes you feel more equal. On trains, class segregation is directly displayed. In contrast, when Meier leaves the company, his boss gets into a Porsche, but he himself only gets into a VW Golf. But at the traffic light, the boss has to wait just like him. According to social scientists: Automobility has “something equalizing about it. “7 And at the same time, a car can improve one’s status. Meier may be able to score points with his colleagues by having a faster car. Settlement and transportation policies eventually forced people to drive by separating their homes from their jobs and by neglecting public transportation.
In the meantime, the desired consumer attitude has long since become habitual. Only citizens from the former GDR still needed tutoring. No wonder that eco-apostles like Nico Paech were only able to convince a small community of the need to refrain from consumption.8 Along with exports, consumerism keeps the economy going. Poverty in the millions is not a threat to the system as long as the middle and upper classes maintain their “imperial way of life”.9 Moreover, at least the food trade can still do good business even with the unemployed and the working poor. They are offered cheap products without any nutritional value.
The energy turnaround that is not an energy turnaround and that no one wants
The “energy turnaround” conjured up by the government is not one. Whether the renunciation demanded for it can count on acceptance in the long term remains to be seen. In a class society with a few percent of rich and super-rich people, the measures announced by the government should actually be perceived as an imposition by the “little people. It is likely that they will be forced to comply. Only the fight against evil now seems to awaken in some the willingness to give up. Whether they are aware of the implications of renouncing Russian gas remains to be seen. In any case, the “path to a post-growth economy” (Paech) has not yet been taken. Changes in attitude are hardly to be expected. Energy consumption may decline somewhat. But there can be no talk of a cunning of reason in the sense of ecological reform. Fossil energy remains the lifeblood of the system.
It could be, however, that the economic war instigated by the transatlantic alliance will lead to an economic crisis of such magnitude that, despite a booming defense industry, growth will tend toward zero. The mass of consumers will then be forced to cut back. But even then it is doubtful whether this would initiate a learning process.
Using nature’s unmistakable warning signals and calling for energy conservation, switching to renewable energy sources in the long term, reducing water consumption through behavioral changes and technical solutions, and initiating a radical change in transportation – that would be an agenda appropriate to the situation. A consistent climate policy would have to get down to the nitty-gritty at some point. How, for example, is a sustainable energy turnaround to be enforceable with energy utilities in the hands of private investors? Incidentally, a consistent climate policy can only succeed with international cooperation based on trust. The current wars make such cooperation impossible, especially the war in Ukraine, which is apparently programmed by the transatlantic alliance for ultimate victory. It is to be feared that the economic crisis will be exacerbated by the climate crisis and vice versa.
1 Junge Welt v. 10. August 22, p.4
2 See Marx u. Engels (1848): Manifesto of the Communist Party. MEW 4, p. 464 f.
3 Just think of Red Bull. In 2021, over 9.8 billion cans of the drink were sold. The fortune of the “inventor” Mateschütz was estimated at 26.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bull, retrieved 08/16/22).
4 The wording leaves open how and whether investments are made at all. (See below!) The fact that, in addition, part of the profit flows into the account of the entrepreneur or the shareholders hardly needs to be mentioned.
5 Zinn, Karl Georg (2015): Of capitalism without growth. Hamburg, p.41 u. 58. The gross national product does not indicate growth in this understanding.
6 op. cit., p.111
7 Brand, Ulrich & Wissen, Markus (2017): Imperiale Lebensweise. On the exploitation of people and nature in global capitalism. Munich, p.136.
8 Paech, Nico (2012): Liberation from Abundance. Towards a post-growth economy. Munich.
9 Brand & Knowledge (2017). The objection that the term “imperial way of life” hides inequality within the affluent societies of the center is understandable, but superfluous within a critical discourse community.
Georg Auernheimer was Professor of Intercultural Education at the Faculty of Human Sciences at the University of Cologne until his retirement. Since then he has worked as a political publicist. His most recent publication was “Wie gesellschaftliche Güter zu privatem Reichtum werden. On Privatization and Other Forms of Expropriation” (PapyRossa, 2021).
Most recently published by him on hintergrund.de: War damages environment and climate
Russia: the enemy to be kept down, but a useful one
by Friedrich Homann
[This article posted on 8/20/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Russland-Der-kleinzuhaltende-aber-nuetzliche-Feind-7238073.html?seite=all.]
U.S. government documents prove: After the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia was in no way to become part of a European security system. Its emergence as a globally relevant great power was to be prevented. Background and Commentary.
Some 8,000 km of sea and land mass protect the U.S. from Russia. Nevertheless, at least according to political declarations and relevant think tank analyses, the U.S. feels threatened by Russia and therefore ostensibly feels compelled to take appropriate defensive measures both in its own “Western Hemisphere” and in Europe.
In view of the multiple superiority of the USA/NATO and a nuclear attack ruled out on the basis of second-strike capability, there could be no question of Russia’s real ability to attack, for example by way of the occupation of neighboring European NATO states or even Germany currently speculated about in the West. Especially since, once a region has been conquered, the question always arises as to what happens next?
However, the recent appearance of new Russian hypersonic missiles, which can also be armed conventionally, has improved a possible Russian combat situation with the USA – at least until the USA catches up with Russia: Russia could now also reach American territory conventionally vice versa without significant missile defense and thus, in a mirror image, at least catch up with the possibilities of the USA on the European continent.
Beyond the threat scenery prepared by the media, however, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the U.S. has in fact been pursuing its actual core objective of not allowing a rival great power, i.e. Russia and for some years now also China, to emerge on the Eurasian continent.
Inspired by its own political-moral exceptionalism (“city upon the hill”), but driven by its own national interests (Manifest Destiny), the U.S. has since the beginning of the last century claimed the role of the world’s policeman, without whom a global order supposedly could not be established. This is illustrated by the following quotes:
It is impossible for the allied [European] powers to extend their political system to any part of the [American] continent without endangering our peace and happiness; … It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should regard such interference in any form with indifference.
Monroe Doctrine, December 2, 1823, [insertions by author].
Our manifest destiny to settle the continent [North America] destined by Providence for the free development of our annually multiplying millions.
John L. O’Sullivan 1845, [insertion by author].
Chronic injustice or impotence leading to a general loosening of the bonds of civilized society may, in America as elsewhere, eventually require the intervention of a civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may, in flagrant cases of such injustice or impotence, compel the United States to exercise an international police power, however reluctantly
Theodore Roosevelt, Corollary, 1904
“The religious and political ideals [of the United States] merged into a general ideology of superiority over all other nations, American exceptionalism. It forms the basis and justification for American expansionism and influence” (…) and leads “to the idea that the United States is a ‘model’ for the rest of the world.”
Restad, U.S. Foreign Policy Traditions: Multilateralism vs. Unilateralism since 1776; [insertion by author.]
The Role of Ukraine in U.S. Military Strategy.
As far as the prevention of a “great power Russia” is concerned – against the background of its own superiority and its claim to world domination – Ukraine plays a decisive role in military strategy, as Mackinder (Heartland Theory) and Brzezinski (The Great Chessboard: Without Ukraine, Russia is not a great power) have already pointed out.
If Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, the U.S. will occupy military posts directly on Russia’s doorstep. The latter then has its back to the wall militarily – without a buffer zone and fallback territory.
The goal of containing Russia and preventing its possible great power status has been doggedly pursued by the U.S. since the collapse of the Soviet Union, especially alongside Nato’s eastward expansion via the stepping stone of Ukraine.
Here is a brief overview: After the 2004 Western-backed but unsuccessful “Orange Revolution” to prevent the Russia-friendly Yanukovych government and the 2008 failed U.S. attempt to admit Ukraine to NATO, the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s Yanukovych government, largely supported by the United States, followed.
We have invested more than $5 billion to help Ukraine achieve these and other goals.
Victoria Nuland, 2013
Since 2014, military cooperation (interoperability) and joint maneuvers with NATO have taken place on Ukrainian soil. In 2019, the Verkhovna Rada also enshrined in the Ukrainian Constitution a “strategic orientation of Ukraine toward full accession to the EU and NATO.”
In mid-2021, a protest movement emerged in Belarus, i.e., on Russia’s northwestern border – which from Russia’s perspective can hardly be seen as a coincidence, but rather as a preliminary weakening initiative – in the wake of the elections there.
Although this revolt, which was supported by the West, ultimately failed, if it had succeeded it would not only have meant a break in the relatively close political ties for Russia, but also an additional military destabilization in the run-up to the Ukraine conflict, which was in any case seen as inevitable by the United States and Russia.
Against the backdrop of these events and the underlying power struggle between the U.S. and Russia, in December 2021 the latter offers the U.S. and NATO to start negotiations on a common security architecture in Europe and announces robust military measures (“special military operation”) in case of failure to do so.
Incidentally, a month later, in January 2022, a seemingly called revolt flares up in Kazakhstan, that is, on Russia’s southeastern border. By deploying an CSTO contingent primarily provided by Russia, the uprising was put down. Had the protests in Belarus and Kazakhstan succeeded, a military cordon encircling Russia would have emerged from the north through the Baltic states, then south through Belarus and Ukraine, and then NATO aspirant Georgia to destabilized Kazakhstan.
The strategic military role of Ukraine for the USA and thus the perceived threat situation – from Moscow’s point of view – is thus sufficiently documented.
Since the USA and NATO did not agree to negotiations on a new security architecture in the course of January/February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. On Ukraine’s side, the U.S. acts as the main sponsor of the belligerent conflict by supplying weapons, reconnaissance data, military training of Ukrainian soldiers, and extensive financial aid in the billions of dollars.
As if to confirm Russia’s assessment of NATO’s threatening eastward expansion and Ukraine’s strategic military role for the U.S., in February 2022 then-President Poroshenko called the Minsk agreements merely a pretext for Ukraine’s parallel rearmament:
Our goal was, first, to stop the threat, or at least delay the war, in order to secure eight years to restore economic growth and build strong armed forces.
Poroshenko, February 2022, RT
These developments – only sketched here – on the Ukrainian war fit seamlessly into the containment strategy pursued since 1991 by the United States against Russia or the prevention of its possible great power status.
Russia’s original desire to join NATO
The assertion that NATO is the European security system which, even in the case of an enlargement to include Ukraine, would only have a defensive character and therefore pose no threat to Russia, as stereotypically repeated by the West, misses the point in terms of military and power politics.
In fact, NATO does not represent a “pan-European” security architecture. If it were, Russia would have had to be accepted as an equal partner in the NATO alliance in the past. However, despite Russia’s demand, this was ultimately purposefully avoided.
In a BBC interview on March 5, 2000, Putin said in response to the journalist’s question about how he saw NATO – as a potential partner, rival or enemy?
Russia is part of European culture. And I cannot imagine my own country isolated from Europe and what we often call the civilized world. Therefore, it is difficult for me to imagine NATO as an enemy … Russia strives for fair and open relations with its partners. The main problem here lies in attempts to discard previously agreed common instruments – mainly in resolving issues of international security.
We are open to equal cooperation, to partnership. We believe that we can talk about deeper integration with NATO, but only if Russia is seen as an equal partner. You know that we have constantly opposed the eastward expansion of NATO.
And when asked whether Russia’s accession to NATO was possible, Putin stressed:
I don’t see why not. I would not rule out such a possibility – but I repeat – if and when Russia’s views are taken into account as those of an equal partner. I would like to emphasize this again and again.
The situation that was established in the founding principles of the United Nations – that was the situation that prevailed in the world at the end of the Second World War. All right, the situation may have changed. Let’s assume that there is a desire among those who perceive change to install new mechanisms to ensure international security.
But to pretend-or to assume-that Russia has nothing to do with it and to try to exclude it from that process is hardly feasible.
And when we talk about our opposition to NATO enlargement – mind you, we have never made any region of the world a zone of our special interests – I prefer to talk about strategic partnership. Their attempts to exclude us from the process is what is causing resistance and concern on our part. But that doesn’t mean that we shut ourselves off from the rest of the world. Isolationism is not an option.
The West’s position rejecting accession is expressed to The Guardian by George Robertson, a former British defense minister who was NATO secretary general from 1999 to 2003. According to his [Robertson’s] recollection, Putin had made it clear at their first meeting that he regarded Russia as part of Western Europe and an equal partner in NATO and asked him, Robertson, when Russia would be invited to join NATO?
Robertson replied, “Well, we’re not inviting anyone to join NATO, they’re applying for membership.” In response, Putin reportedly replied, “Well, we’re not in line with a lot of countries that don’t play a role.”
Even when President Putin asked U.S. President Clinton about this in 2000, only an evasive answer came. In a conversation with director Oliver Stone, Putin recalled one of his last meetings with Clinton:
“During the meeting I said, ‘We would consider an option for Russia to join NATO.’ Clinton replied, “I have no objections.” But the entire U.S. delegation became very nervous.
Putin, quoted by Oliver Stone, Tass, June 3, 2017.
In February 2022, Putin added in his televised address, according to the Russian news agency Tass, that the real U.S. stance had “become obvious in the following actions of this country” at the time, including “support for terrorists in the North Caucasus, the dismissive attitude toward Russia’s security concerns and demands, the expansion of NATO, and the withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile treaty.”
No NATO membership, but no great power status for Russia either.
This is not just Putin’s subjective assessment of events. That Russia was never to become an equal partner within the European security architecture or NATO was a matter of governmental determination for the U.S. shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Rather, NATO was for the U.S. the all-important anchor on the Eurasian continent more than 6,000 km from its own territory (the so-called “bridgehead”) to prevent the emergence of a rival great power in Europe and thus to maintain its own hegemonic position as the sole world power.
This power-political objective that the U.S. pursued and continues to pursue with NATO in Europe is documented in U.S. government-official strategies adopted in 1994/96, five years before the above BBC interview in 2000. These are the U.S. National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement from 1994 and 1996, excerpts of which are reproduced here in German translation.
The background: All former socialist states were to become potential NATO members in the course of the NATO initiative “Partnership For Peace (PFP)” launched in 1993/94 – with the exception of Russia. For Russia, however, although a participant in the PFP initiative, only “healthy relations” with and “regular consultations” with NATO were explicitly envisaged.
So definitely no membership. On the other hand, Russia’s reemergence as a great power was to be prevented, because on European soil, as the documents put it, there was to be no more “great power competition” (but only one great power). Excerpt from the document National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement, 1994:
Page 2: “A NATO summit in January 1994 endorsed the Partnership for Peace and other major new initiatives to ensure that NATO is ready to meet the European and transatlantic security challenges of this era and to establish the security relationships that will bind former communist states to the rest of Europe. Since then, 21 countries, including Russia, have joined the Partnership for Peace.
Page 21: “The first and most important element of our [the U.S., inset] strategy in Europe must be security through military strength and cooperation. The Cold War is over, but the war itself is not over.”
Page 22: “Many institutions will play a role, including the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the United Nations. But NATO, the largest political-military alliance in history, must be central to this process.
Only NATO has the forces, the integrated command structure, the broad legitimacy, and the necessary cooperative habits to attract new participants and respond to new challenges. …. NATO is playing an increasingly important role in our European integration strategy by expanding the scope of our security cooperation to Europe’s new democracies. Twenty-one nations, including Russia, have already joined the Partnership for Peace, which will pave the way for a growing program of military cooperation and political consultation. …. The goal of future NATO expansion, however, will not be to draw a new line in Europe further east, but to extend stability, democracy, prosperity, and security cooperation to an ever-widening Europe.”
Excerpt from National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement document, 1996 (excerpt):
Page 37: “Many institutions will play a role, ….[see above] But NATO, the largest political-military alliance in history, must be central to this process. The NATO alliance will remain the anchor of American [!] engagement in Europe and the linchpin of transatlantic security. That is why we must keep it strong, vital, and relevant.
For the United States and its allies, NATO was always far more than a temporary response to a temporary threat [from the Soviet Union, now defunct]. It was a guarantor of European democracy and a force for European stability. Therefore, its mission persists, even though the Cold War is in the past.”
Page 38: “The North Atlantic Treaty was always open to admitting members who shared the Alliance’s goals and respected its values, its commitment to borders and international law, and who could contribute to its strength. Indeed, NATO has expanded three times since its founding. In January 1994, President Clinton made it clear that “The question is no longer whether NATO will admit new members, but when and how we will do so.”[Who not to admit is clear from the next paragraph., inset.]
“Participation [in the PFP, inset by author] does not guarantee that a participant will be invited to begin accession talks with Nato. Any such decision will be made by NATO at a time of its choosing based on an overall assessment of the Alliance’s security and interests. [So there is no claim to membership after that, not even for Ukraine!, [insert author’s note] ….
Expanding the Alliance will advance our interests [those of the U.S., it’s the U.S. National Security Strategy!, author’s insertion] by reducing the risk of instability or conflict in the eastern half of Europe – the region where two world wars and the Cold War began. [The question here is which state is the U.S. targeting in Eastern Europe as a source of risk in perspective?, author’s insertion].
It will help ensure that no part of Europe falls back into a zone of great power competition or a sphere of influence. [This refers to Russia’s role as a possible future great power to be prevented by NATO; the emergence of another (new) great power is to be ruled out from the outset, author’s insertion]. As the President has made clear, NATO enlargement will not be aimed at replacing one division of Europe with a new one; rather, its purpose is to enhance the security of all European states, members and non-members alike. In this regard, we have a strong interest in ensuring that Russia engages as a major player in matters of European security. We are committed to a growing, healthy NATO-Russia relationship, including a mechanism for regular consultations on common concerns.”
Thus, on the part of the U.S., it has already been made clear officially by the government in 1996 that Russia, despite its participation in the Partnership for Peace program, should not be accepted as a Nato member from the beginning, but should definitely remain on the outside, handing over the potential risk factor in Eastern Europe.
After all, if all other Eastern European states can and should become declared members of NATO, only Russia, which should not belong to the alliance, would remain as a potential source of conflict in Eastern Europe. According to the U.S. strategy, therefore, all that was conceded was “healthy relations” with NATO and “regular consultations.”
The U.S. thus wanted to keep Russia’s security policy perspective open, and it was to be the subject of case-by-case interest considerations or agreements, depending on Russia’s completed development. Today, even the minimal security policy instruments of “healthy relations” and “regular consultations” are no longer on the diplomatic platter of the U.S. and NATO; we are now in a battle of democracies against autocracies.
The implications of US security strategy
Nato is thus conceptually not a “pan-European” security system, because the alliance expansion focused exclusively on the states of Eastern Europe, which are territorially opposite Russia.
Turkey, as a Eurasian country, was already integrated and the republics of former Yugoslavia are now majority members (Kosovo is home to the largest U.S. base in Europe – Camp Bondsteel); Moldova as well as the Caucasian countries of Georgia, Armenia and, conditionally, Azerbaijan are also considered suitable alliance candidates.
Russia should not and should not be an integral part of a European security architecture. Since it is not an integral part of NATO, Russia’s security interests cannot be the subject of the protection to be jointly organized by the alliance due to its lack of membership. They are not taken into account “inherently” in the system, but at best form an external bargaining chip that the alliance may or may not respond to depending on its interests.
The U.S. and NATO have prospectively and potentially assigned Russia the role of adversarius, a potential cause of conflict in Eastern Europe, because of its position outside the security system.
Under these conditions, the European security system that exists and advances to Russia’s border, i.e., NATO, represents from Russia’s point of view both a military threat and an instrument for keeping its otherwise possible global role small. The latter can be welcomed in the West, but it does not change Russia’s view, claims and reactions.
At the same time, this “non-membership of the threatening Russia” secures for the USA the continuous benefit of being able to use this situation as a justification for orders to the military-industrial complex (Dwight D. Eisenhower), which plays an important role in American economic performance anyway.
Without an enemy, there is nothing for this complex. Russian membership in NATO or a pan-European security architecture worthy of the name would therefore only be counterproductive for the USA and this complex.
In addition, the U.S. wanted and wants to prevent Russia from becoming a great power in the event of a resurgence of Russia’s strength. It should be kept as small as possible in terms of power politics. This interest in weakening Russia as much as possible in the long term is now served by the proxy war in Ukraine, a country which, as described above, is of extraordinary strategic importance for Russia (Brzezinski), which the U.S. and NATO helped to trigger by refusing to negotiate and then actively supported.
As explained by the U.S. on several occasions, the longer the war in Ukraine lasts, the better, because the stronger is the hoped-for weakening of Russia.
However, weakening and keeping Russia small are also to be achieved by means of the sanctions regime of the West, which has been planned “for a long time” (according to Chancellor Scholz and Foreign Minister Blinken), but which is obviously ill-calculated. To put it in a nutshell, or rather to blurt it out hastily: “We will ruin Russia,” as Foreign Minister Baerbock proclaimed. There is no better way to express the long-term strategy of the USA.
In the security strategies presented above, the strategic planners from the American state apparatus have well concealed, under the veil of securing democracy and providing protection for the European states, the core goal of the USA pursued from the very beginning: the power-political grip of the USA on Europe or the continent of Eurasia.
For it is banal and yet fundamental: If Russia had been integrated into a European security system as an equal partner, there would be no need for American troops on European soil – due to the lack of an enemy in the neighborhood. The factual justification for the deployment of the alleged world policeman, at least in this region, would no longer exist. If Russia were an equal member, the Europeans would have their own independent security system, a “European Security Council,” so to speak, for resolving conflicts of interest.
And further: If there were such an “all-European” security system, the current war in Ukraine would not exist. The threat perceived by Russia today as a result of the advance of the USA and NATO to the east would not exist. No foreign military alliance perceived as threatening would make the deployment of a “special military operation” necessary. For Russia would sit together with the European states at the table of the European “Security Council”.
However, the price for peace in Europe, made possible by a truly “all-European” security system, would have to be paid by the United States. It would lose its power-political grip on the European continent. The European “head” for the transatlantic “bridge” would be crumbled, control centers for operations in Russia but also Asia and Africa like in Ramstein would be obsolete. This would also mean the end of the imperial influence of the very distant island state of the USA on the Eurasian continent. However, the USA is not prepared to pay this price for the time being.
In the age of the renaissance of unenlightenment and Franciscan needlessness (securing German, European interests?) with simultaneous high moral standards, the reality in Germany and the EU looks tragically different: In enthusiastic assimilation to the US-American way of thinking as well as interests, the European states support the war in Ukraine with all their might and are ready to sacrifice their own interests and prosperity for it without need.
The drive and assertiveness to protect their own – German and European – (security) interests, as von Dohnanyi writes, are gone. The political diagnosis is self-destructive altruism in favor of the United States.