Warmongers: NATO and the Western Industrial Military Complex

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US Abrams tank at a military base in Adazi, Latvia, on 14 October 2014. Courtesy: Ints Kalnins

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 15 November 2014

On the 4-5 September 2014, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) held a Summit in Newport, Wales for both Heads of State and the Heads of Government, ostensibly a meeting to discuss current issues of mutual concern and to make strategic plans for the future. The event, as it was reported by most of the mainstream media, turned out to be nothing more than a pyrrhic victory for the West: not because of its vacuous warmongering threats to Russia who have steadfastly pushed back against the neo-imperial economic and military expansionism of NATO and its allies in both Europe and the Middle East but because it committed its member states to spend money they can ill afford, and currently don't have, on an imaginary foe that does not, and never will, exist.

That the Western Industrial and Military Complex (WIMC) of the major weapons exporters in France, Germany, the UK and the US believed they had scored their next fix is true and clearly demonstrated by a hike in their share prices when NATO issued its communiqué. The new NATO posture, to be set out in its Readiness Action Plan, would now guarantee the revenue streams, on which their industries have become irredeemably addicted, well into the 2020's and beyond.

Or would it?

The fact that NATO had effectively created the foe: a defensive Russia forced to protect the ethnic Russian minority's of former USSR satellite states who were being marginalised and ethnically cleansed, did not emerge in the mainstream media. Of course, the WIMC were not in the least bit interested in any of these details but were more concerned about the quantity of multi-platform weapons' systems, armaments and ammunition that would be required. The tools of death and destruction are their business and profit is their nirvana.

What is interesting about this situation is that NATO almost passed into irrelevance following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Both of these events troubled NATO and the WIMC for some time, who have relied on each other for over 65 years, and their demise seemed almost a fait accompli. That the WIMC became addicted to a constant flow of cash during WWII and has been on a fiscal drip ever since, i.e.: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to name a few of the key conflicts, plus over 100 other minor military operations during this period, clearly demonstrates the nature of the beast. Conflict, preferably war, is their ultimate fix and NATO needs them just as much as they need NATO: a truly complimentary self serving relationship.

When NATO published its Summit Declaration on the 5 September 2014 it included a key paragraph on military expenditure:

14. We agree to reverse the trend of declining defence budgets, to make the most effective use of our funds and to further a more balanced sharing of costs and responsibilities. Our overall security and defence depend both on how much we spend and how we spend it. Increased investments should be directed towards meeting our capability priorities, and Allies also need to display the political will to provide required capabilities and deploy forces when they are needed. A strong defence industry across the Alliance, including a stronger defence industry in Europe and greater defence industrial cooperation within Europe and across the Atlantic, remains essential for delivering the required capabilities. NATO and EU efforts to strengthen defence capabilities are complementary. Taking current commitments into account, we are guided by the following considerations:
  • Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence will aim to continue to do so. Likewise, Allies spending more than 20% of their defence budgets on major equipment, including related Research & Development, will continue to do so.
  • Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below this level will:
    • halt any decline in defence expenditure;
    • aim to increase defence expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
    • aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO's capability shortfalls.
  • Allies who currently spend less than 20% of their annual defence spending on major new equipment, including related Research & Development, will aim, within a decade, to increase their annual investments to 20% or more of total defence expenditures.
  • All Allies will:
    • ensure that their land, air and maritime forces meet NATO agreed guidelines for deployability and sustainability and other agreed output metrics;
    • ensure that their armed forces can operate together effectively, including through the implementation of agreed NATO standards and doctrines.

As is widely known, the share prices of the major weapons' manufacturers soared. This was partly because Obama had announced on the 3 September 2014 the US was going back to Iraq, this time to fight the foe they had created to oust al-Assad of Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and now because NATO had found a new foe: it was the old one, formerly known as the USSR minus its satellite states, the Russian Federation.

Vladimir Putin's response to the NATO declaration was clear and unequivocal: Russia will not get involved in an arms race.

Nonetheless, NATO were quick to exploit the renewed enthusiasm in its regional hegemony and have held military exercises in Poland, western Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania over the last two months. The manoeuvres were a clear provocation, designed to threaten and intimidate the Russians into acquiescing over their support for the freedom fighters in the southeast of Ukraine and the return of Crimea to the Russian orbit. NATO's behaviour has been, and continues to be, a serious threat to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region.

However, all is not what it seems.

While Para 14 of the communiqué may appear to bolster the flagging fortunes of both NATO and the WIMC, the wording clearly suggests otherwise. In essence, the 28 member alliance only agreed to halt further defence cuts and aim to increase expenditure in real terms over the next decade as GDP grows. The fact that GDP in the West, particularly in the EU, has been, is now, and likely to be less than 2% for the foreseeable future, completely negates any pledges they made in Newport. Like most western economies, defence expenditure is going nowhere fast and both NATO and Russia know it.

That NATO and the WIMC have conspired to revitalise their flagging fortunes, as the European peace dividend continues to erode their relevance, customer base and future profits, is blatantly obvious. None of the Western economies, including the US which is technically bankrupt, are in a position to support a large and costly peacetime military force in the face of more pressing domestic issues challenging their societies. Similarly, Putin has no intention of getting involved in any arms race either and is taking a much more pragmatic approach in developing a balanced and realistic defence strategy for the future based on facts and not an imaginary foe.

Thus, the failure of the NATO alliance to spark yet another conflict in the Baltic region, as it did in the Ukraine in November 2013, plus the WIMC's inability to achieve the weapon sales it so desperately needs, are both emblematic of the mindset that drives the West. Naturally, the current conflict in Iraq and Syria has ameliorated their losses in stature and revenue to some degree and, coupled with the promise that hostilities will probably last for years, the operation is clearly rejuvenating their fortunes.

Nonetheless, the Ukrainian military, now armed, trained and mentored by the UK and the US, are beginning to mass once again on the freedom fighters in the southeast. There can be no doubt whatsoever that this NATO sponsored force are intent on further destabilising an already war torn country in an attempt at provoking a response from the Russian Federation

NATO and the WIMC have not written off the opportunity of a conflict in the Baltics just yet.

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
Bertrand Russell