Alice Slater, Froeign Policy in Focus - It is ironic that at this moment in history, when so many people and nations around the world are acknowledging the 100th anniversary of our planet’s hapless stumble into World War I, great powers and their allies are once again provoking new dangers where governments appear to be sleepwalking towards a restoration of old Cold War battles.
A barrage of conflicting information is broadcast in the various national and nationalistic media with alternative versions of reality that provoke and stoke new enmities and rivalries across national borders.
Moreover, NATO’s new disturbing saber-rattling—with its chief, Anders Rasmussen, announcing that NATO will deploy its troops for the first time in Eastern Europe since the Cold War ended, build a “readiness action plan,” and boost Ukraine’s military capacity so that “In the future you will see a more visible NATO presence in the east,” all while disinviting Russia from the upcoming NATO meeting in Wales—opens new possibilities for endless war and hostilities.
With the United States and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st-century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies.
While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we must remember that Russia lost 20 million people during World War II to the Nazi onslaught and is understandably wary of NATO expansion to its borders in a hostile environment.
This despite a U.S. promise to Gorbachev, when the wall came down peacefully and the Soviet Union ended its post-WWII occupation of Eastern Europe, that NATO would not be expanded eastward, beyond the incorporation of East Germany into that rusty Cold War alliance.
Russia has also lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the United States abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders, in new NATO member states, while the U.S. government rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO.
Alice Slater is a founder of Abolition 2000, which works for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.