Vladimir Putin is not the Neville Chamberlain wanted by the United States and NATO
“I think a lesson in recent history,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on January 7, referring to the entry of Russian troops into Kazakhstan to save that country’s allied regime from an uprising of disgruntled serfs, “it’s that once the Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave”.
It is the pot that calls the black kettle. More than 30 years after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, 77 years after the end of World War II, the United States still maintains 40,000 troops in Germany.
For 45 years, the justification was to defend Germany from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. As Germany moved towards reunification, the US Secretary of State Jacques Baker assured the Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would not extend “one inch eastward” into the former Soviet sphere of influence it was supposed to contain.
This assurance, codified in various negotiations and subsequently declassified documents, was far from being “informal” as advocates of NATO expansion claim. This may well have prevented Eastern Europe’s transition to independence from turning into the third all-encompassing European war in a century.
But NATO broke its word. In 1999, the alliance began a march eastward into Russia’s still considerable sphere of influence and towards its borders – the precise outcome that Gorbachev feared and promised would not come. Since 1999, NATO has almost doubled the number of its member states instead of dissolving as it should have done.
Suppose the Warsaw Pact admitted Nicaragua in the 1980s, then began adding Central American states, culminating in a coup in Mexico (like the US-sponsored one in Ukraine in 2014) to replace a pro-American regime with a pro-Russian one. regime, followed by Mexico’s accession to the Pact and controversies over the “massing of troops near the Mexican border” by the United States.
I suspect the US-NATO response would be more like the Russian response to the current US-NATO follies in Eastern Europe and Ukraine: a stern warning to back down or suffer serious consequences.
The United States and NATO could have seized the opportunity for long-term peace and increased overall prosperity. Instead, they decided to play the role of perpetually wronged painful victor.
Some American hawks compare the situation to Munich in 1938, and they are not wrong, but they have reversed the tables. It was NATO that gobbled up Czechoslovakia after Czechoslovakia, and Vladimir Poutine that they are trying to pass off as Neville Chamberlain. He seems reluctant to accept the role.
We may be closer to full-scale war between “great powers” now than at any time since 1945, this time with nuclear weapons at the ready. Expecting Putin to save the US and NATO from a bad situation they themselves created with abject submission is not a strategy for peace, it’s a recipe for disaster. .
Through Thomas L. Knapp
(Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in North Central Florida.
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