“Every state is condemned to follow a policy dictated by its geography.”—Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821)
“Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.”—James Madison (1751–1836), fourth American president
The hazards associated with American foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 should appear obvious to all, because it is precisely this policy that has caused the crisis in Ukraine with all its negative consequences for the coming months and years.
President Barack Obama was candid in admitting it on Monday, March 3, 2014, when he said that “we are indicating to the Russians [that] if in fact they continue on the current trajectory they’re on, then we are examining a whole series of steps—economic, diplomatic—that will isolate Russia.”
Well, it is precisely this desire to expand NATO and to isolate Russia by incorporating all the countries bordering Russia into NATO, i.e., a strategy of geopolitical and military encirclement of Russia, which has provoked that country when it felt threatened in its national security.
This is easy to understand.
For example, what would the United States do if a hypothetical Russian Empire were to incorporate Mexico or Canada into a military alliance? To ask the question is to answer it. Why is it so difficult to understand that the best way to start a war is to threaten a country’s vital interests?
The truth is that NATO should have been disbanded after the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, and especially after the Warsaw Pact was itself dismantled. Europe should have then moved to build an expanded Europe of nations, large, democratic and peaceful, within a framework of economic and political cooperation and peace. But no! The United States wanted to take advantage of the situation and demanded that everything fell into the military-financial U.S. empire.
That is the source of many problems.
In my book “The New American Empire,” originally published in 2003, just before the onset of the Iraq war, I pointed out the dangers of the American global imperial ambition and explained the reasons. The Middle East was the first to suffer under this global policy of interventionism. And now, Europe as a whole, most unfortunately, may have to pay the price for this unbridled American hubris, under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, although that policy goes back to George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
This is why I believe President Obama and his neocon advisers do not think beyond their nose, as was the case for the not-too-bright George W. Bush, when they adopt such a global imperialist ideology.
In 2008, it just happened that I published an article which has been translated into several languages, and in which I advanced the idea that Europe had a vital interest into disbanding that relic of another age that is NATO. Indeed, we must blame European leaders not to have understood that the fundamental interest of Europe was not to blend into the American empire but rather to build an independent and united Europe. Because that reality has not been well understood, Europe is now running the risk of falling prey to a new Cold War with divisive and ruinous conflicts, while the United States will try to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, with the U.K as its convenient ally from within.
It may be not too late for European leaders to rectify the situation. This would, however, require wisdom and the courage to tell the American neocons who have designed American foreign policy for a quarter of a century that they are not masters of the world and that the European Union has no intention of pursuing an aggressive policy of military encirclement of Russia. Point to the line.
And rather, on the contrary, Russia should be invited to join an expanded Europe of nations, large, democratic and peaceful within a framework of economic cooperation and peace.
What would be needed of them, however, is a minimum of vision, of insight and a spirit of independence, which currently seems to be lacking badly in many current European governments.
But carelessness and the current European abdication in letting Washington decide European foreign policy may serve the interests of the American empire, but this could lead Europe to disaster.
Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is an economist and author, whose last two books are The Code for Global Ethics, Prometheus Books, 2010; and The New American Empire, Infinity Publishing, 2003. To read Dr. Tremblay’s blog, click here. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.