U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared at a press conference with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of a meeting of the military bloc’s thirty foreign ministers today in Brussels. In his introductory remarks Stoltenberg stressed the global challenges NATO is preparing to confront, the chief among which are, in his order, “Russia’s destabilising activities,” the threat of terrorism, cyber attacks, nuclear profusion, what are cryptically called disruptive technologies, “the rise of China” and the “security impact of global warming and climate change.”
A person would be hard-pressed to discover any prefigurement of those NATO missions in the alliance’s founding document of 1949.
Waxing declamatory, the Norwegian Demosthenes continued:
No country and no continent can face these challenges alone.
Not Europe alone.
Not America alone.
But Europe and America together, in NATO.
And progressing to the very gist of what will doubtlessly constitute the bloc’s new Strategic Concept, integrated completely with the foreign policy strategy and objectives of Secretary Blinken and the administration he serves, Stoltenberg got to the heart of the matter in this manner:
NATO perforce is compelled to employ a “more global approach” in order to protect “the rules-based international order, which is being challenged by authoritarian powers like Russia and China.”
That expression or close approximations of it have been regularly, one’s tempted to add religiously, used over the past few weeks. The rules-based international order (RBIO) is evoked and invoked at every occasion to signal the current U.S.-NATO strategy to build a global alliance against Russia and China, the authoritarian adversaries of the that order, alternately known as the values-based international order, the liberal international order and the U.S. world order. The new world order announced by President George H. W. Bush in 1991 is now being fully actualized. And rules-based international order is its shibboleth of shibboleths.
The NATO leader, characteristically, referred to climate change as a major concern of the military bloc, as is COVID-19. Each is, in his words, a force multiplier. He enunciates NATO true concerns in geopoliticalese, albeit in the layman’s vernacular, in these words:
“One is to fully understand the link between climate change and security. Melting ice will heat up a geopolitical competition in the High North but also in the Sahel, in many other places where we see increased competition over scarce resources.”
After being introduced by the NATO chief, Secretary Blinken gushed over making his first visit to NATO’s new 2,700,000-square-foot, over $1-billion headquarters and pledged to “revitalize” the global military alliance of thirty members and forty partners around the globe.
He said that the next two days’ deliberations by the thirty NATO foreign ministers would discuss the question of NATO troops in Afghanistan, the NATO 2030 initiative and the bloc’s collective “response to Russia’s aggression.”
Responding to Stoltenberg’s opening comments, Blinken also emphasized the concerns of the international military bloc with “threats like climate change and cyber attacks.”
Regarding NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, its first ground war and one that will soon reach its twentieth anniversary, Blinken fell back on the hackneyed NATO line that “We went in together…we’ll leave together.” With no member state of course being the first to suggest departure.
Stoltenberg interjected the boast that “More than 100,000 non-US troops have served there and more than 1000 have paid the ultimate price.” Over 100,000 non-American soldiers under the command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have participated in a war in South Asia and over of a thousand of those killed.
Blinken resumed with a non-military threat against Russia: the long-term American campaign to thwart and abort Russia’s Nord Stream natural gas pipeline project to transport gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany. Anyone who doesn’t see the reason why a military bloc like NATO would be concerned about energy projects doesn’t understand 21st century NATO.
He said this about it:
‘And I suspect that the Nord Stream 2 will come up in the conversation. President Biden has been very clear in saying that he believes the pipeline is a bad idea. Bad for Europe, bad for the United States.
“Ultimately, it’s in contradiction to the EU’s own energy security goals. It has the potential to undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland, a number of other close partners or Allies. And I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to reiterate that, including the law in the United States which requires us to sanction companies participating in the efforts to complete the pipeline.”
The mightiest, largest, first global military bloc doesn’t require much of a pretext to go to war. Its campaigns in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya have proven that. Added to the traditional concerns of the rules-based international order over recent decades are now COVID-19, the weather, computer hacking real and imagined and Russian natural gas pipelines.
But behind all the raisons de guerre is the underling imperative to isolate, contain and subjugate its two authoritarian challengers: Russia and China. Seemingly for any reason and by any means expedient.