The North Atlantic Alliance has long been an equally familiar part of the military-political landscape of Europe, like the ruins of the Colosseum. However, life does not stand still. With the destruction of the USSR, the so-called Soviet threat disappeared, supposedly to counter which in NATO was created in 1949. Formed in the ruins of the Soviet Union, modern Russia lost all its allies, and its army, having lost its combat power in the course of endless reforms, ceased to pose any danger to the “free world”.
It would seem that with the disappearance of the “Soviet threat” and, accordingly, the meaning of the existence of NATO, the bloc should have ceased its activities. However, the NATO bureaucracy did not even think about dissolving itself. Moreover, in 1999, at the jubilee, 50 th summit in Washington, a new Alliance Strategic Concept was approved, which for the first time fixed the possibility of using NATO forces outside of Europe and the United States without UN Security Council sanctions.
From this moment, from a means of reflecting the external danger of NATO, it finally turns into an offensive military alliance. His new essence quite clearly revealed subsequent operations: aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999, intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, invasion of Iraq in 2003, defeat of Libya in 2011.
Meanwhile, even these regional wars do not explain the need to maintain the costly armies of NATO member countries and the continuous improvement in the West of the means of warfare. Therefore, it can be assumed that one of the main objects of global "peacemaking" and "democratization" by NATO is still our country. Moreover, the struggle for natural resources in the world is intensifying, and Russia is the owner of exorbitant (from the point of view of the West) mineral reserves.
Moreover, the difference in military capabilities is such that it literally pushes our Western "partners" to revive the centuries-old idea of invading Russia. To be convinced of the growing military danger for our country due to the weakening of its defense capability, it is enough to look at the ratio of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and NATO. So, according to the total number of troops, the ratio of aircraft is 1: 4, according to tanks - 1: 9, for artillery systems - 1: 3,1, for attack helicopters - 1: 5, for combat aircraft - 1: 5, for combat ships - 1: 6,1.
Comparison of the possible composition of groups in the European theater of operations even more convincingly shows the overwhelming superiority of NATO. Tanks: Russian Armed Forces - 1450, NATO Armed Forces - 13 000 (1: 9 ratio), artillery systems: RF - 3200, NATO - 15 000 (1: 4,67), combat aircraft: RF - 750, NATO - 3800 (1: 5), NATO - 59: 360: 1, NATO - 6,10: 1300, NATO - 1500 (0: XNUMX), combat aircraft: RF - XNUMX, NATO - XNUMX (XNUMX: XNUMX), NATO - XNUMX (XNUMX: XNUMX) ), warships: RF - XNUMX, NATO - XNUMX (XNUMX: XNUMX), sea-based cruise missiles: NATO - XNUMX – XNUMX, Russia - XNUMX.
On the lines of the main strikes, NATO will be able to create a quantitative superiority over the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 8 – 12 times. By the way, in the Far East, the joint grouping of the United States and Japan exceeds the grouping of the Russian Armed Forces in this region in ships, aircraft and tanks by five times, in combat helicopters - in 7,5 times, and also has full superiority in cruise missiles and in general in high-precision arms. At the same time, one should not forget that NATO troops already have about 60 percent of modern technology (in Russia only 10 – 15 percent) and are constantly improving weapons.
No one should be misled by the fact that the reduction in military expenditures of the countries - members of the bloc, which has emerged in recent years, is supposedly evidence of the growing alliance of the alliance. In fact, this reduction is caused primarily by the crisis that has sharply affected European countries.
Meanwhile, knowledge of NATO’s solely military component (undoubtedly dominant) does not provide a complete picture of what the unit is. After all, it is common to call the alliance a military-political bloc and at some stage (before the start of aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999), the issue of transforming NATO into a predominantly political organization was actively discussed. However, the impunity of intervention in the Balkans prompted, obviously, the NATO authorities to abandon excessively peace-loving sentiments and to keep intact the imbalance in favor of the military component.
The burden of junior members
Nevertheless, the political component has not gone away, so it is useful to understand how non-military structures of the alliance work. I had this opportunity in May, when I participated in the spring session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) in Luxembourg, and then in a meeting with the leaders of the alliance at its headquarters in Brussels. This allowed the inside to become familiar with the functioning of political mechanisms, with the relationship between the countries - members of the bloc and the problems of concern to the alliance.
NATO PA was established in 1955 to provide a link between the politicians, the military leadership of the alliance and the public of its members. The Assembly convenes twice a year for the spring and autumn sessions. In recent years, sessions were held in Romania, Estonia and the Czech Republic. Next will be Croatia and Lithuania. It is easy to see that these countries do not have any significant influence on the strategic decisions of NATO. How, then, to explain that preference in holding such events is given to low-impact members of the alliance?
The point is, obviously, that the citizens of these countries are not thrilled with the duty to maintain defense contributions at the level set for all NATO members at two percent of GDP. Especially heavy burden such expenses are now, in the period of the next crisis, when the government to the limit trim the "social programs" for the population, and without that barely making ends meet. Moreover, the citizens of these countries are not at all eager to send their soldiers to participate in the colonial adventures of the United States. Therefore, such events are used to maintain the authority of NATO in these countries, to instil in new members of the alliance and Europeans in general the whole importance of defense expenditures, as well as to show the importance of “small” states that they trust to host such high-level sessions.
I would like to note that among the invitees to the NATO PA there were many parliamentarians from non-bloc countries, but seeking to join there. Among them are the former Soviet republics - Georgia and Moldova, as well as Macedonia and Montenegro. Now the new members are drawn into the alliance not as an extension of the North Atlantic alliance, but as an open door policy. NATO has not been in a hurry to open the doors to the block so desired. At the same time, however, it is invariably and rigidly emphasized that the admission of new members is the sovereign right of NATO and no objections of Russia will be taken into account.
Search for an external enemy
As for the issues addressed during the NATO PA meetings, they can be divided into internal, affecting only members of the bloc, and external, relating to the international situation as a whole.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly, Member of the British Parliament, Hugh Bailey, in his speech at the opening of the session immediately raised the topic of military spending, which indicates its special importance for the NATO leadership. He noted that only four members of the bloc (the United States, Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany and Turkey) keep military spending at the proper level. The remaining countries in recent years have allowed a fall in military spending on 10 – 15, or even 20 percent. As a result, the NATO budget has missed approximately 35 billion dollars.
In order to overcome this clearly unpleasant trend for NATO, the political leadership of the alliance insistently called for ever greater transparency in the activities of the bloc. In fact, the talk is clearly about the need for more assertive outreach in order to encourage Western European citizens to fork out for additional military spending. A way known - to frighten this man in the street with a ghost of a threat to his well-being.
The cornerstone of NATO’s ideology is the idea of collective security. But at the same time it is a weak link in the advocacy system of the alliance. The fact is that nowadays no one and nothing threatens Europe militarily. That is why NATO is concerned about finding an external enemy in order to justify its own existence in new conditions.
After the destruction of the Soviet Union, international terrorism was the main scare. However, there is growing evidence that the same sinister Al-Qaida is nothing more than a product of the US special services. Therefore, now NATO has started talking about cybercrime and, accordingly, cybersecurity. Indeed, not only banks and corporations, but also military departments are becoming increasingly targets of attacks in the cybersphere. In the US, they do not stop talking about hacker attacks from China on the Pentagon. All this worries the top NATO. However, it is not so easy to put a cyber threat under the gravy of a threat to all mankind, because it does not directly affect the well-being of ordinary Europeans.
Therefore, a particularly joyful (albeit hidden) excitement of the North Atlantic bloc caused an increase in defense spending in Russia. This was an additional argument in favor of the need to preserve the military allocations of the countries-members of the alliance of two percent of GDP. Russia is not yet being served openly as a source of military danger, but in NATO this trump card is clearly held in reserve.
And this is seen not only in political and diplomatic rhetoric, but also in very specific actions. In particular, the largest military exercises of the alliance called “Stadfast Jazz-2013” under the scenario of repelling aggression against one of the NATO member countries are scheduled for November of this year. And they will take place not at the usual ranges of Germany, France or Italy, but in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The alliance does not particularly hide the fact that the winding down of operations in Afghanistan can lead to troops being tense. It was in Brussels that they decided to train themselves in deploying their forces near the Russian borders, confirming that our country is still considered to be the main opponent of NATO.
The main themes
During the meetings of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, two themes prevailed. The first is an operation in Afghanistan, from where the forces of the block are forced to ingloriously leave. But in order to justify in the eyes of the public the huge amounts of money spent on “peacemaking” in Afghanistan and considerable losses in personnel, the country's considerable achievements during the stay of NATO troops on its territory were strongly emphasized.
The report of NATO Secretary General Mr. Rasmussen was entirely devoted to the praise of the noble mission of the alliance in Afghanistan. In his speech (obviously intended for the average man in the street), figures and facts were cited that should convince the public of the expediency and necessity of spending on these goals. But a clear discord was the speech of the representative of Afghanistan, who for some reason did not share the general optimism. On the contrary, in his statements there was some kind of doom from what could happen to pro-Western Afghan leaders after NATO’s withdrawal from this country.
The second theme is the military operation of the alliance led by France in Mali. Here they talked with pleasure about the successful dispersion of rebels in the north of the state. However, anxiety sounded implicitly about the fact that if urgent political and economic reforms were not carried out urgently, the rebels would again come out of their refuges in inaccessible mountainous and desert areas and everything would start all over again. So many times already happened in stories colonial wars in africa.
But the most acute topic of the war in Syria is now carefully avoided. The former euphoria observed at last year’s NATO event in Marseille, in which I had to participate, was not even mentioned. Still, despite all the efforts of the West and its allies in the Persian Gulf, financing the rebels, the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad not only keeps, but also gains one victory after another. Moreover, despite all the economic and political sanctions, the government continues to enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the population. Even the North Atlantic Alliance has to admit it. So, in a recently published NATO report, it is reported that 70 percent of Syrians support official Damascus, 20 percent are neutral and only 10 percent express support for the opposition.
Stay true to the government and the army of Syria, which is quite successfully smashing gangs of mercenaries from around the world. Therefore, the prospect of being drawn into another “peacekeeping” war after a clear failure in Afghanistan and Iraq does not deceive anyone into NATO.
Among the internal problems of the alliance, which are trying not to advertise, but which implicitly sounded in a number of speeches at the session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, were the relations between the two key components of the bloc - Europe and the United States. They said that America, they say, is more engaged in Asia, and Europe - the Middle East. And in this supposedly there are no contradictions. However, the contradictions (especially on the issue of military spending) were guessed very clearly.
It is noteworthy that the delegation of the US Congress in Luxembourg was, but kept surprisingly restrained, without interfering anywhere. And despite the fact that the Americans bear the lion's share of the costs and efforts of NATO, they therefore have the right to consider themselves a key element of the alliance. However, Americans prefer to have in their hands real, rather than ostentatious instruments of influence.
From Luxembourg, we moved for two days to Brussels, where NATO headquarters are located. It immediately became clear where the real work is being done. The headquarters of the alliance is a model of efficiency and discipline. All events are organized clearly. The program of our meetings in Brussels was literally scheduled by the minute.
I note that of the seven meetings that we had at NATO headquarters, four were with American and Canadian representatives in support of the idea that America (US plus Canada) firmly holds the levers of power. The very first conversation took place with NATO Deputy Secretary General, former US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow. Then, Assistant Secretary General of the Alliance for Political Affairs James Appathurai (Canada) spoke with us. Then our interlocutor was another assistant deputy secretary (and also a Canadian) Richard Froe. And in the end, we met a whole delegation led by US Permanent Representative to NATO Ivo Daalder.
At these meetings, NATO’s aspiration to have good relations with Russia was strongly reaffirmed, the non-directionality of the American missile defense system towards Russia was noted, and successes in the struggle (mostly imaginary) against the drug mafia were emphasized. Of course, the ostentatious peacefulness of our interlocutors did not mislead anyone in the Russian delegation.
We asked the representatives of the alliance a lot of different, including unpleasant questions, including the question of the nature of the upcoming NATO exercises in the Baltic States. We have raised doubts and the assertion of our partners that one of the main areas of cooperation between Russia and NATO is the fight against drug trafficking. Then, we wondered, how can we explain that in fact the main flow of drugs to Russia comes from Afghanistan, occupied by the troops of the alliance? As for terrorism, why in Libya is the friendly Russian regime of Muammar Gaddafi overthrown by NATO with the active help of Al-Qaeda? And why are NATO countries now cooperating so vigorously with al-Qaeda and other proprietary terrorist organizations in an effort to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria? Of course, our partners gave some rounded answers. But they sounded somehow unconvincing.
On the whole, the sensation was created: in the political field there are quite a few disagreements among NATO members. The main reason for this, in my opinion, is that the expansionist goals of the alliance, which are actively promoting its most hawkish part led by American neo-cons, are less and less in tune with the true needs of the peoples of the member countries. They are not particularly in need of collective security, because no one is going to attack them. But the cost of security (masking all the same aggressiveness) like the people of NATO countries, especially Europeans, less and less.