Europe’s NATO Ambivalence

The just-completed NATO summit repeated tiresome U.S. propaganda about “Russia’s aggressive actions” but some European leaders flinched at the heated rhetoric and warmongering, notes ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

By Graham E. Fuller

Most Americans unfailingly believe NATO generously serves the European Union’s interests. Yet many Europeans don’t see it that way. They fear that NATO actually undermines a balanced Europe. Is it NATO with the E.U.? Or NATO versus the E.U.?

The two organizations were created by different groups of states (albeit with significant crossover) for differing purposes and with differing goals; indeed, some might say partially incompatible goals.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg opens the NATO Warsaw Summit in Poland, July 8, 2016. NATO heads of state agreed to send reinforced, multinational battalions to the eastern part of the alliance’s border with Russia. “These battalions will be robust and multinational,” Stoltenberg said.  (NATO photo)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg opens the NATO Warsaw Summit in Poland, July 8, 2016. NATO heads of state agreed to send reinforced, multinational battalions to the eastern part of the alliance’s border with Russia. “These battalions will be robust and multinational,” Stoltenberg said. (NATO photo)

The E.U. vision was to bring European peoples, states and countries — at bloody war among themselves for long centuries — to renounce war as an instrument to solve European problems, to find common cause, and to cooperate in a common economic endeavor. It is an exceptional aim — the first time in human history when multiple states have freely yielded up significant elements of national sovereignty in order to partake in a common project.

Yet the U.S. has always felt geopolitical ambivalence towards the E.U. Washington in principle applauded the ideal — a unified, peaceful and prosperous continent. But it also understood that the formation of the E.U. created a new counterweight that could hinder American ability to dominate politics on the European continent. For America, it was NATO that was a far more congenial and useful mechanism than the E.U.

NATO focused on Washington’s primary agenda — checking the Soviet Union in a global struggle. To the extent that the E.U. strengthened that goal, fine; but to the extent that the E.U. weakened European resolve to stand against Russia, it was much less desirable. NATO was America’s creature, the E.U. was not.

With the fall of the USSR, President George H.W. Bush (not “W”) gave verbal assurances to Russia that the West would not seek to capitalize on the Soviet collapse. With Russia’s astonishing acquiescence to the reunification of Germany, the U.S. gave assurances that there would be no NATO expansionism into former Soviet East Bloc states.

Needless to say, that promise was violated, and continues to be violated as neoconservative zealots in Washington seek to scoop up every small state on the Russian periphery and enlist them in the anti-Russian NATO cause (including Georgia, or the Ukraine, or Kyrgyzstan, or even Montenegro.)

NATO’s Reason for Continuing

The peaceful collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1991 also posed a difficult question: what would be the rationale for NATO’s continued existence? All organizations seek to perpetuate their own existence and NATO became almost desperate for a new mission — a new enemy. Washington was loath to yield up its key instrument of control in European politics.

Former NATO Commander Philip M. Breedlove.

Former NATO Commander Philip M. Breedlove, who advocated escalating tensions with Russia.

 

But how much do European geopolitical goals mesh with American ones? This too depends on one’s geopolitical vision of the world. For Europe, war among its members is virtually unthinkable. But Washington and NATO have a vested interest in maintaining a Russian threat as the centerpiece of E.U. geopolitics.

Today the U.S., including virtually all of its mainstream media, adopt reflexive anti-Russian positions. In U.S.-sponsored parlance, Russian President Vladimir Putin now represents a “resurgent threat.” Indeed, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs incredibly informs Congress that Russia represents America’s number one existential threat. Aggressive NATO maneuvers at the very doorstep of Russia help make this a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The E.U. has far less desire for confrontation or gratuitous demonization of Moscow. It sees little benefit and much potential harm in it. Germany in particular, given its history, geopolitical vision, and location, certainly seeks a modus vivendi with Russia. Is such a modus vivendi against U.S. interests?

Many Europeans remain highly ambivalent about whether it is NATO, or the E.U., that better represents their own geopolitical concerns. NATO is at heart an American institution, the E.U. is not.  Indeed any real back-door influence the U.S. had in the E.U. came from the ever-loyal United Kingdom (which is why Brexit is such a disaster for the U.S. in Europe.)

And of course there are a number of small insecure neighbors living next to the Russian bear who will eternally champion U.S. intervention. Life next to any great power is never easy. But herding such states into the U.S. column is an unwise foreign policy strategy.

For Washington, even as the E.U.’s future falls into question, NATO is seen as the default, near-surrogate organization for keeping Europe together in some fashion. It can serve as both an instrument against Russia, or as an arm of U.S. global military outreach under the “multilateral cover” of NATO.

Washington is uncomfortable in watching the E.U., as an economic and political organization, work closely with Russia. Indeed Germany, given its location, history and power, will be the quintessential European interlocutor with Russia — and thus most likely the major voice of reason and balance in East-West relations.

Germany, more than any other European power, will also bear the brunt of any potential hostilities with Russia. That is why the German foreign minister himself made cautionary comments a few weeks ago that NATO’s largest ever military exercises off Poland since 1991 constituted provocative saber-rattling towards Russia.

Undermining the E.U.

In this sense, then, Washington’s geopolitical agenda has in fact served to undermine the E.U. Washington strongly urged the immediate inclusion of as many former states of the East Bloc as possible in the E.U., seeking to glue them into a hopefully more anti-Russian Western “bloc.”

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

But many European leaders had serious and sensible doubts about the appropriateness of E.U. membership for most of these states — and not on geopolitical grounds. Many lacked any democratic tradition, had disastrous economies, suffered serious corruption, bad governance, and were economic basket cases.

To encourage their economic development is one thing; indeed Russia acknowledges that it too can benefit from E.U. presence around Russia, as long as the E.U. was seen as an economic project and not a strategic security one.

The upshot of U.S. pressures was that E.U. membership expanded far too rapidly and prematurely; stringent conditions for admission to the E.U. were often softened in favor of American geopolitical goals.

And now, not surprisingly, many of these states now struggle to meet E.U. criteria; they import into Europe neo-fascist views, represent a net drain on the E.U., and often have little interest in adopting E.U. social and democratic values. For them war with Russia is actually quite thinkable. Especially after suffering under half a century of disastrous Soviet rule.

The E.U., sadly, could still conceivably collapse as a project. If so, it will not be because of Brexit as such. One key reason will be because E.U. expansion brought too many diverse states into a complex union arrangement. After all, even parts of the early E.U. “south” — Greece, Portugal or Spain, are still struggling to make it under E.U. rules. (And indeed, E.U. rules may need to be re-jiggered in the face of lessons-learned.)

Counterproductive Hostility

The hard question must be posed about whether Washington itself has not been pursuing a highly confrontational and aggressive set of policies against Moscow. In this context there is an important place for an independent European geopolitical, strategic and security policy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin laying a wreath at Russia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on May 8, 2014, as part of the observance of the World War II Victory over Germany.

Russian President Vladimir Putin laying a wreath at Russia’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on May 8, 2014, as part of the observance of the World War II Victory over Germany.

Europe, however, approaches these issues very differently from Washington. Russia, as a significant (and bruised) great power, is still trying to find its place in the new post-Soviet geopolitical space. Russia needs to be tightly bound into diplomatic and organizational ties with the E.U. Indeed it seeks to be a partner in discussion of common legitimate issues of stability and economics in Eastern Europe.

Putin shows signs of great willingness to do so because Russia too can gain economically. Russia is not operating as a spoiler unless the E.U. adopts a hostile position towards Moscow.

Aggressive military posturing by NATO (“maintaining NATO credibility”) is not the way to go about creating a new European space.

Europe is basically quite capable of defending itself given its wealthy economies and technical know-how that even extends to weapons production. Europe does not need to be chivied up by Washington to develop a more “robust posture” towards Russia. It is Europe’s own future and they need to chart it themselves. The U.S. cannot operate as the anxious helicopter parent ready to intervene over European foreign policies.

Now, there is quite legitimate room for serious discussion about what Russia’s policies and intentions are towards Europe. But it must include serious and frank discussion of cause-and-effect in East-West tensions.

How much did talk of bringing Ukraine into NATO — taking with it what has for centuries been Russia’s sole warm water port in the Black Sea — spark Putin’s decision not to allow this naval and shipping base of extreme importance from being ceded to NATO? How would the U.S. react to threatened loss of its south-eastern ports to a hostile foreign power (or even the Panama Canal)?

President Barack Obama raises his glass in a toast with President François Hollande of France during the State Dinner at the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

President Barack Obama raises his glass in a toast with President Francois Hollande of France during the State Dinner at the White House, Feb. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

How much did these unwise policies towards Ukraine, and the Western-sponsored coup against the elected (but incompetent) government of Ukraine, help trigger Putin’s response in destabilizing eastern Ukraine? Such issues require honest analysis.

Yet such searching and objective analysis of the sources of recent NATO-Russian confrontation is shockingly absent in most “responsible” media in the U.S., including in the persistently biased New York Times coverage of all things Russian.

How independent does Europe and the E.U. wish to be? How much is it willing to be dragged into the U.S. global strategic agenda with Washington’ preponderantly military approach to global issues?

Remarkably French President Francois Hollande remarked upon arriving at the just-completed NATO conference in Warsaw, Poland, “NATO has no role at all to be saying what Europe’s relations with Russia should be. For France, Russia is not an adversary, not a threat.”

It may well be time for the E.U. to consider again its own independent military force — a project to which the U.S. could contribute, but not control.

Is it not then legitimate to ask: aren’t we really talking about NATO versus the E.U. in this new strategic era?

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World; his latest book is Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan. (Amazon, Kindle) grahamefuller.com

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19 comments for “Europe’s NATO Ambivalence

  1. Gregory Herr
    July 10, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    “How much did…the Western sponsored coup [in Ukraine] help trigger Putin’s response in destabilizing eastern Ukraine?”

    I might quibble with the characterization of “Putin’s response” as one of “destabilization”. The destabilization was the Washington engineered coup. The fascist element placed in Kiev is anathema to the Russian-speaking people of eastern Ukraine and to the Crimeans as well.

    • exiled off mainstreet
      July 10, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      I agree. though the article commented on is very good, this shows that even the sceptics are somewhat infected by an official political correctness. Putin’s response was very measured; I think they would have been justified in entirely liquidating the illegitimate hostile coup state.

    • Medusa
      July 13, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      Thank you — I too was going to mention that. Russia was the responder in this situation and, if anything, it exercised tremendous restraint (imagine what the US would do if Putin orchestrated a coup in Mexico!). The Ukrainian fascist groups are hostile to both eastern Russian-speaking Ukrainians and to large segments of the Crimea. Putin may have prevented a slaughter.

    • Aarky
      July 13, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      That Victoria Nuland was not arrested and fired from her job at the US State Department for helping engineer the coup shows how much importance the US had towards the coup working and then Ukraine joining NATO. It was really embarrassing that she was caught on tape talking to the US Ambassador while plotting. I’m quite certain that Putin and Lavrov have forced John Kerry to listen to that tape every time he showed up to whine and show them the high resolution satellite photos of Russian troops eating breakfast in Ukraine. NATO makes huge amounts of money for the US military Industrial complex plus more General and Admiral slots. They will all fight to keep NATO.

  2. Bill Bodden
    July 10, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Indeed, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford) incredibly informs Congress that Russia represents America’s number one existential threat. Aggressive NATO maneuvers at the very doorstep of Russia help make this a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Were the members of the pertinent committee(s) credulous enough to swallow that unabashed propaganda?

    • Medusa
      July 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      They don’t need to believe it, they just use it to get more funding from Washington. In fact, I would bet that most Europeans don’t believe that Russia is a threat, but they signed on to the sanctions anyway and they went along with the anti-Russia haranging at the Warsaw summit.

  3. Abe
    July 10, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Given NATO’s purported “ambivalence”, it may be useful to recall that since the 19th century, German foreign and economic policy toward Poland and Ukraine has been predicated on the effort to roll back of Russian power in Central Europe.

    During World War II, Nazi propaganda sought to characterize the German effort to destroy Russia as a “European” project.

    The terms “New Order” (Neuordnung) or the “New Order of Europe” (Neuordnung Europas) were used by Nazi Germany to indicate the political order it wanted to impose on the conquered areas under its dominion.

    A more correct translation of the term would actually be more akin to reorganisation. When it was used in Germany during the Third Reich-era it referred specifically to the Nazis’ desire to essentially redraw the contemporary state borders within Europe, thereby changing the then-existing geopolitical structures.

    According to the Nazi government this goal was pursued by Germany to secure a fair rearrangement of territory for the “common benefit” of a new, economically integrated Europe, which in Nazi terminology meant the continent of Europe with the exclusion of the “Asiatic” Soviet Union.

    Nazi racial views regarded the “Judeo-Bolshevist” Soviet state both as a criminal institution which needed to be destroyed as well as a barbarian place as yet lacking any actual culture that would give it a “European” character.

    Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf argued in the chapter “Eastern Orientation or Eastern Policy” that the Germans needed Lebensraum in the East and described it as a “historic destiny”.

    The establishment of the New Order was publicly proclaimed by Hitler in 1941: “The year 1941 will be, I am convinced, the historical year of a great European New Order.”

    Implementation of the long term plan for the New Order began on June 22, 1941 with Operation Barbarossa – the invasion of the USSR. The goal of the campaign was not merely the destruction of the Soviet regime – which the Nazis considered illegitimate and criminal – but also the racial reorganization of European Russia, outlined for the Nazi elite in the Generalplan Ost (“General Plan for the East”).

    Hitler hoped to exploit the vast resources lying in Soviet territories: Ukraine was to provide grain, vegetable oil, fodder, iron ore, nickel, manganese, coal, molybdenum; Crimea natural rubber, citrus fruit and cotton; the Black Sea fish, and the Caucasus crude oil.

    Alfred Rosenberg, an influential ideologue of the Nazi Party, was appointed head of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete).

    Rosenberg viewed that the political goal of Operation Barbarossa as not merely the destruction of the Bolshevik regime, but the “reversing of Russian dynamism” towards the east (Siberia) and the freeing of the German Reich of the “eastern nightmare for centuries to come” by eliminating the Russian state, regardless of its political ideology. This was to be accomplished by exploiting ethnic centrifugal forces and limiting the influence of “Greater Russiandom” (Großrussentum) by promoting segmentation in the manner of divide and conquer.

    By 1942 the quasi-colonial regimes called the General Gouvernment in Poland, the Reichskommissariat Ostland in the Baltic states and Belarus, and the Reichskommissariat Ukraine in the Ukraine had been established. Two more administrative divisions were envisaged: a Reichskommissariat Moskowien that would include the Moscow metropolitan area and vast tracts of European Russia, and a Reichskommissariat Kaukasus in the Caucasus.

    Germany invaded the Soviet Union with the support of European military collaborators from Finland, Hungary, and Romania. Units composed of Flemish, Dutch, Danish, and Norwegian volunteers was formed and placed under German command.

    From 1942 forward, “Baltic Legions” were formed of men from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and the “Eastern Waffen-SS”, included men from Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia and Cossacks.

    Besides helping the Germans fight, foreign auxiliary units across occupied Europe enforced order, helped keep the basic services operating in the newly acquired territories by overseeing forced labor, combated partisans, and assisted in the killing of Jews on behalf of their Nazi masters.

    Ultimately, the European collaborators remained subordinated to German oversight and were “kept on a short leash.” European allies and volunteers who fought in the eastern campaign at approximately one-million men in total, enabling the Nazis with the needed material resources to carry on the war far longer than otherwise possible without their efforts.

    The 75th anniversary of the Barbarossa invasion finds a new “European” alliance of collaborators kept on a leash, Nazis unleashed in Ukraine, and new talk of a new order.

    • Peter Loeb
      July 12, 2016 at 7:18 am

      THANKS TO ABE…

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  4. Bill Hessell
    July 10, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    A successful EU, in spite of its current difficulties, embodies the hope of the future for a better, more peaceful and cooperative Europe. Strengthening NATO points towards a continuation of the past, a return to the years of conflict and strife that have been experienced for decades, even centuries. Sad to see the US, even with a change-oriented president, hold onto old, antiquated, conflict-inviting policies. Good to see leadership in Germany and France more assertive in questioning and resisting pressure from Wash. DC neocons and those who fall in line with their tragically-failed policies.

  5. Realist
    July 10, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    The United States and NATO were all for breaking up Czechoslovakia and, especially, Yugoslavia to bring ethnic stability to Europe. They even pushed for the dissection of rump Serbia to create Kosovo, an enclave they thought they could finely control to do their bidding. Yet, for reasons that seem to contradict their otherwise overarching philosophy of who should govern whom in Europe, the U.S. and NATO are totally unwilling to entertain the notion that the nearly solid Russian enclaves of Crimea, the Donbass, indeed all of Novorussiya in Ukraine should have any independence from the repressive Ukrainians whatsoever. They are not to be allowed to re-unite with Russia, nor have their independence, nor even have any scrap of self-rule in a federated republic. And, America even seems willing to join in the military barrage being waged by Kiev against these people, by training the oppressors, providing them weapons, and even becoming their military allies in a global war against Russia, right now in the form of some kind of provisional NATO membership until full membership (which Washington wants almost desperately) is formally ratified. It will take the EU to go along with this madness, which sane people can only hope they reject once they come to their senses.

  6. July 10, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    It’s really diappointing: Even in critical US media, the identification of peoples with their governments seems to be something US-citizens take for granted.

    What is the meaning of all these collective síngulars? “These countries are…”, “these states struggle…” , “many European leaders had serious doubts…” – implying that this tells as well something about the populations: This is deeply submissive political thinking.

    It’s small wonder that this is not seriously questioned in the US or in the Anglo-Saxon world as a whole. Americans think that they are utterly democratic, although they are dissatisfied with their leaders. But they aren’t. They are the only countries which never seriously questioned their ruling class, which claimed that they were “democratic”, despite of the fact that their ruling classes have never been seriously challenged by the ruling classes.

    The French had the French Revolution, the Russians the October Revolution, the Germans messed theirs up, but they had their 1848 when the Prussian king had to kneel down to show remorse for the death of rebellions against the Prussian monarchies, they had the largest organized working class movement in the 19th century and a rebellion of mariners finished WW1,

    Thus we Europeans know that the current “leaders” in a stucture whose power filters have obviously shaped under large pressure of a despotic elite from outside, are nothing less than democratic.What these imported neoliberal puppets do has nothing to do with the people in the Baltics.

    The majority of the people in the three Baltic states have named Islamic terrorism, unemployment and Angela Merkel’s refugee policy as basic threat. Russia did not play any role.

    65% of the Poles were against the so-called nuclear shield, which is only intended to provide the US with an undangered nuclear first-strike-capacity hy preventing Russian long-strike rockets from hitting US ground. No charm for Poles!

    In Germany 81% want closer ties to Russia, although not all are favourable to the Russian government. 82% are against any confrontation policy, especially not by NATO, with military means and under any kind of Impact of the US. 57% are against all sanctions, more than 70% against most sanctions. And 70% strongly oppose TTIP and Ceta, US-pressed along “Trade deals”.

    And all European (apart from Poland) regard the US, not Russia, as largest threat to world peace – and this is the result after two and a half years of bellicistic Propaganda, conducted through and supervised by a US-lead StratCom Task Force against “Russian disinformation”.

    We know that our so-called democracies are Orwellian fake worlds. We abhor a EU which is only a tool of US-supremacy which has no chance to survive.

    The simple truth is, European people showed in Referendums, polls and in clear utterances that they would be highly in favour of a European Community which is really one of the people, but not of the neoliberal elites and not of NATO.

    We all don’t want war, as we know what it means. Americans do not. Thus they can be tricked by their nasty “elites”.

    The threatening thing is: The US as well as all transatlanticists have lost all moral authority, thus their rule can’t prevail. But as they feel that, they are trying to start a nuclear war.

    We don’t want that. Therefore I suppose George W. Bush was right when he said that Europeans were from Venus, “Americans” fom Mars.

    Therefore let’s part in peace. We don’t you and definitely prefer the Russians: They know what war means, you don’t.

    • Lebensluge
      July 11, 2016 at 11:37 am

      Well stated, to paraphrase JFK if we don’t end war, war will end us. NATO is an offensive institution and will only further war, it must be dissolved.

  7. Abe
    July 10, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

    In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe. NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal.

    On 17 December 1954, the North Atlantic Council approved MC 48, a key document in the evolution of NATO nuclear thought. MC 48 emphasized that NATO would have to use atomic weapons from the outset of a war with the Soviet Union whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first. This gave SACEUR the same prerogatives for automatic use of nuclear weapons as existed for the commander-in-chief of the US Strategic Air Command.

    On May 5, 1955, the American, French, and British forces formally ended their military occupation of West Germany. Four days later, West Germany was made a member of NATO. A major reason for Germany’s entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a feared Soviet invasion of Western Europe.

    The incorporation of West Germany into NATO was a decisive turning point. An immediate result was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event.

    For the next 35 years, East and West Germany came to symbolize the animosities of the Cold War.

    General Adolf Heusinger (1897-1982), a former Nazi Wehrmacht officer, was the first German appointed to serve as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Washington from 1961 to 1964.

    Heusinger served as NATO Chairman during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 (4 June – 9 November 1961) and the Missile Scare of 1962 (October 16–28, 1962), the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.

    In a December 1961, on the eve of a NATO meeting in Paris, the U.S. refused a request from Moscow for the arrest and extradition of Heusinger as a war criminal. United States officials dismissed the note as “ludicrous”.

    In fact, General Heusinger had served as Adolf Hitler’s Chief of the General Staff of the Army during World War II.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMYYwyV8BwQ

    A decorated veteran of the First World War, Heusinger entered the Reichswehr in 1920. From 1931-1934, he served on the operations staff of the Reichswehr Ministry Troop Office, the German Army’s covert General Staff during the Weimar Republic era, as the Treaty of Versailles also forbade that institution.

    With the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Adolf Hitler’s assumption of power, the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles were abrogated and the German General Staff was officially reestablished. In 1937, Heusinger was assigned to the Operations Staff (Operationsabteilung) of the Army General Staff as a general staff officer. He served there, being promoted to lieutenant colonel on March 20, 1939, and remained in that position until October 15, 1940, when he became its chief.

    With the outbreak of the Second World War, the German Army High Command (Oberkommando des Heeres, or OKH) assumed its wartime organization. Heusinger accompanied the field staff and assisted in the planning of operations in Poland, Denmark, Norway, and France and the Low Countries. He was promoted to colonel on August 1, 1940 and, as noted above, became chief of the Operationsabteilung in October 1940, making him number three in the Army planning hierarchy, after the Chief of the General Staff, General Franz Halder, and the Deputy Chief of the General Staff/Chief Quartermaster (Oberquartiermeister I), General Friedrich Paulus.

    After the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the OKH became primarily responsible for planning operations in that theater, while the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) was responsible for other theaters. Halder was replaced as Chief of the General Staff in September 1942 by General Kurt Zeitzler. Paulus left the OKH in December 1941 and was succeeded in January 1942 by General Günther Blumentritt, who held the Oberquartiermeister I position until September 1942 when it was abolished.

    Heusinger remained chief of the Operationsabteilung and was promoted to Generalmajor (Wehrmacht equivalent of brigadier general) on January 1, 1942 and to Generalleutnant (Wehrmacht equivalent of major general) on January 1, 1943.

    In June 1944, General Zeitzler became ill, and on June 10, Heusinger temporarily assumed his office as Chief of the General Staff of the Army. In this capacity, he attended the meeting at Adolf Hitler’s “Wolf’s Lair” on July 20, 1944, and was standing next to Hitler when the bomb planted by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg exploded.

    Heusinger was hospitalized for his injuries in the explosion, but was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo to determine his role, if any, in the July Plot. Although there was evidence that Heusinger had been in contact with many of the conspirators, there was insufficient evidence to directly connect him to the plot, and he was freed in October 1944. However, he was placed into the “Führer-Reserve” and was not assigned to another position until March 1945.

    Heusinger was taken prisoner by the Western Allies in May 1945. A prisoner of war until 1947, he testified during the Nuremberg Trials.

    According to documents released by the German intelligence agency (Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND) in 2014, Heusinger may have been part of the Schnez-Truppe, a secret army that veterans of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS sought to establish in the early ’50s.

    In 1950, he became an advisor on military matters to Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of West Germany. He served in the Blank Office Amt Blank, the office headed by Theodor Blank, which became the West German Ministry of Defense in 1955.

    With the establishment of the West Germany Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) in 1955, Heusinger returned to military service.

    In November 1955, Heusinger was appointed a Generalleutnant (lieutenant general) and chairman of the Military Leadership Council (Militärischer Führungsrat). In March 1957, he succeeded Hans Speidel as chief of the Bundeswehr’s all-armed forces department (Chef der Abteilung Gesamtstreitkräfte).

    In June 1957, Heusinger was promoted to full general and named the first Inspector General of the Bundeswehr (Generalinspekteur der Bundeswehr), and served in that capacity until March 1961.

    In April 1961, Heusinger was appointed Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Washington, D.C., where he served until 1964, when he retired.

  8. Lisa
    July 11, 2016 at 2:05 am

    “President George H.W. Bush (not “W”) gave verbal assurances to Russia that the West would not seek to capitalize on the Soviet collapse. With Russia’s astonishing acquiescence to the reunification of Germany, the U.S. gave assurances that there would be no NATO expansionism into former Soviet East Bloc states.”

    Would it be possible for Consortium News journalists to find and present the document-transcript of the meeting where this promise was made? The argument continuously used by NATO supporters is that the U.S/Nato has done nothing wrong in accepting East European members into Nato, as there was no such written agreement?

    Why was Russia not accepted into the “club”, they once seem to have applied to become Nato members? Has any other country been rejected?

    • Joe L.
      July 11, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Lisa… The closest that I have seen was an article written by Der Spiegel in Germany.

      Der Spiegel: “NATO’s Eastward Expansion: Did the West Break Its Promise to Moscow?” (November 26, 2009)

      For years former US Secretary of State James Baker, Shevardnadze’s American counterpart in 1990, has denied that there was any agreement between the two sides. But Jack Matlock, the US ambassador in Moscow at the time, has said in the past that Moscow was given a “clear commitment.” Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the German foreign minister in 1990, says this was precisely not the case.

      After speaking with many of those involved and examining previously classified British and German documents in detail, SPIEGEL has concluded that there was no doubt that the West did everything it could to give the Soviets the impression that NATO membership was out of the question for countries like Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia.

      On Feb. 10, 1990, between 4 and 6:30 p.m., Genscher spoke with Shevardnadze. According to the German record of the conversation, which was only recently declassified, Genscher said: “We are aware that NATO membership for a unified Germany raises complicated questions. For us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.” And because the conversion revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: “As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general.”

      Shevardnadze replied that he believed “everything the minister (Genscher) said.”

      http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/nato-s-eastward-expansion-did-the-west-break-its-promise-to-moscow-a-663315.html

  9. July 11, 2016 at 5:17 am

    NATO has outlived its purpose, it should have been abandoned in the 1990’s but was resurrected by the goals of the PNAC and the pressure from the wests military industrial arms concerns then turned it into a shop window for new arms, a live fire advert.
    Europe has shown for the last 60 years that it can live with its neighbours without war, in economic mutuality, and this is what riles those neo-conservatives who are drumming for global Governance and control over the worlds resources left. Russia is not a threat to Europe, it is targeted by the US for its resources. Our increasing interdependencies with Russia, the development of economic ties and trade is a thorn in the eye for followers of the Monroe doctrine. NATO has become an expansionary uncontrollable force for the military vested interests, whilst the brass inside will always want to support the continuance of their jobs, its aims and purpose, perpetually.
    Morality and principled purpose has disappeared from NATO’s actions, the attack on Libya made this very clear to many in the world, now connected, a far more cohesive world understanding and a new power to be reckoned with. I very much agree with Steinmeiers warning, if these few US imperialists want to/ are dying to have a war with Russia, their long term aim so we understand, please fight it out over your own territory and leave Europe out of your haphazard thinking and planning.

  10. Steve
    July 11, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    It is very interesting to see this informed discussion on NATO being outdated and co-opted by PNAC types. These same rogues have made a farce of democratic institutions and are pushing a covert agenda that threatens the entire planet. Besides ex-CIA analysts posting here – and the usual crowd of intelligent readers – the press is essentially a dead zone. Is our mutual survival in the hands of Intelligence Agencies? Do active and ex-CIA personnel have influence, or is it a military-like structure that involves following orders ? In other words, what can be done to effectively counter demonic trends in politics, media, and the surveillance state?

  11. Robert HARNEIS
    July 13, 2016 at 2:35 am

    ‘Remarkably French President Francois Hollande remarked upon arriving at the just-completed NATO conference in Warsaw, Poland, “NATO has no role at all to be saying what Europe’s relations with Russia should be. For France, Russia is not an adversary, not a threat.”’

    Not so remarkable really. First of all Holland wants to get re-elected next May so he is reverting to what he promised for the last elections to work to get NATO to return to its original defensive aim. After the last elections in 2012 he forgot his promise and reverted to American poodle mode with his Foreign Secretary notoriously commenting in Syria ‘Al Nusrah is doing a fine job’ and caling for the assasination of Bachar Al Assad. There is also a growing realisation in France that General de Gaulle’s views on foreign policy were correct and that a return to the NATO military committee was a major blunder by Sarkozy. Note under de Gaulle France never left NATO. The Americans understand that in order to be tolerable their tutelage has to allow a certain amount of flexibility. So a few remarks by Holland to keep his ducks lined up for reelection are OK as long as he does what he is told when the serious stuff is going down like not selling mini Mistral aircraft carriers to Russia and not vetoeing a renewal of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. The same really applies to Germany, as long as the US holds the whip hand economically. Once that changes all bets are off in the EU. The Germans would quite like to get their gold back from Fort Knox before telling the US to mind its own business.

  12. July 13, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Ireland is a member of the EU and because of its Constitution which came out of war of Independence against the British Union states that all power derives from the people,every time an EU treaty took power away from the people of Ireland and every other democratic state and transferred it to the EU elite, we were the only country that had a referendum. As Chair of PANA (www.pana.ie) I played a major role in most of the referendums, so with respect to Graham F. Fuller, I know a great deal about the EU and am nowhere near as starry eyed about it as he is. Apart from actively supporting the growing militarisation of the EU and its links with NATO, made stronger after the Warsaw Conference, Ireland is also a de facto US airforce base with 2.5 million US troops having landed in Shannon Airport on their way to and from their endless wars, so I am also well aware that the Irish ruling class are totally supportive of the EU/US/NATO military structures and its build up to war with Russia. There problem is that the vast majority of the people living in the European States do not want a war with Russia. Far from seeking a separate EU Army, the EU needs to be transformed into a Partnership of European States including Russia without a military dimension.

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