Dreaming Up a Reason for NATO’s Relevance

European leaders still rattle their tiny sabers at Russia, but Donald Trump’s election has spread confusion across NATO nations that had dutifully climbed aboard the New Cold War express, says ex-British intelligence officer Annie Machon.

By Annie Machon

A few months ago during the seemingly endless U.S. election, Donald Trump said NATO is not a gift that America can keep giving. In his stated view, the other member states should make a greater financial contribution (the U.S. currently contributes 70 percent of NATO’s budget) and, if not, they could not expect automatic protection in the face of an attack.

On Nov. 13, after Trump’s victory, NATO Secretary General and former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg wrote a think piece in the U.K.’s Observer newspaper, and acknowledged the need for more widespread contributions while crying up the historic importance and future need for NATO by citing growing Russian “assertiveness” (diplo-speak for “aggression”) and the threat from international terrorism.

NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

I was invited onto RT to analyze this and am here expanding on some of the points I made in an always-all-too-brief interview.

Stoltenberg was right to acknowledge Trump’s concerns about the contributions to NATO. But I think  he was also addressing another and already-serving president somewhat closer to home – head of the European Commission and totemic Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker – who for a while now has been plotting an integrated European Union army and who ramped up the rhetoric last week after Trump’s victory.  The head of NATO is naturally not going to be too happy that the E.U. is poaching on his territory as the supposed military defender of Europe.

It was also reported in The Observer that France and Germany are planning to announce the acceleration towards an E.U. army over the coming weeks. So much for European-wide consensus. It would appear that Juncker also sees this as a bargaining position in future Brexit negotiations, if Britain ever does get around to triggering Article 50 for withdrawing from the E.U. Any E.U. army would need the U.K.’s contribution – not just the armed forces, which are the second largest in the E.U., but also continued close cooperation with the intelligence agencies.

After all, if both the U.K. post-Brexit and the U.S. after the ascension of Trump become increasingly isolationist and isolated, it would be natural for the two countries to pivot towards each other to the increasing exclusion of Europe. The U.K./U.S. “special relationship” has always been heavily predicated on the uniquely close working relationship of their spies, and the E.U. will fear being left further out in the cold.

So, if Juncker carries on regardless with his vanity E.U. army project and Britain agrees to contribute post-Brexit, there may be other sweet deals to offer to the U.K. during the Brexit negotiations. At least, that seems to be the position that Juncker is oiling his way towards. But the fundamental question has to be asked: why, now, do we need either a New Model E.U. army or the cavalier NATO?

Stoltenberg tried to address this in his article: “In the last few years we have seen a dramatic deterioration of our security, with a more assertive Russia and turmoil across north Africa and the Middle East. Nato allies have responded together. We have implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the cold war. [….] This is deterrence, not aggression. […] Nato also continues to play a crucial role in the fight against terrorism. Every Nato ally is part of the US-led coalition against Islamic State.”

The Dubious Group Think

Let us unpack these comments. Firstly, is Russia indeed becoming more of a military threat, or is this just so much diplomatic grandstanding? After all, is it Russia or NATO that has been more, umm, “assertive” over the last 27 years?

A map showing stages of NATO's expansion. Dark blue showing original members; lighter blue the "round one" members; aqua the "round two" members; yellow represents neutral states; and brown and red (including Ukraine), otherwise aligned. On the map, Montenegro is one of the tiny brown spots on the eastern Adriatic.

A map showing stages of NATO’s expansion. Dark blue showing original members; lighter blue the “round one” members; aqua the “round two” members; yellow represents neutral states; and brown and red (including Ukraine), otherwise aligned. On the map, Montenegro is one of the tiny brown spots on the eastern Adriatic.

In answer, I refer you back to an article I wrote two years ago after the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Referencing the work of former senior CIA officer and fellow Sam Adams Associate, Ray McGovern, it made clear that a deal was made between the Soviet Union of the time and the U.S. – and that, in return for the withdrawal of 260,000 Soviet troops from East Germany and the reunification of Germany, NATO would not move one inch further east than the German border.

Well, today we can see the result of these negotiations – another 12 countries, most in Eastern Europe and right up to the Russian border, have been assimilated into NATO. Recently within most of these border countries large-scale military exercises have been provocatively and publicly staged, plus missile “defense ” systems have been planted in the fertile paranoiac soil of an increasingly aggressive and nationalistic Poland.

Yes, Russia has in retaliation been conducting its own border exercises. The leadership has to be seen to be doing something, otherwise it will appear weak and not protecting its own people. That might be “assertive,” but it’s certainly not “aggressive.”

Nor let us forget the fact that, in 2008, NATO was warm towards the idea of Ukraine and Georgia joining, provided they could meet a few conditions. This would be taking Western forces directly into Russia’s backyard. It would be encircling Russia’s border with the rest of Europe with a new “Iron Curtain.”  And I have to say that IS an aggressively political move at the very least.

How did this play out? Well, first stop for the campaign of Russian demonization was Georgia, under Western neocon puppet President Mikhail Saakashvili , invading a small and ethnically Russian segment of Georgia, South Ossetia. Russia responded by protecting the population, and then was excoriated across the Western world as conducting an unprovoked invasion of Georgia. This myth has long been exposed factually, but it is the hysterical headlines of the time that residually stick in most people’s minds.

Similarly in Ukraine. In 2014, a coup against the elected head of state, Viktor Yanukovych, apparently partly orchestrated by the U.S. as we know from an intercepted call between the Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. Interestingly, it was Yanukovych who blocked Ukraine’s accession to NATO after his election in 2010, perhaps an additional motivation for the 2014 coup.

All this laid bare the fact that the U.S. had pumped $5 billion in to subvert the Ukrainian state during the post-Soviet years and that, in the face of European concern about the worsening crisis, the U.S. pronounced – in the tender words of Victoria Nuland – “fuck the E.U.” And yet still the E.U. acquiesced to U.S.-led sanctions against Russia that have hit the E.U. economy hard.

Pot and Kettle

Despite this history of interference in the politics of other nations, the U.S. government accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. The old story of the pot and kettle springs to mind.

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

Add to this a probably NATO-approved strike on a Russian jet involved in the Syrian conflict earlier this year by NATO member Turkey (at the time one of the closest trading partners of Russia and which, temporarily, caused bilateral damage that has since been repaired) and the military wing of Western interests is not exactly coming up smelling of roses. (The Russian pilot bailed out but was then shot to death by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels on the ground.) Perhaps NATO was just being “assertive.”

So to Stoltenberg’s second point of justification for NATO: the success that it has had combating the threat of international terrorism. Where can I start with this? Since NATO invoked Article 5 (when one state is attacked, all must respond) in the wake of the 9/11 attacks against America, Western countries have been dragged into war after illegal war across the Middle East, central Asia and North Africa.

Let us examine the roll call of successes: Afghanistan (now largely back in the hands of Taliban warlords and supplying ever more heroin to the illegal drug trade that goes toward funding terrorist groups, including ISIS); Iraq, now a basket case and the cradle of ISIS; Libya ditto plus the drugs; Yemeni communities being vaporized with “precision” bombs by U.S. proxy Saudi Arabia; and the bloody catastrophe  of Syria of course.

So the NATO Secretary General’s second justification of the organization’s continued existence is not exactly what one would call compelling. But I suppose he had to try, when Juncker’s threatened folie de grandeur that is the E.U. army is even less inspiring.

So, back to President-elect Donald Trump. What will he do, faced with this mess of competing Western military/security interests and Euro-bureaucrat careerists? Perhaps his U.S. isolationist position is not so mad, bad and dangerous as the wailings of the Western liberal press would have us believe?

American “exceptionalism” and NATO interventionism have not exactly benefited much of the world since the end of the Cold War. Perhaps the time has indeed come for an American Commander-in-Chief who can indeed cut deals to cut through the saber-rattling rhetoric and, even unintentionally, make a significant contribution to world peace.

Stranger things have happened. After all, outgoing President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize a mere eight months after his inauguration, more a hoped-for aspiration than a recognition of any accomplishment, and we see how that worked out.

Annie Machon is a former intelligence officer in the UK’s MI5 Security Service (the U.S. counterpart is the FBI).

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26 comments for “Dreaming Up a Reason for NATO’s Relevance

  1. Sam F
    November 17, 2016 at 9:37 am

    The NATO treaty has destroyed the essential guarantees of democracy under the US Constitution, both the separation of powers that prevents the executive branch from making policy, and the prohibition of the federal government from using military force except to repel invasions and suppress insurrections.

    The problem is that such treaties enable the right wing tyrant over democracy, against whom Aristotle warned millennia ago, to create foreign enemies so as to pose as protector and accuse his opponents of disloyalty. That is exactly what the US oligarchy has done in its “global wars” on terrorism and drugs, which have in fact been wars for Israel and against socialism.

    It is long past time to repudiate the NATO treaty. If a new threat to Europe arises we can easily set up a new treaty for the specific purpose.

    • Rob
      November 17, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      A correction is in order. The U.S. Constitution assigns all foreign policy authority to the Executive. However, war-granting authority belongs to Congress. When’s the last time that was actually the case?

      • Sam F
        November 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm

        The executive branch exists purely to execute the laws; it has authority only to negotiate treaties by and with the consent of the Senate. But it cannot make the laws; it can only make regulations pursuant to laws. Congress has allowed itself to be drawn into wars by executive scams and provocations, but these military adventures have not been repelling invasions, and not within the federal war powers.

        The US should repudiate treaties requiring military intervention except under UN authority, and it must prosecute officials who seek to start wars for any reason by any means, including pressuring the UN, other than humanitarian interventions under UN authority.

      • Sam F
        November 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm

        I should add that the is no such thing as foreign policy under the Constitution, and the executive has no such powers. There are only treaties, and the executive has no authority there at all, as in lawmaking, but is a servant of Congress.

    • Secret Agent
      November 18, 2016 at 1:24 am

      I kind of miss the pax Russiea. When Russia was in Europe there was peace. As soon as they left, trouble started again.

      • Sam F
        November 18, 2016 at 8:34 am

        There appears to be no real historical foundation of right wing claims of modern Russian expansionism. It would be nice to read a proper and strong debate. There were the post-WWII cases in central Europe of the USSR being invited to invade by sympathetic domestic political parties. But the appeal of communism to anti-colonial revolutions (Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia) that had no support from the West (despite the US anti-colonial origin) cannot very well be attributed to Russia. And the USSR seems to have had generally positive goals in Afghanistan despite the Reagan hysterics, and would probably have either lost anyway if left alone by the US, or perhaps effected some improvements there over time by providing a secular ideology of economic progress to counter religious extremism, perhaps outgrown over time.

    • Eileen Kuch
      November 21, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      You nailed this one perfectly, Sam. I completely agree with you that the NATO Treaty destroyed the essential guarantees of true democracy under the US Constitution – both the separation of powers that prevents the Executive Branch from making policy (which is the purview of the Legislative Branch) and the prohibition of the Federal Govt from using military force except to repel invasions and suppress insurrections.
      Aristotle warned against such treaties millennia ago. He knew back then they’d enable tyranny over democracy, to create foreign enemies so as to pose as protector and accuse opponents of disloyalty. This is what the US oligarchy has done in its “global wars” on drugs and terrorism, which, in fact, have been wars for Israel and against socialism.
      As you said, Sam, it’s long past time to repudiate the NATO Treaty. The Cold War ended in 1990 with the breakup of the defunct USSR. The Warsaw Pact ended shortly prior to the demise of the USSR .. therefore, making NATO totally unnecessary to remain. It’s an anachronistic Cold War relic that should’ve disbanded when the Warsaw Pact did and the Berlin Wall torn down.
      However, Zio-Globalists hijacked NATO, turning it from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into the North Atlantic Terrorist Organization, with the same initials. NATO’s been butting its ugly head into regions it has NO business doing, for over two decades, and is still doing today.
      Once Donald Trump assumes office on 20 January, 2017, one of the first actions he must take is to pull out of the evil NATO and do as he had pledged during his campaign .. resume friendly ties with Russia and negotiate fair trade deals with China and other nations.

  2. Dan Kuhn
    November 17, 2016 at 10:42 am

    What it all boils down to is the E.U and American Elites ( Deep State if you will) have a plan to control the world. Trump is a temporary fly in the ointment for this plan. The E.U Elites needen´t worry too much, Trump is already being brought to heel and the plan is still in place. Iran, Russia, China and Syria should not take too much comfort in Trump´s election. He is American after all and killing is just as much in his genetic make up as the rest of the population,, He does value his life and that of his family, so he will bend to the people who authored the PNAC. Either that or he will suffer the same fate as the Kennedy Brothers.

  3. November 17, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I believe NATO is a collection of War Gangs that use the armies of their countries as Hit Men in illegal wars. These wars could be called The Monstrous Crimes of the Monsters in our Midst.
    [read more at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/11/the-monstrous-crimes-of-monsters-in-our.html

  4. November 17, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    There are reports that NATO members are helping “terrorists.”

    “Elements of al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups were known to be key players in the NATO-backed uprising in Libya from the beginning, but now it appears that prominent Jihadists and terrorists are practically leading the revolution with Western support.”
    The New American August 30, 2011….

    There is something seriously wrong when NATO, an organization funded with massive amounts of taxpayer dollars, continues to support not only Turkey but other supposed “allies” that are reportedly up to their dirty necks in funding, training and arming terrorism….
    [read more at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/03/the-numerous-affiliated-terrorists.html

  5. Bob Loblaw
    November 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Big lies aka propaganda circles the planet before simple truth can get it’s pants on, Americans need to learn how to discern between the two. Trouble is we’re just too dumb and complacent to allow competing ideas in a critical thought process.

    How do we address this strength of ignorance? This is where the rubber meets the road, just spelling it out gets you marginalized for conspiracy theories.

    • J'hon Doe II
      November 17, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Bob Loblaw — “How do we address this strength of ignorance”?

      A question that demands an inquest.
      As Death Blossoms across the world.

      How indeed, do we address the strength of this ignorance!

  6. November 17, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    More questions about NATO. Not Seen in Corporate Media.
    “Are Some NATO and G20 Members Funding, Arming and Training Terrorists? “

    “Lest we forget, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, have been financing and training the ISIL terrorists on behalf of the United States. Israel is harbouring the Islamic State in the Golan Heights, NATO in liaison with the Turkish high command has since March 2011 been involved in coordinating the recruitment of the jihadist fighters dispatched to Syria. Moreover, the ISIL brigades are integrated by Western special forces and military advisers….” Prof Michael Chossudovsky
    Global Research, September 25, 2014…

    “Last year the chiefs of staff of the US, Britain, France, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey met in Jordan; and a report by UAE’s newspaper… also mentions the existence of a secret command center in Jordan which is staffed by military officials from 14 Western and Arab countries including Israel. This command center coordinates the operations of the rebels (jihadis) in southern Syria; while the operations of the jihadis in northern Syria are coordinated by similar command centers and bases in Turkey….” Nauman Sadiq, Asia Times Sep. 22, 2014.
    More info at link below
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2015/11/are-some-nato-and-g20-members-funding.html

  7. Brad Owen
    November 17, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Somewhere along the way, we’ll have to take seriously Gen. Smedley Butler’s advice: First, see and know that war is a racket; a Deep State/MIC/Nat’l Security/Trans-national corporate RACKET. Second: Gen. Butler’s advice on REAL defense of the Republic boils down to transforming the military services into something like the Swiss military; a National Guard of Sea (Coast Guard), Air, Land, and (now) Space services that don’t see much action, to speak of, beyond our own borders. Probably should work to revive the U.N.’s premiere place in the World, and ONLY allow our troops to participate in U.N.-mandated operations beyond our borders while wearing the blue helmets. The 800-or-so bases overseas should be abandoned by us, and turned over to the U.N. to use or dispose of, as they see fit. And THIRD, for good measure: we should form a permanent alternative service that’ll be more useful in future World development; a permanent, Federal, WPA/CCC/TVA Service to work on the Silk Road Projects, our own infrastructure upgrades, and the World Land Bridge(Tunnel) spanning the Bering Straits (a joint Russian-U.S. Project, which is where the Russians wanted to go, after selling us Alaska) and tying the Continents together with mag-lev rail lines, power lines, pipelines and communication lines.

  8. evelync
    November 17, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    In his talk at the Boston University Pardee School, retired colonel and Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at BU, Andrew Bacevich, pointed out that we are heading toward (are already in?) a multipolar world power structure. Within this structure, the U.S. is still the “leading” power but in the same tier as China, India and Europe. He points out that Russia is not in this group but in the next lower tier:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-Lg0Fv7nTA

    Therefore, if you agree that Bacevich is correct, why is the neocon heart of our foreign policy pushing confrontation with Russia? Why is Russia at the heart of neocon fear mongering and the target of NATO aggression?

    And why, when we have a chance now to disentangle ourselves from the horror of the chaos we helped create in the Middle East, will Trump be pushed off of one of the sane campaign positions he espoused – namely to work with Russia to solve the chaos we helped create in Syria and the tragedy of the suffering of the Syrian people trying to escape the violence?
    We don’t seem to care about millions of average people (either at home or abroad) but instead focus on helping the corporate chieftains at home and fighting one boogyman after another abroad.

    In this Boston Globe op ed piece this year, Andrew Bacevich exposes the banality of the press and the two candidates revealed in NBC’s shoddy campaign stunt, their “Commander in Chief Forum” on September 7th, 2016:
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/09/08/was-held-prisoner-american-aircraft-carrier/hOhEVV9HXKwk31NlKNTXEI/story.html

    The questions NBC asked were meaningless, the answers Trump and Clinton gave were irrelevant.

    Bacevich was there (“held captive” as he said ) and he was given a couple of minutes at the end which he used to share his views of the questions that should have been asked and answered but were left by the wayside:

    BACEVICH: “What sort of questions should an aspiring president be expected to answer? These, for example:

    • What lessons have you drawn from America’s post-9/11 wars and how would those lessons affect your approach to policy?

    • Defeating ISIS is an imperative. Then what? What is your strategy for addressing the larger phenomenon of violent radical Islamism?

    • Explain the Syrian civil war and describe the US interests at stake there.

    • Compare the costs and benefits of employing missile-firing drones as instruments of assassination.

    • China has emerged as a power of the first rank. To what degree do Chinese aspirations collide with US interests? What will your administration do to protect those interests?

    • A growing gap exists between the one percent of Americans who serve in the military and the 99 percent who don’t. Is this as a problem? How will you remedy it?

    • The United States is embarking upon a trillion dollar effort to modernize its nuclear strike force. What is your view of this program? How does it square with promises by presidents from both parties to seek a nuclear weapons-free world?

    • Where does climate change fit in your hierarchy of national security priorities?

    • What are the limits on the president’s war making authority? Describe the role Congress should play in deciding when and where US forces fight.

    How might Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have handled such questions? We don’t know because they weren’t even asked. And that’s a problem.”

    • Sam F
      November 17, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Yes, Bacevich has written many well informed and very practical essays against war and its proponents. Of course, the mass media suppress such talk as disloyal, because their owners support the MIC and the use of our vast military for Israel, and occasionally killing a few million alleged communists to suppress socialism in the US..

  9. November 17, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    NATO and its members are “producers of refugees.” These unfortunate people once had homes and countries to live in.
    Some member countries of NATO are involved in wars in different countries. These wars have produced a massive refugee crisis. Yet, much of the corporate monopoly media are missing in action, in connecting this fallout to all these “regime change” wars….
    [read more at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2015/09/the-nato-rious-member-war-machine-that.html

  10. Andrew Nichols
    November 17, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Junkers Euro Army might not be such a bad thing as it would not have the US as a member. Then disband NATO. Without the US geopolitics that drives NATO it might find little work to do. If it was really smart it would include Russia and Moldova for the simple reason, if you dont particularly like them they are better inside the tent than outside it. After all Turkey and Greece are in NATO despite hating each others guts.

    • Retired Colonel
      November 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      Dear Andrew: Have you ever been at a Nato military officer’s meeting? I have.
      Warning: Junkers Euro Army will lead to a war In Europe.
      I am not a humanitarian, so a European war, will be an effective way to eliminate the idiots populating Europe.
      Hopefully we will also draft into our infantry – all our “deplorables” – IQs below 100; high school dropouts; gays, transsexuals, pedophiles, ghetto inhabitants and college professors – illegal immigrants and let not forget the 46% of the Negro population in Chicongo that do not know how to read… with all of them dying to defend “freedom” and “democracy” the demographics of the US economy would rise into a substantial higher per capital income.

      • Sam F
        November 18, 2016 at 2:54 pm

        Thanks for admitting frankly the murderous philosophy of warmongering. Please announce this form of honor in widespread speeches on Veterans’ Day. But remember that the Czar’s officers did that in 1917, sending 800,000 serfs over the top into the teeth of the Kaiser’s machine guns, many with no weapons, to their deaths in a single three-day battle. Shortly thereafter any unpersuaded serfs perceived that their interests were better served by the Bolsheviks.

        How much “per capital income” did it take to free you of humanitarianism? Did that happen before or after you became a colonel?

  11. Retired Colonel
    November 18, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Among my assignments was a six year assignment in Germany, at HQ US Army in Europe and HQ VII Corps. I agree with the author that Nato has expanded in violation of agreements. However, everyone in the international world, fully understands that the US government never keeps it word. The author has clearly documented another example of reality. Remember, our politicians are amateurs at decision making, but experts on collecting “donations”. and anyone that gets a political appointment usually lasts about 24 months, and what ever is approved, is reversed if not immediately, then it will be 8 years later. Welcome to the reality of democracy and the perceptions of security.

  12. Ted T
    November 18, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    NATO needs to be thrown into the trash heap of history.

    NATO commanders saw millions of refugees pouring into Europe and did nothing.

    Now millions of refugees, many of whom have devious intent are swirling around the capitals of
    Europe, terrorizing native Europeans.

    So what’s the point of NATO?

    Junk it.

    Let the Russians have Europe.

  13. delia ruhe
    November 19, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    But, but, but without NATO, whose skirts would the American president have to hide behind when planning another of Washington’s Borg runs? I.e., “You will be assimilated; resistance is futile.”

    It should be remembered that not one NATO country joined the Bush-Blair coalition of the bribed and bullied for the purpose of invading Iraq. Unimpressed by the cock-and-bull story about Saddam’s WMD, that should have been the moment to bring up the question of NATO’s relevance, but none of Washington’s vassals had the guts — or maybe they figured that given the quality of American leadership at that moment in time, what would be the point?

    Well, America is in another crisis of leadership, and unless NATO members relish the possibility of marching off to war behind Generalissimo Trump, now would be a good time to end the NATO charade.

  14. rosemerry
    November 20, 2016 at 7:00 am

    How often have we heard the cry from Americans “NATO is funded too much by us to protect our allies”, and like Trump they want the “allies” to waste lots of money to protect themselves from non-existent enemies like Russia and Iran.
    “STOP NATO” was a great website for several years. Now it is defunct, as NATO should be, 25 years after the Communist Menace was vanquished. Demonizing Russia is not justified,and with Hillary may have led to nuclear war. As for terrorism, the behavior of the USA and its puppets exacerbates the problem, as is obvious to a fair observer.

  15. Michael Kenny
    November 21, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    The reason why reasons for NATO’s relevance need to be dreamt up is that nobody wants to give the real reason why it is still in existence, namely, that it no longer has anything to do with Europe but is part of the US dispositions for the defence of Israel. It provides a legal pretext for keeping US forces and, even more importantly, military suplies, near to Israel. No American president can act against the interests of Israel, not even Donald Trump who, if anything, is even more pro-Israel than Hillary. Thus, no matter what he says, Trump will not abandon NATO. Equally, Putin’s attack on Ukraine, or, more correctly, Obama’s weak-kneed reaction to it. has discredited both the US as a global superpower and NATO as an instrument for the defence of Europe and, by extension, Israel. Thus, no matter what he says, Trump will be obliged, sooner or later, to get Putin out of Ukraine.Not for Ukraine’s sake, not for the EU’s sake, not even for America’s sake but for Israel’s sake. Since, because of Obama’s failure to resist Putin there, nobody in Europe will ever again regard the US as a trustworthy ally, European countries, and in particular, NATO’s weak link, Germany, are quietly re-arming. Trump will probably use that as an excuse to stick with NATO and since Putin is irreversibly bogged in Syria anyway, letting him join the (unwinnable!) war against ISIS will just to dig him in even more deeply and increase the level of Russian casualties. Thus, the election hasn’t really changed much: if Putin wins, Israel loses. For Israel to win, Putin must be defeated in Ukraine.

  16. Scott Bennett
    November 23, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Eileen, it was a fairly good assessment, but *not* perfect. For one thing, what is all the democracy hugging about? The people who wrote the Constitution of 1787 were quite adamant that one of the many things that they were trying to *prevent* by the contents of the constitution they had just finished writing was democracy. At that time, every democracy that history had recorded so far had descended into tyranny in under two centuries, so it was clear that democracy was fatally flawed from the standpoint of liberty. The authors of the Constitution made clear what should be obvious to anyone who reads it, namely, that it created a constitutional republic, *not* a democracy. Democratic means of resolving issues were limited to a very small set of specific situations for which the authors did not know of a more satisfactory method. One problem today is that the general population, even those individuals considered to be reasonably well educated, are ignorant of the Constitution’s content and thus do not understand the lawful structure of the U.S. government. For example, most people think that the President is “their” President, which is not true at all. The President presides over the union of *States*, not over the People. The President is not elected by the People, but rather by the Electoral College, whose members are chosen by the States,
    specifically by the legislatures of the States. This is the only form of representation, albeit an indirect one, in the federal government retained by the States today. The State legislatures originally were also represented by the Senate, whereas the People were represented by the House of Representatives. But ever since Philander Knox proclaimed without offering evidence that a seventeenth amendment to the Constitution had been ratified by the minimum number of States required for ratification at the time, the Senate has been converted to a sort of more powerful but less representative house of representatives in that it is now elected by the voting public but at the rate of only two super-“representatives” per state population. The States were cut out of any representation in the federal government at that point except for the power to choose the Electors of the offices of President and Vice-President. You may recall that the Florida legislature threatened to choose its Electors in 2000 directly again if the recount were not settled quickly, and that would have been its lawful prerogative, just as it always is for any State legislature. Now, in the case of the presidential election of 8 November 2016, it appears that the Electoral College method of choosing the President and Vice-President has very dramatically performed the task that it was explicitly designed by the Constitutional Convention to do. The day after the election, _USA_Today_ published a county-by-county map of red and blue results. With only a very few scattered counties (mostly in Colorado and Utah plus the entire state of Washington) not counted at the time, it is clear that, in the vast geographical majority of the nation, the Trump voters prevailed. I’ve already seen many letters to editors of various “news”papers, complaining that Clinton got more popular votes nationwide and that that is supposedly a justification to dump the Electoral College method. But the _USA_Today_ map makes clear that that would simply enable a few urban population centers to rule over all of the rest of the nation. (The blue counties comprised most of the California coast, Vermont, Massachusetts, many East Coast urban centers, the Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Twin Cities, and Denver metropolitan areas, a narrow swathe of counties roughly curving across the middles of the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, the southern tip of Texas, southeastern tip of Florida (including the Miami area), and a narrow band along the Mississippi River in Arkansas and Mississippi. There are large counties that show up as blue in Arizona and New Mexico, but they are largely of low population density, so they are visually misleading. The vast, overwhelming majority of the nation can be seen at a glance to be red. Both the Senate and the Electoral College were originally designed with the specific, explicit intent of preventing tiny, highly populated areas from controlling the whole nation, even when they have a nominal majority of the popular vote, so that design appears to be still working after all this time. (Not much else in the Constitution still has much effect on the federal crime syndicate, unfortunately.)

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