The Ultimate End of NATO

Russia’s goal is not to destroy Ukraine—this could be accomplished at any time. Rather, the goal of Russia is to destroy NATO by exposing its impotence, writes Scott Ritter.

High-water monument at Gettysburg National Military Park. (Veggies /Wikimedia Commons)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

In the quiet fields outside the sleepy college town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, sits a bronze monument, in the form of an open book. Known as the “High-Water Mark of the Rebellion” monument, it contains the identities of the various military formations that, in the afternoon of July 3, 1863, fought a life and death struggle on and around the soil where the monument is set.

Here, some 12,500 men under the command of Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet, formed into three divisions, and launched a frontal assault on some 10,000 entrenched Union troops commanded by Major General Winfield Scott Hancock.

While around 1,500 confederates managed to pierce the Union line, they were quickly surrounded and compelled to either surrender or die. It is at this point on the battlefield that the “High-Water” monument is located, commemorating what has become to be known as “Pickett’s Charge,” named after one of the division commanders who participated in the battle.

The Confederate Army was able to withdraw from the Gettysburg battlefield in good order to continue to fight for nearly two more years, before surrendering. But it never recovered from the disaster that was Pickett’s Charge. It was truly the High-Water Mark of the Rebellion.

A Messy History

Students of history might be experiencing what Yogi Berra once famously called “Déjà vu all over again” when examining the frenetic activities undertaken by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) today, as it responds to what it alleges is a provocative Russian military buildup along the Russian-Ukrainian border.

The Trans-Atlantic alliance is a strange amalgam of political, economic, and military belief systems cloaking a mass of 30 nations who manage the day-to-day activities of their organization through a consensus-based, collective decision-making process that is as unwieldy as it is inefficient.

Originally formed as a collective of 12 nations united by the desire, as the first secretary-general of NATO, Lord Ismay, once quipped, “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”, the Trans-Atlantic alliance was, first and foremost, a club comprised of nations which had two things in common—a shared belief in the primacy of democratic governance, and a desire to be protected under the umbrella of American military power.

Signing of Washington Treaty that established NATO, April 1949. (NATO)

Early on the alliance witnessed a period of expansion, as it grew to 16 nations following the admittance of Turkey, Greece, Spain, and Portugal. These 16 nations served as the foundation of NATO throughout the Cold War, united in their determination to stand up to any potential Soviet aggression targeting the territory of western Europe.

NATO was always, from a political standpoint, a mess. Strong pro-communist movements in France and Italy led to the unseemly situation where the intelligence services of an allied nation, the United States, were engaged in manipulating the domestic political affairs of two ostensible allies to keep the communists out of power.

West Germany carried out its own unilateral Ostpolitik, seeking better relations with Soviet-occupied East Germany, much to the consternation of the United States. France, offended by what it (rightly) believed to be the dominance of the United States in the military command structure of the alliance, withdrew its military from NATO command authority. And Turkey and Greece were engaged in their own regional Cold War which, in 1974, went hot over the island of Cyprus.

The glue that held the alliance together was the collective defense provisions of Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which provides that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.

For much of the Cold War, the NATO alliance was configured militarily so that there was little doubt as to what actions would be taken, with a standing NATO army deployed in West Germany in constant combat readiness, prepared to repel any attack by the Soviet Army and its Warsaw Pact allies. Likewise, NATO maintained significant air and naval forces deployed in the Mediterranean Sea ready to confront any Soviet aggression there. These forces were anchored by a massive standing U.S. military presence comprising hundreds of thousands of troops, tens of thousands of armored vehicles, thousands of combat aircraft, and hundreds of naval vessels.

This full-time presence of concentrated combat-ready military power, prepared as it was to fight at the drop of a hat, gave the Article 5 obligation far more gravitas than it perhaps deserved. The reality of Article 5 is such that, upon its invocation, Allies can provide any form of assistance they deem necessary to respond to a situation based upon the circumstances.

While this assistance is taken forward in concert with other Allies, it is not necessarily military in nature and depends on the material resources of each country. In short, Article 5 leaves to the judgement of each individual member country to determine how and what it would contribute in the case of its invocation.

With the end of the Cold War in 1990-91 came the dismantlement of this full-time combat-ready military force. The unified nature of the NATO military component that existed in the 1980’s ceased to exist barely ten years later, with each member state carrying out its own demobilization and restructuring based upon domestic political requirements, and not the requirements of the alliance.

NATO Goes on Offense

The former military headquarters in Belgrade, bombed intensively by Nato 10 years ago. (Dennis Jarvis/Wikimedia)

During this time NATO also watched its long-held mantra of being a purely defensive alliance fall to the side as it engaged in offensive military operations on the soil of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a non-member, and a offensive bombing campaign against Serbia, despite Serbia not having attacked any NATO member.

This deconstruction of NATO’s military capabilities and status as an exclusively defensive organization took place hand in glove with a decision by NATO to expand its membership to include the former members of the Warsaw Pact, beginning with the accession of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic in 1999. The enlargement of NATO was seen as achieving two objectives—from the NATO perspective, it brought most of Europe together into a single collective of allied parties who, because of their membership, would contribute to the overall stability of Europe.

But there was another perspective at play, that being that of the U.S.. While NATO responded to the U.S. invoking of Article 5 after the 9/11 attacks, providing airborne surveillance aircraft for North American patrols and naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea, several core members, led by Germany and France, balked at becoming involved in the post-9/11 military misadventures of the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This prompted then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to make a quip denigrating “Old Europe” at the expense of “New Europe.” The continued expansion of NATO eastwards, absorbing all of the former nations of the Warsaw Pact along with three former Soviet Republics in the Baltics not only pushed NATO’s geopolitical center of gravity further east, but also put NATO on a collision course with Russia, whose opinion most NATO members had conditioned themselves to ignore.

NATO went on to provide military and police training support to Iraq in 2004, following that nation’s defeat at the hands of a military coalition which included the U.S., U.K., and Poland providing combat troops, and Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands providing political support.

Likewise, NATO contributed significant military forces to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. These troops operated under Article 4 authorities after the U.S. brought the Afghan situation post-9/11 to the attention of the general membership, which voted to authorize member states to deploy to Afghanistan in support of U.S. reconstruction and nation-building operations.

In 2011, NATO engaged in offensive military operations in Libya, part of a larger political campaign to remove the Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi, from power.

A US Adjunct

(Creative Commons/Wikipedia)

By 2008 NATO had become a bloated edifice largely unrecognizable from the organization that had been created at its founding, in 1949. Its appetite for expansion knew no bounds, with membership offers being dangled before two former Soviet Republics, Georgia and Ukraine, and military engagements being initiated in North Africa and the Persian Gulf.

While the bloated organizational structure of NATO looked impressive on paper, there were two realities that no amount of puffing and posturing could obviate. First and foremost was the absolute dearth of real military power on the part of the non-U.S. NATO components. To support and sustain their respective military commitments to Afghanistan, the major NATO nations involved—Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy—were forced to cannibalize their overall military capability to surge their respective military components forward. Even then, none of these nations could accomplish their Afghan mission without the logistical support provided by the United States.

This over-reliance upon U.S. military capacity only underscored the inconvenient reality that NATO had become little more than an adjunct of U.S. foreign and national security policy. The U.S. had always played an oversized role in NATO. If this was singularly focused on preserving European security, the non-U.S. members of NATO could deceive themselves into believing that they were co-equal partners in a defensive-oriented Trans-Atlantic arrangement.

Once NATO began expanding, both in terms of membership composition and scope and scale of its non-European military commitments, it was obvious to any observer exercising a modicum of intellectual curiosity that NATO existed for the sole benefit of the United States.

Nothing drove this point home more than the humiliation NATO suffered at the hands of the U.S. when it came to the abandonment of the Afghan reconstruction mission. The decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was made unilaterally by the United States, without consultation. NATO, faced with a fait accompli, had no choice but to do as ordered, and leave Afghanistan with its tail between its legs.

The ultimate humiliation was yet to come. Nothing takes place in a vacuum, and the expansion of NATO, combined with its offensive re-orientation, drew the ire of Russia, which took extreme umbrage over the encroachment of a military alliance no longer bound by the constraints of collective self-defense, but rather imbued with a post-Cold War posture built around the notion of containing and constraining a Russia which was recovering from its post-Soviet collapse malaise and, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, was actively restoring it position as a regional and global power.

NATO Fissures

U.S.-backed, violent coup in Ukraine, 2014. (Wikipedia)

Russia had, since 2001, been sounding a claxon call about NATO expansion and the threat it posed to Russian security interests. These calls were ignored by NATO and its U.S. masters, largely because they believed Russia to be too weak both militarily and economically.

While NATO chased post-9/11 ghosts in the Middle East and Afghanistan at the behest of its American overseer, Russia worked to reform its economy and military. In 2008 Russia defeated Georgia in a short but violent war precipitated by a Georgian military assault on the breakaway territory of South Ossetia. In 2014, Russia responded to the U.S.-orchestrated Maidan coup that ousted the democratically-elected president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, by annexing Crimea and throwing its support behind pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region of Ukraine.

The important thing to note about the current crisis in Ukraine is that while the underlying issues are solely the byproduct of NATO overreach, the timing of the crisis is based upon a Russian timetable defined by purely Russian goals and objectives. The goal of Russia is not to destroy Ukraine—this could be accomplished at any time. Rather, the goal of Russia is to destroy NATO.

This will not be accomplished through the direct use of military force, but rather the indirect threat of military action which forces NATO to react in a way which exposes the impotence of an organization which long ago lost its raison d-etre, collective defense, and instead flounders under the weight of a mission—the containment of Russia—it cannot achieve, and which its membership is not united in pursuing.

Here are a few statements of fact—the Russian military would defeat any force NATO can assemble in a stand-up conventional fight. The entire notion of collective self-defense is predicated on the ability to deter any potential adversary from considering military action against a NATO member because the outcome—the total defeat of the attacking party—was never in dispute.

While a truly defensive alliance would have the moral authority to call out the build-up of Russian military power around Ukraine as un-duly provocative, NATO has long since lost the ability to apply that label to itself with any degree of seriousness. From the standpoint of Russia, when the same “defensive” alliance which bombed its ally Belgrade and worked to overthrow the leader of Libya puts its sights on acquiring Ukraine and Georgia as members, such actions can only be viewed as aggressive, offensively oriented-measures that function as part of a broader anti-Russian campaign.

Exposing NATO

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others representatives of NATO countries in a group photo at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, March 23, 2021. (State Department, Ron Przysucha)

By militarizing the Ukraine crisis, Russia has exposed the absolute military impotence of NATO. First and foremost, after dangling the bait of NATO membership before Ukraine for the past fourteen years, NATO was compelled to confess that it would not be able to come to the defense of Ukraine in case of any Russian military invasion because Article 5 only allowed collective defense to be invoked for NATO members, which Ukraine is not.

Moreover, the “massive” economic sanctions that NATO has promised to unleash in lieu of a military response have turned out to be as impotent as NATO’s military power. Despite what the political leadership of NATO and the United States may say to the contrary, there is no unity of purpose when it comes to imposing sanctions on Russia in the event of a military incursion into Ukraine.

In short, any sanction package that targets Russian energy and/or access to banking institutions will hurt Europe far more than Russia. While the United States continues to push for Europe, and in particular Germany, to wean itself off Russian energy supplies, the fact is there is no viable alternative to Russian energy and, moreover, Europe is increasingly recognizing that the U.S. position has less to do with European security and more to do with a play by the U.S. to grab the European market for itself.

Under normal conditions, the U.S. cannot compete with Russia in terms of price and volume when it comes to natural gas deliveries. If, through sanctions, the U.S. can cut off Europe from Russia, then the U.S. will be able to impose its own energy products on Europe at prices that otherwise would be uncompetitive.

NATO’s Realization

The individual members of NATO are beginning to awaken to the reality that their organization is little more than an impotent tool of American global hegemony. Hungary has cut its own gas deal with Russia, in defiance of U.S. directives to pull back. Croatia and Bulgaria have made it clear that they will not be deploying troops in support of NATO posturing on Ukraine.

Turkey has stated that it views the Ukraine crisis as little more than a thinly disguised effort by NATO and the U.S. to weaken Turkey by forcing it to fight Russia in the Black Sea. But perhaps the most telling moments came when the two European powerhouses of NATO, Germany, and France, were compelled to come face to face with the reality of their subservient role vis-à-vis the U.S..

When French President Emmanual Macron flew to Russia to try and negotiate a settlement to the Ukraine crisis, he was confronted with the reality that Russia won’t negotiate with France without the U.S. first expressing support for the positions being put forward by the French President. The U.S. matters; France does not.

Likewise, the German chancellor was forced to stand mutely during his visit to the White House while U.S. President Joe Biden “promised” that he would unilaterally shut down the NordStream 2 pipeline project, even though the U.S. had no role to play in the construction and administration of the pipeline. Germany, Biden was saying, is little more than a colony of the United States.

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Russian President Vladimir Putin during visit to Moscow in 2019. (Kremlin)

The final nail in the NATO coffin came on Feb. 4, when the Russian president met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. The two leaders issued a 5,000-plus word joint statement in which China threw its weight behind Russia’s objection to NATO expansion into Ukraine.

The Sino-Russian joint statement was a de facto declaration that neither Russia nor China would allow the U.S.-led “rules based international order” being promulgated by the Biden administration to go forward unchallenged. Instead, the two nations announced that they will be pursuing a “law based international order” which draws on the United Nations Charter for its authority, in contrast to unilateral rules which only serve the interests of the U.S. and small blocs of allied nations.

A Different World

The world has fundamentally changed. NATO literally has no relevance. Its last gesture of defiance lays in the deployment of forces into eastern Europe to bolster the defensive capabilities of that region in accordance with Article 5. The forces deployed—a few thousand American paratroopers, and a smattering of other contingents from other NATO nations—not only cannot defeat a Russian adversary, but doesn’t even provide a modicum of deterrence value should Russia be inclined to shift its sights away from Ukraine toward Poland and the Baltics.

What NATO doesn’t realize is that Russia has no intention of invading either Ukraine or eastern Europe. All Russia has done is demonstrate the empty shell that NATO has become by underscoring just how empty the Article 5 promise of collective defense truly is.

In this regard, one should view NATO’s current round of muscle flexing as the modern-day equivalent of Picket’s Charge, the high-water mark of the Trans-Atlantic alliance. In the weeks and months to come, NATO will be faced with the reality that Russia is not invading anyone, and that the muscle flexing it is currently engaged in is not only not needed, but worse, unsustainable.

The fractures exposed in NATO’s membership when it comes to Ukraine will only grow larger over time. It may take years for NATO to go away, but let no one be fooled by what is happening—NATO is finished as an alliance.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

49 comments for “The Ultimate End of NATO

  1. Em
    February 14, 2022 at 12:07

    In the eyes of all the embedded American political and Media analysts’ diplomacy is managing international relations; as in privately held corporations, hierarchically, from the top down.

    As we all know, or ought to, by now – this is the mode in which hegemony operates. Surprise! This is not a very democratic process; never mind the always deceptive pretenses!

  2. Gerald
    February 14, 2022 at 09:33

    some great pieces from Mr Ritter recently. The only thing I would add to this is that Russia is under no obligation to save Europe from their own idiocy. Worth bearing in mind over the next week. Russia can take the hit on NS2, Europe (and Germany in particular) cannot, which is the whole point for the US.
    The Sino Russia Joint Statement is worth a read for anyone. It is a bold vision of the future completely undermining the Western No Rules – Rules Based Order. A vision of a future world without US genocidal stupidity. Of course it has gone almost completely unreported in the West.


  3. Tim Slater
    February 14, 2022 at 08:49

    One historical point Mr. Ritter omitted or had forgotten: it was the US Congress that emasculated Article 5’s supposed obligation to defend other NATO countries! They did not want to be dragged into another European war against their will.
    Of course, war-mongering publicists and politicians in North America and Europe always talk about NATO countries’ duty, in this and other cases. They get away with it because very few people have read the text, and what it actually says, namely “If you get in trouble, we’ll think about it, and do what we want.”

  4. February 13, 2022 at 22:58

    Once Proud Germany has no identity and No purpose, except to be a Colony of the American Empire. It`s People and Industry are crying out for Russian Gas; for Heat in the Winter and Manufacturing. Biden says ” Shut Up and Kiss my Ass”.

  5. Stephen Berk, PhD.
    February 13, 2022 at 18:28

    The primary reason that NATO has continued to exist since the end of the Cold War is to continue to enrich the American arms industry. The Soviet Union is long gone, and Russia has a relationship with Europe that probably will become more fruitful for both sides. The Biden administration, with its 79 year old leader is stuck in the Cold War. At the same time, the American elite’s continuing with some kind of cold war against Russia aids the politically powerful US arms industry. That is the main thing that keeping NATO going is about. During the Vietnam War, there was a popular saying of those who opposed it: “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” That saying could be very much applied to NATO today. What if they continued an outdated alliance, and nobody supported it?

  6. nelson wight, RPh
    February 13, 2022 at 17:52

    Scott Ritter, this is one of the best summaries, if not the best, of where we are today as regards the Ukraine and NATO. A SPERB AND ELEGANT JOB, thank you.

  7. Ethan Boger
    February 13, 2022 at 17:13

    I’m surprised the name Victoria Nuland hasn’t been mentioned on this site since 2015. Her rehabilitation speaks volumes about who is in charge of US policy vis a vis Ukraine/Russia. It seems abundantly clear that the US is being outmaneuvered now. Yes, it is Putin’s revenge for Russia’s humiliation in 2014.

      February 13, 2022 at 21:34


      Please check your facts before commenting.

    • Patricia Tursi, Ph.D.g
      February 14, 2022 at 11:42

      Thank you for bringing this up. The 2014 coup which reportedly had its facist elements should not be forgotten and Nuland was a central part of the US’ role. But also, Biden’s son had a cushy Board position on a Ukraine gas company. Biden blackmailed Ukraine into firing the lead investigator of his son, and withheld huge payments of US support saying the firing had to happen before Biden’s plane left to return to the US. This was in addition to the China scandal. What a decadent and corrupt continuation we have of a sad leadership pretense. But, why is there never a mention of the most pragmatic reason for Russia to need a strong influence with Ukraine? Is not Russia’s only warm water port in Crimea? Without this port, is not Russia land-locked during winter months? The US has 3 coasts with warm water posts. Putin is always pragmatic. Biden tends to practice cowboy

        February 15, 2022 at 11:51

        Consortium News constantly refers to the 2014 coup and wrote about Burisma and Hunter Biden back in 2014 when it was first happening.

  8. Rudy Haugeneder
    February 13, 2022 at 14:20

    Interesting article. The world has/is changing. The only thing that is constant is the threat of nuclear war — by accident or by intent. Unfortunately, the risk of accident grows by the day.

  9. Phil Nichols
    February 13, 2022 at 13:24

    After your insightful and informative article, all that is left is to find a suitable epitaph for NATO. How about, “Faithful Servant of its American Overseers.”

  10. John Kirsch
    February 13, 2022 at 11:29

    Good article. Just one quibble: All ends are “ultimate.” That’s why they’re ends.

    • Topor
      February 14, 2022 at 10:50

      When Soviet Union fell Fukushima called it the “end of history”.I hope we are witnessing the “dawn of history”.If NATO fights and takes the world down with it , I agree ,it will be ultimate!

  11. Tedder
    February 13, 2022 at 11:20

    I can somewhat understand European and American belligerence after the new Soviet Union repudiated the debt from Czarist Russia–1) they wanted their money; 2) the elites feared a revolution in their own countries where they might face the fate of Alexander.
    Still, the USSR was an American army in WW II and was instrumental in the defeat of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. After the end of the war, good relations might have continued, but revanchist forces in the US opted for the Cold War. The violence that ensued was aggressive on the part of the Americans, defensive on the part of the Soviets–much like after the end of WW I.
    The USSR collapsed and the Russian Federation emerged, and for a while was fully aligned with the US with disastrous economic and political results for Russia. Putin turned this around, and refusing to be an American toady, turned Russia back on a path to stability and prosperity.
    So, it seems evident that in 2022, none of the elements that make Russia ‘enemy’ really apply. Except perhaps that the US MIC and NATO require an enemy to justify their occupations.

  12. February 13, 2022 at 10:16

    It is time NATO was disbanded there sell buy date is long gone

  13. Sam F
    February 13, 2022 at 08:29

    NATO has just enough power for troublemaking, to allow US scammer tyrants and their warmongers to pose with the flag and praise their lord as defenders against the foreign monster du jour, and attack their moral superiors as disloyal. Fortunately they have blundered, showing Germany, France, and Turkey that the MIC tyrants intend to abuse them for private gain, just as they abuse the US. With only fake enemies, NATO should be “finished as an alliance.”

    Russia likely does not wish to advertise “the empty shell that NATO has become” as this would aid the MIC tyrants.

  14. Lynda Brayer
    February 13, 2022 at 01:39

    To the extent that I am able to grasp issues of military strength, this seems to be an excellent explanation of the situation on the ground.
    Scott, could you address the issue of the weaponization of the Western MSM and its impact on the Western populations. One of the effects as we know, is the rife Russophobia that is in Europe and the US which considers the Russians as liars and what they do as provocation. In other words, it is “exceptionalism” and “manifest destiny” writ large with a total inversion of truth and moral values.

    What this means, I believe, is that the facts on the ground, the actual fact of who the provocateur would be in any confrontation between Russia and the West/Nato, would be totally obscured in the West such that all the sanctions that the US/West would impose upon Russia would be considered justified.

    How does Russia overcome such media weaponization? If it can at this stage of the game.

  15. Alan
    February 12, 2022 at 23:53

    Great piece, as usual, Scott—so clear and factually based—none of the ideology and vacuous propaganda that flows from the hot air pipe of the Western mainstream media. As to the time table for this stand-off to be resolved, the US may stall for time to develop hypersonic missiles of its own and, hence, level the playing field to some extent. Unfortunately for the West, Russia will, by then, have defensive systems in place that can intercept or disable hypersonic missiles headed in their direction. It’s a no-win situation for the US, but sadly, its ruling elite cannot accept that they have been bested and that their world hegemony is finished.

    • Tedder
      February 13, 2022 at 11:08

      The Americans rely on the MIC for weapons development, which over time has become inefficient and incompetent (as we see with the F35 airplane and these littoral warships). These corporations seem to just seek money while both the Russians and the Chinese seem to be more focused in weapons development; thus are the defense budgets of the two countries vastly smaller than the US’ and effective results seem much greater.

      • Realist
        February 14, 2022 at 04:18

        Yeah, I think that Washington takes the same approach to spending money on weapons development that most flagship state universities do (at least the ones I’ve been associated with): make sure you spend out every bit of this year’s budget, whether you really need to or not, in order to ensure you suffer no budget cuts for the next fiscal year. If the US Navy had bucks left over they’d use it to engineer specialized warships for patrolling the sewerage systems of our major cities, or some such nonsense.

  16. Robert Sinuhe
    February 12, 2022 at 23:37

    Russia has security concerns the same way the U.S. had them in 1962 and expressed them eloquently. Now that the shoe is on the other foot the Russians’ demands from NATO and the U.S. are flat out rejected without consideration– not of jewel of diplomacy. Russia got their attention by moving troops to the border of Ukraine. The media then filled itself with frenzy of an impending attack. The 30 nation NATO alliance sprung into action. The news screams: Any day now the attack will begin . One gets the picture of guys in the back of a pick-up truck with fedoras, leather jackets and shotguns, rushing to the border to save the Ukrainians. The Russian troops have served their purpose. It would be pointless for Russia to attack and they have said so in so many words. Threats of punishment abound from the U.S., however, from blowing up the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline that Europe needs, to personal banking restrictions and any other punishment it can mete out. Again, bad form. Sanctions don’t work because no country wants to be treated like an errant child. I feel that the U.S. and NATO will have egg on its cheeks from this one.

  17. Mark Thomason
    February 12, 2022 at 18:57

    We could add that any serious fighting will produce a flood of Ukrainian refugees into Poland, vastly bigger than the refugees camped on the Belarus border that caused the EU to freak out.

    The flood of refugees would increase the tendencies noted in this article, to blow apart NATO. Those refugees would be a powerful weapon in Putin’s hands, one we all just saw work, and yet it gets almost no mention in reference to Ukraine.

    • Tedder
      February 13, 2022 at 11:11

      If we look at Russia’s war aims, they have no intention of ‘invading Ukraine’; rather, as Scott Ritter stated in a previous post, if the Ukrainian army attempts to invade and destroy the Donbas resistance, Russia will annihilate it. No need to go further West.

      • Realist
        February 14, 2022 at 04:06

        I look at the presence of those Russian troops to serve as no more than moral guidance to the Ukrainian government to do the right thing and stop shooting and blowing up their fellow citizens. That would optimize the outcome for all concerned and maybe even help to convince Washington that it doesn’t need to recruit anymore gunslingers into their NATO Social Aid and Pleasure Club.

  18. Realist
    February 12, 2022 at 16:16

    As usual, Scott, your essay is mostly a tour de force in geopolitical history. However, I would dissent from your statement that “the Trans-Atlantic alliance was, first and foremost, a club comprised of nations which had two things in common—a shared belief in the primacy of democratic governance, and a desire to be protected under the umbrella of American military power.”

    The part about American military power you got right, but the part about NATO being a club of dyed in the wool democracies is pure rhetorical prestidigitation. Does the name “Generalissimo Francisco Franco” and his fascist government of nearly 40 years in Spain ring a bell? How about the name “Antonio de Oliveira Salazar” who led the fascist government of Portugal for nearly 40 years? And then there is the matter of the Greek junta of colonels who brought fascist rule to Greece during the 1960’s and 70’s. Though Turkey became a secular country under Ataturk after WWI and the collapse of Ottoman rule, it was never really a “strong” democracy but rather an autocracy under a dictator-like president of whom Erdogan is merely the latest model. Back during the Reign of the Greek colonels, Turkey was essentially at war with Greece and hostile feelings persist to the present. What the current Baltic republics are doing to their Russian-speaking minorities can hardly be characterised by “democratic” or “enlightened” in any way–more like autocratic and racist. To this day, long decomposed bodies are being unearthed from mass graves throughout the former Yugoslavia providing evidence of long-forgotten genocide by Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks alike. There is certainly no “democratic” liberty, fraternity or equality existing in any of those enclaves to this very day, yet they are all NATO members. Adding what are basically fascist (and thoroughly corrupt) countries of Ukraine and Georgia to NATO would be totally consistent with that organisation’s hypocritical standards… and as good a reason as any for its dissolution.

  19. Ian Stevenson
    February 12, 2022 at 14:39

    The EU ‘s defence force has been NATO. All but two members of NATO are European (even Turkey has land in Europe). It has been content to let the US lead. The US spends the money and has procured offensive capability. The Europeans , with some exception from the UK, have spent their limited budgets on defensive weapons. The behaviour of Trump and Brexit has shifted opinion in the EU. There is a realisation that the US can’t be depended upon, either from a lack of support or because they would try to force them into more interventions outside Europe. Some have still to face up to the implications which would mean more spending-at a time when climate change is the main danger. Even if NATO is wound up, mutual defence will continue.
    However, there is little doubt that most people in eastern Europe prefer to have links with the west and not the Russian Federation. In the same way, Russia knows Europe is not going to attack them. Russia would gain nothing by military action.
    There is a way Europe could pose a threat to the Putin / Lukashenko type of state. Europe is more prosperous and there are more freedoms. Ideas creep across borders. They did in the latter years of the USSR and when push came to shove, few were willing to fight for Communist regime. Putin may feel the need to discourage such ideas but tanks are not very effective at doing it.

    • voicu manolache
      February 13, 2022 at 10:05

      People who come here are in a totally different league than you and other people like you. You should stick to making commentaries on MSM.

      • Topor
        February 13, 2022 at 22:39

        How about you make an intelligent contribution to the conversation based on Scott’s excellent essay. Please ,please show us what you’ve got! Otherwise go back to your Tarot cards!

  20. Topor
    February 12, 2022 at 14:13

    “It may take years for NATO to go away”……..Russia is on a BISTRO time line. Months not years.The current diplomatic activity is to establish a historical record of who the war mongers are. If Russia’s reasonable demands are not addressed the new rules will be defacto imposed.If that happens there will be no more room for negotiations. The response will be you had your chance to negotiate.You made a mockery of diplomacy by sending geographically and historically illiterate ‘diplomats’ to insult our intelligence. NATO and the west will have accept reality, rather than fight reality!……as always thanks Scott.

    • Herbert Davis
      February 12, 2022 at 17:26

      Well said.

  21. val
    February 12, 2022 at 14:04

    tks. I now understand a little better

  22. Jim other
    February 12, 2022 at 13:39

    Thank you Scott and Consortium news. I also hope you are correct!

    Propaganda vs news. . .

  23. Peter Loeb
    February 12, 2022 at 13:14

    I agree enthusiastically with those who have applauded Ritter for his great work. I forwarded the article
    to my niece in Italy who expressed her concerns.

  24. torture this
    February 12, 2022 at 11:12

    I never once gave any thought to the idea that Russia could be behind this. That Russians planned & wanted the crowd that couped Ukraine in the first place to be stupid seems a bit conspiratorial.

  25. Moi
    February 12, 2022 at 01:55

    Under the UN Charter a war of aggression is the greatest of crimes. Nato, particularly the US and Turkey invaded Syria, looted it of oil and antiquities, and are currently still occupying parts of the country and are still pillaging it.

    So Nato is led by a current and continuing war criminal. It’s war crimes are more severe than those of Syria’s Assad.

    The sheer hypocrisy of the US stance on a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine is breathtaking but I have never once seen any criticism at all in the MsM.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      February 12, 2022 at 13:17

      And you won’t see any, either. The MSM is the propaganda arm of the capitalist oligarchy and only presents what the CIA tells it to present.

  26. February 12, 2022 at 00:04

    Brilliant Analysis! Whoever thought that NATO would be destroyed by a masterful Russian diplomatic gambit. Hopefully we can continue evolving to a more humanitarian multi-polar world where peace and sanity prevail.

  27. February 11, 2022 at 21:23

    Masterful! Everything in one place. Anyone who wants to know what’s going on, should read this

  28. February 11, 2022 at 20:51

    This is an economic crisis headed to a state of war. Hundreds of Billions of Dollars are in play here.

    Energy profits made by the RF are not recycled through the US bond and weapons markets. By contrast, energy profits made by the Gulf States and the US are, which recycling keeps the Dollar strong and interest rates low. Today, it seems like Biden is disappointed that the Russians aren’t invading, as their invasion would serve as a catalyst for heightened sanctions against the RF, thereby forcing the Europeans to end energy purchases from the RF and instead buy the more expensive Liquid Nitrogen Fuel (LNF) from the Gulf States or the US.

    Under normal circumstances, we just can’t compete with the volume and price of the natural gas that the RF cheaply and efficiently pipelines from Siberia to Europe every winter. That the RF energy profits serve to further develop what we assumed would always be a Failed State maddens the Washington Consensus.

    But that equation changes when our plutocrats, with a pliant media in its tow, can pound the drums of war, demonize the RF, and create an atmosphere in which their needed war might break out.

    So the abstraction of democracy has nothing to do with any of this. It is the economic stakes that loom large. If this were about democracy, we wouldn’t be arming the Neo-Nazi Azov Battalions, who spearheaded the February 2014 coup d’etat and now hunt down and kill those who oppose the coup government, one midwifed by the US ambassadorial duo of Nuland and Pyatt, whose taped conversation plotting the overthrown of Yanukovych can be heard on YouTube today.

  29. Trisha
    February 11, 2022 at 19:43

    Yeah this was never really about Ukraine, it’s the long game about demolishing NATO and eventually dragging the EU out of U.S. clutches into the Russia/China economic and security orbit. Which is why the U.S. and the Brits are raising such hysterical warmongering, as this strategy poses an existential threat to their power. They could care less about Ukraine.

    On a related topic, when I was briefly stationed in Heidelberg Germany in 1982, NATO “exercises” were a complete shambles, and everyone knew that only nukes could stop the Soviets if they ever decided to invade, and looking back, I’m pretty sure the Soviets never had any intentions of doing so.

  30. DocHollywood
    February 11, 2022 at 19:07

    Very informative analysis, Scott; thank you.

    It would be surprising if US and European leaders don’t already know that Russia has no intention of invading either Ukraine or Eastern Europe. It’s NATO, not Russia, that militarized the Ukraine crisis. By militarizing the Ukraine crisis, NATO has exposed its own absolute military impotence.

    • Mette Pettersen
      February 12, 2022 at 18:27

      Scott Ritter for President.

  31. Jeff Harrison
    February 11, 2022 at 19:06

    I hope you’re right, Scott.

  32. Foghorn
    February 11, 2022 at 18:44

    Today the Biden administration doubled down on the hysterical claim that “Russia could invade at any time.”

    Anyone who has ever watched the hilarious Ben Stiller directed movie “Tropic Thunder” likely remembers the line from the Robert Downey Jr. character admonishing Ben Stiller’s character, quote: “Everybody knows you never go full retard.” Well, the Biden administration just went full retard.

    It is clearly apparent that our foreign policy elite has lost touch with reality. They obviously have little concern over the welfare of the Ukrainians, whose economy is in a state of collapse and will only get worse the longer the US keeps this crisis alive. Whether it’s Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, Syria, or Venezuela Biden’s team seems to delight in forcing their knee on the neck of these unfortunate countries.

    • Lois Gagnon
      February 12, 2022 at 12:12

      Not only have they lost touch with reality, they’ve lost all connection to life itself. And it’s not just the Biden team, but the entire Western ruling/ political class.

  33. Caliman
    February 11, 2022 at 18:08

    Indeed, NATO delenda est … 30 years later than in should have been.

    Really, if you’re a Baltic republic, or Poland etc., have you not thought to yourself: do I really think the US will back me all the way to thermonuclear war against Russia, since any conventional war wouldn’t last more than a few weeks? That America would kill and suffer hundreds of millions in casualties, possibly leading to nuclear winter, to forestall Russian rule over my little country? Under what logic did this ever make sense?

    • February 12, 2022 at 10:43

      Yes, Caliman, you have put it in a nut shell. Of course the US wouldn’t and we all know it. The US may be many things but they are not suicidal! Just read about ‘Russia, China agree 30-year gas deal via new pipeline, to settle in euros’…. not US Dollars! Russia and China are playing a chess game and as we know Russia has a great reputation in this game also China does ‘business’ not war. US citizens should re-read Ike’s parting speech and take note, then act.

    • Big Al
      February 13, 2022 at 19:13

      3B+PU should be asking why?….why would Russia want to invade us? I f they could accept the truth that Russia does NOT want them and in reality neither does the US then they can loose the paranoia and live peacefully with the world. Oh dear…… US does not want them to see reality so continues to provoke the paranoia.

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