Selected Analysis

Dmitry Suslov: NATO needs enemies to justify its existence and keeping allies disciplined

by Svetlana Ekimenko, Sputnik News

Whether it is funneling billions in military support to prop up the Kiev regime amid Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, or trying to intervene in Southeast Asia and forge military alliances to ostensibly deter China and Russia, NATO always blatantly operates by wielding the “image of [an] enemy” as an excuse, Moscow has underscored.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the mantra last month that the alliance was “not [a] party to the conflict” in Ukraine, despite Washington and its allies pouring over $100 billion worth of military and economic support to the Kiev authorities as Moscow continues its special military operation in Ukraine. Both Russian officials and numerous analysts have seen through the rhetoric, pointing out that NATO hopes to accomplish its goal of weakening Russia via a proxy war. Similarly, when it comes to countering China’s clout, Washington and its allies try to depict Beijing as a bogeyman.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) needs external enemies in order to justify its very existence and for the purpose of keeping its allies disciplined, Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the Center for European and International Studies at Russia’s Higher School of Economics, told Sputnik.
Unlike other multinational alliances, such as for example the Collective Security Treaty Organization, fanning the flames of tension around the world comes naturally to NATO, as it is not just a collective defense organization, but an institutionalization of American hegemony.
No longer a defensive oriented alliance, NATO has been searching for a mission since the fall of the Soviet Union, Earl Rasmussen, executive vice president of the Washington-based Eurasia Center, agreed.
A look at the past 30 years or so will show that NATO members have been involved in offensive actions against Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. Furthermore, the dogged expansion of NATO eastward was driven by the goal of containing Russia, the retired lieutenant colonel who spent over 20 years in the US Army recalled.
Unfortunately, in effect “the Cold War never ended it just took on a different form,” Earl Rasmussen said.

Boosting American Hegemony

NATO’s main purpose is not just to defend its members from outside aggression, but to impose, to strengthen American hegemony in Europe, in Eurasia, and in the world as such, by undermining the major rivals of the United States, the major powers which threaten American primacy, which disagree with American international dominance, Dmitry Suslov emphasized. One way the alliance can achieve this is by triggering and strengthening instability in the adjacent areas to these “competitors.”
It is true that NATO needs a bogeyman to both justify its continued existence and to promote Western hegemony, concurred the Executive vice president of the Eurasia Center. According to Earl Rasmussen, without such an adversary, one would question why NATO should continue to exist.

‘Bogeyman Specter’

Russia and China have been singled out for the role of adversary, with NATO defining both nations as “challenges,” “threats,” and pulling out all the stops in a bid to stoke instability in the neighborhood of these countries. So, understanding mission of NATO’s mission, which is very different from classic collective defense, helps explain all of the alliance’s actions, Dmitry Suslov clarified.
Now, since not all foreign policy initiatives of the United States would go over well with its allies, NATO is resorting to exploiting the specter of a foreign enemythe expert pointed out.
The goal of preserving American hegemony alone might not suffice to prompt some allies to get on board with Washington’s decisions. But if they are frightened by external enemies, or faced with the image of an adversarial enemy allegedly threatening their security, system of domestic governance, their interests and values, and perhaps even their existence, then these NATO member states might become more amenable, the expert underscored.
Accordingly, China is increasingly being presented as a threat to not just the United States, but to European countries as well, and to the security of NATO as such. The same goes for Russia, with European countries being “frightened” into a more “disciplined” demeanor regarding the foreign policy initiatives of the United States.

Defense Spending Bonanza

At this point, finances weigh in heavily. Back in the Cold War era, demonization of the Soviet Union played an immensely important role in justifying the defense expenses by the United States and also other members of NATO, Dmitry Suslov recalled. What we are witnessing now is a direct continuation of that line. Dangling the scary image of Russia as a “deadly enemy” to the Western world and to NATO allows Washington to justify the increase in defense spending.
Having a permanent enemy justifies the existence of NATO and, accordingly, provides significant windfall for the Military Industrial Complex, Rasmussen told Sputnik. He added that US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address in January 1961, warned Americans of the dangers of the military-industrial complex, but his words of wisdom failed to be heeded.

‘Coalition of the Willing’

As for whether NATO allies are prepared to fall in line and feed into US ambitions, Dmitry Suslov believes there is a certain ambiguity on the part of European countries to support Washington in its confrontation against Russia and China.
West European countries are less eager to support the US in a standoff against China, he added, pointing to the recent visit of Olaf Scholz to Beijing, accompanied by a big group of German business leaders.
The reluctance can be explained by the fact that West European countries do not consider China as their vital national security threat or existential threat. However, regarding Russia, these countries, despite paying a large cost for supporting the confrontation and hybrid war against Moscow spearheaded by Washington, have been effectively forced into submission. One of the major reasons for the Ukraine conflagration – prepared by the United States and made inevitable by it – was to consolidate European countries around Washington, the deputy director of the Center for European and International Studies said.
Looking ahead, one can speculate that with the continuation of the conflict in Ukraine, European states’ readiness, ability, and will to continue “suffering for the sake of American interests” may weaken, Dmitry Suslov concluded.

“Whether supporting US foreign policy excursions as an organization or as individual members, NATO provides a relative controlled ‘coalition of the willing’ as it seeks US direction for any key moves,” Earl Rasmussen.

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