Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Does the U.S. Establishment Want to Go to War With Russia?

Noam Chomsky seems to have a reasonable take (via Truthout):
NATO is surely a US-dominated military alliance. As the USSR collapsed, Russia's Mikhail Gorbachev proposed a continent-wide security system, which the US rejected, insisting on preserving NATO -- and expanding it. Gorbachev agreed to allow a unified Germany to join NATO, a remarkable concession in the light of history. There was, however, a quid pro quo: that NATO not expand "one inch to the East," meaning to East Germany. That was promised by President Bush I and Secretary of State James Baker, but not on paper; it was a verbal commitment, and the US later claimed that [that] means it was not binding.

Careful archival research by Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson, published last spring in the prestigious Harvard-MIT journal International Security, reveals very plausibly that this was intentional deceit, a very significant discovery that substantially resolves, I think, scholarly dispute about the matter. NATO did expand to East Germany; in later years to the Russian border. Those plans were sharply condemned by George Kennan and other highly respected commentators because they were very likely to lead to a new Cold War, as Russia naturally felt threatened. The threat became more severe when NATO invited Ukraine to join in 2008 and 2013. As Western analysts recognize, that extends the threat to the core of Russian strategic concerns, a matter discussed, for example, by John Mearsheimer in the lead article in the major establishment journal, Foreign Affairs.

However, I do not think the goal is to stop Russia's revival or to keep the military-industrial complex intact. And the US certainly doesn't want a military conflict, which would destroy both sides (and the world). Rather, I think it's the normal effort of a great power to extend its global dominance. But it does increase the threat of war, if only by accident, as Kennan and others presciently warned.

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