America’s Brobdingnagian $1.3 trillion national security budget thrives on manufactured threats and falsely demonized foes. And nothing could be more demonstrative of that proposition than the utter villainy now emanating from the NATO summit in Vilnius.
For crying out loud. Since the Munich Security Conference in 2007, the man (Putin) has said over and over, and then over again, that Ukraine’s accession to NATO is an absolute red line. And anyone with their head screwed on right would have no trouble accepting that declaration by answering one simple question.
To wit, how would Washington react if Russia put missiles and nukes in Mexico, or Cuba, or Nicaragua, or Granada or Venezuela or even Tierra Del Fuego?
Of course, President John F. Kennedy resolved that matter 61 years ago. Yet the whole Vilnius confab amounts to a wink and nod pageant telling the world that exactly what JFK said could not stand on our own doorstep back then, in fact, must stand on Russia’s now. One day soon the Great Hegemon on the Potomac will plant US/NATO missiles 40 minutes from the Kremlin and the purported "aggressor" domiciled there needs to shut-up and eat his geopolitical spinach.
Holy moly. The very idea is an affront to rationality and is a reckless invitation to permanent friction between two nations holding upwards of 12,000 nukes between them. Yet the miscreants gathered in Vilnius left no room for doubt in their declaration:
Ukraine’s future is in NATO. We reaffirm the commitment we made at the 2008 Summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and today we recognize that Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has moved beyond the need for the Membership Action Plan. Ukraine has become increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the Alliance, and has made substantial progress on its reform path.
So the question recurs. How in the whole fricking big wide world would adding the parts and pieces of Novorossiya, Poland, Lithuania, Rumania, the Cossack Hetmanates, the Crimean Khanate, the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and many other historical footnotes that were slapped together by the Soviet Tyrants after 1920 to form the current unnatural borders of Ukraine contribute to the Homeland Security of America, way over here on the far sides of the Atlantic and Pacific moats?
The answer of course is that it contributes nothing, as in nichts, nada and nugatory. NATO isn’t about security, collective or otherwise, anyway. It’s an utterly vestigial relic of the Cold War that was stood-up to contain a totalitarian Soviet Empire which was armed to the teeth, but which has long since disappeared into the dustbin of history. So George Bush the Elder should have parachuted into the Ramstein Germany air base in 1991, declared victory and dismantled NATO then and there.
As it has transpired, however, the bloated now 31-nation NATO of today has actually become an enemy of peace and security. That’s because it exists mainly as a marketing forum for western arms manufacturers and a think tank for generating phony threats and scary stories designed to keep military budgets amply stocked with fiscal wherewithal and vastly oversized military establishments well provisioned with missions, mandates, war games and busy work.
So to repeat what we said in previously, there is no need for Washington’s gigantic military establishment or its extensions in NATO because there are no true threats to the liberty and security of the American homeland anywhere on the planet today that even remotely justify it.
The cold war style mega-threat ended with the Soviet Union. Today, Russia’s $1.8 trillion GDP is a veritable joke when arrayed against the $45 trillion of GDP resources embedded in the US and the balance of NATO; and its $85 billion defense budget amounts to not even 7% of the $1.25 trillion combined NATO defense budgets.
Stated differently, serious military threats in today’s world of advanced weaponry require either an overwhelming nuclear first strike checkmate capacity or the vast industrial might and $50 trillion of GDP that would be necessary to breach the great ocean moats and deliver an invasionary armada of massive conventional forces to the New Jersey shores – backed-up with vast air- and sea-lift capacity and gigantic logistics arrangements that have scarcely been imagined by even the most fervent writers of futuristic war fiction.
As it happens, of course, Russia has no nuclear checkmate capacity at all, and has now thoroughly demonstrated that it doesn’t have the industrial and conventional military capacity to conquer and occupy even what has been its own borderlands and vassals – lands with a pre-February 2022 GDP of, well, barely $200 billion.
So what is percolating out of Vilnius, therefore, is not a rational calculation about tangible security threats posed by Russia. Instead, what we have is a witches brew of the standard lies, rationalizations, excuses and hypocrisies which keep the Washington Hegemon busy on a 24/7 basis all around the planet. These groupthink bromides and ideological nostrums include such favorites as the Rule of Law, the Post-War International Order, the Sanctity of Borders, the Responsibility to Protect and Collective Security.
But all are just cover stories for what amounts to the Washington Imperium, and in the current case the alleged sanctity of borders and requirements for "collective security" are especially egregious.
In the first place, it was Washington which violated Ukraine’s borders when it encouraged, funded and recognized the illegal coup which overthrew the country’s duly elected President in February 2014. This CIA/State/AID/NED intervention essentially blew-up the unstable state of Ukraine, which had never been built to last absent the iron fist of communist rule and which had been at war with itself as between nationalist Ukrainians in the center and west and Russian-speaking populations of the Donbas and Black Sea rim ever since the first post-communist elections after 1991. The Maidan coup was simple the coup de grace, which quickly incited a civil war.
But rather than respect Jefferson’s own admonition from the Declaration of Independence and allow the two Donbas republics to secede from the new anti-Russian regime in Kiev, Washington funded a military buildup and brutal campaign to quash the revolt. At length, on the order of 15,000 civilians were killed by the relentless military attacks on the Donbas mounted by Kiev over 2014-2022 with Washington’s dollars and weapons.
It was that assault on Novorussiya (i.e. historical New Russia) and the drumbeat for Ukraine’s NATO membership that finally provoked Putin’s so-called invasion. Whether it was ultimately justified or not, the moralists can ascertain. But that it was provoked by Washington is not even remotely in doubt.
Indeed, two weeks after July 4th the irony of the actual cause of the Ukraine war could not be more stark: The triggering attack on the Donbas was surely a case of secession for we, but not for thee:
"….whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government."
Likewise, in today’s world the ideological platitudes about "collective security" – the ostensible reason for all the tom-tom beating in Vilnius – do not hold water, either. The fact is, absent a massive totalitarian menace, collective security is a bad idea, not an instrument of peace and stability.
Automatic war clauses like article 5 of NATO, which thank heaven has not yet been extended to Ukraine, are as likely to encourage hard-line politicians in smaller countries to provoke their larger neighbors for reasons of electoral opportunism than to deter aggression by the latter. In any event, the run up to World War I tells you all you need to know about automatic war clauses.
The false underlying predicate behind obsolescent institutions like NATO, in fact, holds that the global community is everywhere and always crawling with would be totalitarian monsters like Hitler, Stalin or Mao; that peaceful democracies are always imperiled by weak leaders slouching toward bad appeasement deals and the next Munich; and that nations need to be bound together in defensive entanglements, therefore, in order to keep wanna be hegemons at bay.
Not at all. Today’s world is not crawling with would be hegemons, aside from the one astride the banks of the Potomac. Hitler, Stalin and the so-called Cold War were once-in-history aberrations that rose from the carnage of World War I, Woodrow Wilson’s folly in taking America into it in 1917 and the punitive "peace" of the victors at Versailles – the nurseries which actually gave birth to the unique totalitarian evils of the 20th century.
Indeed, America’s pointless entry with 4 million fresh doughboys is what actually prevented an early end to the war and a non-vindictive peace of the exhausted and bankrupt nation’s of old Europe. In that alternative history, Lenin’s coup would never have been possible and Hitler would have remained an obscure painter of run-of-the-mill water colors.
That is to say, the homes, schools, churches, stores and industry of the long-suffering peoples of Ukraine are being turned into an armaments Demolition Derby in the name of an obsolete collective security arrangement which should have been consigned to the dustbin of history along with the Soviet Union 32 years ago.
The Vilnius confab, of course, was the work of Washington neocons and NATO’s institutionalized warmongers. And what they produced was pure villainy because there is nothing relating to American homeland security at stake in the godforsaken nation whose name means "borderlands" in Russian.
Woodrow Wilson opened the gates of hell 106 years ago with an equally threadbare justification. So the Empire never should have been launched then, and the Vilnius Declaration is a reminder – if there ever was one – that the time to dismantle it is now long, long, long overdue.
David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back, and the recently released Great Money Bubble: Protect Yourself From The Coming Inflation Storm. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.