An exposé on the expansionist agenda of NATO which shows no intention of slowing down! | FILIP KOVACEVIC*
We travel to people and places important to us. If somebody looked at our travel itineraries over time, it would not be difficult to discover our priorities, our likes and dislikes, our beliefs and fears, the general pattern of how we live our lives and what we think about.
The same applies to political figures. Whom they travel to meet can reveal a lot about their current political agenda and the way they go about putting it into practice. It might even be possible to predict certain of their future moves.
Considering that, at this time, NATO activities are bringing Europe one step closer to another global conflagration (so familiar from both recent and more distant European past), it is worth examining the travels of its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and seeing what they can tell us about current and future NATO moves.
Jens Stoltenberg is a long-time Norwegian politician of centrist social-democratic orientation and was the leader of the Norwegian Labour Party. His father Thorvald Stoltenberg was also a well-known figure in the same political party and, at different times, held the posts of defense minister (1979-1981) and foreign minister (1987-1989 & 1990-1993). The younger Stoltenberg served two times as the prime minister: 2000-2001 and 2005-2013. It should be noted that he was in charge of Norway during the July 22, 2011 bomb attack on the government building in Oslo and the subsequent Breivik massacre.
Stoltenberg’s party lost the majority in the parliamentary elections of September 2013 and, as a result, he lost the post of the prime minister. Conveniently, the chief NATO position became open a year later and he was chosen to replace the neo-liberal Iraq-war Bush ally Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the NATO summit in Wales in September 2014. It appears that Stoltenberg’s nomination received the strongest support from the German chancellor Angela Merkel who was able to convince other NATO leaders to vote for him.
This is interesting in light of the fact that both Merkel and Stoltenberg have been alleged to have had contacts with the Soviet KGB in their youth. All throughout the last decade there were occasional reports in the Norwegian media about the alleged “grooming” of the young Stoltenberg by the KGB agents in Oslo in the 1980s under the code name Steklov. Stoltenberg denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the allegations were a part of the brutal campaign by his right-wing opponents. It is curious though that Stoltenberg toned down the aggressive anti-Russian rhetoric of his NATO predecessor Rasmussen. However, it is the actions that count and they are no different than Rasmussen’s.
The 13th Secretary General
Stoltenberg’s first day on the job as NATO’s Secretary General was October 1, 2014. He is the 13th Secretary General since NATO’s founding in 1949 and let’s hope that this number is not a sign of bad luck for him, Europe, or the world.
Stoltenberg’s first foreign trip took place just 5 days later and it was to Poland. This choice of the first destination is very revealing. Poland is the most populous among East-Central European NATO members and plays the key role in the new NATO doctrine of putting pressure on Russia in the North. It is also the most important ally of the pro-NATO government in Ukraine and is actively engaged in assisting the Kiev side in the civil war. The fact that the next NATO Summit will take place in Warsaw in July 2016 was likely also the topic of discussion.
Stoltenberg’s second trip exposed even more clearly the contours of a logic that has the encirclement of Russia as its main driving force. It was a two-day trip to Turkey on October 9-10, 2014. Just like Poland in the North, Turkey is the most important NATO member in the South. At the same time, due to its numerous internal problems and imperial historical tradition, Turkey is the most “troublesome” of all NATO allies. We have witnessed the exponential increase in the hostilities between Turkey and Russia within the last year, linked, primarily, to the Russian military intervention in Syria, but also to the situation in Crimea and the general Black Sea region. It is worth remembering that Russia and Turkey have fought a long series of wars in the past centuries and that this region has now once again become one of the most explosive places in the world.
This was not Stoltenberg’s only visit to Turkey so far. He visited it much more recently on April 21-22, 2016 and this should be taken as an indicator of the further deterioration of the Russo-Turkish relations. At the same time, Stoltenberg visited the squadron of NATO ships based in the Aegean Sea, the official purpose of which is to monitor the refugee situation, but which at the same time keeps a very close watch on the Russian navy activity in the area.
Every time Stoltenberg visits Turkey, he also has to visit Greece in order to appear fair to both NATO members which have a lot of unresolved issues, including the division of Cyprus. Hence he visited Greece right after Turkey on both occasions, the first time on October 30, 2014, and the second time on April 22, 2016. Recently, Greece has intensified relations with Russia as exemplified in the May 2016 visit of the Russian president Vladimir Putin. Of extreme importance in this respect was Putin’s visit to the Orthodox monastic community on Mount Athos. This Christian Orthodox connection may turn out to be the eventual undoing of NATO, but that is a topic that requires a separate studious treatment.
Stoltenberg also visited two ongoing NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo. He visited Afghanistan twice, first, quite early in his tenure on November 6, 2014 (which shows the high priority of this operation), and then on March 15, 2016. He visited Kosovo only once on January 23, 2015. It is very important to note that his visit was officially announced as the visit to the KFOR troops, even though he met with the entire Kosovo Albanian leadership. This was done in order to save NATO itself from an embarrassing and open dissension among its members, considering that four NATO member states do not recognize Kosovo’s independence: Spain, Slovakia, Romania, and Greece. This issue remains an Achilles heel of NATO and will no doubt be even more exploited by its opponents in the future.
Let’s not forget that one of the most concise definitions of NATO was given by its first Secretary General Lord Ismay when he said that the purpose of NATO is ‘to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.’
Moreover, is it surprising that the country most visited by Stoltenberg so far is neither Poland nor Turkey nor the U.K. and the U.S., but Germany? In fact, Germany is the only NATO member state in which Stoltenberg met not only with the leadership, but also addressed the meetings of political parties. He gave a speech at the annual meeting of the conservative Bavarian CSU parliamentary group in Wildbad Kreuth on January 8, 2015 and the social-democrat SPD conference in Berlin on February 8, 2015. This intense focus on Germany shows to what extent the support of German political elites is crucial for the continued existence of NATO. Let’s not forget that one of the most concise definitions of NATO was given by its first Secretary General Lord Ismay when he said that the purpose of NATO is “to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.” Stoltenberg also took part in the Munich Security Conference, the annual gathering of the erstwhile Cold Warriors, on February 6-7, 2015.
Forums and Conferences
In addition to the Munich conference, it is interesting to see which other international conferences and forums were attended by Stoltenberg because this will give us a sense of the network of NATO-friendly international non-governmental organizations. One of these is the Snow Meeting organized every year by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, which Stoltenberg attended on January 15-16, 2015. Another is the Brussels Forum organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and attended by Stoltenberg on March 20, 2015 and again on March 18, 2016. This not-for-profit organization has been one of the strongest advocates of the NATO expansion in Europe and sponsors the whole variety of activities connected to NATO promotion. One can say that the GMF is one of the most significant tools of NATO soft power. It is financially supported by the German government as well as many corporate sponsors. The close association between the GMF and Stoltenberg is also revealed by the fact that one of his first speeches in office was the address to the GMF in Brussels on October 28, 2015.
Tightly related to the GMF is the POLITICO magazine, considering that its Editor-in-Chief John F. Harris is on the GMF Board of Trustees. And, indeed, Stoltenberg attended the launch party for the European branch of POLITICO in Brussels on April 23, 2015. No doubt that POLITICO is a new addition to the usual suspects of the U.S. public diplomacy (propaganda) warfare in Europe, such as the Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America.
While he was in the U.S. on May 25-27, 2015, Stoltenberg delivered a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) based in Washington, D.C., another think tank whose raison d’être is to promote NATO interests in Europe and beyond. Stoltenberg visited the U.S. on two more occasions, most recently, on April 4-7, 2016. He also took part in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 22-23, 2016.
The key part of the job of a NATO Secretary General is to lobby – using the stick, the carrot, or both – the (remaining) non-NATO states in Europe, the post-Soviet region, North Africa, and the Middle East to closely tie their foreign policy to NATO goals and projects, even if they stop short of becoming actual members. Obviously, the pressure to integrate into NATO is the strongest in Europe and it is therefore not surprising that Stoltenberg visited almost all militarily neutral European states. The first on his list was Finland which he visited on March 4-5, 2015, then came Sweden on November 9-10, 2015, Serbia on November 19-20, 2015, and Switzerland on January 22-23, 2016 (on the occasion of the World Economic Forum in Davos). All these states (barring perhaps Switzerland) are currently under intense propaganda barrage by the external and internal NATO-friendly political forces to give up their traditional military neutrality and join NATO. Stoltenberg’s visits were an important component of the carefully designed psychological operation to turn up the heat on the unwilling general population of these states. This is especially evident in the case of Montenegro which Stoltenberg visited twice, first, on June 10-11, 2015 and, then, again on October 14-15, 2015. His visits were used by the Montenegrin regime of Milo Djukanović to increase the popular support for NATO membership. The regime’s attempts were not successful as the majority of the Montenegrin citizens still remain opposed to NATO.
Stoltenberg also visited two former Soviet states, Georgia on August 26-27, 2015, and Ukraine on September 21-22, 2015. The ruling elites of both states have become willing collaborators in NATO’s Eastern expansion, which turned these states into overt and covert battlefields with Russia. Both the winners and the losers of this NATO-Russia geopolitical chess game are known. The winners are the military-industrial-intelligence complexes and the losers are the ordinary people. On all sides.
It should also be noted that Stoltenberg visited several non-NATO states in the Middle East and North Africa. He visited Jordan on December 8-10, 2014 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NATO-sponsored organization Mediterranean Dialogue, which includes seven states: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunis. He continued on to Qatar on December 10-12, 2014 to mark another anniversary: the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, a NATO-led project that brings together NATO member states and Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain. Stoltenberg paid another visit to the region more recently. He visited Kuwait on February 29, 2016, Iraq on March 1, 2016, and the UAE on March 2, 2016.
Overall, in the period included in this analysis (October 2014 – June 2016), Stoltenberg made slightly less than 90 trips. His travels expose the expansionist agenda of NATO which shows no intention of slowing down. However, the intention is one thing and its becoming reality quite another.
*Filip Kovacevic is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles & conference presentations and hundreds of newspaper columns and media commentaries. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org
 All the information about Stoltenberg’s travels comes from the official NATO website www.nato.int and concerns the time period from his becoming the Secretary General until early June 2016 when the analysis was conducted.
Source: Boiling Frogs Post