U.S. overplaying its hand with NATO expansion: analysts

April 16, 2008 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- A roundtable was held at the offices of the Mehr News Agency in Tehran last week in which international relations experts and political analysts discussed the challenges facing NATO.

International security expert Dr. Seyyed Reza Mir-Taher, international relations expert Dr. Abu Mohammad Asgarkhani of Tehran University, and Dr. Sajjad Soltanzadeh, a researcher with a focus on NATO, participated in the roundtable.
------- NATO not prepared to deal with new security challenges-----
Asgarkhani said the security challenges of the modern world are different from those of the Cold War era and NATO is not prepared to deal with new security challenges which cannot be defined by geographical borders and have ideological and cultural dimensions.
Its heterogeneous structure and the members’ internal conflicts are destroying NATO, which is, after all, a legacy of the Cold War era, he stated.
Asgarkhani pointed to U.S.-Russia cooperation in various fields such as arms dealing, military technology, and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as the war on terrorism, their strategic economic ties, and their joint investments in the energy sector and said that the United States is trying to strengthen NATO through an alliance with any country, even Russia.
“If the world was bipolar, one side would be the EU, and the U.S. and Russia would be on each other’s side,” he stated.
--------------Plans to partition Russia-----
Asgarkhani noted that Russia is seeking to improve relations with the United States and trying to avoid further internal divergence but the Zionists and certain European powers are working on plans for a second partition of Russia.
Mir-Taher said NATO’s raison d’etre was to control the former Soviet Union, although NATO says that its chief mission today is to fight terrorism.
The final goal the U.S. is pursuing through the expansion of NATO is the partition of Russia, he noted, adding that NATO is currently attempting to weaken Russia and encircle its territory.
Mir-Taher stated that geographical expansion is NATO’s first priority and its secondary goal is to divide Russia into nine independent states, a goal which is mentioned in several CIA reports.
The establishment of a U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic would be a direct threat to Russia, he added.
It is unlikely that the U.S. and Russia will come together in the near future, he opined.
------- NATO cannot be equated with U.S. ---
Soltanzadeh pointed out that NATO is an international organization whose decisions, which are currently made through consensus among members, reflect the sum of the members’ interests.
The United States is the dominant power in NATO, but it would be a mistake to equate NATO with the U.S.
For example, he said, the European current in NATO led by France opposes the idea of globalizing NATO and admitting countries like Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia -- an idea supported by the U.S. and Britain.
The recent rejection of the plan to invite Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO is another example of this, he stated.
However, this does not mean that there is a wide chasm between U.S. and European policies such as would lead to the dissolution of NATO, Soltanzadeh noted.
The European countries have developed an independent security vision of their own but currently they have no solution other than relying on NATO, yet they still refuse to accept everything the U.S. dictates, he stated.
He noted that U.S.-Russia disputes can be analyzed at the strategic and the tactical level.
On strategic issues, Russia’s view is essentially different than the West’s and that of the U.S. in particular, but at a tactical level, the Russians seek to bargain.
------- Putin believes none of the world’s major players want to return to the past----
Soltanzadeh said that despite Russia’s tough rhetoric toward NATO members and states that seek membership in NATO, Putin said after the Bucharest summit that there is no reason to think that the U.S. and Russia cannot work together.
Undoubtedly, NATO expansion to Russia’s borders, and especially to the territory of former Soviet states like Georgia and Ukraine, can lead to a domino effect and that would be a major threat to Russia’s interests, he stated.
But it seems that the Russians did not choose the Cold War option, he added.
None of the major political players of the world -– the U.S., Europe, and Russia -- want to return to the past, Putin said in an interview after the recent NATO summit, Soltanzadeh noted.
------- Expansion could undermine NATO
Political analyst Davud Kiani told the Mehr News Agency in a separate interview that the over-expansion of NATO would lead to a heterogeneous military structure which may undermine NATO.
He pointed out that Europe’s expectations of NATO are different from the United States’ vision.
“While the U.S. and Britain want to minimize Russia’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, Germany and France are not interested in doing so,” he noted.
He went on to say that Germany has extensive ties with Russia in the energy sector and will not let anything undermine its good relations with Russia.
Commenting on the apparent contradiction of France’s opposition to inviting Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO and the expansion of its ties with the U.S. and Britain, Kiani said that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has his own special pragmatic foreign policy.
Sarkozy’s decisions are meant to give more space to France’s traditional policy of Gaulism, he opined.
Kiani highlighted France’s military ties with Arab countries and its relations with Russia and stated that Sarkozy is not unconditionally following U.S. policy but is trying to improve relations with the United States to secure the interests of France.
According to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s celebrated theory, Russia would no longer be an empire if it lost its influence over Eastern European countries and especially Ukraine, he added.
The U.S. and Eastern European countries, led by Poland and Romania, seek to limit Russia’s sphere of influence and therefore support the expansion of NATO, Kiani said in conclusion