A former air force base near Brussels, dedicated to the His Majesty the Belgian King, is gradually being converted at an estimated billion dollars (for now – but just watch those numbers fly) to house the nerve center of the biggest war machine the world has ever known.
For the best part of 50 years the legions of peace keepers have been roughing it in a so called temporary structure, having received the unceremonious order of the boot from the late French president Charles De Gaulle, who grew tired with NATO’s various attempts to bump him off. De Gaulle’s sin was the independent French nuclear arsenal. So he slung NATO out, lock, stock and barrel with a single contemptuous wave of the hand.
The chief command post of the Cold War lost its logical reason d’etre in the instant that the Berlin Wall collapsed, along with the entire Soviet Empire. Yet NATO, like Topsy, just went on growing. Thanks to membership multiplying among converts to capitalism in Eastern Europe, NATO’s borders now lap Russia’s, with 28 members all told and more in the queue. This is a rather strange state of affairs given that the former Public Enemy Number One, the old bogey of communism, gave up the ghost back in 1989.
In normal circumstances, this spanking new structure would need to mount a telescope the size of the one topping Mount Palomar to scour the world for potential enemies. What happened of course is that NATO went looking for enemies under the banner of its new self-appointed role as global humanitarian Protector in Chief.
In the past the summit office of Lord Protector (Secretary General, currently occupied by the Great Dane, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s Very Own Viking) was a fairly low key job, reserved for some generally unknown figure plucked from the obscurity of backwater politics.
The best known was the Belgian, Willy Claes, but only because he got the sack in 1995 after just a year in office. He was caught with his hands in the till in a famous corruption scandal concerning a huge deal involving Italian helicopters. (His NATO biography airbrushes 1984-style the facts about this. Secretary Gens are above reproach, like biblical prophets). Rasmussen, on the other hand, certainly a smart, dedicated self-courting promoter, a long time ornament of Right-wing dry as dust Danish politics, has acquired something of the status of a rock star in the global military-industrial firmament.
He’s certainly the greatest Dane since, well, Hans Christian Anderson. His suite of offices in the current ‘run down’ structure intentionally reminds visitors of the Oval Office in the West Wing of the White House. From this plush seat of power he commands a constantly expanding global octopus, whose web site – to offer one choice example – gushes with excitement at NATO’s fraternal relations with Mongolia.
Rasmussen regards himself as one of the most important figures on earth, and in a sense he is perfectly correct. Certainly he belongs to the quintet completed by the President of the United States, the military commander of SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), the Secretary General of the UN and increasingly, whoever happens to be President of the EU Council of Ministers.
Indeed it is no happenstance that during the Reign of Rasmussen, which began in 2009, NATO has absorbed some important functions of the UN (such as the deadly so-called ‘humanitarian’ military interventions) and is moving inexorably closer to becoming the military arm of the EU (which has the same number of member states).
It is of course an accident of history – namely De Gaulle’s furious expulsion of NATO from French soil back in 1967 – but the fact is that the new European Pentagon and the palatial quarters of the EU are close neighbours. What could be more natural in the circumstances than nuptials foretold, come the day? There is a certain demented logic in that. After all, we have it from the lips of King Ras himself that ‘NATO is here to stay – and NATO will stay here in Brussels.’
Earlier this year a few more millions, small change in NATO coin, were spent on staging the big shindig in Chicago, yet another exercise steeped in self gratification. Practically no-one asked what all the big shots of the military-industrial-political universe were in town to discuss, but it certainly was not anything serious about getting out of the Afghan snake pit, the total destruction of Libya, once the Arab world’s most advanced nation, now in smoking ruins and playground of warlord fanatics, or why the Balkan cess pit continues to spew up noxious gasses.
That’s not the NATO way. How about this for a mouthful of cotton wool, uttered by the Lord Protector himself at the close of this year’s NATO summit:
‘We came to Chicago with three goals. And we have met them. We have focused on the future of Afghanistan. We have decided to invest smartly in our defence even in times of austerity. And we have engaged with our partners around the world to address the challenges we all face in the 21st century,’ NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the two-day series of meetings.’
One can well imagine the faceless script-writer yawning that chewing gum onto the page on auto-pilot.
Such ridiculous out-of-this-world hyperbole running on high octane self-justification conceals the real mission and the purpose of the glittering new pile in Belgium, namely a global system designed for containment of rival military and industrial powers (specifically Russia and China) fished straight from the old Cold War agenda.
NATO did not invade Afghanistan to corner Bin Laden, otherwise they would not have spent a decade (and billions piled on billions, $40 million a year just to air-condition army tents) looking for him. Afghanistan is regarded by NATO and the US specifically as first and foremost vital oil pipeline country, essential for the purpose of pumping the riches of the Caspian oil fields to western markets.
This is a much under-studied fact, which supplies incidentally important additional supporting explanations for 9/11. Before the invasion, the west, encouraged by the Seven Sisters big oil monopoly, were actively courting the Taliban authorities in order to gain the necessary way leaves: but the Taliban leadership, for reasons that I do not know precisely but which I can offer an educated guess as understandably bridling at foreign troops based in the country to protect the said pipelines, failed to take the bait.
Hey presto, down go the Towers and before you can say Hans Christian Rasmussen, NATO invades with the stated aim to catch Bin Laden/and or/ ‘modernize the most backward state on earth.’
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Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are.
London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race.
Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event.