Magazine article The Spectator

Stay West, Young Man

Magazine article The Spectator

Stay West, Young Man

Article excerpt

Nato was formed half a century ago to protect free Europe from Soviet imperial aggression. It enjoyed support across the Western political spectrum. Forty years later the Soviet empire collapsed, and with it the threat which had brought Nato into being; Europe looked forward to its gradual phasing out. The United States Administration, however, thought otherwise. General Jouwlan, American Supreme Commander of Nato forces in Europe, says Nato must go beyond its defensive role to `achieve political objectives in post-communist Europe.' Anthony Lake, former National Security Adviser and now head of the CIA, spoke of Nato's role in the `American century'. Madeline Albright, former United States ambassador to the UN, now Secretary of State, presented America's post-Dayton presence in Bosnia as the forerunner of a much wider active American presence in east-central, eastern and southeastern Europe, including a say in relations between Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine.

The collapse of Soviet power has led United States policy-makers to extend further into Europe their vision of America as world policeman, judge and prosecutor. This is being taken a stage further by the projected incorporation into Nato of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and possibly Slovakia and Slovenia. Never mind that the Czechs and Poles, however wrongly, see a reunited Germany as a more real and present danger than Russia: the Germans are pressing for revision of the political and demographic status of the Sudetenland which would call the Czech Republic's viability into question. The Slovaks have more to fear from Hungary, now drifting back into the German sphere and seeking revision of the post-1918 Trianon Treaty which reduced Hungarian territory, than from distant Russia. The Americans wield force majeure: their alliance with Germany and the power to use Central and Eastern Europe's economic relations with the European Union as a stick and carrot.

Inevitably, the Russians are worried; historical parallels present themselves irresistibly. Policy-makers in Washington and to some extent Bonn - eventually to be Berlin - believe that the Russians will have to grin and bear it. But that is not the impression others carry back from Moscow, where Nato is now regarded as a tool of American imperialist expansion. Worse still, the diehards there are enabled to claim that they were right all along and must seek allies where they can for an antiNato, anti-EU coalition. …

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