NATO at 75, Kissinger, and Ukraine

| Updated: 06 December, 2023 1:45 pm IST

NATO turns 75 next year. A Cold War ‘essential’, that across multiple ways shouldered the responsibility of being one of the two ends of the Balance of Power politics of the 20th century, NATO reserves the distinction of being the guarantor of a period of unprecedented peace and development in post-war Europe.

Post-45 Europe, for NATO, was a splendid run. And this impression would have remained etched in time had the organization decided to dissolve itself after the fall of the Soviet Union, “retire” gloriously, at its peak. However, this characteristic is a rarity. Sports, politics, or movies; it is the greed that gets you. Harvey Dent, in The Dark Knight, had hit this one right on the head when he said: “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.”

And so, the swashbuckling winner of a 45-years long, once-in-history rivalry continued existing in a void purely to cater to its greed, and quickly turned sloppy, thoughtless, and obese. Good planners made way for the bad ones; they made way for the lousy ones. And by the end of the 20th century, the one and only ambition of NATO seemed to be clinging on to the Russian boogey and adding new members from the eastern bloc in an effort to serve the Western MI complex – diplomacy and subtlety be damned.

But let us get back to the present.

Normally 75th anniversary is a good reason to celebrate, but the swamp these days in Ukraine threatens to be a major dampener. And so, the need of the hour is to keep up appearances. Consequently, there is one proposal that has so far found some traction within the rudely-awakened Western lobby. The plan is to pull out a massive PR campaign and declare Ukraine as a winner in the war, while furtively pushing Zelensky for peace talks with Russia amidst all the media aided brouhaha.

To think of it, there was a time not long ago when these two countries genuinely wanted to sit across the table and talk; that was sabotaged by the Englishman Boris Johnson. And frankly I think the UK would love to again sabotage any future peace initiative between Russia and Ukraine. The Brits seem to have retained that part of their gene that loves to watch closely related ethno-linguistic groups burn each other. But they can sit this round out, because Zelensky is not willing to listen to anyone, not even his handlers. He doesn’t want peace with Russia; he needs his billions to flow unhindered. And he also needs the obligatory weapons, without which even the gullible western citizenry would begin suspecting about the nature of the scam that he has been running since the beginning of Russian SMO.

However, as ideas go, the one proposed by ex-NATO chief Anders Rasmussen takes the cake. Rasmussen is of the opinion that NATO should celebrate its 75th birthday by extending a token membership to Ukraine!

Either he has conveniently forgotten that deliberations about Ukraine’s NATO membership is what got Europe into this protracted mess; or he is willing to reject the fact that if a copybook corrupt government like Ukraine’s is allowed to walk in the club, there is Bosnia – with a thug of a government, that would want an entry too. Or maybe he is a retired bureaucrat who doesn’t care that this proposed membership isn’t going to end the current war, but might spread it throughout Europe – Europe, which is already running short of weapons and money, and brimming with Europeans that are voting populist right-wing governments to power wherever they can.

This nugget of wisdom flowing from the ex-head of a 75 years old establishment resonates with stalwart diplomat and quintessential American “hawk” Henry Kissinger, who died recently. He was against the accession of Ukraine into NATO; that was in 2008. The reasons were the same that George Kennan – the godfather of US Containment Strategy – cited: Ukraine is a copybook buffer, Russia is destined to be back on the global stage in a different avatar, and it would be prudent to not make an enemy out of them, again. And then Kissinger, just a few months before (June-July 2023) his death, thought it would be a good idea to make Ukraine a NATO member.

It is a funny similarity. We have no way of finding out about Kissinger’s thought pattern; but given his age (100) it is perhaps a safe guess that certain faculties were functionally suboptimal. And even then, Kissinger would always reserve an amount of grudging respect. This amoral practitioner of realpolitik was, along with Metternich, Kennan, or Brzezinski, one of the best that played the game. While NATO at 75 after having demonstrated its serial incompetence through ‘sanctions from hell’, destroying their own gas supplies, and destabilizing through illegal immigration its greatest success story – Europe, can only hope to sound Kissingerian; so my guess is Rasmussen is parroting lines to make an impression.

On the same note, there is another interesting development that I want to leave you with.

Russians are not just famous vodka drinkers; they love a good whiskey too. And since US-NATO’s ‘sanctions from hell’ stopped all the western brands from entering Russia, this allowed China and India to make a killing in the Russian whiskey market. India, according to some accounts even boasts of 36 local brands that have emerged to cater to this huge market. There is a proposed deal coming up, between Allied Blenders and Distillers (owners of Officer’s Choice), and Alcohol Siberian Group (ASG), which could see ASG as the Russian distributor for Allied Blenders. Not to be left out, premium brands Amrut and Paul John are eyeing this god-send window of replacing giants like Jameson or Glenfiddich.

NATO celebrating its 75th may not be a bad idea after all.

Arindam Mukherjee is a geopolitical analyst and the author of JourneyDog Tales, The Puppeteer, and A Matter of Greed. 

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