On July 4th Rasmussen talked about global NATO. At the same time another NATO official talked about closer cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council. What can you tell us about that?
It is very good of you to make that connection. And certainly the speech you are alluding to by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, I did a work on it, it is a very brief speech, by the way, and I believe I counted 27 times he used the words – global, globally, international and world – in reference to NATO. So, the so called North-Atlantic Treaty Organization has appropriated or arrogated onto itself the right to be a global military intervention force. And the Persian Gulf is one of the key geopolitically strategic areas where they are concentrating.
And this is again, in cahoots with the US talking about perhaps expanding the deployment of the so called X-band – portable missile shield radar sites of the sort that were placed in Turkey this year or in Israel four years ago into the Persian Gulf, into one of the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, as the US is exporting Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Terminal High Area Defense Interceptors into those countries, so we are talking about a major military buildup - anti-missile, naval – and other forms of military buildup in the Persian Gulf states which are linked to NATO under what is called the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative of 2004 which was an overt effort by NATO to replicate other partnership programs around the world focusing on the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
I read somewhere that someone was calling for Israel to join NATO. Is that realistic do you think?
There was an article two days ago, if I’m not incorrect - the time zones are different of course, in Haaretz, the leading Israeli daily newspaper, calling for just that – for the formal inclusion of Israel into the NATO vis-à-vis the confrontation with Iran which would inevitably then pull the entire NATO alliance, including nuclear powers – the US, France and Britain – into any military conflict that could be initiated by Israel against Iran. It is not the first time the statements of this sort are being made. Indeed, Israel as a member of the Mediterranean dialog and military partnership with NATO, it was the first country to be granted an individual partnership initiative under the rubric of the Mediterranean dialog.
It is the only country in the Middle East, I don’t know how many of your listeners know this, that is not subordinate to the Pentagon’s Central Command which takes in all the rest in the Middle East as a matter of fact, from Egypt all the way to, say, Kazakhstan. Israel alone remains under the US-European command area of responsibility and the Chief Military Commander of the European Command is simultaneously the Chief Military Command of NATO in Europe, the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. So, that Israel has a very unique relationship with NATO, to begin with. And because of this geographical situation it may not be possible to be incorporated as a full member state, but politically and ultimately militarily has functioned as such for a long time.
A lot of eyes right now are on the upcoming presidential elections in the US. How would the current plans of NATO change if Republican Mitt Romney is elected president?
What we’ve seen since the creation of NATO in 1949 initially by the Democratic President Harry Truman, but its first military commander – the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe was Dwight Eisenhower who would succeed Truman as the President of the US and he was a Republican. Whatever differences exist domestically between the two major political parties and whatever shades of difference may exist between them on international affairs, one thing that is invariable and uniform is the endorsement of NATO as the US’s military arm in Europe. And as we’ve seen, since the Afghan operation began almost 11 years ago increasingly, and the Middle East Asia and with the war against Libya last year in Africa, I wouldn’t expect to see any substantial difference, not even a shade of difference to be honest between a second Obama or the first Romney Administration, in relation to NATO.
You’ve heard about his comments regarding Russia being geopolitical enemy number 1 etc. What do you make of those? Do you think it is just rhetoric? Or do you think he is really serious and if he becomes President, he is going to take an extremely hard line towards the countries he stated he would?
It is bold, I mean it is rhetorical and it is meant to achieve short term political gains in the presidential election in November. At the same time it is authentic and it is a serious danger, as you’ve pointed out, among the best commentaries I’ve read on the subject are on the Voice of Russia. But sometimes rhetoric gets ahead of itself and then a person’s acts on their own are reckless misperception or a commitment to the rhetoric they’ve been espousing. And I would by no means underestimate the danger of Romney Administration in terms of becoming even more provocative and even more bellicose towards Russia. And that’s a distinct possibility and it is definitely a factor in the presidential election.
How do Americans feel about that?
About the question of bating Russia, bating the Russian bear again as though we are living in the very depths of the Cold War and in many ways even worse. I wish I could tell you my fellow Americans have a decided opinion one way or any other on the matter. But the news media is such in this country, if I may speak poorly of your colleagues across the ocean, that superficial issues are dwelled on. The media event such as the Clint Eastwood speech at the Republican National Convention for example grabbed all the headlines. And substantive issues of the sort you have raised tend to be buried and people either don’t hear about them or hearing about them don’t pay a particular attention them. That’s a tragedy.
The US relations towards Russia and particularly any escalation and provocations against Russia would be plenty bad as they are. As within the world’s two major nuclear powers, I ought to be frank about that, it is the matter of the outmost importance and certainly deserves a lot more attention than it is receiving in the media. And as a result the average American voter, when they walk in the polling booth in November, on their list of priorities Russian-American relations are going to be very low if they exist at all.
Ok, Rick is there anything else that you’d like to finish up with?
No. but again I want to commend the Voice of Russia on it excellent coverage of international affairs. But it is very perceptive reporting on events within my country. Often times we don’t read comparable coverage from local news sources.
So, you are saying to get good news on the US you have to…
Go to the other side of the world.