Another Australian Prime Minister is attending yet another NATO do, as though Australia were a member. This despite the fact not a single Continental European nation has gone out on a limb for us in Australia's stoush with China. And yet there Australia is, shoulder to shoulder with an alliance that never backed us in Vietnam, never backed us in Iraq and paid token homage to the alliance in Afghanistan with deployments of only political merit (regardless of one's particular position on the wars).
On top of this, Finland and Sweden only now rush to join NATO. After years of lobbying by the alliance to get ahead of the assumed strategic curve, both now are concurrently looking to be rewarded for decades of neutrality on the eve of World War III. The move not only raises the spectre of nuclear war for NATO countries but pours gasoline onto the fire NATO expansion lit in the first place. It seems national security has been subsumed by international security as an over-arching Western security paradigm, the concept of national interest a by-gone relic of the old world order. For a while it looked as though Turkey, of all countries, had nixed the idea. Sadly it has now in the last few days bent the knee. It wouldn't go far enough anyway. Nixing NATO in toto would be better.
NATO is irrelevant. NATO is a political union. NATO caused the war in Ukraine. NATO is not needed. There is simply no real, credible Russian threat anymore. Russia is at best a tier-two threat, more on par with Iran than China. The idea that Russia will push beyond Ukraine is political theatre. That it could even if it wanted to more inane still. This is the new strategic reality Western countries need to heed. Were Poland to theoretically interject in Ukraine outside of NATO, it would likely be enough in and of itself to swing the war. The Russian military is frankly little better than the Taliban tactically. Why the North-Atlantic alliance in a desperate bid to remain relevant and prop up defence budgets just inserted itself into the Asia-Pacific theatre, declaring China its new nemesis of recent days.
That said, Russian president Vladimir Putin will never back down (the only player in the mix with a track record of using WMDs). Putin will not walk away empty handed yet is also desperate for an out. US President Joe Biden for his part will not accept ceding Eastern Ukraine to Russia, nor will his Ukraine counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy (understandably). If the West truly cared then about Ukraine it would fall on its sword to make amends for failing to honour its security guarantees in the days after the Berlin Wall fell in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear missiles as well as for later failing to prepare Ukraine properly for Putin in the first, and now just fade away.
Not to excuse Russian methodologies, it nonetheless remains that NATO absolutely pushed Putin into a corner. We in the West may not understand or condone the response but the response was entirely predictable, classic Russia. There simply was no exigent reason to expand NATO post-Cold War as Russia continued along the path of glasnost and demokratizatsiya. Nothing Russia did until the last few years either justified NATO expansion. NATO beat the Russian bear to justify grossly unnecessary military budgets and for political grandstanding. It should be noted the patron saint of the Cold War JFK almost went to nuclear war with the USSR for the exact same reason, aggressive expansion into the immediate American sphere of influence. The fury and panic at Chinese moves in Solomon Islands of late rings familiar here of course in equal measure.
NATO's very existence is rendering what the alliance was meant to forestall a fait accompli. Only disbanding NATO ends the war in Ukraine without unintended consequences. From here Russia backs Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, anti-Western terrorism and so on. There is simply no other 'soft-out'. All other present options lead to escalation.
As of right now, America (and the UK) in NATO counter-intuitively inhibits European responses to continental conflict. MAD, or mutually assured destruction, is maddeningly immortal it seems. Clearly the European Union can deter Russia itself now, Russia coming to see its own weakness laid embarrassingly bare. Russia is a joke militarily we all see now. France and Germany could certainly wipe the floor with Russian forces by themselves in a conventional conflict. Consider semi-trained Ukrainian guerrillas with man-portable air-defence systems just did what NATO spent trillions of dollars preparing for over the years. And so the Russian military matryoshka doll will not be taken seriously again for a hundred years.
So where is the out? If Ukraine is admitted to the European Union with Russian troops in situ, the EU is at war with Russia instantly and then by definition NATO. Frankly, America lost its most recent war because NATO held back. Now America might lose everything if it doesn't hold back itself. The "experts" who have decided for all of us that the likelihood of nuclear escalation was low were the same "experts" who didn't see Ukraine coming - it should be noted - and who lost Afghanistan without sanction. Indeed the last time NATO did a strategy rethink a decade ago it listed Russia as a "strategic partner". Most pertinently, the threat NATO was built to counter simply doesn't exist. Not now, not never NATO. Along these lines Anthony Albanese should be distancing us from NATO, not ensconcing us. Because if history repeats and NATO starts another war in the Pacific...
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.