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WASHINGTON – A strengthened German-Russian axis could develop from the crisis over Ukraine as the influence of the U.S. and its campaign to unite Europe behind American leadership under the NATO flag diminishes, regional analysts have concluded.
“NATO currently lacks a credible ‘mission’ and therefore a justification for defense expenditures,” said Alastair Crooke, who heads the Conflicts Forum and formerly was with the British MI6 intelligence service.
Nevertheless, he said, Ukraine “has just provided NATO with an ostensible cause to strengthen the Estonia-to-Azerbaijan ‘Maginot’ line and so to reformulate its mission.”
“Unlike the German chancellor, the ‘defense industry’s’ interest is to keep tensions with Russia rising,” he said.
Crooke was referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to “de-escalate” tensions between Russia and Europe over the Russian annexation of Crimea.
He also sees Merkel being President Obama’s best friend at this time, since Obama is scrambling to find a way out of any confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose help is needed on Syria and Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
Obama’s efforts to decrease tensions with Putin and resume a working relationship will be essential as he tries to rescue his overall foreign policy, marked by a series of recent failures.
“This may just be possible, although Russia will undoubtedly reorient its foreign policy differently in the light of events,” Crooke said.
He added that Putin will be able to differentiate among issues by allowing himself to be at odds on some but cooperative on others.
For Obama, Crooke said that Ukraine has become a “psychological symbol” of failed foreign policies, which has upset the neo-conservative members of his administration who want to confront Putin.
He said that Putin has “effectively” denied the narrative in which “we all will converge around American liberal globalization and its accompanying, self-perpetuating ‘rule sets.'”
“And in so doing, Russians are calling into question something very fundamental about how some Americans and Europeans see and define themselves,” he said.
Crooke said that Obama sees this and understands that unless he responds to the “psychology of the moment, the sublimated anger directed against Russia will be turned on him.”
In denying the Russian Federation, Iran or Syria the courtesy of allowing them a coherent alternative vision of the future, the U.S. is attempting to claw back the narrative of its global leadership and “its role as chief moralizer and arbiter of what counts as normal and abnormal in thought and behavior,” Crooke asserted.
“This claim inevitably will taint and complicate any foreign policy negotiations, and make them much more difficult,” he said. “It is already dividing Europe (and) it will repel the Russians and Chinese, and will further stiffen opposition in Iran to American demands.”
As for reinvigorating NATO, military deterrence in Europe has diminished greatly since the end of the Cold War. For that reason, the Ukrainian crisis caught NATO off guard when called on for a response to Putin.
F. Michael Maloof, senior staff writer for WND/ G2Bulletin, is a former security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He can be contacted at [email protected]