The Asian Adventures of NATO

Photo source: Global Times

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

April 2024 marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of NATO. As a product of the Cold War, NATO should have been disbanded, but over the years, it has served as a war machine and facilitated US hegemony in foreign policy.

In the current scenario, NATO sounds more threatening and incoherent than ever. At the same time, it is also showing real signs of impending demise.

Devoid of its charter purpose, it's been an organisation in search of enemies and increased defence procurement. It's made Russia, once again, the enemy. It has overextended itself on this venture in a way that has blighted Europe's future and threatened its own survival. It now frames China, on the other side of the planet, as the security challenge. That's where it is after 75 years.

But in reality, China does not pose a threat to the US, nor does Russia. Unlike the West, China has risen in peace. It is now the world's trade and manufacturing hub, and the largest trading partner to a majority of the world's nations. Its pattern of socialist development has been peaceful and based on mutually beneficial relations. No country contributes more to the global commons. It is helping build global infrastructure connectivity as a basis for growth. It is pioneering the energy transition. It has opened avenues for the development of the rest of the Global South that were shut under the Western neo-colonial order promoted by NATO. On the contrary, it plays a vital role in regional and global prosperity and stability. Although many argue that its conflict in South China Sea, with Uyghur Muslims and Taiwan are tarnishing this image, it still makes many Chinese analysts and thinkers think that NATO sins are bigger and that it is adapting itself to threaten peace and stability in East Asia.

The ‘ambition’ which Blinken describes is for an expansive, virtualised NATO, reinvented for encircling a fabricated threat. It is that NATO which is a pure extension of US imperial policy. There's not even the pretence of an independent European interest left in it.

Chinese thinkers, in the contemporary global scenario, also think that Europe doesn't need to be defended by a vibrant, peaceful China peacefully integrated into the global economy and its home region, despite its diplomatic influences in places like Serbia. On the contrary, they think that Europe needs to grow its trade and investment relationships and profit from the dynamism of East Asia, rather than waving NATO's flag as a ‘tin pot colonial adjutant’.

With Japan and South Korea, to hasten US ties and NATO’s reach, President Biden held a summit with Prime Minister Kishida and President Yoon in Camp David in 2023 at which they signed a trilateral pact (JAROKUS). Kishida and Yoon have been attending NATO summits since 2022. Their proposed meeting with Biden in a trilateral format on the sidelines of this year's NATO summit would begin to regularise JAROKUS as an annexe of NATO and further globalise NATO.

This will complete the consolidation of the worldwide set of US vassals, outposts and 800 military bases under NATO, Quad, AUKUS and this trilateral pact into a streamlined global threat posture also known as the West. There have even been moves to make Israel part of a Quad Plus, along with New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Europe currently is an example of what  "Natofied' Japan and South Korea can look in the future. President Joe Biden's Build Back Better World, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, and other grand ideas for bifurcating the world are a testament of that.

The biggest of them is, of course, the Rules-Based Order, whose moral, legal and political legitimacy is now absolutely collapsed. It will go down in history identified with its signature achievement, because of the genocidal destruction of Gaza.

Many leaders and thinkers in Asia think that Asian NATO should be ignored or bypassed by the countries in the region. Its presence in the region, according to them, would be incoherent. It is because NATO is a treaty organisation for the North Atlantic, a noticeable distance away. They are militarily irrelevant in Asia.

However, NATO in Asia is really about what the US and its military-industrial complex will do to its own members. In its expanded form, it will tighten the US's extractive grip on Europe, Japan and South Korea more than it threatens China. It will mandate purchases of US military equipment and more money from member states, especially that standby piggy bank, Japan. It will de-industrialise Japan as it has Germany, in favour of the US. It will demand more political and cultural conformity, further militarise Japan and South Korea, and alienate them from the economic and cultural vitality of their home region.

Europe, Japan and South Korea can say goodbye to any notion of strategic, political, economic or cultural autonomy. Remember that this is happening while actual freedom is breaking out among sovereign nations in the multipolar world of an expanding BRICS.


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