The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, to use its full title was formed by the victorious western powers in response to the politically uncertain world of post war Europe. Its objective was simple, the preservation of the western democratic way of life in a organisation based on mutual defence.
Over the years NATO has grown exponentially and after the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1991 and it currently comprises 28 member states. With the notable exception of one of the biggest European powers: Russia.
The Russian government has never been included in NATO and with the political upheaval in Ukraine; the implication is that it never will.
Russian mistrust of the western powers can be traced as far back as the Second World War, when the Soviet Union signed a pact with Nazi Germany. This pact resulted in betrayal, invasion and the death of some 20 million of its citizens, so naturally they are mistrustful.
But what if NATO were disbanded and a new Pan-European organisation were created in its place?
The Russian mistrust of the west, though not completely dispelled would be moved to the background in the spirit of co-operation.
It’s military and industrial might would be at the disposal of the west rather than set against it. Russian gas and energy supplies would not be cut off from the west and inversely, the Russian economy would improve from its extremely tenuous current position.
To the non-NATO members, Russia would be seen as willing to change and this would be as much a perceptual victory as well as a diplomatic one. Its neighbours would be more willing to engage with it and conflicts like the South Ossetian war and the present crisis in Ukraine could be avoided.
The new international treaty organisation would be able to meet threats more readily and a stronger organisation would strike fear into the hearts of any terrorist or wrong doer.
There are those who would say that the United Nations achieves this and is an inclusive organisation. To them I would say one word, Iraq. The ineffectiveness of resolution 1441 and the coalitions blatant ignoring of the diplomatic rules showed what the United Nations is: A paper tiger, all roar and no substance. The more the nations of the world ignore it, the more it will diminish in its power.
But in any positive argument, there is always the other side of the coin. Russian membership of a NATO style organisation would make it more of an obvious target for terrorists and although the Russian people have experience of dealing with terrorists via the Chechens, their overall preparedness for a large scale terrorist attack can be called into question.
And what of the chief architect of the new imperialist Russia: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin?
Putin is a product of the cold war Russia, steeped in cloak and dagger tactics and clandestine activities. While post cold war America has influenced the world in a more obvious way, the Russia of Vladimir Putin uses its power in a more subtle way behind the scenes. The poisoning of the political activist Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 is a prominent example of this.
A Russia included in a large scale mutual defence and trade organisation would lead to a new breed of oligarchs, thriving in the new co-operative world. Restrictions both economic and social may be lifted, shining a light on the shortcomings of the current Russian system. Political change would come from the inside, motivated by the new oligarchs and those who would likely return from exile.
The clandestine tactics would have to go and more than likely so would Mr Putin.
However an international organisation that adopted both the subtle tactics of Russia and the more obvious manipulation of America would be a dangerous and far more subversive entity.
Not to end on air of pessimism, I choose to look at the positives.
There is a ceasefire in Ukraine, talk of arming the moderates in Syria and the mending of fences between the US and Iran, two long held enemies. There is every reason to think that inclusion of Russia in NATO will come about organically in its own time, but only time will tell.
© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.