International & Antiwar News


Originally published in the Autumn 2018 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 58, printed November 8. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Autumn 2018 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post (pending). For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

When the North American Treaty Organization was founded on April 4, 1949, it had 12 members: the U.S. and Canada and 10 Western European countries. By then the wartime cooperation with the Soviet Union was long over and NATO was essentially an anti-Soviet military and political alliance.

Six years later, as a counterbalance, the Soviet Union formed the nine-member Warsaw Pact, formally the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance. That alliance was dismantled in 1991, 10 months before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union. The U.S. had assured the Soviets that NATO would not be expanding eastward.

But far from limiting NATO’s expansion, the U.S. vigorously promoted it.

Today NATO has expanded to 29 member countries, with 13 – nearly half – either former members of the Soviet bloc or part of the former socialist state of Yugoslavia. All new members admitted into NATO since the collapse of the Soviet Union are in Central or Eastern Europe. From a North American and Western European alliance, it has become a North American and European force that has moved steadily eastward right up to Russia’s borders.

In NATO, the United States, United Kingdom and France together possess a total of 7,315 nuclear weapons. Russia is believed to have about 7,000.

But in terms of overall military power, Russia’s military budget in 2016 was just over 8 percent of the combined total of all NATO countries, and just over 11 percent of the U.S. alone.

NATO exercises, training missions and military aid are always described as “defensive” in nature. But it’s not Russia that’s expanding its military influence right up to the borders of the United States. It’s not Russia that has built a military alliance that now includes 29 countries, moving ever closer to its declared adversary.

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