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NATO Expands, not Russia

"For me, the root of the present conflict lies in this decision of NATO that was dangerous and wrong... Russia did not want to be encircled by NATO or the Ukraine incorporated in NATO... NATO is a dangerous military alliance, a wolf in sheep's clothing. It bombed Afghanistan - and left behind chaos. It bombed Libya - and left behind chaos..."

Interview with Daniele Ganser

[This interview published on September 22, 2014 is translated from the German on the Internet,  http://www.nachdenkseiten.de/wp-print.php?p=23352. Daniele Ganser is an acclaimed peace researcher.]

Mr. Ganser, in the German press there were regular campaigns in the last weeks and months on theme of an alleged threat of the EU and the West by Russian superpower ambitions or fantasies and Russian "imperialism" in the context of the situation in the Ukraine. As a NATO expert and peace researcher, how do you judge the current situation?

I see this differently. I do not believe Russia threatens or wishes to conquer Western Europe. In history, whether one begins with the annexation of Crimea or with the pre-history, the overthrow of Yanukovych in February 2014 or with the prehistory of the prehistory, for example the 2008 decision of NATO to integrate the Ukraine and Georgia in the military alliance is crucial.

For me the root of the present conflict lies in this decision of NATO that was dangerous and wrong. The US ambassador recognized the "raw nerve" of the Russians was touched. Thus the US knew this would greatly irritate Moscow. Nevertheless the former US ambassador at NAQTO, Victoria Nuland, actively collaborated in the overthrow of the Yanukovych. By the way Nuland is known for the hardly flattering quotation "F-ck the EU."

After the overthrow of Yanukovych and installation of the new NATO-friendly president Poroschenko, Putin reacted very quickly and took over the Crimea and east Ukraine with troops. Russia did not want to be encircled by NATO or the Ukraine incorporated in NATO.


When East Germany was united with West Germany and united Germany arose which was good and right, the Russians had to withdraw their troops from the DDR since the DDR switched over to NAQTO. Gorbatchev made that possible at that time. We should be thankful to Gorbatchev for this peaceful transition. But the DDR was only vacated because the US promised the Russians that NATO would not expand one inch to the East, he often explained. However this promise was broken again and again in the following 25 years. Gorbatchev said in 2009 NATO pulled a fast one on Russians when NATO incorporated Albania and Croatia. [1]

Putin also sees the world this way and does not trust either NATO or the US. This is very understandable when one sees on a map the expansion of NATO in the last years. Gorbatchev also sees this critically: "Americans did not keep their word and Germans were indifferent. Perhaps they even rubbed their hands that they had incredibly pulled a fast one on the Russians," he decried. Ultimately this led to "Russians no longer trusting western promises."


John Mearsheimer, professor in Chicago, was right when he said the West is mostly to blame in the war in the Ukraine because NATO expanded more and more. Mearsheimer summarizes this as follows: "Imagine the outrage in Washington if China forged a powerful military alliance and attempted to win Canada and Mexico for that alliance." [2]

Who has what influence on the development and escalation of the situation in the Ukraine: NATO, the EU or others - and why?

Unfortunately everything is very opaque, impenetrable and obscure. The top politicians Obama, Merkel and Putin are obviously visible. The overthrow of Yanukovych and the rise of Poroshenko are also clear. But the details are still in the dark.

For example, we do not know who were the snipers that shot demonstrators and the police on the Maidan and plunged the country into chaos. This obviously helped those groups that wanted to overthrow Janukovich. Urmas Paet, the foreign minister of Estonia, talked on the telephone with Catherine Ashton. The conversation was monitored and published. Paet said: "There is an increasing understanding that someone from the new coalition was behind the snipers, not Janukovich. Ashton responded: "I think we must investigate this." Paet reacted: "The new coalition is already discredited." Later Paet and Ashton denied this conversation occurred. We must at least investigate whether the conversation was genuine. Then we must find out whether the new coalition, Poroschenko, Klitschko and Jazenjuk, were connected with the snipers. If so, we had a staged government overthrow with a hidden warfare. All this is very obscure.

This is also true for the shooting down of the MH17 on July 17. Who did what? We do not know. What is clear is that certain groups actively turn the violence spiral and seek escalation. This is unequivocal for me as a peace researcher. Only we do not know exactly who these groups are and what they want.


Why is all this hardly heard in our media? Why does NATO emerge so clearly as victor from the current "propaganda battle"? Has NATO successfully spread mass disinformation?

NATO has friendly journalists in different media in Germany, Austria and Switzerland who always write for NATO. That is part of war and is called information warfare with focus on the "home front": citizens at home before the TV screen or before the newspaper. Naturally the home front is not left to fate or chance. Since Vietnam, the US has learned the home front is very important. Therefore the simple technique is followed: demonizing the adversary, in this case Putin, fomenting chaos and covering up one's own violence and blurring traces.

Can you name concrete names of journalists who are clearly biased?

No, I don't want to name names. Individual figures are not central; they can be replaced. The system of war propaganda that we witness among us is central. In reading a text, every reader should ask the questions: Is war or peace promoted here? Is the adversary demonized here or is his side of the conflict presented? Is violence hailed as a solution? We know from private life that there are always two perspectives in every conflict. That is also true for the Ukraine.

How is the press work and public relations of NATO organized concretely? How should that be visualized - as "special rights" for goodwill reports, privileged trips to the front or faster priority access to information?

Carrots and sticks are used. The privileges are the carrot bread. The threat of editorial isolation if one is not in line is the whip. That works. With good reason we could say there is a kind of "NATO network" in the media. Critical questions on the 9/11-alliance case are completely taboo. It is the same with the Ukraine, pro NATO and anti-Putin.

Spiegel, N22, Sueddeutsche newspaper, FAZ newspaper, Newsweek, CNN as well as German television ZDF and ARD all lash out in the same way. Putin is the evil one in nearly every report on the Ukraine. NATO expansion is practically never mentioned. The backgrounds of the government overthrow in Kiev are not illuminated. When I gave an interview to Pro7 and Sat 1 at the beginning of September and criticized the NATO eastern expansion, I was told the interview could unfortunately not be broadcast because of sudden developments in the course of the day. NATO criticism has no place in the mass media of NATO countries.

Noam Chomsky called consent to war "manufacturing consent." The pattern is always the same: first indignation, then demonization and then the call for war to root out "the evil." The real problems of human life together can never be constructively solved with violence and bombs. For that reason, war propaganda is very harmful. Years ago Frances Stoner Saunders wrote the interesting book "Who paid the piper?" She showed how the CIA bought media people in the Cold War on both sides of the Atlantic.

The German army is staged very skillfully - as a "defensive army" that only makes peace abroad. In the general public, NATO also has the image of a democratic "defensive alliance" with the goal of guaranteeing peace and security in the world. But who is "NATO" very concretely? How do decisions within NATO come about - in what kind of democratic way?

NATO is a dangerous military alliance, a wolf in sheep's clothing. It bombed Afghanistan - and left behind chaos. It bombed Libya - and left behind chaos. I hope this does not happen now in the Ukraine.

In my book, I analyzed the secret NATO armies over four years. These armies are absolutely non-democratic, represent Gladio-secret armies and hide behind military secrets. The US leads NATO and Germany often must simply carry out orders.


When NATO announced in a press release "today we declare that cyber defense is part of NATO's core task of collective defense," who is this "we" that acts and decides here over war and peace in Germany or within German foreign policy?

First of all, this we is the US and all other NATO members, not necessarily citizens in the NATO countries and not necessarily intellectuals. National parliaments hardly dare to oppose NATO. Politicians are often not even informed about its undemocratic strategies like for instance the Gladio-secret armies. The strategy of tension and phenomena like offensive wars without a UN mandate are consciously faded out.

Only a few politicians raise critical questions now and then about the NATO wars or the NATO secret armies. These questions are not answered or answered only superficially by the executive referring to the military duty of secrecy. Both the citizens and the parliaments in the 28 NATO states have unfortunately stopped critically discussing NATO and probing its dark side. We don't want to see the beam in our own eye. The balance of NATO is really pathetic. It is deeply entangled in the violence spiral and doesn't know how to go on any more. Still it demands more armament spending.

Daniele Ganser (Dr. phil.) is a Swiss historian who has specialized in contemporary history and international politics since 1945. His research projects are peace research, geo-strategy, hidden warfare, resource wars and economic policy. He teaches history and the future of energy systems at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and conflict analyses on the global struggle for crude oil at the University of Basel.

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