A Monroe Doctrine for Eastern Europe


WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - NATO should apply a new "Monroe Doctrine" to lay claim to hegemony over Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. This is the demand advanced for discussion by a prominent German daily. According to the author, countries such as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are located "within a dangerous grey area." Regardless of the issue of their NATO membership, they should be accorded a status, which declares that "all attempts, by outside powers, to subvert their sovereignty" is an aggression against "the Western Alliance," offering them every measure "just short of" NATO's mutual assistance clause. A US American journalist, who echoes the opinion of US foreign policy hardliners and has been repeatedly given space to express these views in German media, authored the article. His articles support the positions of German hardliners, who call for a more aggressive approach toward Russia, thus opposing current government policy. Once again yesterday, Foreign Minister Steinmeier declared, it is "important that we begin discussing the criteria for relieving sanctions," as he had already "suggested in the EU Foreign Affairs Council."

NATO's Hegemonic Claim

NATO should apply a new "Monroe Doctrine," to lay claim to hegemony over Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, proposes the US journalist James Kirchick, in an article published in the internet edition of the "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung".[1]

All Sorts of Interference

The US hegemonic policy over Central and South America, with warnings to European countries not to interfere, is known as the "Monroe Doctrine." This policy was formulated by US President James Monroe in his "State of the Union Address" on December 2, 1823. It reflected the looming struggle for global spheres of influence between the United States - gradually growing more powerful - and the old European powers. Kirchick seeks to reinterpret the Monroe Doctrine, claiming that it merely created a "space for Latin American nations to choose their own destiny."[2] This imaginative reinterpretation of the Monroe Doctrine is quite surprising, when considering the persistence of direct US interference in Latin America, including its assistance in overthrowing democratically elected governments (Honduras 2009) or the attempts to do so (Venezuela 2002) - hardly reflecting a respect for the populations' decisions over "their own destiny."

Short of the Mutual Assistance Clause

In his current article, published by the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" (FAZ), Kirchick proposes that a similar claim be made on countries "caught between NATO and Russia." These countries - Kirchick names Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia - are located "within a dangerous gray area, zones of contestation between East and West" and only through "geographic misfortune ... outside the Alliance." Because the Western war alliance cannot offer them full NATO membership, at this time, it "should apply something like the Monroe Doctrine." "One way to formulate the principle would be to announce that attempts by outside powers to subvert the sovereignty of these states" would be considered an "unfriendly disposition toward the Western Alliance."[3] This would in fact "offer everything just short of" NATO's mutual assistance clause - which obliges all NATO members to enter the war on the side of an aggressed member country. In the current conflict over Ukraine, this would have meant "immediate and crushing sanctions on Russia" and Russia's "full-scale diplomatic isolation," explains Kirchick.

Strategic Differences

Kirchick's article was published at a time, when the German government is seeking to gradually relieve the sanctions against Russia, due to German company's interests in business with Russia and access to its huge natural gas deposits,[4] and due to Germany's own strategic considerations. Horst Teltschik, one of the most influential advisors of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, recently called for a "long term perspective of relations with Russia." One must decide, if one would like "a free-wheeling Russia" or "a Russia, as part of Europe," in other words, a global rival or a loosely affiliated cooperation partner. Teltschik makes a plea for the latter.[5] The three living former chancellors express similar views. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had already called for a debate on ending sanctions against Russia. "Even if the time for their suspension has not yet arrived, we have to think about how to proceed."[6] Yesterday, he reiterated that it is important "to begin discussing the criteria for relieving sanctions," as he had already "suggested in the EU Foreign Affairs Council."[7]

War with Russia, a "Real Possibility"

This view is as controversial in the German political establishment as it is in the United States. On the German side, Joachim Krause, Director of the Institute for Security Studies at the University of Kiel (ISPK), recently took an opposing position. He declared that "the German government must develop an escalation strategy," calling for "aggravated, effective economic sanctions" such as an oil and gas boycott, as well as a "significant" deployment of "western military forces" in the Baltic countries, Poland and Rumania. The "taboo should be lifted on western weapons supplies to the Ukraine," demands Krause. "In a few years" ... "a war between Russia and the West" could already become a "real possibility."[8] The FAZ, on the other hand, published an article supporting US hardliners with Kirchick's harsh criticism of the current US administration. President Barack Obama "unintentionally" allowed Russia to "continue violating Ukraine's sovereignty," the US journalist writes.[9] Kirchick's position is also contradicted by the "message," Obama conveyed, according to a press report, at the Newport NATO summit concerning the dispute between the EU and Russia over the Association Agreement with Ukraine: "The EU and Ukraine should reach an agreement with Russia."[10]

"The NSA is Right"

The FAZ has repeatedly provided Kirchick the opportunity for presenting the US hardliners' views, thereby strengthening the position of similar circles in Germany. In September, he warned against "Marxism's renaissance" and declared that "the growing worry over income inequality in America," that Obama is harping on, is part of a "spectrum that in the extreme can lead to obliviousness about the horrors of Communism." Communism is the "deadliest ideology in history" and "responsible for 100 million deaths."[11] Already in July, Kirchick stated that because of Germany's "intense business and political ties to Russia and Iran," US intelligence agencies "would be crazy not to conduct intensive espionage operations in Germany." The "Americans don’t need to apologize for conducting espionage in Germany," he declared. "The problem is not that the NSA was snooping on Angela Merkel," but that "this information was exposed."[12] The Germans should "undergo a round of soul-searching and ask why Washington didn't feel the need to do this much earlier."

[1], [2], [3] James Kirchick: Eine Monroe-Doktrin für die Nato. www.faz.net 03.11.2014.
[4] See Keine Champagnerstimmung mehr and Global Policy Orientation.
[5] Türen nie zuschlagen! Warum der Westen weiter mit Russland reden muss. Die Politische Meinung Nr. 528, September/Oktober 2014.
[6] Steinmeier will Kriterien für Ende der Sanktionen diskutieren. www.zeit.de 22.10.2014.
[7] Norbert Wallet: "Wir dürfen Russland nicht ignorieren". www.general-anzeiger-bonn.de 03.11.2014.
[8] Dietmar Neuerer: "Krieg zwischen Russland und Westen reale Möglichkeit". www.handelsblatt.com 28.08.2014.
[9] James Kirchick: Eine Monroe-Doktrin für die Nato. www.faz.net 03.11.2014.
[10] Daniel Brössler, Cerstin Gammelin: Durchlöchert von Tausenden Ausnahmen. www.sueddeutsche.de 12.09.2014.
[11] James Kirchick: Die Opfer des Kommunismus verdienen ein Denkmal. www.faz.net 16.09.2014.
[12] James Kirchick: Warum wir die Deutschen ausspionieren müssen. www.faz.net 11.07.2014.