It is official, the world has changed. Once again as a species, we live in a “cold war” era. Much different than the previous one for sure but not without similarities. The superpowers that roam the open seas have their sights on an adversary that is mainly “rooted” on hard soil.
Usually any “Geo-strategy” aficionado would rush to comment that the sea powers eventually win in the long run, no matter how things might look on the early stages of the race. Allow me not to be so sure this time. After all, the “Western World” has made every “valiant” effort to outsource its industry and large parts of other aspects of its economy, to the very same state that today has taken the mantle of the “bad guy”.
Also, one should not neglect to take in account that PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) decision making is centralized and with long term planning while on the other hand, in the US you have CIA considering the POTUS a “temporary employee” briefing him accordingly, policies practically changing with every administration and different agencies having their own agenda and competing with each other. In the time of this writing, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has already announced that the state is suing President Joe Biden, so good luck winning a “Cold War” without having your house in order.
Of course, it is easy to portray China as the “evil one”. Great geographical and cultural distance plays its role and the one-party regime, has nothing to do with our democratic heritage and values. In all honesty, if the Chinese people are ok with this, we shouldn’t have a say in it. If they are content with a police state that has huge portions of its population under real-time face recognition surveillance and a citizen point system that can ruin one’s life for making a wrong post on social media, so be it! None of our business, thank you very much and let’s pray that nobody on Washington doesn’t have any ideas of “bringing democracy” to China the way they did in the Arab world. Crazier things have happened after all.
What boggles my mind though, is that many countries in the “West” are criticizing China for human rights violations and authoritarianism, while at the same moment, they are trying to copy or import the above-mentioned high-tech equipment and technology to engage in very similar techniques, supposedly “for your own good”. In some people’s minds, if it is representatives of their state violating their basic freedoms it is ok, while if it was to come from a “foreigner” it would be a reason to take arms. Go figure!!
Personally, I have been blessed in (what now seems as a distant) youth, to have set foot on both US and PRC soil and to some extend have fond memories from both the countries and the people. In the end, common people, regardless of continent or culture, don’t have much to argue about. If we are polite to each other and we all have food to put on our table, everything proceeds out smoothly. Sadly though, politicians’ choices and bankers’ profits, will have us common people at each other’s throat in no time.
Now, allow me please to explain why, in my opinion, NATO never had and still has nothing to do with my country’s interests and why this doesn’t make me optimistic about AUKUS as well. After all, I am Balkan Greek (-not a “West European” as they like to call us in Berlin these days-) so it is my people’s interests that I have in my mind.
It is well documented that according to Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, NATO’s first Secretary General, that the “coalition” was formed to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” So practically we are not talking about a coalition of allies, but an instrument of US external policy that has remained in existence, even after the dissolution of its adversary Warsaw Pact and the demise of USSR.
So, with that being said, it becomes obvious that NATO has been built up not to cover the needs of many of its member states but simply those on top, the US. That means that the structure of the “coalition”, the battle plans, the training scenarios, the equipment and all other aspects, were designed against whoever was the foe of US at that time.
Back in the day, when my country became a NATO member, with Nazi Germany already part of yesterday, the great divide of the era was “free countries” vs “the commies”. Greece joining NATO in the 1952, same day as Turkey, and Greece had previously just exited a bloody civil war on 1949. The outcome of that civil war, practically has diminished any possibility that Greece would become a communist country. A civil war that was largely instigated by British Interests and whose outcome was secured by the involvement of US troops. Soviet Union had no intention to violate what was agreed during the Yalta Conference and gave no significant help to the partisans of the Greek Communist Party. Any actual help to the Greek partisans, came by Tito’s Yugoslavia and other Balkan States.
Understandably, communists and sympathizers of a different worldview, have never entirely eclipsed from Greek society. Nonetheless the possibility of Greece being anything else than part of the “Western World” has never been realistically doubted for many decades. For Greece, communism has stopped being an “existential threat” (-if it ever has been one-) a long time ago, maybe even before the actual inclusion of the country in the “coalition”.
What has never gone away though, is our “unfriendly neighbor” Turkey. A NATO member, that can only achieve its Neo-imperialistic vision, at the expense of every one of its neighbors. Whether we are talking about Ahmet Davutoglu’s “Strategic Depth” doctrine or the recent “Blue Homeland” doctrine, anyone paying attention, will not deny that Turkey aims to level up its status in the region. Turkish armed forces, already operate in countries like Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Syria etc. In addition to that, Turkish backed NGO’s can be found acting in Balkan countries with Islamic population giving options of “soft power” leverage to Ankara’s machinations.
Without a doubt, the “coalition” has been more than effective in tasks such as dismantling former Yugoslavia (-for many in the region, the greatest terrorist organization, up to this day has one name, “NATO”-) or encircling the Russian Federation and yet is not ready to deal with friction between its own member states. After all my country is participating in training exercises that have to do with some imaginary foe from the North that poses danger to Europe. On the contrary I don’t know of any training exercises that would have to do with an enemy from the east, attacking an island in the Aegean Sea, or one of my country’s critical infrastructure and the “coalition” forces rushing to my country’s aid. What are allies for anyway?
So, Greece is using its own resources and annually contributes its share of NATO’s budget, regardless and despite of the country’s economic situation, unlike some other members that prefer to look the other way when it comes to paying their fair share. (Oh, those Germans…)
Greece is taking part in “war games” that would prove pointless and useless if (-when-) the situation between Greece and Turkey come to their predictable conclusion. Experts in Brussels and elsewhere might think a war between Turkey and Greece unlikely because of other overriding economic interests, but many made similar predictions even a few days before the outbreak of World War 2.
The historical precedent is there, Greece and Turkey both NATO members since 1952, came to open hostilities over Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 1974. NATO preferred to stay neutral in this conflict and nobody expects a different approach in any future incident. Keep in mind, that NATO’s popularity in Greece contrary to elsewhere, remains particularly low as can be seen on the researched conducted by PEW research center following the link below and for a good reason if you ask me….
As stated before, NATO is an instrument of US external policy, and for a long time, the US has been treating its allies as nothing more than expendable parts of a machine. The trustworthiness of the USA as an ally has been eroded again and again, whether one wants to think about Georgia 2008 or the more recent Afghanistan fiasco, I don’t see any reason why anyone should take at face value anything coming from the other side of the Atlantic.
In all honesty though, it has been my personal belief for some years now, that USA doesn’t need NATO anymore. They don’t need to sustain a huge organization when they can have bilateral agreements with countries that have something to offer. And this is what AUKUS is practically is. An agreement between countries that seem to have common goals and interests for the foreseeable future. Apparently, this multi-polar world, has been spiraling away from US control and by forcing the world to take sides, Washington can “play for keeps”. The UK, after the people enforced BREXIT on unwilling politicians, is (-sadly-) becoming a sidekick for the “yanks” and Australia is becoming relevant by being China’s neighbor.
Obviously though, the plot thickens. AUKUS will not make the future easier to navigate or any clearer. Australia has already duped France which is enraged for loosing a ton of money. I hope someone in my country is listening, because it seems that submarines with nuclear capabilities are left without a buyer and in situations like that, one can always bargain and new alliances can be built.
The European Union after all, looks more like a fragile circus with every passing day. In a world that every major player is making obvious war preparations, the EU is focused on windmills, electric cars and pink dildos. No common direction, no actual cohesion and the political elites only care to be at war with their own native people for the shake of big pharma sales or whoever controls the payroll this time.
New alliances will have to be formed and the new “Cold War” will eventually make for “strange bed fellows”. France will have to reinforce its presence in the Mediterranean somehow, the Russian Federation will probably side up with China, even if in Kremlin they wanted to do otherwise. Turkey, as always, will try to engage in “Turkish Bazaar” tactics and if allowed, to “milk” all sides for benefits, profits etc.
Greece, taken for granted by the “West”, will find itself in a precarious situation. The biggest commercial port of the country is operated by Chinese COSCO Pacific Limited, while at the same time the country accommodates US military presence in various regions of the country and the government is already talking about a possible 5-year military deal instead of the accustomed 1-year long renewals.
Additionally, if we come to the point where Russia sides with China, and AUKUS drags the world to a “Mexican Standoff” then US military installations in my country, become a valid target for the 5th Operational formation of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea stationed at Syria.
So, with NATO never being about my country’s interests, why AUKUS would be any different? If for all those “4-star” generals and bureaucrats my region is just another square on a chessboard, then who can convince me that I will not have a bloody repetition of history to deal with in the “not so distant” future.
In my honest opinion, my country (-and any country with no real “skin in the game”-) has only two substantial options, either kick everybody out, seal the borders, put our house in order and mind our own business or go “all in” and look to make the best out of the upcoming mess, open the door to all “Penelope’s suitors wannabes” and simply give them one riddle to figure out… “What’s in it for me?”
Bastas Dionysios is a Master Sergeant of the Hellenic Air Force
Has been proudly serving his country for the last 15 years, holds two (2) Bachelor Degrees and can be reached on various social media platforms included but not limited to the following:
If you want to connect, reach out for clarifications or whatever…. Don’t be shy….