By Richard Cottrel | End the Lie
A former air force base near Brussels, dedicated to the His Majesty the Belgian King, is gradually being converted at an estimated billion dollars (for now – but just watch those numbers fly) to house the nerve center of the biggest war machine the world has ever known.
For the best part of 50 years the legions of peace keepers have been roughing it in a so called temporary structure, having received the unceremonious order of the boot from the late French president Charles De Gaulle, who grew tired with NATO’s various attempts to bump him off. De Gaulle’s sin was the independent French nuclear arsenal. So he slung NATO out, lock, stock and barrel with a single contemptuous wave of the hand.
The chief command post of the Cold War lost its logical reason d’etre in the instant that the Berlin Wall collapsed, along with the entire Soviet Empire. Yet NATO, like Topsy, just went on growing. Thanks to membership multiplying among converts to capitalism in Eastern Europe, NATO’s borders now lap Russia’s, with 28 members all told and more in the queue. This is a rather strange state of affairs given that the former Public Enemy Number One, the old bogey of communism, gave up the ghost back in 1989.
In normal circumstances, this spanking new structure would need to mount a telescope the size of the one topping Mount Palomar to scour the world for potential enemies. What happened of course is that NATO went looking for enemies under the banner of its new self-appointed role as global humanitarian Protector in Chief.
In the past the summit office of Lord Protector (Secretary General, currently occupied by the Great Dane, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s Very Own Viking) was a fairly low key job, reserved for some generally unknown figure plucked from the obscurity of backwater politics.
The best known was the Belgian, Willy Claes, but only because he got the sack in 1995 after just a year in office. He was caught with his hands in the till in a famous corruption scandal concerning a huge deal involving Italian helicopters. (His NATO biography airbrushes 1984-style the facts about this. Secretary Gens are above reproach, like biblical prophets). Rasmussen, on the other hand, certainly a smart, dedicated self-courting promoter, a long time ornament of Right-wing dry as dust Danish politics, has acquired something of the status of a rock star in the global military-industrial firmament.
He’s certainly the greatest Dane since, well, Hans Christian Anderson. His suite of offices in the current ‘run down’ structure intentionally reminds visitors of the Oval Office in the West Wing of the White House. From this plush seat of power he commands a constantly expanding global octopus, whose web site – to offer one choice example – gushes with excitement at NATO’s fraternal relations with Mongolia.
Rasmussen regards himself as one of the most important figures on earth, and in a sense he is perfectly correct. Certainly he belongs to the quintet completed by the President of the United States, the military commander of SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), the Secretary General of the UN and increasingly, whoever happens to be President of the EU Council of Ministers.
Indeed it is no happenstance that during the Reign of Rasmussen, which began in 2009, NATO has absorbed some important functions of the UN (such as the deadly so-called ‘humanitarian’ military interventions) and is moving inexorably closer to becoming the military arm of the EU (which has the same number of member states).
It is of course an accident of history – namely De Gaulle’s furious expulsion of NATO from French soil back in 1967 – but the fact is that the new European Pentagon and the palatial quarters of the EU are close neighbours. What could be more natural in the circumstances than nuptials foretold, come the day? There is a certain demented logic in that. After all, we have it from the lips of King Ras himself that ‘NATO is here to stay – and NATO will stay here in Brussels.’