NATO expansion bid another example of West exacerbating conflict: Danish researcher

(Xinhua) 10:22, May 25, 2022

COPENHAGEN, May 24 (Xinhua) -- According to Danish researcher Jan Oberg, the expansionist policy of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is responsible for creating the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

If left unresolved, conflicts tend to escalate into severe violence, as is the case in Ukraine today, according to Oberg, a former head of the Lund University Peace Research Institute (LUPRI) and former general secretary of the Danish Peace Foundation in Copenhagen.

"If they want peace, they should not increase the symptoms -- they should address the real causes instead. The conflicting parties should spell out their problems and goals, and step-by-step that is how they can reach a sustainable solution," Oberg told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Having sowed the seeds of the conflict, the West has been steadfast in not seeking solutions...Instead, he said, the West reacted in "hysterical panic of the moment" and exacerbated the conflict by fast-tracking applications from Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, further fueling Russia's concerns about NATO encroachment.

This has predictably led to Russian President Vladimir Putin's "warning" to Finland's President Sauli Niinisto that it would be a mistake for Helsinki to abandon neutrality and join NATO "with the potential to damage relations between the two countries."

Sweden has received a similar "warning" from Putin that "expanding military infrastructure onto their territory would provoke a response from us, based on the threats they create for us."

The West's "irrational and emotional" escalation of the conflict, and Putin's reaction to that, have led to a cynical escalation as "there is simply no credible, realistic scenario that would lead to an isolated, out-of-the-blue Russian attack on either of them if they remained non-aligned as they've been for decades," he said.


According to Oberg, Sweden and Finland have both been under heavy pressure, for many years, from NATO, the U.S. and their own elites to join NATO.

This pressure has encouraged the two countries to increasingly flirt with NATO membership over the past 20 years, facilitating a slow erosion of their appearance of neutrality, so much so that Oberg suggested that the feeling became "why not marry now?"

"In other words, Finland and Sweden now join because they have incrementally made one wrong decision after the other, painted themselves into a 'no-choice-but-NATO' corner and abdicated every ounce of their historical, independent-minded creative foreign policy thinking."

However, NATO and U.S. pressure would not be successful if it did not come coupled with an "intellectual disarmament" in both Nordic nations, Oberg said, where local decision-makers have simply unified around a single alternative, "quelling alternative solutions."

"The discourse about peace in the media, in politics and in research has disappeared. Peace has come to mean weapons, deterrence, more and more of it coupled to blind loyalty to every U.S./NATO war."

The result has been an environment of intellectual malaise, which has led to the further empowerment of the local political elites, who have made the decision to join NATO with the support of the local pro-NATO liberal media, who have justified the political elites bypassing a referendum on entering NATO based on "time pressure" surrounding the increasing Russian threat, according to Oberg.

"Elites related to the military-industrial-media-academic complex, MIMAC, in both countries, rather than the people, decide security and foreign policy matters," Oberg said.


According to Oberg, the bid to join NATO serves only to destabilize both countries by heightening "harder confrontation and polarization instead of soft borders and mediating attitudes."

The NATO bid also means that the two countries, once adamantly opposed to nuclear weapons and NATO military bases on their soil, are now available to requests to host U.S. bases, which Oberg said they will be unable to refuse.

"There will be virtually no confidence-building and conflict-resolution mechanisms left in Europe. No discussion will be possible about a new all-European peace and security system."

In light of the difficulties and arbitrary decision-making, Oberg said it was time for the West to refrain from hysteria and "keep cool," as the NATO membership bids have revealed that "the real enemy of the West is the West itself." 

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Liang Jun)


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