The Nato summit: strategic incoherence and never-ending war

PROPAGANDA about today’s Nato summit will, like that concerning the G7, present the conference as an honest attempt by Western powers to grapple with global challenges.

We heard the usual pieties about the need to stand up to “authoritarian” states.

Yet a Britain that is drastically curtailing the right to protest, a France that systematically harasses and persecutes its Muslim population, a Spain that hands 13-year jail terms to elected politicians for holding a referendum, a Turkey that imprisons more journalists than any other country on Earth and a United States whose police shoot a thousand people dead every year might legitimately be described as authoritarian states.

Nato chiefs big up the “Russian menace.” Russian military exercises are depicted as aggressive, when they are obviously a tit-for-tat response to the huge US-led Defender Europe 2021 war games taking place from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

And the new cold war against China takes centre-stage, as US President Joe Biden seeks to reassert leadership of an alliance described by French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as “brain-dead” under his predecessor Donald Trump.

Macron has talked up the importance of the summit in reining in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: his invasion of Syria, naval confrontations with Greece, involvement in the Libyan civil war and support for Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia are undermining Nato cohesion, he argues.

The Morning Star cannot be accused of sympathy with Erdogan, whose government’s crimes we document regularly. But France’s stance is utterly hypocritical.

Macron is not opposed to military intervention in Syria on principle — France does not object to the US military presence there, which Trump had the bad manners to admit was “only for the oil.”

As for Libya, France has been up to its neck in the war, accused of launching air strikes in support of rebel General Khalifa Haftar, one of whose camps was found after his troops abandoned it to be bristling with French weapons.

What worries France is not Turkish aggression itself but its deployment without reference to the wider strategic priorities of the US-led alliance.

But Biden will be hard pressed to bring Ankara back into the fold without concessions on Mediterranean oil and influence in north Africa that will be bitterly resisted by the EU.

Liberals have presented the breakdown of Western cohesion under Trump as the cause of regional instability. But the left should be in no doubt that a united Nato is just as dangerous.

The summit discussed the US’s long goodbye in Afghanistan. Pundits query whether it is responsible of Washington to withdraw with the Taliban stronger than ever.

It would be more apt to point out that a 20-year US occupation has not merely failed to defeat jihadist terror, it has fuelled its spread and evolution into even more nihilistic forms such as Islamic State.

Likewise, Operation Barkhane — the French military mission to five former colonies in north Africa — was supposedly about suppressing Islamist terror.

Seven years in, terrorism is on the increase in Burkina Faso (where 132 civilians were murdered in a raid last week), in Mali (where the government has recently been overthrown in a coup) and in Chad (where the president was recently killed in combat).

All France’s long military deployment has achieved is a UN rebuke for war crimes, a rise in domestic terrorism and a dangerous growth of Islamophobia in the French armed forces, which has prompted serving soldiers to whip up fears of a civil war against Islam in France itself.

These sorry examples speak to the need for a different kind of foreign policy — one which is not based on the threat of military force. Nowhere Nato’s armies have been deployed have they left anything but death, destruction and failed states.

The British left should stand united against any more such deployments — and against membership of this arsonist gang.