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Pledging American Lives in the Defense of NATO

UkraineNotwithstanding its recent decision to lift its debt ceiling once again to enable it to add to its ever-growing mountain of debt, the U.S. government has now issued a new pledge, this one being as a guarantor of a $1 billion loan to the new government of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, that’s not all that U.S. officials have pledged in that part of the world. I wonder how many Americans realize that the U.S. government has also pledged the lives and limbs of America’s young people in the defense of nations that once formed part of the Soviet bloc.

That’s what membership in NATO is all about — the pledge that the United States will come to the military defense of any nation that is a member of NATO.

Keep in mind that NATO was brought into existence in 1949 as part of the U.S. government’s “Cold War” against its World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, however, not only did the U.S. government keep NATO in existence, it actually proceeded to expand its membership eastward — directly toward Russia.

How could such a move fail to ultimately produce a crisis between the United States and Russia? As former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev pointed out in a 2009 interview, the United States and other powers had pledged after the fall of the Berlin Wall that “NATO would not move a centimeter to the east.”

But NATO did move east. Post-Cold War members of NATO include Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and even Albania and Croatia.

The United States also assured former Soviet-bloc nations Ukraine and Georgia that they will ultimately be admitted into NATO as well.

Yes, that Ukraine!

How could this not end in the crisis we have today? Not only does the expanded NATO membership get U.S. military bases, missiles, and troops ever closer to Russia, adding Ukraine to NATO would obviously threaten Russia’s longtime access to the Black Sea through Crimea. Think about it: If the U.S. succeeds in installing a NATO puppet regime in Ukraine, that effectively would place all Soviet bases in Crimea under U.S.-NATO jurisdiction.

There was never any possibility that the Russians were going to let that happen. And the only way to ensure that it doesn’t happen is with a Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea. How could U.S. national-security state officials not see that?

The problem is that while the Cold War ended for Russia, it never ended for the U.S. national-security state — i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. Even though the national-security state came into existence as a Cold War apparatus, it wasn’t about to permit itself to be dismantled even though the Cold War justification for its existence expired. Instead, after the end of the Cold War it moved into the Middle East to poke hornet’s nests there while, at the same time, expanded NATO toward Russia’s borders knowing the adverse effect that would have on Russian officials.

I wonder if it’s now dawning on Americans that NATO’s move eastward constituted much more than political maneuvering against Russia. I wonder if Americans are realizing that U.S. officials have pledged the lives of their sons, daughters, spouses, and parents to the defense of Albania, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and all the other members of NATO?

Was there a vote of Congress establishing this massive pledge of American life? Was there a national debate over the issue? Were there mutual-defense treaties signed with all those nations?

The answer is “no” to all three questions. Instead, the national-security state part of the federal government simply made those nations part of NATO. Voila! With that stroke of the pen, the lives of millions of young American men and women were pledged to come to the military defense of all those nations.

So, we now have a new crisis, one that, not surprisingly, means more ever-growing budgets for the U.S. national-security state.

But with crisis comes opportunity. Now is the time for the American people to do some serious soul-searching about the role of the federal government in their lives.

On the one side, you have the interventionists, who favor a strong central government, empire, foreign intervention, invasions, occupations, wars of aggression, ever-growing debt, and the draft. It is this bunch that has left our nation in hock to the Chinese communists and is now pledging money it doesn’t have to Ukraine. Even worse, it has pledged the lives of America’s young people to the defense of people in faraway lands without the consent of Congress or the American people themselves.

On the other side, you have the non-interventionists, who favor the founding principles of America — non-intervention, no entangling alliances, no conscription, no national-security state, no empire, fiscal soundness, and a constitutional republic with weak powers.

The battle involves a conflict of visions. The stakes are high. Not only is your money involved, so are the lives of young Americans.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.


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