The current pressure for the
enlargement of NATO to Central and Eastern Europe is part of an effort
to create what is mistakenly called "the new world order". It
is the politico-military complement of the economic policies initiated
by the major Western powers and designed to transform Central and East
The United States, Germany
and some of their allies are trying to build a truly global order around
the North Atlantic Basin economy. There is actually nothing very new about
the kind of order which they are trying to establish. It is to be founded
on capitalist institutions. What is new is that they are trying to extend
"the old order" to the vast territories which were thrown into
chaos by the disintegration of Communism. They are also trying to incorporate
into this "order" countries which were previously not fully a
part of it.
In a word, they are trying
to create a functioning capitalist system in countries which have lived
under Socialism for decades, or in countries, such as Angola, which were
seeking to break free of the capitalist system. As they try to establish
a "new world order", the major Western powers must also think
about how to preserve it. So, in the final analysis, they must think about
extending their military power toward the new areas of Europe which they
are trying to attach to the North Atlantic Basin. Hence the proposed role
of NATO in the new European order.
The two principal architects
of what might be a new, integrated and capitalist Europe are the United
States and Germany. They are working together especially closely on East
European questions. In effect, they have formed a close alliance in which
the US expects Germany to help manage not only West European but also East
European affairs. Germany has become, as George Bush put it in Mainz in
1989, a "partner in leadership".
This close relationship ties
the US to Germany's vision of what German and American analysts are now
calling Central Europe. It is a vision which calls for: 1) the expansion
of the European Union to the East; 2) German leadership in Europe; and
3) a new division of labor in Europe.
It is the idea of a new division
of labor which is particularly important. In the German view, Europe will
in the future be organized in concentric rings around a center, which will
be Germany. The center will be the most developed region in every sense.
It will be the most technically developed and the wealthiest. It will have
the highest levels of wages, salaries and per capita income. And it will
undertake only the most profitable economic activities, those which put
it in command of the system. Thus Germany will take charge of industrial
planning, design, the development of technology, etc., of all the activities
which will shape and co-ordinate the activities of other regions.
As one moves away from the
center, each concentric ring will have lower levels of development, wealth
and income. The ring immediately surrounding Germany will include a great
deal of profitable manufacturing and service activity. It is meant to comprise
parts of Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and northern Italy.
The general level of income would be high, but lower than in Germany. The
next ring would include the poorer parts of Western Europe and parts of
Eastern Europe, with some manufacturing, processing and food production.
Wage and salary levels would be significantly lower than at the center.
It goes without saying that,
in this scheme of things, most areas of Eastern Europe will be in an outer
ring. Eastern Europe will be a tributary of the center. It will produce
some manufactured goods, but not primarily for its own consumption. Much
of its manufacturing, along with raw materials, and even food, will be
shipped abroad. Moreover, even manufacturing will pay low wages and salaries.
And the general level of wages and salaries, and therefore of incomes,
will be lower than they have been in the past.
In short, most of Eastern
Europe will be poorer in the new, integrated system than it would have
been if East European countries could make their own economic decisions
about what kind of development to pursue. The only development possible
in societies exposed to the penetration of powerful foreign capital and
hemmed in by the rules of the International Monetary Fund is dependent
This will also be true of
Russia and the other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
They will also become tributaries of the center, and there will be no question
of Russia pursuing an independent path of development. There will obviously
be some manufacturing in Russia, but there will be no possibility of balanced
industrial development. For the priorities of development will be increasingly
dictated by outsiders.
Western corporations are not
interested in promoting industrial development in Russia, as the foreign
investment figures show.
The primary Western interest
in the Commonwealth of Independent States is in the exploitation of its
resources. The breakup of the Soviet Union was thus a critical step in
opening the possibility of such exploitation. For the former republics
of the USSR became much more vulnerable once they became independent. Furthermore,
Western corporations are not interested in developing CIS resources for
local use. They are interested in exporting them to the West. This is especially
true of gas and petroleum resources. Much of the benefit from the export
of resources would therefore accrue to foreign countries. Large parts of
the former Soviet Union are likely to find themsevles in a situation similar
to that of Third World countries.
What Germany is seeking, then,
with the support of the US, is a capitalist rationalization of the entire
European economy around a powerful German core. Growth and high levels
of wealth in the core are to be sustained by subordinate activities in
the periphery. The periphery is to produce food and raw materials, and
it is to manufacture exports for the core and for overseas markets. Compared
to the (Western and Eastern) Europe of the 1980s, then, the future Europe
will be very different, with lower and lower levels of development as ones
moves away from the German center.
Thus many parts of Eastern
Europe, as well as much of the former Soviet Union, are meant to remain
permanently underdeveloped areas, or relatively underdeveloped areas. Implementation
of the new dvision of labor in Europe means that they must be locked into
For Eastern Europe and the
countries of the CIS, the creation of an "integrated" Europe
within a capitalist framework will require a vast restructuring. This restructuring
could be very profitable for Germany and the US. It will mean moving backwards
in time for the parts of Europe being attached to the West.
The nature of the changes
under way has already been prefigured in the effects of the "reforms"
implemented in Russia from the early 1990s. It was said, of course, that
these "reforms" would eventually bring prosperity. This was,
however, a hollow claim from the beginning. For the "reforms"
implemented at Western insistence were nothing more than the usual restructuring
imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on Third
World countries. And they have had the same effects.
The most obvious is the precipitous
fall in living standards. One third of the population of Russia is now
trying to survive on income below the official poverty line. Production
since 1991 has fallen by more than half. Inflation is running at an annual
rate of 200 per cent. The life expectancy of a Russian male fell from 64.9
years in 1987 to 57.3 years in 1994. (16) These figures
are similar to those for countries like Egypt and Bangladesh. And, in present
circumstances, there is really no prospect of an improvement in economic
and social conditions in Russia. Standards of living are actually likely
to continue falling.
Clearly, there is widespread,
and justified, anger in Russia, and in other countries, about the collapse
of living standards which has accompanied the early stages of restruc-
turing. This has contributed to a growing political backlash inside Russia
and other countries. The most obvious recent example may be found in the
results of the December parliamentary elections in Russia. It is also clear
that the continuing fall in living standards in the future will create
further angry reactions.
Thus the extension of the
old world order into Eastern Europe and the CIS is a precarious exercise,
fraught with uncertainty and risks. The major Western powers are extremely
anxious that it should succeed, to some extent because they see success,
which would be defined in terms of the efficient exploitation of these
new regions, as a partial solution to their own grave economic problems.
There is an increasingly strong tendency in Western countries to displace
their own problems, to see the present international competition for the
exploitation of new territories as some kind of solution to world economic
Western analysts rightly suppose
that the future will bring political instability. So, as Senator Bradley
put it recently, "The question about Russia is whether reform is reversible".
(17) Military analysts draw the obvious implication:
the greater the military power which can potentially be brought to bear
on Russia, the less the likelihood of the "reforms" being reversed.
This is the meaning of the following extraordinary statement by the Working
Group on NATO Enlargement:
|"The security task of NATO is no longer limited
to maintaining a defensive military posture against an opposing force.
There is no immediate military security threat to Western Europe. The political
instability and insecurity in Central and Eastern Europe, however, greatly
affect the security of the NATO area. NATO should help to fulfill the Central
and Eastern European desires for security and integration into Western
structures, thus serving the interests in stability of its members."
This represents an entirely
new position on the part of NATO. It is a position which some NATO countries
thought imprudent not long ago. And it is alarming, because it does not
confront the real reasons behind the present pressure for NATO's extension.
However evasive and sophistical the reasoning of the Working Group may
be, it appears that the debate in many countries is now closed. It would,
of course, be much better if the real issues could be debated publicly.
But for the moment they cannot be, and the pressure for NATO enlargement
is going to continue.