The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a strategic alliance of global powers to defend member states against foreign aggression, thus in a way a partnership working for peace. It is, indeed, heartening to see countries uniting on one platform to ensure peace but NATO apparently believe that peace can only be ensured through the use of weapons. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70 percent of the global total, which is reflective of the NATO mindset.
The latest NATO summit held in Wales proved to be different from its previous meetings due to the policy statements issued by United States President Barack Obama regarding the self-ascribed Islamic State (IS). There are reasons for that: Nothing is the same as before neither in the Middle East, nor in Europe or the US. The horrible face of violence has become so apparent in the Middle East that has never been reflected so strongly on the western world.
Of late, Ukraine has been the top issue on NATO’s agenda for some time. Although, the West has been mulling imposing biting sanctions on Russia, NATO never considered Russia as a “combatant.” As it was declared as such, it would tantamount to igniting yet another Cold War. However, the ground realities in terms of alliances, agreements and trade have changed for both Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. Furthermore, it is clear that Europe will continue to be dependent on Russia until new energy corridors are opened. Therefore, NATO doesn't really aim to incorporate Ukraine completely and turn Russia into a party of the conflict. Instead of an all-out confrontation, NATO seeks to negotiate with Russia.
It is crystal clear that NATO’s reluctance is in its interest. However, the approach to bring Russia to negotiations by using sanctions as stick is flawed. It is not in the greater good of the world to try to rein in Russia by luring its former allies away from it, pushing it into isolation and then imposing the proposed sanctions. Even though Russia made some mistakes in Ukraine, it should not be forgotten that — knowingly or unknowingly — it was the West that triggered the current crisis in Ukraine.
The second important development that is going to have a major effect on Europe, and mostly on the Great Britain, is the march of Scotland toward independence. With the referendum to be held on Sept. 18, the Scots will make their choice. The reason behind the desire of Scotland to secede from the Great Britain is largely related to oil, which is known to have contributed to many conflicts and divisions in the past. Scotland believes that if it alone can exploit the North Sea oil reserves it will become one of the richest countries in the world.
During the NATO meeting, the UK brought up the issue. British Prime Minister David Cameron has recently offered greater autonomy to Scotland and said that United Kingdom was one of the world’s most successful social and political unions. This is, undoubtedly, very true and the union has stood Scots, English and Welsh in good stead over the last three centuries. However, energy interests coming into play and luring countries to break apart from unions is one of the biggest problems of our time. In order to prevent that fragmentation, unions must be based on love. This is a great necessity, which has never been put into practice in realpolitik.
The IS issue, the last but the most important issue on the agenda, means different things for different countries. From the perspective of Turkey, the NATO summit and the unfolding events regarding the IS showed that Turkey could never be left out by any country in the process. Meeting after meeting took place particularly after the recent disagreements between the US and Turkey, ever-changing world politics, and the emergence of a more West-oriented “New Turkey” policy following a new Turkish Council of Ministers and the presidential elections. Even though Turkey determines its own policies regarding its “neighbors” as an independent and rapidly developing country, when challenged by an international threat, it will use its identity as a NATO member. The “model partnership” with the US, as frequently mentioned during the NATO summit, is highly important for Turkey. This partnership does not mean giving into every request of the US and Turkey compromising its own values regarding the Middle East and Russia, but rather it means making mutual decisions and determining mutual strategies with regards to political relations.
Turkey is also an ally of Russia and the countries in the Asia Pacific, as much as it is a partner of the West. The approach of some columnists/analysts lately to the effect of “let’s forget about the West and turn to the East” is very dangerous for Turkey. The Middle East needs a democratic, liberal, educated and modern Turkey as a role model: Although the East certainly has very important values and decent people, the effects of communism in China, the increasing number of incidents of rape in India and the increasing misogyny underlying such acts, and the dark, almost organized crime structure that come to dominate some of the Turkic republics, offer a disturbing view of the eastern world. Therefore, it would be expedient for Turkey to work with the US toward a solution without losing its quality of a negotiator between the West and the East.
It should be remembered yet again that the only way to effectively fight the IS is to spread education. The US and most NATO countries persisting in their “violence to counter violence” policy will do little but ensure the creation of future problems. No matter what the reasons are, it is “ideas” that ultimately lie behind violence and terrorism. No step can be an effective solution unless something is done to explain why those ideas are wrong. Turkey, with its unique geopolitical position, should bring up the suggestion of an “ideological confrontation” against the IS in order to this problem to an end.
The writer has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science.
He tweets @harun_yahya