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This week on SOTT Talk Radio we spoke with Rick Rozoff, an investigative journalist who lives and works in Chicago. An active opponent of war, militarism and intervention for over 40 years, Rozoff manages the STOP NATO website and writes on the threat of international militarization, especially in the form of the globalization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Rozoff contends that NATO is the first attempt in history to establish an aggressive global military formation. It currently includes a third of the nations of the world, either as members or partners, has members and partners on five continents, and has conducted active operations on four, with the potential to expand its reach into the remaining two where it has not yet officially intruded itself.

Running Time: 01:50:00

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript:

Niall: Hello and welcome to SOTT Talk Radio. I am your host Niall Bradley, my co-host this week, Joe Quinn.

Joe: Hi there!

Niall: And Pierre Lescaudron.

Pierre: Bonjour!

Niall: So this week: NATO, from Regional Defence Pact to Global Military. We are interviewing Rick Rozoff. I hope I pronounced his name right.

Rick has been an investigative journalist and anti-war activist for some time. He is the editor of the STOP NATO website - kind of speaks for itself - which tracks and documents global militarist trends. Rick's on the line with us. Welcome to the show, Rick!

Rick: Thank you for having me Niall and colleagues, Joe and Pierre. I'm glad to be with you.

Joe: Excellent.

Niall: Great. Well, we were going to play a little...

Joe: We were going to take an unconventional show beginning and play a little bit of a speech by John Kerry. When did he make this?

Niall: He made this April 29th to the Atlantic Council.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: Maybe Rick can explain it. After the intro.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: But basically a civilian...

Joe: We'll just play it, it's just 44 seconds and we will get Rick's comments and maybe take it from there afterwards. So here it is:

John Kerry: "And after two decades of focussing primarily on our expeditionary missions, the crisis in Ukraine now calls us back to the role that this alliance was originally created to perform. And that is to defend alliance territory and advance Transatlantic security, and nobody should mistake that. And we are prepared to do what we need to do and to go the distance to uphold that alliance.

Together we have to make it absolutely clear to the Kremlin that NATO territory is inviolable. We will defend every single piece of it."

Joe: There you go. Rick, what is Kerry talking about there? Specifically, it stuck out for me, his comment: 'advance Transatlantic security'. What's some American president over there, five thousand miles from Europe, talking about Transatlantic Security for somewhere basically in the middle of Eurasia?

Rick: Yeah, that's a very good question. Incidentally, a very wise choice of excerpts. Had you gone on for a sentence or two though, he would of said that - referring derogatorily, pejoratively to the Russian government as the Kremlin.

Joe: Yeah.

Rick: And this is more than just a case of literally trope. This is meant to cast it in a negative light.

Joe: Yeah.

Rick: But the statement came almost immediately following the excerpt you used - says: "There is a threat to the entire model of global governance" or global rule perhaps he said, but something very clear to that. And these are all tip-offs. But keep in mind he was addressing, as you mention, the Atlantic Council of the US, which is the pre-eminent think-tank in the world for sponsoring the elaboration and expansion of a global NATO.

But since it was formed, I believe in 1961 or thereabouts, there has been a proliferation of comparable organisations throughout the world. There are some 30 or 40 Atlantic Councils or the equivalent thereof. The very title, by the way, is similar to the top governing body of NATO which is called the North Atlantic Council, which is constituted by the respective ambassadors of the NATO nations.

So when he uses terms like Euro-Atlantic, or Transatlantic or Atlanticist - by the way, the name of the two day conference that he addressed at the Atlantic Council was 'Towards a Europe Whole and Free'. And that's another very significant phrase, but only for the initiated. I have to put it this way.

John Kerry, you might recall when he ran for president, when he was a Democratic Party nominee in 2004, was derided by his Republican opponents for being a francophone. That was ipso facto reason not to vote for somebody.

However, what he in fact represents is that, I would argue, dominant wing of the US ruling elite that very much is Euro-Atlantic or Atlanticist in nature. So when he was speaking there at the Atlantic Council, he was using terminology and building on concepts that would be understood by the elite fraction of 1% of the population of the United States and by nobody else.

There was a comparable statement where former State Department and NATO official Nicholas Burns was introducing Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State and current Head of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs with the National Endowment for Democracy, and the second George W. Bush Administration's National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley and boasted of the fact that the Atlantic Council is the fastest growing think-tank in Washington. It is, and with good reason.

The other think-tanks made these advancing US geopolitical interests around the world, but the Atlantic Council is meant to expand history's first global military block, which is I think what you were alluding to when we talked about the transformation of NATO during the Cold War period.

So, Atlantic Council is where the Trans-Atlantic elites, elected by nobody to that position, accountable to nobody but other elites, planning the geopolitical division of the globe in a manner that benefits none of the respective populations of the countries affected. But certainly does the elite geo-strategists, the self-styled ones that he was addressing, indeed.

Joe: So is that what NATO was originally conceived to do? Is that built into the original NATO? Maybe you can take us back to the founding of NATO.

Rick: Yeah, that's a good question. On this past April 4th, NATO celebrated the 65th anniversary. It was launched in 1949, of course. As to what it was ostensibly created to do and what in fact it was, I think there is a lot of room for interpretation there; but whatever the initial intent was, and I don't believe that it was as innocent and certainly as philanthropic as NATO apologists try to portray it as being, what is transparently occurred in the last 23 years, particularly since the formal dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the Warsaw Treaty Organisation incidentally. The very name suggests it was modelled after NATO and came into existence 6 years after NATO, only in response - not so much to the creation of NATO, but the absorption of the Federal Republic of Germany into NATO.

But 23 years ago, with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, which had been moribund really for years preceding that, and the fragmentation of the Soviet Union, what the US then did was began to use the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to achieve military domination throughout the entire European continent, which it has now, thereby freeing it up for military adventures in the Middle East, the broader of Middle East and now the Asia Pacific region.

But also to set up a network of military partnerships through NATO that effectively absorbed or revivified, revived and restored other Cold War military blocks also modelled after NATO: the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO), South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO), Australia, New Zealand, US Treaty Organisation (ANZUS), and members of all those blocks are now NATO partners through various partnership programs. So what the US has succeeded in doing in the last 23 years is creating history's first global military block.

Joe: So every time I think of NATO, every time I see NATO acting or discussing or having acted on a global stage, I wonder to myself, to what extent can we say that NATO is more or less the US military by another name?

Rick: It is just that, you're correct. And we have to recollect, even though the two positions didn't become co-terminus until afterwards, the first top military leader of NATO when it was founded - actually a year after in1950 - the title was the same as it now by the way, Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, was Dwight D. Eisenhower; who, of course, came to that from a position from being Allied Supreme Commander for the Western Forces in World War II.

So in a sense what you have seen is simply a continuation of the Anglo-Franco-American, if you will, military structure in WWII extended to include other countries in Western and Southern Europe. However when NATO was formed 65 years ago, it consisted only of 12 nations. All of whom, except for Italy, were either on the North Atlantic Ocean or close to it.

However, in the decade from 1999 to 2009, NATO absorbed 12 new member states, that's a 75% increase in membership in that decade; all of those nations in Eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea. And this has effectively then created a cordon sanitaire along Russia's entire Western flank, from the Baltic States down to the Eastern Mediterranean.

We also have to recollect that now, depending on how you count them, but by my count 39 nation states in Europe or in the Mediterranean Sea that are considered European countries - I'm talking about the small island nations of Malta and Cyprus in the latter instance, and I'm excluding the micro-states like Andorra and Liechtenstein. But all of the European states, including the three in the south Caucasus, which the West refers to as European nations, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia - every single one of them is either a member of NATO or a member of a NATO partnership program, one or more NATO partnership program, I should add.

Russia now, with the NATO-Russia Council, that relationship seems to be in abeyance, but with every other European country is a member or an apprentice member, if you will, of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I have often had occasion to state that what a Charlemagne, Napoleon Bonaparte or Adolf Hitler only dreamt of, the US has effectuated in Europe through the military subjugation of the entire continent under a US controlled military block.

Niall: Yeah, it's way beyond the North Atlantic at this point.

Pierre: Yeah, you mention Napoleon, Hitler, Charlemagne. It also reminds me what happened during the Roman Empire because this NATO, this military coalition, is very much similar to the Roman Empire army where there were not only Roman soldiers, but a lot of soldiers coming from subjugated people and territories. It seems like the armed instrument of the US Empire.

Rick: That's a very good point. As a matter of fact, as an almost necessary correlate to the excerpt that we heard earlier from John Kerry, the Secretary of State of the United States talking about NATO, just perhaps three or four days ago, the Vice President of the United States, Joseph Biden, was at a military base in Romania as joint US-Romanian war games were occurring under the codename of 'Carpathian Spring'. And he made a statement. I am quoting him almost word for word. He stated, "NATO's Article 5", what is politely known as mutual defence clause, which is in effect a war clause. The activation of Article 5 in 2001 that has led to the NATO participation in the war in Afghanistan, to NATO's permanent naval surveillance and interdiction operation throughout the entire Mediterranean Sea, Operation Active Endeavour - and by the way, that's another parallel with the Roman empire we could talk about in a second.

But Biden stated while he was in Bucharest, at the military base, that, "NATO's Article 5 obligation is sacred" - his word - "and is good not only for now but for all time."

Joe: Right.

Rick: So you understand the kind of metaphysical, if not messianic, language that is being used. It truly is evocative of the Roman Empire. And the next day I wrote an article comparing him with the emperor Trajan whose column in Rome celebrates his victory over Dacia, which is modern day Romania. And that what you are seeing in many instances is a replication - let's keep in mind, one of the major architects of NATO expansion in the Cold War period is the infamous Zbigniew Brzezinski, who in his 1997-1998 book The Grand Chessboard refers to the United States and its 'vassals and tributaries' - the very language comes from it.

Something, I think, very important to remember when Nicolas Sarkozy was talking about a Mediterranean Union - the title which I think was later changed to Union of the Mediterranean to be less offensive to certain parties - he invited all the literal nations and the island nations of the Mediterranean but others close to it. And there was only one country that refused to attend the meeting he had called to discuss that. And that was Libya whose Head of State at the time, Muammar Gaddafi, said, "What Sarkozy is trying to do is recreate the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean base in fact."

And what NATO is doing now, it overlaps of course at every turn with the US. I had not completed my thought I'm afraid. When I talk about Dwight D. Eisenhower being the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, since his time, every Supreme Allied Commander of Europe for NATO is also the top military command for the US military in European command. So that the positions are what they call dual-hatted, one person occupies them both simultaneously to show the almost identical nature of heading up US military forces and NATO forces in Europe. But the same thing with the Mediterranean now.

By the way, Libya - since NATO launched a six-month overwhelming air war against a small, essentially defenceless nation of barely six million people - conducted almost thirty thousand air missions, including almost ten thousand of what NATO itself referred to as 'strike sorties'. Since then Libya has been declared a candidate for another NATO partnership program called Mediterranean Dialogue, which to date includes, as full members, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco. So that NATO already has memberships on the African continent as well as throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, South Pacific, the Far East Asia, around the world, indeed.

So yeah, the image of the Roman Empire is not a gratuitous one. I think it is one that also bears scrutiny in terms of a parallel with what's occurring.

Joe: These architects of NATO and the pushers of NATO around the world, who are they, in theory anyway, fighting against or who are they protecting against?

Rick: A consistently, or constantly diminishing, group of nations with any sort of independent foreign policy orientation. By my count, perhaps as few as 12 or 15 in the entire world. And what I mean is this. Perhaps three years ago, there was a guest editorial in The London Times, one of the more prestigious mouthpieces - prestigious, not in our opinion - but one of the most dominant mouthpieces for the international elite, the Western elite. And it was co-authored by Paddy Ashdown, who is the former viceroy effectively for Bosnia, for the West after the fighting ended in that nation. And also the infamous, again, George Robertson of Port Ellen, who was NATO General Secretary during the bombing of Yugoslavia 15 years ago.

The two of them said, in essence, in this jointly crafted op-ed piece, that "The West, which has enjoyed a dominant relationship in the world over the past three centuries" - and in fact they were being too modest. I think half a millennium would be more accurate. That is, since the advent of the great colonial era of over 500 years ago, the West has played a dominant role.

And now faced with a new world, where the world's second largest economy is China and the third is Japan's, with the emergence of groups like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or the so-called BRICS bloc, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, with now, as of a couple or three years ago, the community of Latin American and Caribbean states, 33-nation organisation in the Western hemisphere, the Western elites are scared that they are losing a grip on a world that they in fact have had for 500 years.

Let's recall that NATO, initially not including all of them but very shortly thereafter. By 1955, NATO included all the major European colonial powers: Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Turkey. And these are people who are used to being heeded, people used to being followed and obeyed. And for the first in history, we have the prospect of them not playing a dominant role. And I think they are using the one weapon they have most - they have control over international financial institutions and control over sometimes - by the way, Brzezinski refers to it as a 'quadripartite US advantage in the world' in the same book I mentioned, the 1998 The Grand Chessboard. One of the factors, and maybe in the long run not an unimportant one, he refers to as American culture hastening to place in parenthesis by the way, 'whatever one thinks of it.'

So I think that we have to acknowledge the dominance of European languages, of European culture, even if it's a very shoddy and cheap and inhumane popular culture; but nevertheless, its ability to influence thinking in the world on a mass level.

Joe: So what does it actually mean for these member states to be a NATO member? Is it just participation in war games or is there any other kind of tie-ins or advantages, if we can call them that?

Rick: The advantages I'm hard-pressed to think of. The demands however are fairly obvious. There are demands that every NATO full member state, but also candidate states, spend at least 2% of its gross domestic product on military acquisitions and equipment - over-expenditure.

Joe: Yeah.

Rick: With the express proviso I should add, that these weapons be 'interoperable', to use NATO's expression, meaning you've got to dump your Russian weapons and, maybe up until recently, Ukrainian weapons in favour of US, French, British, German and I might add, Swedish. Sweden is, in my book, for all intents and purposes the 29th member of NATO with perhaps Finland and Israel thrown in for good measure. Georgia.

So that these are some of the demands, but they are much more far reaching than this. We've seen, for example, the first round of NATO expansion in the post-Cold war period was in 1999, during the 50th anniversary Jubilee Summit in Washington, D.C. for which the Clinton administration and the Tony Blair administration in Britain, planned a couple of shows for the world. One of them was the absorption of three former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, but also NATO's first war. And that, if I can put it so inhumanely, fireworks display approved what NATO was capable of doing.

Of course, the war in Yugoslavia went on for 78 days. It didn't end within days as I assumed the NATOites had intended it to. The resistance on the ground by the people of Yugoslavia was such as to prolong the war and bring to very dangerous pass, as a matter of fact.

But the three nations I just mentioned account for three-quarters of what is colloquially known as the Visegrad 'Four' Group in Central Europe. The fourth is Slovakia but Slovakia had to wait another five years to become a NATO member because the Slovak people were voting the wrong way in presidential elections. To wit, they were voting for Vladimir Meciar and his political party. And NATO and the EU and the US let it be understood that if his party not only could not govern his own country - no matter what the people thought about it with their votes - but that they could not even be a member of a coalition government. So Slovakia had to be politically purged first before it was a suitable NATO member, is what I am trying to getting at.

What we've seen with the 12 new NATO members that have been absorbed is - going back to Pierre's allusion to the Roman empire, it's the first time I've seen this term used since ancient Rome - but what are called lustration laws in countries like Bulgaria and Romania, where anyone who had served in a position of authority during the previous communist or socialist governments, in security, in the defence industry, in the military and so forth, they are simply purged for life.

So joining NATO means a lot of things. It also means this; and this is something I think most of the world didn't properly pay attention to. Up until recently, we've now also seen the drawing down of NATO forces from Afghanistan, which constitutes a couple of things. The war in Afghanistan, it's 13 years this October 7th since it has been launched, is the longest war in the history of Afghanistan. It's the longest war in the history of the United States. It is the largest single concentration of foreign military forces in Afghanistan's history, at peak strength, 152,000, the vast bulk of which - but towards the end, I think all but perhaps 10,000 of the US troops were serving under the International Security Assistance Force, which is run by NATO.

There were troops officially, what are called 'troop contributing countries', officially from over 50 countries serving under one military command in one country, and that military command being NATO's. Over 50 countries. Nothing like this has ever occurred prior to this. In WWII there weren't 50 belligerent nations, much less on one side; much less in one country.

So what NATO was able to do and this quote that you played by John Kerry where he talks about with the drawing down or the withdrawing from Afghanistan, what he at least intimates in that comment and what I have asserted for years, the Afghan Wars is being used, not to win. There is no way you can win in an ill-defined war or conflict of that nature. But it was meant to be a testing ground to build up NATO interoperability of the armed forces of over 50 countries. And that being achieved, countries like Georgia which fought a five day war with Russia almost 60 years ago and has its troops gaining combat experience in a war-zone for conflicts nearer at home; Finland, which has not been belligerent in a war since WWII but is now conducting combat operations in northern Afghanistan; Sweden, which has not been at war for 200 years, is conducting combat operations serving under NATO in Afghanistan.

What the US has done is used the war in Afghanistan and used NATO in order to build up military interoperability with the 50 countries I alluded to. But also to train combat forces for several European countries that have borders with Russia.

Joe: So in a certain sense then, originally NATO was created in 1949 as a defence pact of the US and Western European countries against Soviet Russia. And now, in particular with the recent Ukrainian situation, it has kind of re-established itself under those terms or with that remit?

Rick: That's true to a degree but I think we have to be very careful about the chronology and certainly the causality. The propaganda experts in the West are playing off the fact that people have short memories, and they do everything possible to ensure they do. The very mechanics of how the mass media are structured in the West are meant to diminish one's ability to concentrate and recall and so forth, and I mean that almost neuro linguistically and otherwise. The argument now is that NATO has been in mothballs or, the typical arguments are it's an alliance in search of a mission; it has to re-invent itself and so forth.

I would reject that categorically. That, as I alluded to earlier, NATO was employed or revived and expanded by the United States immediately upon the break-up of the Soviet Union 23 years ago and was expressly refashioned to be a global military force.

The NATO Response Force, for example - prior to the current crisis in the Ukraine, prior to last November - Ukraine was one of four non-NATO countries selected to contribute to men and materiel to NATO's Global Response Force, it's called the Response Force, which was inaugurated I should point out, eight years ago in 2006 in the small African island nation of Cape Verde, Cabo Verde, off the Atlantic Ocean where there was a massive series of war games, air, sea and land, over 7000 troops, the Secretary General of NATO at that time and other leading members came to inspect the war games. One could ask oneself, why is NATO conducting a massive military exercise in an African island nation to launch a global response force? But anyways, Ukraine was one of the four countries that was selected who are not yet full NATO members to participate in that. The other three are, and they are significant, Georgia, Finland and Sweden.

This is years in advance of what is occurring now in Ukraine. So that what you are hearing from the likely media suspects like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Le Monde or what-have-you, is that NATO now is making up for its lost time by shoring up its military in the Eastern Europe because of the Russian bear and so forth. This is a complete reversal of the truth. There has been a steady, ineluctable, inexorable military build-up by NATO along Russia's western boarders going back at least to the 2004 massive NATO expansion at the Istanbul summit that brought seven Eastern European countries into NATO at one time, of course, the largest single expansion of NATO in its history.

And immediately afterwards, the US and NATO started moving into air bases, naval bases and so forth in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania. And this has been going on steadily ever since. I think it's much more reasonable to suggest that with the overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine in February of this year, that Russia saw Ukraine coming right up directly to its western border and took measures accordingly rather than to state that NATO was now expanding its presence on Russia's border because of the events in Ukraine.

Joe: So maybe it's more accurate to say then that NATO is essentially the US imperial command and always has been. And it was designed to essentially project US imperial power around the world by absorbing other countries into the structure.

Rick: Precisely that. It was the pretext needed to maintain permanent US military presence on the European continent. NATO is the framework within which that occurs. It permitted, for the first time, the US to bring nuclear weapons into Europe and to Britain initially immediately after the formation of NATO. And, to this day, permits the US under let's call the NATO burden-sharing or NATO nuclear sharing arrangement, to maintain US tactical nuclear weapons and air bases in Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, with the understanding that these weapons would be delivered, not by US war planes, but by war planes from the respective host countries.

So yes, it's certainly that. Now, I'm not exculpating the European members of NATO or at least the governing elites in those countries from also serving their own ends, particularly in terms of becoming arms manufacturers and exporters. If I am not mistaken, I believe Germany now is the third largest exporter of arms in the world?

So NATO has been good to Germany. And it's been good to NATO partners like Sweden, which is one of the biggest merchants of death in the world.

Joe: Yeah.

Rick: And the French and British and other NATO members who are able to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Eastern Europe under NATO interoperability mandates are certainly making out on this too. But yes, you are correct. The US is unquestionably the prime mover in setting up NATO and the main factor in NATO.

Joe: So it's not really about, as they would claim, about security and defence and protection of member countries. That's the cover for more likely American economic infiltration and dominance of the globe under military threat from NATO? And I'm questioning the security aspect of it here because really, what countries in the world are really, in real terms, threatening Western Europe or the US militarily?

Rick: Yes. NATO has taken over air patrols in Iceland from the United States, which found it convenient to turn it over to NATO. I believe currently it might be US war planes on that rotation but nevertheless it's done under NATO command at the moment. And one would certainly have to ask, right, in what manner is Iceland or is Luxembourg threatened in such a manner that you need a global military bloc to protect them?

Second of all, the latest NATO partnership program - and there are a whole series of them - is one that was launched ahead of the most recent NATO summit here in Chicago two years ago this month. And it's called - I think the title alone gives us a good indication of what we are talking about - Partners Across the Globe.

And the initial eight first members of the Partners Across the Globe are all in the larger Asia Pacific region. From the Middle East to the South Pacific, they are Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Again, I made the allusion to NATO absorbing members of former military blocs like ANZUS, CENTO and SEATO and here you go. But also the prime minister of Japan, who is a revisionist and a militarist, Prime Minister Abe, was recently at NATO headquarters in Brussels signing an individual partnership and cooperation agreement with NATO under the rubric of the Partners Across the Globe arrangement.

So, not only do you have all the major colonial powers in NATO now, you have all the Axis powers from WWII that are either NATO members or NATO allies. I don't have to enumerate them but they're Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Japan and so forth. And by the way, the constitutions of countries like Germany, Italy and Japan expressly forbid their re-militarization and playing an active role in combat operations around the world. But it hasn't stopped Italy, Germany and Japan from meeting for the first time in history in Afghanistan.

Niall: Something that stood out for me in the excerpt from Kerry's speech we played at the beginning of the show. The forcefulness with which he gets on his high-and-mighty horse about 'protecting our territory'. I guess there he is referring to Ukraine?

Rick: Yes.

Niall: I mean, ipso facto, is Ukraine a NATO member and/or considered their territory?

Rick: No, you're correct about that. He talks about every square inch of NATO territory being covered under the Article 5 War Clause. But the comment immediately before that as I recollect, is "All NATO members are committed to the defence of Ukraine," which is not a NATO member state and as such not really under the provision of Article 5, but intimating that it is. However, there is a little bit more dangerous and insidious an aspect to this than I think is immediately apparent. What he is really doing is replicating in many ways what the outgoing Secretary General of NATO, currently Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been saying for two or more years now in relation to Turkey, particularly vis-à-vis Syria.

This is on the occasion of NATO deploying six Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile batteries to south-eastern Turkey, right on the Syrian border but also dangerously close to the borders of Iran and Iraq. And Rasmussen repeatedly states that Turkey is NATO's south-eastern border. And I think what became apparent to many of us a couple of years ago, and by the way, NATO has also consolidated and shifted its allied land command to Izmir, Turkey. Two years ago, they deployed an X-Band forward-based missile, which is part of the NATO and US interceptor missile system. Next year, for example, 24 standard missile-3 interceptors are to be placed in Romania immediately across the Black Sea from Russia.

But that what we are seeing is something I think comparable or analogous in relation to Ukraine, which is what Kerry and company are saying is that every NATO member bordering Ukraine now is to Ukraine what Turkey is to Syria and that NATO is prepared to defend those member states against what is transparently an implied Russian threat. And that if NATO will not go to war over Ukraine per se, it will most assuredly go to war over Estonia or Latvia or Poland. Or, as Mr. Biden reminded his Romanian host, over Romania.

Pierre: Kerry used the word defence twice in his speech. And if I correctly understand your reasoning, NATO is not about defence at all. It's about aggression, like was done in Mali, in Djibouti, in Yugoslavia and many other countries. That's the first lie.

But another fundamental lie I can see from what you've said, is that NATO is not here to protect the host countries. Of course, they are deploying all those missiles in Europe targeting Russia. But at the same time, it's a way to lock the host countries because de facto this military pressure, all those missiles, makes it impossible for European countries to step back and gain their military independence and economic independence? Do I understand this point right?

Rick: No, you're absolutely correct. And it's been remarked by others but the record demonstrates it's so, that no country has ever joined NATO and been allowed to leave NATO, and will not be allowed to leave NATO. Worse than that, no single country has joined a NATO partnership program and has been allowed to withdraw from it. The one exception was a few years ago where Malta, after elections, because of a change in the government, withdrew from the Partnership for Peace program with NATO.

By the way, that Partnership for Peace program was used to graduate or promote the 12 new members of NATO in Eastern Europe between 1999 and 2009. It currently has some 23 members. And when Malta's government shifted, no doubt with the active intervention from the US and its NATO allies, which can exercise no small degree of influence in a comparatively small nation like Malta in terms of the outcome of a federal election, in terms of funding and heaven-knows what else; but when the nationalist party took power in Malta, they immediately rejoined the Partnership for Peace.

The only European country - again, outside of micro-states like Vatican City - that had not been a member of NATO or a NATO partnership program was Cyprus. But with the Western-sponsored victory of right-wing forces in Cyprus two years ago, it was immediately announced that Cyprus is going to join the Partnership for Peace in which case, not only is all of Europe a member of NATO or NATO's Partnership for Peace, but the entire Mediterranean Basin is either a member of Partnership for Peace, NATO or the Mediterranean Dialogue, except for Libya, which is being brought into the Mediterranean Dialogue, Lebanon and Syria.

And there is no question but that the West intends for Syria and Lebanon both to join the Mediterranean Dialogue. That would make the entire Mediterranean Basin, to use, again, a Latin expression, NATO's Mare Nostrum (Mediterranean Sea).

Niall: So Iraq, for example, is currently tied into this Partnership for Peace program.

Rick: No, Iraq is part of the Partners Across the Globe. But it also has an individual partnership program with NATO.

Niall: Okay.

Rick: What NATO intends for Iraq is what it intends for Yemen. In 2004, at the Istanbul summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - as we talked about a moment ago, where seven Eastern European nations, including three former Soviet republics, were bought into NATO at the same time - a number of other initiatives were taken, including something that actually contains the word initiative, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.

And this was another specially crafted partnership program aimed at the six members of the Gulf Co-operation Council, the hereditary monarchies in the Persian Gulf. And to date, four of those six are formally members of this partnership. They are Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. Oman and Saudi Arabia are de facto members. What US and NATO intend is to bring Iraq and Yemen into the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative - that NATO program - as well as bringing Libya, Syria and Lebanon in the Mediterranean Dialogue. There is no question about that.

Niall: Yeah. Wow, it's multi-decade and then it's multi-level at the same time presently. They seem to be trying to push as much paper as possible, if only to lock these countries into a system that makes it ever harder for them to get out. I just want to go back to something...

Joe: Yeah, go ahead.

Rick: I was just going to say before I forget this, because we had talked about the formation of NATO. The American scholar, Edward Herman, who I hope your listeners are acquainted with. He's contributed, as a matter of fact, a chapter to a new book on Ukraine that's being edited by Stephen Lendman, also here in Chicago by the way. I recommend the book on Ukraine; you can go to Stephen Lendman's website.

But yeah, Edward Herman has written over the years that he for one doesn't believe that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was set up in 1949 to defend western and southern Europe from any Soviet threat, which I think most of now acknowledge that that just did not exist, that the Soviet Union in 1949 had neither the ability nor the desire to roll across the plains of central Europe to the English Channel, or anything of the sort. But rather that NATO was set up expressly to politically manage Europe to make sure that no political parties that the US opposed ever entered a government.

And I think that a pretty clear allusion to communist parties at the time in nations like France and Italy, not so much that they would govern exclusively or even predominantly, but even the so-called historic compromise that was being considered in Italy in the 1970's would not be effected because NATO security provisions overrode the democratic will of the people of any given county. So that Hermann's argument, which I think is a sound one, is that NATO was meant for the indefinite military presence of the United States in Europe; but also meant to politically control the European continent.

Look at something like the Portuguese revolution in 1974, for example. NATO warships were off the coast of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. There would have been a NATO intervention had they not been able to achieve their aims otherwise. And there was certainly no military threat being posed to any NATO nation.

Niall: Yeah, it was an internal political struggle.

Rick: A peaceful political struggle.

Joe: So where do they get their legality from? They don't, right? There is none. We're not talking about anything legal here. It's essentially a lawless organisation that kind of assumes legality to itself on the basis of a group of politicians in different countries agreeing that they have the right to attack someone else.

Rick: In essence, yes. However the devil is rarely as black as he is painted, is the expression I know. But he is rarely as simple-minded perhaps as we believe he is.

And in the NATO charter, what's called the North Atlantic Treaty or the Washington Treaty it's referred to also, it does state, for example, under Articles 4 and 5 for mutual defence that it's in line with the respect over the appropriate UN articles and chapters. So there is some effort to give it a window dressing, to show it abiding by international law and the United Nations.

However I should mention that, I think this is about five years ago, Hans von Sponeck, who was both Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and also the humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations in Iraq before the invasion in 2003, a few years before, wrote a lengthy article in a Swiss publication where he demonstrated that NATO is trying to usurp the role of the United Nations internationally, that NATO's guidelines and those of the United Nations are not only distinct, they are antithetical. And he was referring particularly about a back-door arrangement made by the United States and NATO with Ban Ki-moon towards the end of 2008 whereby basically a secret agreement was reached between the United Nations and NATO behind the back of permanent members of the Security Council, Russia and China.

So there have been many moves of this sort afoot to try to portray NATO. And let's be honest about this Niall, that I think a lot of people around the world, not only in the United States, when asked what they believe the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is, probably don't understand that they are talking about a strictly military organisation; that they probably see it as something comparable to the United Nations. And that's just one case where the West has won, I think a large part, the propaganda battle, by portraying its military bloc as something distinct from, if not quite contrary to, what it actually is.

Niall: Yeah. I guess in the name, we have "Treaty Organisation" so the legality that they derive is from the treaty between nation states, which of course is a double-sided coin because they routinely flout the sovereignty of other nations, for example, when it came to Libya. They didn't get a UN resolution or they did get one but it has a very specific mandate.

Joe: Yeah, it was meant to be a no-fly zone.

Niall: A no-fly zone, which NATO interpreted as a green light to bomb the country.

Joe: Well, he's fabricated evidence by claiming that tired, old excuse of, "He's attacking his own people" or "He's killing his own people" which proved to be completely false. So that was a completely illegal and lawless aggression. It's like something out of the Wild West, if that's the way the Wild West ever was. It's just the law of the gun. And as we have seen, it was essentially just to expand the American empire into Libya that wasn't playing the imperial game at that point.

Rick: Right you are. And there are various degrees of egregious violations of international law. The 78 day air war against Yugoslavia 15 years ago occurred without any United Nations authorisation. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, of course, also occurred without UN resolution, which in large part I think accounts for why NATO didn't formally participate in both the invasion and the occupation.

However out of the current 28 members of NATO, all but five had troops serving under what was called Multinational Force Iraq; that is 23 out of 28. And those that did not - Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and France - increased their troops in Afghanistan to compensate for it, so there was a division of labour. And the south central division of occupation forces in Iraq, which is headed up by Poland, was supported by NATO.

So in Libya, you're correct, UN resolution 1973 allowed for a no-fly zone. Not as we talked about a few minutes earlier, over 26,000 air missions and almost 10,000 combat strike sorties in the country, which was certainly not envisioned in that resolution.

Niall: Yeah. Okay, you said that NATO is more or less synonymous with the US military structure. Is the US military's division of the globe into CENTCOM, AFRICOM, the EUCOM, etc. kind of running in parallel to their various treaty partnerships?

Rick: That's a very good question and thank you for asking it. Whenever a precedent is established and whenever we catch ourselves speaking in superlative terms, you know that something significant is occurring. And the US alone, after WWII and to this day, and actually expanding, reserves to itself, arrogates to itself, the right to divide up the entire planet into military commands, what are called Unified Combatant Commands, and particularly those of a regional nature so that you have the entire world carved up. And by the way, two of these commands had been formed since the end of the Cold War. One of them, Northern Command, was set up after 9/11 of 2001 and includes Canada, the United States and Mexico.

But the only extraterritorial US command, that is overseas command, is Africa Command which was set up in 2007/2008, which is in the post-Cold War period and it takes in every country in Africa except for Egypt, which remains under Central Command, which is something we can talk about, just as Israel is the only country outside of Europe that's under European Command's area of responsibility.

So they indeed overlap, what you're talking about, the NATO partnerships with the US Regional Unified Combatant Commands. The US also divides the world up between naval fleets. There are six US fleets that divide up the waters of the world. You have this unparalleled and unprecedented global military presence, which is now being reinforced, sometimes for public relations reasons, as I think you were intimating perhaps, Niall. It just looks better if the US walks in with 49 partners as opposed to doing something completely on its own.

But we do have to remember that 40% of the casualties suffered in Afghanistan by foreign forces were non-US NATO forces. And we're talking about soldiers and countries again like Finland and Sweden being killed in combat operations. I don't think many people in those respective countries know about that, or that small military contingents from Ireland and Switzerland and Austria have been serving in a war in Afghanistan.

But until people understand what NATO membership really entails - let me give you an even better example. Sweden, which a member of Partnership for Peace, has 500 troops, or did until recently in northern Afghanistan; again, in combat operations. They supplied several war planes for the air war against Libya three years ago, Operation Unified Protector. Perhaps two years ago or three years ago at most, they eliminated the last remnants of conscription in the Swedish army and made it a completely professional army, which is a precondition for NATO membership.

And every member of the Swedish Armed Forces had to sign a waiver agreeing to being stationed overseas or they had to resign from the Armed Forces of Sweden. So what we are seeing is NATO has taken national militaries that were used, or at least intended, for territorial defence of their homeland and turned them into expeditionary forces that can be deployed anywhere in the world.

Joe: Wow!

Pierre: Yeah. And you said actually a few minutes ago that two constraints to joining NATO was to have at least 2% of the GDP dedicated to military expenses and to have interoperability of military devices. This being said, you have some countries for example, France, since they joined NATO, their military expenses keep decreasing although it's still above the 2%, so it means there is less military power. And this interoperability means also that you have no more military independence. All your military devices are hackable and not independent and robust any more.

So it means that even if you have an army, a nation has an army, de facto this army is powerless because of the very constraint to join NATO.

Rick: You're correct about that. And we do know of course that when Nicolas Sarkozy became president of France, he brought France back into the military command structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for which France was rewarded, if you will, by being given the first major NATO command, that of the US-based Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia. Prior to that, there had only been one major NATO headquarters in Brussels.

But for the last 15 or so years, there has been one also in the United States and the first commander of that was a French officer. So not only does it sacrifice really the national sovereignty and endangers the security interests of any nation joining this military bloc, but if France still desires to, say, sell Mistral warships to Russia, the US can effectively block that through NATO military command structures, and prevent a nation from operating even a commercial matter in a way the United States doesn't support.

Pierre: Another question Rick. Now that we have drawn all those analogies about past empires, how do you see the future of NATO and the future of the US Empire?

Rick: I wish I could prognosticate, and I wish I could optimistic.

Joe: Well, let me maybe define it a little bit. You've mentioned I think in passing already that this NATO expansion to the borders of Russia and to Ukraine, or threatening to do so anyway, threatens to ignite potentially a major war. Do you see that on the cards?

Rick: That's a distinct possibility. And I fear that, unless some third force - and I have no idea who that third force would be, I have to be perfectly candid with you - intervenes in some manner diplomatically, that I don't see any ability for Russia to do anything other than capitulate. Nor do I see any indication that the West is going to step down.

Look, they are paying back Russia for Syria, that's transparently obvious. A statement months before the event in early December, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, a fellow named Dmitry Peskov, said that the crisis in Ukraine, which had not achieved anything like its current dimensions, is payback for Syria.

What the US and its allies, and by the way, there was Bloomberg News a few weeks ago, a couple of months perhaps, stated - I don't know who they are quoting - that France in the United States were hours away from launching military attacks against Syria when it was finally halted through Russian diplomatic initiatives; and that, in a way, the West is now going to create - has created Syria, indeed - on Russia's western border.

So what are the prospects for this being diffused and it not proceeding? It doesn't look good. I just have to tell you. This is maybe the major East-West confrontation surely since something like the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. But perhaps in some ways, given its direct propinquity, its direct proximity to the Russian border, you don't even have a buffer zone any more. In the words of George W. Bush maybe ten years ago after NATO expansion in 2004, he said "The Warsaw Pact has now become NATO."

Joe: Yeah. Just to give our listeners an explanation there of the Syrian situation: it seems that Russia was working behind the scenes and obviously to defuse the threat of a NATO attack. And what they did was they basically got an official agreement from the Assad government that they would dispense with their chemical weapons etc. And that this was the reason that the West and NATO couldn't go ahead and bomb anyway and ignore that was because maybe there was a threat that they would release this data if they did that, if they invaded and attacked; that there wasn't a peaceful resolution that the US just kind of completely ignored.

It gives a real insight into the mentality that these people have in NATO and in the US, that they were incensed enough at the fact that they were prevented from bombing the crap out of Syria by Russia. They were so incensed that they would then seek to create almost a civil war on Russia's borders and try to give Russia some problems in that sense.

But it's a funny kind of payback in a certain sense because I think that Russia is probably quite content that they've absorbed a little bit of extra territory, and some very strategic territory, into Russia as a result of this payback.

Rick: That's an interesting paradox and you're correct. The historians will sort this out if we survive this crisis, and that's not guaranteed. But a couple of possibilities: we have to recall that at the Bucharest summit of NATO in 2008, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation explicitly stated that an invitation had been granted both to Georgia and to Ukraine to become full NATO members, that it was an understanding that both countries would be fully integrated into NATO as members, but that certain preconditions had to be met. And, just as Pierre was stating there, a couple of major demands on NATO members in terms of percentage of gross domestic product expended on the military and interoperability, not only weapon systems by the way, but of military technique, of language - English. And other methods of integration under US command.

But that there were two major preconditions for joining NATO that neither Ukraine nor Georgia met at that time. And they are unresolved conflicts on the nation's soil and foreign troops in their territory. Now in the case of Georgia, this meant at the time, a comparably small, almost minuscule, contingent of Russians peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which were claimed by Georgia and had in fact been part of Georgian Socialist Republic but had never been part of an independent Georgia, at least in modern times.

By the way, those troops being mandated by the Commonwealth of Independent States, of which Georgia itself was a member at the time, and the fact that those two countries were not willing to be reabsorbed by Georgia, were the barriers for Georgia's incorporation into NATO.

And by the way, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are two of what are referred to as 'frozen conflicts in former Soviet space'. The other two, and it is worth paying attention to them, are Transdniestr in relation to Moldova and Nagorno-Karabakh in relation to Azerbaijan. But I've argued for years Niall, and Pierre and Joe, that the fifth frozen conflict was always Crimea. And because the Russian Black Sea fleet had its headquarters in Crimea, then it was perfectly obvious when NATO said 'Ukraine is coming in after they've met the preconditions', the preconditions meant the eviction of the Russian Black Sea fleet from Crimea and the subjugation of Crimea so that it was beholden to Ukraine.

Or, and I'm following up on your suggestion here Niall, or that maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Crimea split from Ukraine. In which case, the remainder of Ukraine could easily be absorbed into NATO as it now has no foreign military forces on its soil and it has no unresolved territorial conflicts.

Joe: Wow!

Rick: Going back to at least 2008; the director of the Missile Defence Agency of the US Department of Defence - this is the agency that was created on the basis of the Ronald Reagan Administration Strategic Defence Initiative, so-called 'Star Wars' - had been meeting secretly with the Orange Revolution government of Viktor Yushchenko and others. But even recently with the Yanukovych government, as recently as two years ago, NATO was openly talking about placing missile shield components inside Ukraine. This now becomes a now distinct and immediate possibility.

Joe: That's the kind of 'Russia was baited' theory on the Ukrainian situation, that in fact, rather than a coup for Russia and Putin to get Crimea, they were baited to take Crimea so that Ukraine would be essentially more easily assimilated into NATO.

Rick: Number one. Number two, because there has been a presidential election where it looks like the billionaire chocolate king has defeated the multimillionaire gas princess.

Joe: Yeah.

Rick: To the applause, of course, the entire Western democratic, Transatlantic, Euro-Atlantic, 'democratic' alliance.

Niall: Yay democracy!

Rick: Yeah. What democracy, right?

Niall: Yeah.

Rick: But at any rate, the continued inclusion of Crimea and Ukraine would have tilted the votes against precisely these sorts. For all his manifold deficiencies, Yanukovych and the party of regents won the elections four years ago because enough votes were cast in Crimea to tip the balance. So to take Crimea out of the equation and out of Ukraine, and then the ability of pro-Western, even ultranationalist forces to win elections has now just been enhanced.

Niall: That sounds neat.

Joe: Yeah. But then again, the Black Sea fleet and access to Crimea and access to the Black Sea...

Niall: And therefore the Mediterranean.

Joe: ...and therefore the Mediterranean, a warm-water port, is very essential for Russia. And I think it would have been a blow for them to have lost that.

Rick: Oh, no question about it. But I don't know that there aren't Western policy planners who prepared for just this contingency.

Joe: Yeah.

Rick: And saw it as more of a victory than a defeat. But when we talk about the connection between Syria and Ukraine, let's remember that Russia has its only naval docking facility and repair facility in the entire Mediterranean, at Tartus in Syria. And that the ships coming there were exactly Black Sea fleet ships, overwhelmingly, coming from Sevastopol and Crimea through the Dardanelles and the Bosporus and into the Mediterranean.

It almost appears as though to consolidate control of the Mediterranean, which is not only now NATO's Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, I believe, or 1 or 2, that is in the Mediterranean area, as well as the Operation Active Endeavour. By the way, the first non-NATO country to supply a warship for this permanent NATO military naval operation in the Mediterranean was Ukraine under Yanukovych. But to effectively knock Russia out of the Mediterranean doubly, should they have succeeded in the evicting the Black Sea fleet from Crimea and toppling the government in Syria and displacing Russian vessels from Tartus.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: We have a chat room going Rick. And there are a few Scandinavian listeners. One of them is in Finland and he says that: "People here debate whether Finland should become a NATO member, not realising that for all intents and purposes..."

Niall: It already is.

Joe: "...The Finnish Defence Forces are integrated with NATO and take part in NATO operations. And it's basically already a member of NATO in practice." And another one, in Sweden, says that: "It's the same thing in Sweden. In a nutshell, the cry is, 'The Russians are coming! We need NATO for protection!'" It's amazing how the bogeyman Russian, commie, Soviet thing endures.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: Even unto 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, in all the European countries really, and particularly in Eastern European.

Rick: No, you're correct. The current Finnish head of state from the new right-wing dominated government, was quoted just in recent days, within the last week or so. Even though the polls show that only slightly over 20% of Fins support joining NATO he said something: "Oh well, the people don't know about these matters."

Joe: Yeah.

Rick: An absolute contempt of his own electorate and his own populace. And this is precisely the sort of elite and anti-democratic nature of the Atlanticists or the Euro-Atlantic conspiracy that we are talking about.

There is a fellow residing in Sweden, an American ex-patriot, Al Burke. He's done extraordinary work. He has a website called - I think a rough translation would be 'Stop Sweden's Clandestine', or Surreptitious Absorption into NATO'; or covert perhaps. (Stop Sweden's Furtive Accession to NATO). And he's demonstrating the concerted effort through think-tanks, through the media, through certain government and ex-government officials, against overwhelming opposition amongst the populace in Sweden and Finland, to drag these two nations into NATO.

As I alluded to earlier, for my money, Sweden and Finland are the 29th and 30th member of NATO de facto already. I am glad somebody in Scandinavia is aware of this and is ready to fight against it.

Niall: But the extent to which people in general are unaware of just how deep the connections are amazes me. There was a report this week. Here's the headline: 'Pentagon to shut down over 20 facilities across Europe.' "The US military announced its closing down 21 military facilities in half a dozen countries across Europe, a move the Pentagon said would trim $60 million, in fat, annually." And they give a description of what the facilities are: a shooting-range, some storage facilities, not much.

Joe: A skeet shooting-range?

Niall: A shooting-range.

Joe: A skeet shooting-range, it's not a military shooting-range, yeah? (laughter) 'There are all these basketball courts, swimming pools - we're going to shut those down.'

Niall: The way it's written; it's just reported and, oh by the way, they're closing down 21 facilities and they are just trimming. They have vast facilities...

Joe: Military presence, yeah.

Niall: ...all across Europe. Europe is militarily occupied!

Joe: Absolutely! But that's the thing. You go and ask anybody in the street in any European country if they live under an occupation or a military occupation or even, let's say, the American empire. Even introduce that idea of an American empire and you'll just get blank stares from people. People are not aware of it. It's very smart, compared to the way empires were managed and expanded throughout history, this is a very different one in the sense that nobody knows about it. Nobody knows about it! It just boggles my mind sometimes.

Niall: Yeah. Rick, you called it a conspiracy. What else can it be but that? Of course, the conspiracy theorist is derided because the comeback is nearly always something like, "But how could you keep such a conspiracy among so many people quiet?"

Rick: (laughing) Yeah. Two things even. I'm thinking of the clever play on words, but astute political observation, by regrettably now, the late American novelist, Gore Vidal. Arguably the greatest American man of letters in the entire post-WWII period, who once said, "The greatest enemy of conspiracy theories are conspirators."

Joe: Yeah.

Rick: And it's not a matter of speculating about this. It's, as we were talking about, catching people when they are speaking to each other, right, amongst the initiated. There's a line by the way in Eckermann's conversation with Goethe 200 years ago, where they're talking about Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. And Goethe turns to Eckermann and says, "The initiated will understand." That is, there was Masonic symbolism and so forth. That's not a conspiracy to remark that, is it? That's simply saying that when people talk in catchphrases or code languages amongst themselves, they're clearly communicating something amongst each other that is not to be passed on to a third party.

And when you hear this gobbledegook jargon that is used, let's say, in Atlantic Council; by the way, one of the major recipients of the International Leadership Awards was Senor Barroso of the European Union. But another one was the Pentagon chief, Chuck Hagel. And Joe Biden spoke there, and Kerry spoke there and Madeleine Albright spoke there. And they are not talking about the weather here. I meant to state incidentally, the title of the two day conference at the Atlantic Council in late April and early May was 'Towards a Europe Free and Whole'.

And that catchphrase, which a variation of which is 'Towards a Europe Free, Whole and At Peace' originates, as far as I can tell, in a speech made by George H. W. Bush, 1989 in Minsk, West Germany at the time. And the title of the speech was 'Europe, Free and Whole'. So every time you see that phrase, the people using it know what they are talking about and what they are trying to communicate. But I'd defy anyone to tell me 99 out of 100 average citizens would have any idea what that meant.

Joe: I thought you were going to say there that it had originated in a speech or a talk by George Orwell, as opposed to George Bush.

Rick: [Laughter]

No. I've often said that, with all due respect to Mr. Eric Blair, George Orwell, he proves to have been not terribly imaginative. He didn't project one tenth of what they are capable of.

Niall: No.

Joe: He didn't have the imagination, no.

Niall: Truth is far, far weirder than fiction in this case. Speaking of code words, something I love about your site is that you collect all of the info together in one place. So this week, you put out a press release that NATO issued. God, it's boring, it's bland as hell, but I've just highlighted just a little part:

Rick: [busting a gut laughing]

Niall: "As we have seen in recent months, the global security situation remains fragile and unpredictable and the alliance is increasingly surrounded by an arc of instability from Ukraine to Syria to the Sahel..." Blah, blah, blah, blah. But, "arc of instability". They know that's a Bzrezinski term, right?

Rick: Precisely. It was also used, of course, in the post-9/11 world, right? The arc of instability roughly was an overlay for the greater or broader Middle East, or the Middle East Initiative, or the new Middle East depending. But again, this is something that people amongst each other understand what it pertains to but it is not meant for public consumption. You're correct. On my website, I think probably three-quarters of the information there comes directly from NATO or US military services. If there is a conspiracy there, they're quite open about it.

Joe: Yeah. You have to know the lingo.

Rick: Yeah. They're just assuming anyone who goes to those websites, they are going to be friendly-inclined, if you will, and aren't going to take issue with what's being reported there. But when you shine the light of day on their goings-on, then they have activities exposed in a manner they didn't intend them to be.

By the way, when you mentioned the Sahel, in early of 2012 there was an unsigned lead editorial in The Washington Post calling for NATO intervention in Mali.

Joe: Wow!

Rick: And about the same time, of course, leading US officials in both political parties were calling for NATO to intervene in Syria. So that this arc of instability, as you allude to from Ukraine to Syria to the Sahel - by the way, nowhere near the Atlantic Ocean in any of those three instances - suggests again the post-Cold War purpose to which NATO has been put, which is the elaboration of an international military network: aggressive, war-fighting, expeditionary.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: Yeah. It's kind of mind-boggling. Even when you are aware of the extent of it, you almost have to back-engineer it in your mind to understand it. De facto, they already see the world as a militarised place under one command. And any time there is a crisis, it's one that they've provoked themselves to deal with what they think is the real underlying issue, which is a local political issue.

For example, you mentioned in passing how they would interfere in local politics in Europe throughout the last 50, 60 years. That reminded me of Gladio. The Gladio network, is that a NATO thing, CIA thing or all of the above?

Rick: I know probably less than you do about it, except that, by its very nature, it's difficult to suss out or to know. There is a wonderful book written, I think we're aware of recently, that exposes the historical roots of that.

But when you are talking about covert operations, you judge by the evidence and then you try to, as you say, back-engineer or read into what structure had to be in effect to do that. But it certainly suggests a lot of provocations. We know in Italy in the 1970's and in Turkey surely, what's also sometimes referred to as 'deep-government', that there were structures, security and political, put into place in NATO nations after WWII that remain to some degree now. We can only speculate about how deep they run, and which activities they have been involved with.

The Reichstag fire wasn't known as being an internal affair until decades later, as we recall. And there may be any number of instances like that. But we don't even have to delve into something like that. Look how openly NATO embraces what can only be described as terrorists. Like cannibals in Syria, Nazis in Kiev. How much more overt can you get than that? And there's not a disclaimer about that; there is not a word trying to dissociate themselves from those sorts.

We have perhaps, arguably I would say, have reached nadir, a new low in terms of what's being tolerated, in terms of the furtherance of Western geopolitical and economic objectives. And that no force, evidently, is too gruesome, too monstrous, too hideous, too inhuman to be embraced as an ally in that struggle.

Niall: Rick, we're going to cut it there. It's been a real pleasure having you on. Your insights and knowledge about this is just a great service, it really is.

Joe: Absolutely. You're kind of fighting the good fight there in terms of your whole focus, in terms of stopping NATO. NATO tends to get overlooked and there are not many people out there who are, especially in the US I think, specifically saying kind of, "Stop NATO! Here's what NATO's doing, here's what's NATO is about."

There's a few more in Europe maybe, but nowhere near enough. The kind of stuff you are doing is indispensable I think because it's really the heart of the American empire that has kind of threatened to devour the entire planet and somebody has to do it.

Rick: Thank you all three, thank you very much.

Joe: Alright.

Pierre: Thank you. Thank you, Rick.

Niall: Okay. Check out Rick's website. If you search for 'stop NATO', you'll find it but it's And yeah, thanks again Rick!

Rick: Yeah, I hope to talk to you again.

Joe: Yeah. We'll do it again definitely. Thanks.

Pierre: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Rick: Bye.

Joe: Well, there you go folks! Yeah, that was Rick Rozoff.

Niall: He sure knows his stuff!

Joe: He knows his stuff and it's interesting that he's so dedicated to doing what he does.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: You can imagine that it's kind of an obsession, if you look at his website and stuff. He really doesn't like NATO and he's got it between his teeth there that he wants to stop NATO, not that he thinks he has any chance of success but he wants to expose what NATO is doing and it needs to be exposed. Because it does, like I just said, go to the very heart of the kind of world in which we live today, which is effectively under an American empire.

And it's growing and spreading continually. And NATO appears to be the enforcer of it. It's the military enforcer of the American imperial project. And they are not doing it in traditional imperialistic ways, in the sense they are not going in and conquering countries. But they are subsuming or absorbing countries into this NATO infrastructure and then moving on and using NATO and using these other countries as new members of NATO to bomb and infiltrate essentially poorer parts of the world, to open them up to predatory capitalism from the West.

Niall: Yeah, most of us only here about it now and then. Libya, currently with the Ukraine issue NATO gets in the news.

Joe: But it's almost like, 'They want to be part of NATO' or 'NATO wants Ukraine to be part of NATO'.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: It's almost like, 'But NATO is this benevolent kind of organisation', almost like the UN. They have a charter. It's almost as if they tried to style themselves as a UN organisation. But it's not quite United Nations in the sense that they are in the process of gathering nations together and ultimately they'd like to be a UN military organisation. Up until now, the UN is essentially a group of most of the nations in the world all getting together to decide on things. This is going to be a military UN where all of these countries are part of a military organisation and they all decide together to not discuss problems, but to discuss problems and then bomb somewhere.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: So they can open it up, like I said, for Western corporate and political interests.

Niall: The ease with which the political elite in any given country goes along with it. On the one hand, it's staggering, but when we hear about the vast quantities of weapons in place in these countries, it's a huge stick to hold over them.

Last week, people were amazed that Belgium agreed to effectively launder federal money from the US through the country in order to prop up the dollar back home; I think to the tune of three times the country's GDP.

Then when you consider what Rick's saying. He listed Belgium among six or seven Western European countries that have had nuclear weapons armed and ready to go, and maintained these last 65 years. What is Belgium going to do?

Joe: I think we mentioned this last week. Probably most people who aren't Belgian or certainly who aren't European don't know this but NATO's headquarters has always been in Belgium. I think it's just outside the Mons in Belgium. I actually drove past it. It's just this Orwellian kind of speak. It's called SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe. And that's what it's called today. Allied Powers obviously goes back to...

Niall: WWII.

Joe: .,..the Second World War, and just when NATO was kind of formed. But they still call it that and they still have a Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Europe in Belgium. And he's an American general.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: So the idea that Europe is not completely under the control of the US government, the US imperialists, the US military is just a fiction. And the facts to prove that, to show that, have been on the ground for decades.

Niall: Yeah. Barroso was mentioned by Rick. Barroso is the non-elected President of the European Commission in Brussels. He said a couple of years ago, "I liken Europe now to an empire. Oh, but not that kind of empire, we're a different empire - where people democratically blah, blah, blah." The European Union came after in Brussels, same place, same location as SHAPE.

Joe: It was probably a NATO project.

Niall: Well, what it's got me thinking is that, first and foremost, the military strata is built on top of which everything else comes. It's not, as you would sort of think, "Oh NATO, yeah, I joined NATO many decades later after it was formed." But we actually had a question from a reader. I didn't get to ask it because I think Rick answered it. She was asking, "Why is it that there is this long selection process?" Say a country has agreed to join, surely they should jump at the chance and say, 'Yeah, yeah, join us.'

Well, he says it's because of two things: interoperability, which means their military hardware needs to be in functioning or at least integrated into the existing system; and of course, 2% of the country's GDP needs to start buying weapons from our approved suppliers.

Joe: Exactly.

Niall: But it goes beyond that. What it makes me think is the US effectively made the decision, probably before WWII, but let's say, during or immediately after it, to structure their entire industry, economy, the whole society on a military principle with the Pentagon at the centre of it. Everything functions from it. All of their high-tech and industry are effectively spin-offs of the underlying structure, which is military in nature. And when you spread that to other countries, you're not just getting interoperability of the use of the weapons as a sort of, 'Oh yeah, make you're up to scratch on that'. You're turning it into an integrated technological system that is, at its foundation, militaristic.

Pierre: Yeah. I think you raise a very interesting point, where first you have the military step and then you have the financial and economic step, first, NATO in Europe and then the European Union. That's quite similar to the modus operandi described by Naomi Klein where actually military intervention is only a preparatory step to give birth to a global, de-regularised, private market open to speculation, exportation and maximizing profit basically. So those two steps go hand in hand.

Joe: Yeah. So, just some breaking news here. Rick just kind of mentioned it. It's probably from a couple of hours ago but this Poroshenko guy, the 'chocolate king', has claimed victory in the Ukrainian presidential elections. He claims he won more than 55% of the vote. - He needed 50% of the vote to win outright, otherwise it would go to a second round.

Niall: So the 'chocolate king' is now president of Nuland-istan?

Joe: Yeah. Although the two main contenders were Tymoshenko, the kind of alter ego of Princess Leia with the Danishes on her head. She was the 'gas princess' and he's the 'chocolate king'. And I thought that really it would have been better if they had have combined forces. They could have produced a new product with kind of explosive chocolate or something. Or gaseous, bubbly chocolate. No, no.

Niall: Apparently the 'Dark Lord' himself also run, Lord Vader.

Joe: That's right, Darth Vader ran. Well, no, did he run? I thought he was banned for life.

Niall: He was kicked out for being, I don't know.

Joe: Too close to the bone? Yeah.

Niall: Some guy dressed up as Lord Vader.

Joe: Because he probably would have won. But it's actually horrible. This Poroshenko guy, is just another oligarch. He is pro-Western. He is pro-NATO. He is the one who just a few weeks ago offered a bounty essentially to any Ukrainian male who would go and fight against the separatists in eastern Ukraine. He offered more than the standard wage for a Ukrainian soldier per day. And he also said that their lives would be insured for something like about $80,000 or so.

So he was actively recruiting and using the lure of money to, at this stage, kind of relatively poor Ukrainian men to join the military and to go fight against their own countrymen; and also to assuage any concerns about, "What if I die? What would my mother do?" "Well, we'll give her some money when you die."

So this is the kind of guy - and he said this publicly, it was in the news. So this is the kind of person who is now the new President, the new oligarch in Ukraine. And I really hope that all those protesters in Kiev, leaving aside the right sector and the violent ones, but the people who actually were protesting at the time and who got sidelined by the US-sponsored kind of neo-Nazi right-wingers, I hope all of those people are happy because they've basically got a 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'. Nothing has changed and it's because they didn't stand up to the clear evidence for foreign Western infiltration and meddling in their country, in the political system in their country. They thought it was great.

Even though maybe a lot of them probably knew that there was meddling going on. But because they are so deluded and enamoured with the idea of joining the European Union, they just followed it and went along with it and didn't protest. And now they've got, unfortunately - I don't want to say they've got what they deserved. But they've got what they were always going to get as a result of that kind of - I don't know what to call it.

Pierre: It's a logical outcome it seems like.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: Now, Rick Rozoff sees the situation as being pretty bleak. He mentioned at one point that Russia has got essentially a choice - to bring it to a head, to a war, or to capitulate.

Joe: He said he doesn't see how they cannot capitulate but...

Niall: Do you see a middle road there?

Joe: I don't think they have to capitulate. I don't think they will capitulate. They're making moves right now, and have been making moves to looking east, towards China.

There is still, despite everything that Rick said and the expansion of NATO, there is still a big part of the world that is not NATO-aligned, and that NATO's goal is to make them all NATO-aligned, to make them members of NATO. But you got most of South America; you got all of China and all of Russia. And that's not a negligible percentage of the landmass of the world and of its population.

So it's not over just yet. And certainly if Russia is smart enough, they can at the very least, stand against this expansion of NATO and the imperialist predation of Western powers and simply bring it to a kind of a checkmate, or an impasse or a stand-off where the march of NATO is halted.

But, of course, the problem is how long does anyone person like Putin who is willing to do that, live? And who follows him? And with the way that Western powers and intelligence agencies go about the process of manipulating and interfering in the internal affairs of countries, it's not a good prognosis for any country really. They would really have to lock down their borders and be very, very careful and very aware of that threat to make sure that doesn't happen, kind of going forward into the following generations and for the foreseeable future because they are just waiting to do that and as soon as they see a chance, they are going to get in and try and do it.

But again, the reason Russia is in this position right now is because Russia is such a big country. And it's not quite so easily kind of overthrown as smaller European nations or other countries around the world have been in the past by US interests. So it's hard to say, really.

Pierre: Yeah, two things maybe along these analogies. First historically: Rick was mentioning Napoleon, Hitler. We mentioned the Roman Empire. And the three empires didn't manage to get Russia. For centuries, the Roman Empire stopped around the Volga River, didn't go beyond the Germanic land. Napoleon destroyed his empire trying to invade Russia. And Adolf Hitler stopped at Stalingrad, was stalled in Stalingrad for years. That's the first point.

The second point is that military dynamics don't occur in a vacuum. There are many other factors at play.

Joe: Yeah.

Pierre: So evolution on a financial front, on the economic front, on the environmental front, can have much importance and totally disrupt the current military plan. And indeed, as Joe said, if you only take into account the military dynamics, it looks bleak. But there are many other things or many other factors that may come into play.

Joe: Yeah, it's hard to tell. And things may come to a very short and abrupt end in a certain sense, before then, before any of these longer term predictions even have a chance to play out, other things may intercede. The planet itself is to some extent, conscious and aware in some way of these kinds of things it seems because, as we've mentioned in other areas on our websites, there seems to be a kind of - what's the term?

In a circumstantial kind of way, there seems to be a correlation between the state of humanity and what's going on on the planet - there's chaos, militarization, wars, rumours of wars and kind of geological upheaval around the planet. We've been charting the stark increase in all sorts of potentially catastrophic natural events on the planet over the past 5, 6, 7 years. And earthquakes, sinkholes, tsunamis, major hurricanes, typhoons and, of course, the large increase in the number of fireballs seen in our skies. So this doesn't seem to be separate or detached from what's going on on the planet in terms of humanity, at least in a circumstantial kind of way. There is a correlation there, if only as in the sense that it's happening at the same time. So that's another factor, as Pierre was saying, that could intercede or could change the game plan.

Pierre: Yeah. And along with what you say actually, according to mainstream history, the end of the Roman Empire came from barbarians. And a lot of evidence points to a different cause, much more serious actually, cosmically induced catastrophes destroyed the Roman Empire.

But interestingly, mainstream history and even ancient chroniclers transformed the report of cosmic events, fireballs, for example, destroying Roman armies, into battle where barbarian armies destroy Roman armies. So that's an interesting shift or link between military fights we are talking about, and celestial interventions.

Joe: Yeah. And that's something almost to be welcomed in a certain sense, when you are really looking into the psychology, the psychological profile of the people behind this Western imperial plot or plan. You can get a bit depressed about it and think that, "Jesus Christ, something needs to come along here and sort things out. And if it's not the Russians then, send in the aliens or something!"

There is no other way to kind of stop this because - just when Rick was talking there, or when you were talking Niall actually, about how the US economy was essentially established around the manufacture of weapons - the militarization of the economy essentially...

Niall: It was expressly stated somewhere.

Joe: ...yeah, a long time ago. You can imagine that they continue to destroy normal, traditional jobs particularly in the US but elsewhere around the world, their plan is to maybe have this kind of, like we said, with the war on terror, to have perpetual war. And obviously for perpetual war, you need an infinite supply of weapons.

So I could see a future where, for example, in the US, the only jobs that are available are working for a military defence contractor who makes weapons. And almost the entire population is given jobs. There is no unemployment, but they are all kind of working in chain gangs or something, producing bullets or bombs. And this dystopian future kind of appeared before my eyes as you were mentioning it.

Niall: Well, it's here.

Niall: The two million American in prison. They are making...

Joe: Yeah. Well, I'm thinking of the kind of fictionalised, at this point, scenario where that's almost a reality.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: Or almost all of the population is either living in complete poverty, anybody who has a job is working for the military-industrial complex producing weapons so that the kind of NATO-type organisations can continue to bomb any restive provinces that are holding out around the world.

In that scenario, down-the-line type of thing, if that's where ultimately it would go under the stewardship of these psychopaths in power who - that's what they want to see happen, destruction and domination and greed, that, yeah, before that would ever happen, you would hope that some major cataclysm would come along and just get rid of the whole lot. At least wipe the slate clean and give humanity a chance to kind of start again.

Because it's gone horribly wrong, at least from the idea of there being some potential for positive evolution of humanity into a kind of more utopian type future or at least a stable, decent place to live. The planet is increasingly going in the opposite direction. So yeah, bring on the fireballs! More of them! That's why we chart them actually, not because we are worried about them, we are just excited everyday to see...

Niall: How many did we get this week?

Pierre: Yeah!

Niall: It's just really only a little anecdote, but there's a number of fireball reports that quickly get dispelled in the media because this country or that country said, "Oh that was us. We tested another rocket launch." I don't know what kind of cosmic coincidence it is. But if you look at the behaviour of these rockets high in the atmosphere, compare them with some actual, more or less, confirmed footage of fireballs or comet fragments high up in the atmosphere, it is sometimes impossible to tell them apart. If you didn't know one or the other, you would have a kind of a schizophrenic moment where you can't tell them apart, which is the reality.

Joe: But essentially the same thing, rockets and chunks of rock and iron that are kind of burning off as fuel essentially, both of them are burning off, giving off a fuel or their energy, and it creates the same atmospheric kind of residue. So yeah, I can imagine.

Niall: I have a vision of their hyper-macho, 'look what we can do - we can destroy you now' displays of their technology and sending up rockets as tests. Or, should it come to the real thing, firing an ICBM at Russia, being matched and completely dwarfed by something that'll be flung at you from out of space.

Joe: Yeah.

Pierre: One of the few differences between a fireball and a conventional rocket is the electromagnetic pulse.

Joe: Exactly, yeah.

Pierre: But nuclear weapons do have electromagnetic pulse. It is interesting to see that, while there is this increase in fireball activity, there is an increase in intensity on the military front.

So the correlation probably lies in the human-cosmic connection level that you described - more oppression, more lies, more violence. More violence can trigger celestial reactions. But at the same time, this increase in intensity on the military front is like a preparation for the cover-up, like in reductive words, you don't need fireballs or celestial intentions to cover up WWII, or to disguise WWIII; you need WWII and its nuclear weapon and EMP signature to cover celestial intention.

And here we kind of close the circle and we come back to the rewriting of history made by Roman historians and chroniclers, where all armies destroyed by fireballs where transformed by, "Oh, our army was destroyed by a hoard of blood-lusting barbarians."

Niall: Barbarians, yeah.

Joe: Yeah, although I can imagine how historically you could rewrite that and cover it up. But in the moment I think it would be, especially in a modern, technological age where global communications are quite possible, quite easily available to many people, it might be hard for the powers that be to claim that a fireball, for example, that came shooting through the sky and blew up at a NATO base, for example. Or, for example, the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe - crossing fingers, but if that were to happen, certainly there would be reports of, possibly anyway, there would be people seeing something shooting through the sky.

Niall: Well, in this context, in this 'whoa shit, the whole world is on the brinks of war' - perhaps, major war, it would actually be easier.

Joe: Yeah. Maybe actually it would be, even if people saw something shooting through the sky, and said it looked like a fireball, it looked like a meteorite, 'No, that's the new Russian technology they have developed. It was a meteorite-like missile.'

Niall: There was a Russian MP, when the one hit Chelyabinsk who in all seriousness got up and said, "This is the Americans testing a new weapon on us."

Joe: Yeah. He was a nutso though, wasn't he?

Niall: Yeah. He was a nutso and it was put down. The actual story of what it was, I guess it didn't cause enough damage to create the need to cover it up.

Joe: Certainly. It would be very coincidental - and I am saying that disingenuously - coincidental if right now or at least it appears to be rather coincidental, that just as this increase in fireball activity or meteorite activity has been happening for several years, that the standoff with Russia and the US is happening and the whole kind of sabre-rattling and rumours of wars is increasing in this way right now. Because it would serve certainly as a very good cover, like we have just been saying. You have to wonder though, is that a coincidence or a conspiracy theory?

Pierre: It can be both, depending on the level of analysis. This being said, about these 'transforming cosmic events into military explosion', there are two other factors that help. Mixing up both is that first, the Chelyabinsk bolide was just a baby compared to some other potential events. So if you have a great magnitude event, you can imagine the level of trauma, of confusion, problem with communication, the EMP frying most devices, and the emotional state of the population, falling into hysterized emotional thinking.

And the second factor is, as described by Gustave Le Bon, this crowd phenomenon. Crowds resonate on the same emotional frequency. And as soon as there is a symbol, an image that is planted like a seed in their minds, that is what is going to grow. It has nothing to do with reason.

So just plant the word 'rocket', just show a picture of a rocket and that will spread in all minds through this kind of limbic resonance. And that would be the truth for all people involved even though they might have seen something totally different, if they survived the witnessing.

Joe: Yeah. It's quite interesting as well that the mainstream media, despite this massive increase in fireball activity in our skies over the past seven or eight years, reports on them locally here. But there is certainly no broader global discussion of it as any kind of phenomenon. Yet anybody can go and look at the statistics on the American Meteorite Society website and see that there has been a stark increase in not only sightings but impacts. And certainly, surely that should be something that should be in the news or that should have been in the news over the past few years, but it hasn't been. And again, here's my conspiracy-minded...

Niall: Answer for that.

Joe: ...angle coming; which is that yeah, it's interesting that that hasn't been discussed. Because if it was discussed, then it would be in the public conscience, public awareness and it would be less easy, in the event of a meteor impact, to claim that it was a missile from Russia.

Pierre: Very true.

Joe: So, yeah. What else have we got to say? I think that's pretty much it for this week.

Niall: Yeah. Let's leave it there.

Joe: We hope you enjoyed the show, folks. Thanks to our listeners, thanks again to Rick and to our chatters who have been having a good time, as usual, in our chat room. We will be back next Sunday with...

Niall: Next week, we are speaking with Eric Draitser.

Joe: Eric Draitser is...?

Niall: He is a...

Joe: Geopolitical analyst, I suppose we could say.

Niall: Yes. Frequently on RT and Press TV. So we're getting his take on goings-on around the world at the moment. And yeah, tune in. Same time next week!

Pierre: Have a good one. Bye-bye!

Joe: Have a good one folks. Bye!