NATO’s Mission Creeps into Latin America as Unholy Alliance Turns 70

NATO turned 70 years old on Thursday and, not unlike another figure in his 70’s who is in the news these days, a heavy dose of “creep” was involved. In the case of the former, however, it’s mission creep.

At the birthday bash, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed prevailing U.S. military doctrine as defined by the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which characterized competition from other “great powers” as a greater threat to U.S. national security than is terrorism. Pompeo bloviated in Washington to other member states that we’ve entered “a new era of great power competition.”

And in that paradigm, like the paradigm before it, there are new threats, which the U.S. and its allies must combat. Gone are the days of threats of direct military confrontations, however. Instead, Pompeo cautioned of a host of “emerging threats” from countries like Russia, China, and Iran. Pompeo warned:

We must adapt our alliance to confront emerging threats … whether that’s Russian aggression, uncontrolled migration, cyberattacks, threats to energy security, Chinese strategic competition, including technology and 5G, and many other issues.”

It isn’t clear what business NATO — a military alliance — has tackling issues like strong cellphone service in China, but let us continue nonetheless.

“Vladimir Putin harbors dark dreams of imperialism,” Pompeo said with his usual lack of self-reflection. Pompeo went on to bemoan Russia’s military presence in Venezuela, where 100 military personnel have been stationed in defense of the government of Nicolas Maduro, who is facing down a coup attempt backed by the United States. “They need to leave,” Pompeo added. “We [NATO] talked about that… we are doing our best, collectively, to respond.”

Last year, Venezuela’s neighbor Colombia joined NATO as a “global partner,” meaning that it would be “fully accredited” at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, but would not be forced to partake in military action. The move was widely seen as an affront to Venezuelan”sovereignty.

For Venezuela’s part, as NATO meets in Washington, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza is taking notes on, and reaffirming his country’s alliance with, another nation in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism: Syria. On Thursday, he met with Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom he says offered “advice for resistance, victory, and peace… long live Syria!”…