BY ARGIRIS MALAPANIS
The U.S. Senate discussed at the end of April the Clinton administration's proposal to expand NATO into Eastern and Central Europe. The debate points to a rapid approval of the plan, which was built on Washington's success in humbling its imperialists allies in Europe, who are also competitors, over Bosnia and assuming the dominant role in the imperialist intervention into the Yugoslav workers state three years ago.
Comments from some of the critics of the White House plan point to nervousness among ruling circles that NATO expansion into Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic will accelerate the U.S. rulers' collision course with Moscow. "What worries me most is that NATO expansion needlessly risks poisoning Russia's relationship with the United States, and increases the odds that Russian ultranationalists will gain power in the post-Yeltsin era," said Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Minnesota liberal Democrat.
There are also rightists among the bourgeois opponents of NATO expansion. "In what may prove the most demented and reckless act of our era, the Senate is about to give war guarantees to Poland," said ultrarightist politician Patrick Buchanan in a column in March. "By bringing into a U.S. alliance lands once part of the czars' empire, we are rubbing Moscow's nose in its Cold War defeat.... Facing NATO to the west and Islam to the south, an encircled Russia, like Weimar Germany, is seeking friends where it can find them, in Tehran and Baghdad."
"Stop worrying about Russia," was the headline of a column by U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright in the April 29 New York Times. "Russian leaders don't like NATO enlargement," Albright acknowledged. "We have disagreements on matters like Iraq and Iran - but these have everything to do with the way Russia has traditionally pursued its interests in that part of the world." Dismissing critics, however, she stated, "We finally have a chance to build a Europe whole and free. But we will not do that by making NATO the last institution in Europe to keep the Iron Curtain as its eastern frontier."
Washington is also pressing hard to build a zone of influence and domination along Russia's southern flank. Reporting on the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - made up of 12 of the former 15 Soviet republics - an April 29 report by CBS Market Watch noted, "Conference attendees were not in a hurry to demonstrate their adherence to the process of integration, and still less their loyalty to Moscow, meeting observers said.... On the eve of the meeting [Kazakhstan president Nursultan] Nazarbayev abruptly refused to sign the prepared northern Caspian Sea agreement. The rebuff serves as a further reminder to Moscow that its neighbors are not going to side with Russia in dividing the oil and gas fields in the region....
"Russia should also not expect Turkmenistan to use the
services of Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly.... The
Gazprom rebuff may have stemmed from Turkmen President
Saparmurad Niyazov's April 23 meeting with President Clinton
in Washington, at which the United States authorized a
$750,000 grant for a feasibility study for building a gas
and oil pipeline on the Caspian Sea bottom without the
participation of Gazprom."
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