During the cold war historical comparisons between the United States and the Soviet Union often invoked the conflict between Rome and Carthage. Two superpowers vying for control over the Mediterranean world. Athens and Sparta were often invoked as well. A competition between an open society and a closed one. Over the years NATO has also been compared to the Athenian League.
The Athenian League was formed in 478 BC. The league of over 300 city states was a defensive alliance against the Persian Empire. Most of Greece was represented, but most city states were from Iona and the island areas. At one point 330 city states were recorded in the alliance. The purpose was to protect against Persian retaliation after major Greek victories and liberate the eastern city states from Persian control. Economic benefits included increased trade and the elimination of piracy in the Aegean Sea. Over time the gradual dominance of Athens caused the league to develop into the Athenian empire. Eventually Athens demanded tribute and sometimes made participation compulsory using military force. In 404 BC Athens was defeated in the Peloponnesian war by Sparta, and the league was dissolved.
Patterns of history do tend to repeat themselves. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) emerged from the Western allies during World War II, and was created to deter and repel further Soviet expansion into Western Europe. Eastern European oppression by the Soviet Union, and the specter of continued expansion by the Communist super power, ventilated a purpose to NATO. Once the Soviet Union fell, and the Berlin wall came down in 1989, the future of NATO was uncertain.
Eastern expansion of NATO ensued over the past 30 or so years. In the past, legitimate arguments could have been made for or against NATO expansion, to a degree, however, that expansion has continued to the point that it has become provocative. Despite continued Russian protests over the years, the eastward NATO expansion has not stopped. NATO was formed to be a defensive alliance. Unfortunately, it does appear to have become an offensive military alliance.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is convoluted. Certainly, a factor was the prior interference by the Obama administration in the Ukrainian coup. The prospect of Ukraine entering NATO is also a factor that can’t be ignored. Russia’s objection to a country that it has a shared border with joining NATO, clearly contributed to the conflict.
Whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was justified or not is irrelevant. The conflict needs to be deescalated. The risks outweigh the potential benefits for those involved and the world at large.
NATO’s role in the conflict is offensive at this point. There appears to be a tacit agreement, at least temporarily, between Russia and the NATO to maintain a theater of operations limited to Ukraine. Expansion and a more direct conflict between NATO and Russia mean World War. The pretense of a proxy must be maintained. Is this a semblance of respect for mutually assured destruction?
The United States role in NATO parallels the role Athens played in the ancient alliance. Exerting pressure on member states and dominating the NATO alliance is a similarity. Although, the tribute appears inverse, with the United States footing a larger share of the bill. This periodically becomes an issue in U.S. politics.
Although, with governments becoming increasingly illusory, and now acting as a cover for an international deep state, whose purpose NATO serves is not so clear. Who NATO’s war serves currently, is somewhat convoluted. Neocons are deluded enough to think a proxy war with Russia can be fought in its neighboring country, and defense contractors are all onboard. This supposedly will benefit the U.S. and the West.
Whether NATO benefits the United States the same way Athens was benefited by the Athenian alliance is not so clear. If NATO is reflective of an American empire, it is not benefiting all involved. It seems to have become a tool of an international deep state to a degree.
The path to victory in this war is limited. I suppose there is an outside shot that Russia will deplete its resources and their government topple, but I would not hold my breath. It appears more likely the war will fan the flames of inflation in the West and contribute to global instability. In a Machiavellian way, war with Russia may serve the purpose of severely undermining European allies who are often economic competitors of the United States. Still, the current conflict does not appear to pose a benefit to the United States or the West as a whole.