Human Rights, geopolitics and the Union for the Mediterranean

The Union for the Mediterranean: an instrument of soft power for the globalisation of NATO 

Julien Teil

Centre for the Study of Interventionism

May 23, 2012

US foreign policy displays a clear will to preserve control over the armies of conquered territories. The geographical division of the world into zones of responsibility – American responsibility – is an obvious proof of this. In this regard, NATO is in fact the result of a conquest – that of the European nations who were occupied at the end of the Second World War. In the pursuit of its interest in globalising its power and rendering nations subservient, NATO has progressively revealed its true goals by pursuing enlargement in spite of the collapse of the USSR which it was supposed to contain.

 Image: The US Department of Defense’s Unified Command Plan, 2011.


The EU co-opted by NATO

The occupation of Europe has been consolidated politically with the European Union which acts as a vassal of US interests. The EU strengthens the integration of NATO into Europe and by extension established a military and administrative cooperation with the USA. When in 1995 Europe turned towards its Mediterranean neighbours with the Barcelona process (or EUROMED) a new means was offered to the USA to extend its hegemony. Officially based on a desire to create links with its Mediterranean neighbours, the project underwent a change thanks to the efforts of Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2008 his efforts bore fruit with the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean which groups the twenty-seven member states of the EU with sixteen neighbouring states in North Africa and the Middle East. This new regional organisation gave itself the goal of “promoting the economic and democratic integration” of these sixteen countries.

Among these states there are some which have no Mediterranean coast like Mauritania and Jordan. They are nonetheless members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. Created in 1994, this initiative initially included Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The group was enlarged to include Jordan in 1997 and Algeria in 2000. It allows Egyptian, Moroccan and Jordanian troops to take part in NATO peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and Bosnia. (1) In 2004, a new initiative was launched by NATO, this time in Turkey, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, which also served as a link between the Gulf Cooperation Council and NATO.(2) This Initiative is an extension of the Mediterranean Dialogue to which it is in fact identical apart from its geographic scope which is the Persian Gulf. These two initiatives have been progressively strengthened with the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean.

The USA and its allies therefore have a double strategy – a strategy of military cooperation with NATO and a strategy of soft power imported from the USA and run by the Union for the Mediterranean, one of whose goals is the “democratisation” of its member states. On the African continent, this project is viewed as a direct competitor of, and as a means to weaken, the African Union, a project led by the Libyan Arab Republic. Libya in fact is a mere observer in the Union for the Mediterranean. The project also favours the geographical division of Africa along the lines suggested for AFRICOM as well as along those supported by the neo-conservative believers in the Clash of Civilisations. The Union for the Mediterranean detached North African from the African continent just as these other plans do. The Middle Eastern countries which are members of the Union for the Mediterranean (Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine) are also part of the New Middle East project and are the very centre of the foreign policy of the EU, the USA and Israel.

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