By Ann Garrison

Originally published on

I wish I could say I’d written that headline all by myself, but, giving credit where it’s due, I swiped it from Hungarian scholar George Szamuely’s remarks on the most recent YouTube vigil for political prisoner Julian Assange:

NATO is really kind of a public protection racket. I mean there’s no enemy that NATO’s supposedly defending anybody against. So what is it actually doing? It has to create its own crises to justify its existence. So it triggers crises and then claims to be the solution. As it moves eastward, the Russians get very upset. So then we’ve got the various Baltic states, Poland—they start getting very agitated and saying. 'Oh no no, we need more NATO, we need more NATO protection.'

“It has to create its own crises to justify its existence.”

"NATO then comes up and says, 'Well, yes, we have to move in. We’ve got this huge dangerous Russian threat looming. We need more resources for NATO.' So it becomes like a protection racket: “Well, nice place you’ve got here. Shame if anything were to happen to it.

This is how NATO operates. So now NATO’s much much bigger than it ever was in the days of the Soviet Union, and what is its purpose? What is it supposedly doing? And under Trump, who supposedly campaigned against NATO, it’s now getting even more resources. And it’s clearly creating these zones of instability.”

Szamuely says that he relies heavily on the US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks for his research into the origins of the New Cold War. He calls them a “gold mine of information” that tell the story of what really happened, quite unlike the tale of Russian aggression told by obedient Western officialdom, think tanks, academics and media.

The New Cold War began almost immediately after the end of the First Cold War, he says, after the reunification of Germany in 1990, then the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991. Russia signed off on both and, in exchange, the Western powers reneged on everything they’d promised in return. NATO advanced eastward to Russia’s borders after reassuring Gorbachev that it wouldn’t unilaterally exploit the country’s moment of vulnerability.

“Putin undertook the defense of Syria against the US and the jihadi terrorists that the US funds.”

At the end of 1991, the US installed Boris Yeltsin as the Russian president, then ravaged the country in a neoliberal free-for-all that enriched Western oligarchs and created Russian oligarchs. Nine years later, Putin enraged the West by putting the brakes on that, refusing to let the looting continue and refusing to let the new Russian oligarchs run the country.

In recent years, Russia reacted to the way that NATO had pushed it into a corner, surrounded by US military bases and missile installations, by installing troops and missiles on its own borders, and asserting that it’s a sovereign nation, not a subject of US empire and military hegemony.

Then, in September 2015, Putin undertook the defense of Syria against the US and the jihadi terrorists that the US funds. He drew the line in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, where the populations are predominantly Russian speakers, and defended Russia’s only warm water port, Sevastopol, on Crimea’s Black Sea coast. The US reacted as though Russia had placed missiles on its Mexican borders, and again, Wikileaks was an invaluable source on what really happened.

Wikileaks and Africa

George Szamuely said he’s joined the campaign to free Julian Assange because he owes him a debt of gratitude for so much of the primary source material he’s relying on in his research into the origins of the New Cold War. There’s also a wealth of primary source material about Africa and every other corner of the world as seen through the eye of the empire and its vassals and opponents. A 2008 Wikileak diplomatic cable from an unnamed US official in Kigali, Rwanda was the basis of my last piece for the BAR: Wikileaks: Rwandan Reconciliation Is a Lie. In Rwanda: Starvation in the Shadow of a Star, I cited one of the leaked Podesta emails regarding two Rwandan districts, Kayonza and Kirehe, which the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI) boasts of helping in its publication “Anchor Farm Project: Rwanda.” They’re two of the country’s three famine stricken districts that Rwandans are fleeing to Uganda.

I’ll have more to say about that Clinton Development Initiative in Rwanda, especially in light of the 2014 Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation tax return which reveals that the foundation took in $177, 804,612.00, and made grants to charity totaling $5,160,385.00—3% of revenue. In 2005, the Clinton Foundation announced its partnership with the Hunter Foundation in the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative Commitment in Rwanda , whose value they estimated at $100 million -- $20 million a year for a five year period. How could this initiative in Rwanda be valued at $100 million, nearly 20 times the Clinton Foundation’s total grants to charity four years later? Worth $100 million to whom? I didn’t find the Clinton Foundation tax return on Wikileaks. That’s on the website of the National Center for Charitable Statistics, but Wikileaks releases contain abundant information on the African Great Lakes Region.

Wikileaks provides a wealth of primary source material about Africa and every other corner of the world as seen through the eye of the empire and its vassals and opponents.”

Speaking by Skype to editors in Tadjikistan, regarding the diplomatic cables on Central Asia, Assange said, “The most important thing to do is to read all of it. If you go searching for particular things, you will bring your prejudice to the material and you will only find what you already know. Now the other is to understand the situation in which these documents are made. That is that they are made by US diplomats, political officers, and economic officers at the US Embassies and they are reports on their own activities back to Washington.”

I haven’t yet found anything in the diplomatic cables that reversed my convictions or prejudice regarding Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although, as Assange urged, I remain open to that possibility. I have learned a lot that I didn’t know, found a lot more detail about what I did know, and often found that US complicity in the region’s catastrophic violence and exploitation is even worse than I thought.

We’ve seen no more than the tip of the iceberg of what Wikileaks has released, but there is far more there than the DNC and Podesta emails that sent the Democratic Party on a rampage.

What are the real goals of the Democratic Party rampage?

Last week, via Twitter, the Democratic Party served Wikileaks with a lawsuit alleging that the organization collaborated with Russian spies to obtain and publish the DNC and Podesta emails during the 2016 presidential campaigns that worked out so poorly for Hillary Clinton. Wikileaks’ only terrestrial address is a post office box at Australia’s University of Melbourne, which it rents to maintain its non-profit status. The Democratic Party will have to argue that the service was legal because they’d tried and failed to serve Wikileaks at the p.o. box and that Wikileaks is demonstrably active on Twitter. There’s no doubt about that, but does the Democratic Party really want to face Wikileaks in court any more than Mueller wants to face 13 Russian spies? The Russian spies will never be tried because they’ll never be extradited to the US, so the indictment has served as a propaganda tool. US media cite it as proof even though it’s just an indictment, a list of allegations, and as Ray McGovern said, “You can indict a ham sandwich.”

Wikileaks Vault 7 release reveals that the CIA has tools that can falsify the identity of a hacker, and the CIA has never denied that. Indeed, Wikileaks has never had to retract a story and never busted a source. So the Democratic Party’s legal complaint can’t be proven any more than Mueller’s indictment. However, if Wikileaks introduces the diplomatic cables in court, they could prove that, as George Szamuely says, NATO is a public protection racket.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at