|Volume 49 Number 6, April 13, 2019||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an aggressive military-political alliance conceived at the beginning of the Cold War and brought into being on April 4, 1949. It has, however, described itself as a defensive alliance with its pretext of defending Europe against "communist invasion", together with the claim that communism is an "evil" and that its "totalitarianism" was a threat to Western "freedom and democracy".
Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union and people's democracies in eastern Europe, NATO has been enlarged to incorporate some of the former people's democracies. With its original raison d'être having disappeared, new claims have been presented in an attempt to justify its continued existence. In 1991, NATO heads of state declared that while the Soviet threat had "been removed... and thus no longer provides a focus for Allied strategy", "the risks to Allied security that remain are multi-faceted in nature and multi-directional, which makes them hard to predict and access".
Ten years later, 9/11 provided NATO with a new rationale and a new focus of fighting "terrorism". Today, its raison d'être is again being recast: the latest danger is said to be from "authoritarian" and "rogue states" threatening "freedom" and seeking to overthrow liberal democracy and the "rules-based international order" it claims to uphold.
The first Secretary General of NATO, Lord Ismay, stated that the main purpose of the Atlantic Alliance in Europe was "to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down". Today, NATO is being utilised to fight a global war on different fronts. It is doing so by making use of its own forces, but also utilises proxy forces as "agents of chaos". At the same time, the spectre of war hangs over Europe. There are contradictions within the ranks of the big European powers as well as between these powers and the US, not to mention within the ranks of the US imperialists themselves. These conflicting interests continue to sharpen over who will control Europe and thereby dominate Asia. However, standing against these big power interests is the fact that never are the peoples of Asia, as well as Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, going to accept to be dominated.
This situation with NATO too is in the process of change, as each big power strives for a bigger share of the spoils of war. Donald Trump does not favour negotiations with NATO member countries. Rather he is petulantly threatening to leave NATO if he does not get his own way. His present demand is that other members of NATO must significantly increase their military budgets. And the European powers are consolidating their own military forces, and plans are afoot for consolidation of an army of the European Union. In short, there are divisions within the ranks of NATO itself and within each NATO country, including the United States, over the role NATO should play today. Its enlargement has failed to ameliorate or resolve the differences within its ranks. On the contrary, each big power pursues narrow private interests which come into contradiction with the NATO concept of "collective security".
One of the most important issues to grasp today is that the wars in which the United States and the other NATO members are engaged are no longer those of "politics by other means". It can be said that these powers no longer pursue the interests of even their own polities. They engage in nation-wrecking, not nation-building. They have abandoned the principles and norms of the UN Charter. They do not abide by the international rule of law which upholds the equality of nations big or small. Nor do they recognise the right to self-determination and the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs.
When the US imperialists and their allies wage wars of aggression and occupation, it is to destroy those countries that refuse to submit to their dictate. They are wars of destruction. With no politics, neither are there negotiations to conclude peace treaties. Such treaties would bring with them obligations and accountability.
From US/NATO intervention in the Balkans in 1999 where a humanitarian pretext was used to bomb Yugoslavia, to the Gulf Wars, and wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries, nothing has been sorted out. These aggressive powers are now attempting to pursue the same path against Venezuela. In this regard, membership in NATO affects not only military matters but all aspects of the national state and the political life of the country. Through its Office of Public Diplomacy and other means, NATO puts as a priority the political manipulation of parliaments, information warfare and the wrecking of public opinion. It works in conjunction with governments, including that of Britain. It has always had a hand in formulating the political structures which are to be permitted in not only Europe, the United States and Britain but, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union and former peoples' democracies, in all countries which are deemed to be liberal democracies or "on the road to democracy" as in the case of Ukraine. Any country which refuses to submit is subject to attempts at regime change by the NATO bloc. Successive British governments have taken this as a given.
Therefore it is not necessary to be a pacifist to be deeply concerned about a foreign and defence policy that is governed by US/NATO. To develop and invest in rapid deployment forces that are not designed for defence one's own country cannot be sanctioned. And Britain has been and is one of the states that gives the most concern to peace-loving people.
Right from the outset, the stand of the people's forces was against NATO and for peace. And from the 1950s, there was broad opposition to nuclear weapons on British soil, which grew into the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and still continues, most notably against the Trident nuclear submarines based in Scotland.
Britain played a leading role in the creation of NATO, and the British government declares that its mission is to ensure that NATO "remains fit to serve as the bedrock of the UK's defence and a leading instrument of our national security and that NATO military operations meet UK strategic objectives". But there are calls that its "leadership position" in NATO is in jeopardy, and it must invest even more in its armed forces, and pay more attention to its "usefulness to the US". In this regard, the concept of "interoperability" between the military forces of Britain and the US is promoted, while the reality has been the subordination of Britain to the US. This issue alone has caused deep rifts within the ruling circles, with Britain's "over-reliance" on the US being cited.
According to a recent House of Commons select committee report, it is estimated that Britain provides 12-14% of total NATO capability, contributing £138 million a year to NATO (with an additional £96 million for providing 971 UK personnel to work in NATO). Britain itself hosts two NATO headquarters (MARCOM, the Maritime Command and ARRC, the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps), and also hosts NATO exercises. Britain commands one of the Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups (in Estonia), providing roughly 800 personnel, and contributes a squadron to the US-led battlegroup in Poland. Furthermore, Britain also contributes assets and personnel for NATO missions and operations, including Resolute Support in Afghanistan, Enhanced Air Policing in Romania and the Standing Maritime Group in the Mediterranean. Significantly, Britain is taking a leading role in NATO on the issue of cyber-warfare. This is a crucial front of NATO's aggressive focus today along with information warfare and "election meddling".
The cartel party system in Britain has ensured that Britain's membership of and leading role in NATO is a fait accompli and part of "business as usual". The Westminster consensus never questions a conception of sovereignty where decision-making about the crucial issues of war and peace are not in the hands of the people. Britain attempts to bolster the credibility of NATO at every opportunity. George Robertson, who was Defence Secretary in a Labour Government, was Secretary General of NATO from 1999 to 2004. The present President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is Labour MP Madeleine Moon.
The peoples of the world continue to fight to realise their aspiration for peace. All over the world, as they affirm their rights and fight for the rights of all, they translate their desire for peace, freedom and democracy into a political force which puts decision-making in their own hands. Taking up the work to establish an Anti-War Government in Britain is to occupy the space of change. Such an Anti-War Government must be the creation of the people themselves settling scores with all the Cold War outlooks, the falsification of history, and the pretexts for aggression and force.
Whether or not NATO survives in its present form, what is certain is that the peoples' striving for peace, freedom and democracy today is favoured by taking up the call to make their countries zones for peace and by uniting in action to establish anti-war governments which express a modern democratic personality which defends the rights of all as a matter of principle.
The strength of the people's striving for peace and the defence of the rights of all cannot be underestimated or downplayed. Attempts to smash this movement and deprive the people of a collective consciousness and action must be opposed. This includes waging the ideological struggle against attempts to portray military interventions abroad as being about "responsibility to protect", "peace-making" and upholding a rules-based international order and other fairy tales.
The meetings, rallies and articles on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of NATO involve activists and experts from different backgrounds who take principled stands that the existence of NATO is incompatible with the desire of the people for a modern and humane conception of security based on defending the rights of all.
Britain Out of NATO! Dismantle NATO!
Work to Establish an Anti-War Government!
1. "The Alliance's New Strategic Concept", NATO, November 8, 1991
2. Nye, Joseph. The Paradox of American Power. London: Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 33