Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 47 Number 7, April 1, 2017 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Crucial Issues of War and Peace:

Britain Must Get Out of NATO

It has recently been announced that British troops have been deployed in Estonia, as part of a major NATO sabre-rattling exercise aimed at Russia. In total eight hundred British troops will be deployed in the country, in what is described as the largest military exercise in Eastern Europe in decades. British troops will work with those from France and Denmark and, according to the Ministry of Defence, will "provide a proportionate, defensive and combat-capable force to defend our NATO ally and deter any form of hostile activity against the alliance". The deployment is part of the NATO's "Enhanced Forward Presence" battalion which includes a considerably strengthened NATO military presence in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland involving a leading role for US, Canadian, and German troops, warplanes and armoured vehicles. In addition, there are reports that US, British and other special forces are engaged in "training" and other activities in the Baltic States.

In short thousands of troops will be permanently stationed in the countries bordering or neighbouring Russia, a clear indication that the aim is part of a provocative encirclement of Russia reminiscent of the cordon sanitaire favoured by representatives of British and French imperialism following the Russian Revolution in 1917. Indeed, Britain's military relationship with Estonia dates to 1918, when the Royal Navy was despatched to make sure that Estonia remained independent of Soviet Russia. For its part, Estonia is one of only a few countries that have met the NATO "defence" target of 2% of GDP, alongside Poland, Greece, Britain and the US. It is believed that Romania will also meet this target this year and Lithuania and Latvia, the other two Baltic states, next year. Following the recent Warsaw summit, NATO members have pledged an increase of some $10 billion to war preparations.

Commenting on the 2017 deployment the Minister of Defence, Michael Fallon, turned truth on its head when he stated, 'in the face of an increasingly assertive Russia, NATO is stepping up its commitment to collective defence.' In fact, it is NATO that continues to provoke Russia, since in addition to the deployment in north eastern Europe, the warmongering alliance has just commenced its twice yearly major military exercise known as Joint Warrior, which is also aimed against Russia. For the next two weeks, the military forces of Britain, the US, Estonia, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and Sweden, involving thousands of personnel, will collaborate in war preparations that are co-ordinated from one of the Royal Navy's bases in Scotland. A much-trumpeted part of these exercises is concerned with "cyber-war games" and, apparently, the use of artificial intelligence to allow warships and submarines to operate automatically. Referred to as "Information Warrior 17" the Royal Navy has stated that such exercises will "set the foundation" for cyber-warfare in the future.

In a related development, NATO has announced that it plans to spend £2.6 billion upgrading its satellite and computing technology over the next three years. Such spending has been justified by the constant stream of propaganda that Russia has launched cyber-attacks against NATO members including Britain. The increased spending will therefore include strengthening defence against such cyber-attacks as well as increased investment in drone warfare. NATO's Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) announced that it will put forty new contracts out to tender in the coming period and referred to "these business opportunities" ahead of the NCIA Industry Conference in Canada next month. A key aim of the conference will be to "expand NATO's industry partnerships". Similar opportunities were presented to the armaments monopolies in 2016.

The NATO war preparations are clearly part of a major provocation against Russia which now has thousands of openly hostile military forces from seventeen different countries deployed on its north-eastern borders, as well as in Romania and Bulgaria. Such a build-up cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered defensive on the part of NATO. At the same time, an increasing amount of the wealth generated by the working people is being spent on armaments and war preparations, illustrating the extremely close links which exist between governments and the armaments manufacturers. In these extremely dangerous circumstances, as the world becomes increasingly unstable there is an urgent need for the working class and all peace-loving people to raise their voices and step up their struggles in order to create the conditions for an anti-war government. Such a government would withdraw from NATO, cease all war preparations and expenditure on war, and remove all British troops from other countries and all foreign troops and bases from Britain. It would commit itself to defending the interests of the working people of Britain, and of all countries.


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