July 17, 2022

Despicable NATO

R Arun Kumar

NORTH Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) had its summit in Madrid, Spain in the end of June. It is not just the timing of the summit, but also the outcome that entails significance to the summit. Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea participated together in a NATO summit for the first time. Finland and Sweden were invited to become members of NATO and it was agreed to sign the Accession Protocols. The summit held at the time of the war in Ukraine – precisely because of the eastwards expansion of NATO – came out with a belligerent new strategic concept document.

The new strategic concept document adopted in the Madrid summit replaces the earlier such document adopted in 2010. This document outlines NATO’s transformation in line with the NATO 2030 agenda adopted at the 2021 Summit. It declares NATO as ‘indispensable’ betraying no sense of shame in its continued existence. It was officially announced after the summit that the NATO would upgrade its defence plans and place ‘more forces at high readiness’ and assign ‘specific forces’ with ‘pre-positioned equipment’ to defend specific allies’. The location of such forces was also specified – to the east of the Alliance, the borders of Russia.

The strategic concept document adopted in this summit declares its vision as to “live in a world where sovereignty, territorial integrity, human rights and international law are respected and where each country can choose its own path, free from aggression, coercion or subversion”. Irony can get no better!

John Bolton, the United States’ former national security adviser to Donald Trump has stated on camera in an interview with the CNN: “As somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat – not here but, you know, other places – it takes a lot of work”. When specifically questioned, he mentioned the US involvement in the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2018. Bolton cannot be written off as another maverick who served in the Trump administration. He is a person who served in various US governments since the 1980s, working as assistant attorney general, a State department official, and later as UN ambassador. He knows what he speaks. This was even corroborated by a former French ambassador who stated that the US and France had “effectively orchestrated” the coup in Haiti.

If anybody has any illusions about the ‘international law’ that the NATO talks about, or the ‘rules based world order’, it is very clear from the above statements. These rules and laws are not mutually decided by all the world countries sitting together. Not even in the UN. The rules and laws that the NATO talks about are what were decided and framed by the US and its allies to further their imperial interests. Without any consideration for the UN decisions, NATO and its backbone the US had intervened in many countries and regions. Repeated resolutions passed by the UN are violated with impunity in Palestine. The US continues with its blockade on Cuba in spite of the UN overwhelmingly voting against it. Unilateral sanctions are imposed by the US and immediately supported by its NATO allies. All these prove that neither the US, nor its NATO allies are really bothered about any rules or laws. They still harbour imperial mindset – they frame the rules and they are the law. This attitude gained more pace after the collapse of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries in Eastern Europe – the so-called end of the Cold War.

The interests of NATO are not confined to the North of Atlantic anymore. The strategic document categorically states that the ‘Western Balkans and the Black Sea region are of strategic importance for the Alliance’; the Middle East (West Asia) and North Africa and the Sahel regions are ‘regions of strategic interest’. And ‘the Indo-Pacific is important for NATO, given that developments in that region can directly affect Euro-Atlantic security’. So in a word, the entire world is of strategic interest to the NATO, which now makes NATO not an Atlantic alliance, but more as a military organisation for the entire world.

With the gradual economic rise of China and assertion of Russia in international relations, the US and NATO feel that their ‘interests’ are threatened. The threat they perceive is a challenge to their hegemonic domination of the world order, a threat to their control over natural resources and markets. They openly link the threat to their ‘strategic economic interests’, with security, hence openly pointing that they would not hesitate to use military to protect their economic interests.

The strategic concept document states that Russia is the “most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area” as it “seeks to establish spheres of influence”. Their fear about the rising influence of China is expressed much more explicitly. “The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values…The PRC seeks to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains”.

The US and the NATO are more worried about the ‘deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation’. The various multilateral groups, bodies that involve these two countries, like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the various multilateral initiatives that include these two countries are eyed with immense suspicion. The US is unable to digest a threat to its preferred uni-polar world from the emergence of multi-polarity. It is with this understanding that the joint statement released by the leaders of the NATO countries placed the threat from Russia on a higher pedestal than that from terrorism (in fact, most of the terrorist organisations in the world are the Frankenstein creations of NATO).

In order to address these challenges to NATO’s assumed leadership, it was decided in the summit to increase their military expenditure. All the member countries are expected to spend at least 2 per cent of their GDP on defence expenditure and the US has effectively used its stick-and-carrot policy to ensure the implementation of this decision. The fact sheet on NATO summit released by the US notes: “2022 is projected to be the eighth consecutive year of increased defense spending by non-US Allies, and many Allies now spend well above NATO’s benchmark of 2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is increasingly seen as a floor and not a ceiling. Nine Allies will meet or exceed this commitment this year, 19 Allies have clear plans to meet it by 2024, and an additional five Allies have made concrete commitments to meet it thereafter. By the end of 2022, European Allies and Canada will have spent an additional $350 billion on defense in real terms since 2014”. It is through such increased allocations that a new NATO Innovation Fund to help the Alliance sharpen its technological edge was launched at the Summit. This was intended to further enhance their security and defence capabilities by developing a ‘360-degree approach, across the land, air, maritime, cyber, and space domains’. All these increased allocations for military are happening at a time when a majority of the people in these countries are facing high rates of inflation, food scarcity, unemployment and various other economic problems. Alas, if the concerned countries have judiciously used their economic resources, most of these problems confronting their own people would not have arisen.

The presence of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea in the summit is intended to send a message to China. The US has already formed various regional groupings with these countries as part of its ‘Indo-Pacific’ strategy. Ensuring their presence in the NATO summit, it wants to further cement these alliances and slowly integrate them with the NATO. Already QUAD is termed as ‘Asian NATO’. The presence of these countries is a step in the direction of realising the objective of the international expansion of NATO.

The NATO summit expresses its aspiration to become a ‘leading international organisation’ for security (though climate change is also mentioned along, it is only a fig leaf to cover their real intention of building a global military alliance). To achieve this goal they are ready to further increase the money they allocate to defence and security in a world that is facing severe economic hardships.

If at all the NATO is really concerned about the problems confronting the peoples in the world, they would immediately put a stop to their belligerence and nudge Ukraine to restart peace talks with Russia. A great help in moving these negotiations forward would be by announcing a stop to the eastward expansion of NATO and allaying the concerns of Russia. The second step, instead of increasing the money spent on arms and armaments, it could be better utilised by spending on eliminating poverty, hunger, destitution and unemployment.

Of course it is foolhardy to expect either the NATO, or the US to traverse this path. They might not on their own tread this path, but the people have the strength to force them to change and choose this path. Huge demonstrations were held in many European countries condemning the role of NATO and also questioning its continued existence. In places, sections of the armed forces too participated in the demonstrations against NATO and the decision of their respective governments to participate in wars that do not concern ordinary people. Strengthening of such popular opposition and the peace movement against imperialist belligerence is the only way to end this madness called NATO.