March 23, 2009
Regina Club, Canadians for Peace and Socialism

"NATO, the main overseas arm of the U.S. military-industrial complex, just keeps expanding. Its original raison d'etre, the supposedly menacing Soviet bloc, has been dead for 20 years. But like the military-industrial complex itself, NATO is kept alive and growing by entrenched economic interests, institutional inertia and an official mindset resembling paranoia, with think tanks looking around desperately for'threats'"
Thus writes Diana Johnstone, columnist and author of Fools' Crusade, Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions, as NATO celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
In 1946 with the Second World War just ended, in a speech at Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill signalled the beginning of the Cold War when he dropped the Iron Curtain around the Soviet Union and the New Democracies in Eastern Europe with their postwar socialist governments. Three years later, in 1949, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO was formed, to counter the influence of the Soviet Union and the spread of the ideas of socialism which took place after the Second World War. The Soviet Union had been the main force in defeating Hitler in the Second World War and its role in that regard was still acknowledged by the world's people, and the Soviet Union supported the efforts of former colonial subject states in their efforts to win national independence.
The leading members of NATO were the U.S., Britain and France. The U.S. was consolidating its position as the leading imperialist power in the world, and Britain and France were endeavouring to hold on to their possessions which were in the midst of breaking away from their imperialist masters. So NATO was set up as a military alliance, under the control of the U.S., to "contain communism." In so doing it violated the spirit and the Charter of the newly-formed United Nations. NATO was a North Atlantic treaty, but it was the NATO partners in Europe that were forced to maintain armies facing the Soviet Union and the new socialist countries of Eastern Europe.
Faced with growing economic problems in the 70's, the U.S. military-industrial complex, about which Eisenhauer had warned, put Reagan in office, with his theory of Reaganomics and Star Wars which were to guarantee the U.S. its leading position in the world. The attack on workers' benefits in the U.S. escalated and spending on war ballooned.
By the end of the 80's, the socialist governments in the Soviet Union and the New Democracies had been dismantled. However, NATO did not disappear. Instead, it was expanded as the military arm of the U.S. program of economic dominance of the whole world.
With the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the big Western peace movements of the 1980's seemed to consider that their job was done. Because the period of superpower conflict had been called the Cold War, the expectation was widespread that ending it would bring a new era of peace and disarmament. This turned out to be a brief mirage. U.S. military spending continued its upward spiral, Star Wars was on the agenda, Washington was pressuring its allies to spend more on armament, and NATO was expanding eastwards. There was to be no 'peace dividend'.
The principle of peaceful coexistence between states, and non-interference in the affairs of other nations is a basic premise of the United Nations. However, the Gulf War in the early 1990's established the precedent of NATO's interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, a precedent about which Stephen Lewis and Yves Fortier, both former Canadian ambassadors to the U.N. expressed concern at the time. Then, in 1999, at the celebration in Washington of the 50th anniversary of NATO, shortly after the bombing of Yugoslavia began, the "new strategic concept" for NATO was codified. Washington announced NATO henceforth had the right to interfere in the affairs of other countries, anywhere in the world, using the excuse of violation of human rights in those countries. At the same time NATO maintained its right to use nuclear weapons, and refused to give up the right to pre-emptive attack, which also violated precepts of the United Nations.
Earlier that year, in March, NATO had begun bombing Yugoslavia. Even though such interference goes against the principles of the U.N., Canada's foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy quoted the Charter of the U.N in an effort to justify NATO's action in Yugoslavia. NATO claimed to be attacking Yugoslavia because of humanitarian concerns, and that their targets were only military. But what was the reality. Yugoslavia is about one-fifth the size of Nova Scotia. U.S.-NATO planes flew 15,000 sorties, dropping 20,000 bombs on the people of that small area. More than 500 of the bombs were carried by Canadian planes. Utilities, roads, bridges, hospitals, clinics, schools, TV stations and the Chinese embassy were destroyed along with military targets. There was no spring planting that year. Countless wells were poisoned. Factories and other industries were destroyed, putting tens of thousands of people out of work. Many of the shells used were coated with depleted uranium, spreading deadly radioactive dust throughout the region. Almost a million refugees fled the bombing. The NATO action violated virtually every relevant international convention and treaty. But as Madeleine Albright commented, "What's the point of having this superb military....if we can't use it?"
J.F. Conway, a political sociologist at the University of Regina wrote in the July/August 1999 issue of Briarpatch magazine that the air war against Yugoslavia reflected, "an ominous escalation in the strategic geopolitical posture assumed by the United States. The U.S. has now appointed itself world marshal and has hijacked NATO to serve as the posse. At least in the Gulf War....the U.S. felt compelled to appeal to the United Nations for support before acting. Clearly, this is no longer the case. Now the U.S. alone, supported by its subordinate NATO posse, feels free to mete out illegal, vigilante justice wherever it suits American strategic goals."
NATO's next big adventure was Afghanistan. As Diana Johnstone writes in her book Fools' Crusade, about the bombing of Yugoslavia,
"NATO had taken upon itself to overrule the postwar international legal order set up around the United Nations and decree unilaterally that war was no longer the scourge of mankind, the worst of all 'humanitarian catastrophes' but rather when employed by enlightened Western powers, the proper means to protect 'human rights' and punish the wicked. The last war of the twentieth century was a promise of more war in the century to come. That promise was fulfilled with a vengeance with the attack on Afghanistan and President Bush's vow to pursue war against 'evil' with no end in sight."
As was recognized by many commentators during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Canada's participation in that NATO adventure meant Canada had taken on the role of an aggressor nation, and was accepting orders from Washington. When the United States subsequently arrogated to itself the right to bomb and invade Afghanistan on moral grounds, although NATO itself was not immediately involved, a number of the U.S.'s NATO partners meekly offered to tag along, including Canada.
The attack on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 was used as the excuse by the U.S. to attack Afghanistan - they were going to get Osama bin Laden. However, a number of news sources have reported that the invasion of Afghanistan had been planned well in advance of 9/11. NBC News reported in May 2002 that a formal National Security Presidential Directive submitted two days before September 11 had outlined essentially the same war plan that the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon put into action. A 2004 report by the bipartisan commission of inquiry into 9/11 stated that only the day before the 9/11 attack, the Bush administration had agreed on a plan to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan if it refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden. An article published in March 2001 by Jane's, a media outlet serving the military and intelligence communities, suggests that the U.S. had already been planning and taking just such action against the Taliban six months before September 11, 2001. The BBC News reported a week after the September 11 attack that a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary had been told by senior American officials in mid-July 2001 that military action against Afghanistan would proceed by the middle of October at the latest with the aim of replacing the Taliban regime.
On October 7, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in Afghanistan by the United States along with the United Kingdom. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) is a U.S. combat operation involving some coalition partners and currently operating primarily in the eastern and southern parts of the country along the Pakistan border. A second operation is the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), initially established by the UN Security Council at the end of December 2001 to secure Kabul and its surroundings, for the safety of U.N. personnel in the area. The U.N. Security Council had issued Resolutions in 1999 and 2000 applying sanctions on the Taliban regime to encourage them to turn over bin Laden for trial in the deadly bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in August 1998 but there was no suggestion from the U.N. for invasion of Afghanistan.
The U.S. and the UK led the aerial bombing campaign, with ground forces supplied primarily by the Afghan Northern Alliance. In 2002 American, British and Canadian infantry were committed, along with special forces from several allied nations. Also in 2002 NATO entered the fray, officially taking control of ISAF in 2003, and expanding its operation to cover the whole of Afghanistan. Eight years later, with the forces in Afghanistan built up to around 80,000 troops, Osama Bin Laden is still at large. Appearing before NATO's top decision making body March 10, U.S. V.P. Joe Biden "solicited ideas to reverse a losing military strategy in Afghanistan." The top U.S. military officer in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan has admitted coalition forces are "not winning the war" in the south and centre areas. Even such dignitaries as Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper are admitting the war in Afghanistan cannot be won. The headline in the Regina Leader Post March 21 was "Deadly Day in Afghanistan."
NATO is not fighting these wars in Yugoslavia and Aghanistan for humanitarian reasons, or because of the 9/11 attack. The military-industrial complex has its eye on Caspian oil and the transfer of that oil to the west through Yugoslavia, or south through Afghanistan. It needs control of that area in order to control and exploit the oil resources of the Caspian.
In 1990 U.S. Secretary of State James Baker assured the Soviet Union's last president, Michail Gorbachev that "there would be no extension of NATO's jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east." However, four years later, NATO instituted two transitional mechanisms for bringing states under NATO control. By 1999, at the time of the NATO summit in Washington celebrating NATO's 50th anniversary, NATO had acquired three new members, all former Warsaw Pact members. By 2002, NATO had taken on seven more new members, and brought into its 'transitional mechanisms' six more nations once in the Warsaw Pact.
An arrangement had also been made with six nations in the Persian Gulf for 'military-to-military co-operation to contribute to interoperability.' The U.S. 5th fleet is based in Bahrain, and takes in the entire area of responsibility of the Pentagon's Central Command (Centcom), including 25 nations in and bordering the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and the coastline of East Africa south to Kenya. Centcom was shifted to Qatar for the war on Iraq in 2003.
After a meeting of Kuwaiti Deputy Premier, Foreign Minister and Acting Oil Minister Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Al-Sabah with NATO's Deputy Secretary General on January 27, the former said that he had been "briefed on NATO's role, which was to form a defence mechanism and 'prepare for the Third World War,' which was the mindset from which the alliance expanded."
NATO is also turning its attention to the Black Sea area, another area vital to trade and the supply of oil. In August last year NATO conducted a naval exercise in the Black Sea, sending in warships from Spain, Germany, Poland and the U.S. This was at the same time that two other U.S. warships were delivering aid to Georgia at its port on the Black Sea, at the time that Georgia was involved in the altercation with Russia over South Ossetia. To be found around the Black Sea, in addition to Russia, are Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey, all in the NATO sphere of influence. NATO is turning the Black Sea into a NATO lake.
The next region we will likely be hearing from with respect to NATO is Africa. The U.S. media is already claiming that the Obama administration will have to deal with the 'problem' in Sudan. NATO will have to go into Sudan on 'humanitarian grounds.' Not mentioned is that rival China has a long term deal with Sudan for the exploitation of its oil reserves, and the U.S. wants them. Then there is Southeast Asia. Among its 1,000 military bases around the world, the U.S. has already set foot along the Straits of Malacca with installation of 7 military radars, capable of scanning Indonesia and its neighbours, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore.
Washington's goals with respect to NATO were clearly spelled out in The Defense Planning Guide, excerpted in a New York Times article in March 1992 which said: "We must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order...we must (deter) potential competitors from ever aspiring to a larger regional or global role...We must seek to prevent the emergence of Europe-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO." Then in 1998 in his book The Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-chair of the Bush National Security Advisory Task Force, defined NATO as part of an "integrated, comprehensive and long-term geostrategy for all of Eurasia," in which NATO would eventually reach Asia. It would appear this anticipated role for NATO is coming to pass. At the same time, as pointed out in an article in January from Global Research, with the massive movement of U.S. and NATO forces across the globe, on the 60th anniversary of NATO the world seems to be heading for a massive conflict between the United States and its NATO allies and the rest of the world, comprising Russia, China, most of the Muslim states, and the 'socialist' states in South America.
It remains to be seen what the election of Barak Obama as president of the United States means in this connection. Obama has said nothing about changing NATO. Although he has said the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Iraq, Obama has upped the ante in Afghanistan. In spite of the economic disaster in the U.S. he has said nothing about cutting military spending.
A realization of the danger implicit in the expansion of NATO has led some Canadian organizations working for peace to mark NATO's anniversary with a campaign to have the organization give up its use of nuclear weapons. What is required, as the World Peace Council and its affiliate the Canadian Peace Congress have said, is an end to the war preparations of the military-industrial complex in the U.S. and NATO, its 'superb military.' For Canadians the first step is to take Canada out of NATO, and out of Afghanistan.