Regina Peace Council
March 10, 2010

This past week the Finish and Swedish governments have been hosting a ‘seminar’ in Helsinki to discuss NATO’s New Strategic Concept, termed a Comprehensive Approach to Crisis Management. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in his opening speech, said NATO must "instil a new understanding of the need for better civil-military co-operation, build closer co-operation between all major institutions and NGO’s at all levels, and increase NATO’s connectivity with the wider world."

NATO is holding a series of ‘seminars’ entitled "NATO’s New Strategic Concept." The first is being held in Helsinki. There will be three more. Then the experts will visit NATO capitals to discuss with Governments the findings from the seminars. A third phase is to focus on negotiating a draft Strategic Concept to be approved by heads of Government scheduled to meet in Portugal this autumn

For some reason, some peace groups are taking this approach by NATO to mean the organization is becoming less of a war-maker, even a force for peace. For example, Project Ploughshares in a briefing paper concerning NATO’s Strategic Concept, proposes that NATO abandon its nuclear weapon first-use strategy; confirm NATO’s commitment to the objectives of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; declare that elimination of nuclear weapons, not their retention, is essential to the security of NATO members; and pledge NATO to work consistently to reduce the political legitimacy and value of nuclear weapons in order to contribute to the goal of their progressive reduction and eventual elimination. Such action on the part of NATO would be a complete reversal of the organization’s policy and program. The only ‘world peace’ NATO is interested in is one where NATO (read USA) is in complete control of the world’s resources. For a Canadian peace group to suggest that NATO might be persuaded to act in the interest of any other kind of world peace, is worse than wishful thinking, it is disarming to the peace movement.

Formed in 1949 to offset the influence of the Soviet Union following the success of the Allies in defeating Hitler fascism in World War Two, NATO has been in effect a military arm for the U.S. government. It was set up outside the United Nations, with the intention of accomplishing the hegemonistic goals of the U.S. which were not possible through that world body. At its 50th anniversary celebration in 1999, NATO underlined its war-based existence by declaring it would not only use nuclear weapons, but reserved the right of first-use of nuclear weapons. This, in spite of all the efforts that had been made through the United Nations, and by the non-aligned movement, to bring about nuclear disarmament.

More recently, in order to disguise NATO’s real purpose, an effort was made to transform NATO into a rapid deployment interventionist agency of the United Nations, using the theory of humanitarian intervention to justify arrogant gunboat diplomacy. The government of Canada, under both the Liberals and Conservatives supported this effort.

However, NATO’s role in helping to establish the world hegemony desired by the powers-that-be in the U.S. has become more and more obvious. Its latest endeavour in Afghanistan on behalf of the U.S. government is proving less and less popular both at home and abroad. So NATO’s top officers are having another go at giving the organization a face-lift.

The Canadian government, under both the Liberals and Tories, has supported NATO from its inception, and continues to do so wholeheartedly. Although the NDP originally were for Canada’s getting out of NATO, in 2004 they changed to trying to ‘change NATO from within,’ only to see it become more and more militarily aggressive. The current federal government says Canada will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by 2011, but there are enough ‘maybe’s’ in the Harper government’s statement to that effect to support a withdrawal from that commitment. In spite of the recent announcement of budget cuts, Finance Minister Flaherty, in a T.V. interview, heatedly emphasized that military spending will continue to rise.

The peace movement in Canada must not be fooled into thinking that NATO, with its history of military aggression will become an ally in the winning of peace. In fact, the existence of NATO has been the catalyst for the formation of similar military pacts around the world. At the present time, the first duty of the peace forces in Canada is not to disarm our peace movement by suggesting NATO can be reformed. The first duty of Canada’s peace movement is to work to get Canada out of NATO.