As we head for NATO’s 70th birthday, it’s time to assess the nuclear-armed military alliance that came into being to ensure Western military superiority during the Cold War. Most strikingly, during its first 40 years of existence—namely the Cold War, NATO embarked on no wars or military campaigns. Yet in the 30 years since the Cold War and the removal of its political and military rival, the Soviet Union, NATO has massively expanded territorially, changed its mission statement from a defensive to an aggressive posture and embarked on a series of wars, of which their intervention in Afghanistan is getting on for two decades long.
These activities have turned the end of the Cold War from a unique opportunity for new diplomacy and peaceful development into a new era of global tension, encircling Russia and China thereby creating the conditions for a new Cold War, tearing up international legal norms, notably around national sovereignty, and introducing bogus notions of ‘humanitarian war.’
A second NATO anniversary worth noting fell last week, on March 12: twenty years since the first former Warsaw Pact states joined NATO. On that day, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic signed up, and just days later they found themselves at war with their neighbour Yugoslavia. The war was illegal and brought devastating human consequences to what remained of Yugoslavia—including the legacy of toxic Depleted Uranium. It was also the first use of Tony Blair’s baseless justification for wars of intervention.
NATO’s unstoppable march
Forces.net, the armed forces news service is one of the few outlets to cover the anniversary of NATO’s expansion into eastern Europe, and makes some very valid points, noting that the first expansions in 1999 began a “seemingly unstoppable march of the alliance’s border toward Russia.” Tellingly, the report also observed that while Russian actions in Crimea have renewed NATO’s focus on Russia, some have questioned “whether NATO’s expansion has provoked Russia and risked a new Cold War.”
That is the crucial question and as NATO is now expanding into Latin America, the implications of these developments need to be understood too. These are just some of the issues that will be addressed by the movement when the NATO summit takes place in London in December, where Donald Trump is expected to be present and CND is preparing for major protests.
On March 24th, 1999 the illegal war on Yugoslavia began and twenty years on from the start of the illegal war on Yugoslavia, the international network “No to War – No to NATO” remembers this deliberate attack on a sovereign state. A Pandora’s box was opened, from which several illegal wars were to follow: on Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria, with a bloody trail of destruction, forced removal, sorrow, and death.
The war on Yugoslavia was the blueprint for the fuelling of ethnic and nationalist conflicts, and the militarization of societies up to the point of war. Those who are fleeing from war zones are still continually threatened by military actions, whether the perpetrator be EU/Frontex and/or NATO.
Stop NATO wars and interventions
The supposed legitimation for these wars was a web of lies, employed to gain dominance, influence, resources, and hegemony.
During this time, NATO has developed global reach and became the international military alliance. This has been emphasized by the jointly taken decision of its members to achieve defence spending of at least two percent of GDP by 2024. This boost will reduce the influence of China and Russia and secure resources for capitalist hegemony.
Contradictions between NATO states cannot conceal this common objective and the permanent territorial expansion of NATO serves these purposes. Preparations for war, most recently against Venezuela, underline its aggressive attitude. Abandoning nuclear weapons has never been seriously considered as an option. Through the comprehensive modernization and intended deployment of new nuclear weapons by the US, following the dissolution of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the nuclear arms race will be fuelled to a level not seen in decades. Furthermore, NATO’s first strike strategy is a threat to the planet as a whole.
Since its foundation in 2009, the international network “No to War—No to NATO” has successfully managed, through various actions, to reduce support for NATO among the population in key states, and even to delegitimize NATO. Our objective remains the same—twenty years after the illegal attack on Yugoslavia, and 70 years after NATO’s founding: to overcome the dinosaur named NATO and to replace it with an international organization for collective security and disarmament.
Kate Hudson has been General Secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) since September 2010. Prior to this she served as the organisation’s Chair from 2003. She is a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner nationally and internationally.
This article originally appeared on the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament website.