Unfortunately NATO is seen as force for peace. In fact, it is a force for war and increasingly sees its role as that

Lindsey German


Trump complains bitterly that European states are not spending enough on security and defence, and is demanding that every country contributes at least 2 per cent of its GDP to military spending.

Londoners will suffer the third visit of Donald Trump in just 18 months when he turns up for the Nato summit taking place here in early December.

While the summit itself will be held on the edge of London, there will be a glittering reception at Buckingham Palace on December 3, for which demonstrators are already preparing.

The visit will of course take place during the election, an election in which Trump has already intervened to back Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

He has also declared in the run-up to the visit that he is now abandoning previous US foreign policy in regarding Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land as illegal.

This is a green light for the Israelis to continue their expansion of these illegal settlements and to further repress the Palestinians.

The summit also comes at something of a crisis point for Nato, which is beset with a number of problems.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently described the military alliance as “braindead,” a remark which has upset many of his Nato allies but which reflects the fact that individual member states act with impunity when they choose.

The US pulling out (some of) its troops from Syria and the Turkish invasion which followed, leading to killing and ethnic cleansing of Kurds, have been done unilaterally.

Macron wants instead to counterpose the creation of a European army to defend Europe, highlighting tensions with the US, especially with its current president.

Trump in turn complains bitterly that European states are not spending enough on security and defence, and is demanding that every country contributes at least 2 per cent of its GDP to military spending.

Britain’s Tory government is happy to oblige, but Germany and other states much less so. This spending will be a major issue at the summit.

There are also major questions about what Nato is for and how it should conduct itself.

Nato was established at the beginning of the cold war which rapidly followed the end of the second world war. The Brussels treaty was set up in 1948 between Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Britain and France for mutual self-defence: article IV stated that if one party was attacked, the others would deliver “all the military and other aid and assistance in their power.”

This was followed in 1948 with talks between the US, Canada and Britain about the formation of Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Nato was established in the spring of 1949. The US rapidly carried through the project of an integrated Nato command, with a US general as Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

During the following decades of the cold war there was an uneasy balance of power maintained, in part due to the awareness that both superpowers possessed nuclear weapons which could annihilate whole cities and that they would therefore never be used.

In 1955 the Warsaw Pact was established, which was the eastern bloc equivalent of Nato.

Following periods of detente between the powers, and the effect of the Vietnam syndrome on the US military, Ronald Reagan’s renewed cold war with a new arms race put economic pressure on Russia, although it also meant huge increased commitment from the US on its arms spending.

At the height of the Reagan arms boom, it was spending 7 per cent of GNP on the military — double that of other Nato countries.

The end of the cold war marked decisive victory for one side, but also the beginning of a new period of conflicts and war, one where Nato’s role also changed dramatically.

Nato was central to the 1999 war on Serbia over Kosovo. This was followed by out-of-area intervention in Afghanistan, and increased military commitments.

It also led to the extensive enlargement of Nato in Europe, so that former Warsaw Pact countries became members, thus taking Nato’s membership right up to the Russian border.

The clearest immediate issue is Turkey’s invasion of Syria. Under article 5 of the Nato founding treaty, other member states should come to the aid of one of their number if under attack.

The fear is that if the situation in Syria escalates further, and other forces such as Russia are involved, this may become a real issue — and not one that other Nato states will relish.

Unfortunately Nato is seen as force for peace even by some in the Labour Party. In fact it is a force for war, and increasingly sees its role as that.

It is a major military alliance, necessary — as one general recently put it — because if we want peace we need to prepare for war. Millions who have suffered from wars in recent decades would beg to differ.

Demonstrate Trafalgar Square/Whitehall to Buckingham Palace 5pm Tuesday December 3.

Source: Lindsey German, Morning Star

22 Nov 2019 by Lindsey German

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