a campaign by Vredesactie and Bombspotting
Introduction, NATO Game Over
NATO, what is it?
NATO, what will it become?
NATO, what has it got to do with me?
* NATO-Nuclear weapons
* European participation in NATO interventions
* The Bilateral military agreements
* NATO and American politics of war
NATO, how much does it cost?
NATO, what do we want?
Everyone has heard of NATO, but few people actually know what this international organisation does. Despite this, the European countries defense policies are largely determined by their membership of NATO. Nuclear weapons in Europe, soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, American military transports through European countries, American military bases in Germany and Italy, soldiers from European countries training together with Israeli soldiers, ... these are all consequences of our NATO membership. Creating a non military defense policy is only permitted within the parameters left to us by this NATO membership. Anyone wishing to bring about fundamental changes, comes up against NATO.
Even though we inherited NATO from the Cold War, It has changed with the times. Officially NATO was established after the Second World War in 1949. Ten West European countries came together with Canada and North America in one alliance. They made agreements to work together to defend the member states, armed with Nuclear weapons.
Today NATO has spread up to the former territory of the Soviet Republic and is looking greedily at Ukraine and Georgia as future new members in an attempt to completely militarily cut off their old Enemy Russia . NATO has decided, in the twenty first century, that they are not restricted to their own territory. NATO considers military intervention, anywhere in the world, as one of its main tasks. The war in Afghanistan was a clear example of what they meant: to bring freedom and democracy through the sights of a weapon and the bomb hatch of an airplane. NATO is also looking for partners on the other side of the world: Japan, Australia, South-Korea, New Zealand. The US sees NATO as a solution for what the United Nations cannot offer them: a military alliance which restores world order on their terms, without having to take other countries with fundamentally different interests into account.
NATO creates more problems then it solves. We do not need a machine for worldwide military interventions or a military alliance which threatens the rest of the world, creating mainly enemies and retaliations. NATO keeps its member states shackled to the American politics of war. The NATO mission in Afghanistan makes sure that the Americans hands are free for the really hard work. There are still NATO nuclear weapons in six European countries. Member states ratify secret agreements within the NATO which go against democratic decission making processes, allow illegal wars, make kidnappings and secret prisons possible.
These evolutions are disastrous. Still they occur without any noticable political debate. NATO is an immutable fact of life, a sacred cow that cannot be questioned. At the same time Europe has little influence on the course NATO chooses. The European member states go quietly and unenthusiastically along with it. Apparently no one is able to gather the necessary political strength to draw the logical conclusions. It is not possible to restore this remainder from the Cold war in any meaningful way.
NATO, What is it?
NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
In 1949 12 countries – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Great Britain and The United States of America - signed the North Atlantic Treaty. In doing so they formed one military alliance, with as official objective: the collective defence of their territory – against military invasion from the Soviet Union. The member states (official english quotes here!) “shall persue stability and prosperity in the North Atlantic region and have decided to bundle their strengths for collective defense and the protection of peace and security.” Central to the treaty is article 5: an armed attack on one member state will be considered an armed attack on all member states who will respond collectively.
NATO is an international organisation without its own army. It is the member states who assign their armies to NATO and place them under a NATO commander. NATO itself exists of several headquarters and a limited amount of military infrastructure, all jointly funded.
The organisational structure of NATO can be divided into 2 areas: the political, with its headquarters in Brussels, and the military. The North Atlantic Council (chaired by the Secretary-General and put together from the permanent representatives and ambassadors of the members) is responsible for the political decisions – taken on the basis of consensus. The military commitee (the highest military organ) advises the North Atlantic Council, the Defence Planning Commitee and the Nuclear Planning Group. Parlementarians from the member states come together in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, but this has no formal relationship with NATO and therefore also no input.
Action – Reaction
After West Germany became a member of NATO in 1955, the Soviet Union and the communist states of East and central Europe formed the Warsaw Pact. The following decade saw the the two military alliances facing each other with knives drawn and ready to fight. Nuclear weapons were placed in several European countries.
Searching for a new reason to exist
Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissociation of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 NATO lost her reason for existence. This was the start of a period of transformation. To begin with NATO extended its reaches to the east, with expansion rounds in 1999 (Czech republic, Hungary, Poland) and in 2004 (Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Bulgaria). Meanwhile, NATO continued to search for a new reason for existence and new objectives.
New strategic concept
The first strike in the discussion occured with a New Strategic Concept, approved in 1999. The New Strategic Concept is a policy document in which NATO defines which security risks it sees and what its answers to them are. This document was brought up to date with a second policy document, the Comprehensive Political Guidance, made public at the Riga Top in 2006.
This document explains how NATO will look in the 21st century: bigger, with more possibilities and more flexible. Alongside defense, NATO is now able to engage in ‘crisis management’ also outside its own regions.
In its Strategic Concept NATO states that, though still possible in the long term, a large scale conventional war on its own territory is highly unlikely. In order to legitimise its existence in its old role as a collective defense organisation, NATO is forced to push ‘extremely hypothetical and far fetched enemies’ to the forefront.
Due to a lack of an obvious enemy it refers to other possible threats:
- Instability and potential crises in countries around the Euro-Atlantic region.
- The possible spread of atomic weapons, bacterial and chemical weapons.
- Possible opponants who, due to technology becoming more widespread, have access to advanced weapons systems.
In addition, NATO refers vaguely and in an extremely hypothetical manner to the worldwide situation. Our safety could be endangered by terrorism, sabotage, organised crime and the interruption in the crucial flow of goods. This can be interpreted in any number of ways and gives much material for debate. In practice, it appears agreement about what this means precisely, is far from clear. The question of whether the NATO politics and that of its members actually creates new enemies or threats is not being addressed.
A credible deterrent is not possible with conventional troops alone. Nuclear weapons remain, according to NATO, of essential importance.
Worldwide military interventions
In view of the current worldwide context it may be necessary to intervene far outside the Euro-Atlantic region. NATO therefore requires a ‘crisis management instrument’. In other words: troops for military interventions.
With the new Strategic Concept the Member states decided that NATO is not only able to act on their own territory, but can intervene anywhere in the world. ‘Our safety is influenced globally, and therefore NATO must be able to intervene globally’. Military intervention, anywhere in the world, became one of NATO’s central tasks.
The NATO Response Force was launched under US initiative. This is a quick response intervention Force made up of 21,000 soldiers who can be deployed within a week to a month and who should be able to withstand 30 days worth of heavy fighting. New troops will be ready to act as NATO Response Forces every 6 months. The NRF is now fully operational.
New members and partnerships
The expansion of NATO with new members and partnerships is presented as an instrument to increase peace and stability in the region. There is a grain of truth in the idea that the expansion of NATO aided the stability in Eastern Europe. The question is whether NATO was needed for this. Were the EU and the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) not enough to play this stabilising role?
The further expansion to include Ukraine and Georgia has in fact had the opposite effect, it has destabilised relations with Russia.
The attacks on 11 september 2001 opened a new chapter. For the first time Article 5 was invoked: the attacks were seen as an attack on all member states. NATO got involved in the ‘War on Terror’. Terrorism prevention gave a new impulse to the development of a global military intervention Force.
1949 NATO is founded
1952 Greece and Turkey join
1955 West-Germany joins
1982 Spain joins
1990 Unified Germany joins
1995 Intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina
- NATO-bombing of former Yugoslavia
- Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland join
- Washington Top: New Strategic Concept
2001 NATO-intervention in Afghanistan
2002 Prague Top: NATO Response Force launched
2004 Istanbul Top: Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Bulgaria join
2006 Riga Top
2008 Bucharest Top
NATO, What will it become?
The Americans know exactly where they want to go with NATO. The Europeans are not very enthusiastic but have no alternative. NATO and the governments of its member states are in agreement that NATO has to change. A new reform process has started. It should become clear where this process is going at the NATO Top for government leaders in April 2008 in Bucharest. They would like to be able to launch a new Strategic Concept on the 60th anniversary of NATO in 2009.
The first stage of this reform process, the Riga Top in November 2006, didn’t produce many results. The opinions vary. The discussion was postponed for the future.
EUROPEAN OR WORLDWIDE? THE OPINIONS
NATO reached concensus about its policy during the Cold War because it was only about the situation in Europe. NATO had nothing to do with the rest of the world. Therefore the colonies were and are excluded from the guarantee of defence in Article 5 from the NATO Treaty. Today the US is pushing a Global agenda to the forefront as NATO’s task. The opinions differ regarding this matter. NATO reaches concensus about the European agenda, the Balkans...but opinions are divided about dealing with Russia, the continuing expansion to include Ukraine and Georgia, the Missile Defense Project,...
NATO let itself be dragged into the occupation of Afghanistan, without the European leaders having much say in the chosen course of action. As a result many leaders are now reluctant to deliver troops. If they deliver troops it is in order to get on the good side of the US rather than because they believe in the purpose of a military operation.
There is no consensus about the role of NATO in the Middle East (Iraq, Iraeli-Palestine conflict, Iran, Lebanon). At the moment NATO only has a limited training mission in Iraq, partnership agreements with the Mediterranean countries and preliminary co-operation with the Gulf States. There is no agreement about the big political questions.
The US is looking to place Africa on the NATO agenda. One can realistically say that there is more competition between the US and the European countries than collective politics regarding this region.
Nicholas Burns, de US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, states that "there has been a very dramatic and undeniable shift in the European-American relationship ... And that is that the United States' policy towards Europe is no longer about Europe. It's about the rest of the world. And the U.S.-European alliance is no longer about the divisions in Europe, as it certainly was over the course of the 20th century. It's about what we together have to do to be effective and purposeful around the globe in all the regions of the world.".
The US wants to use NATO as a tool to push the European countries into involvement in its global politics. The European countries are trying to keep this process at bay, but due to their lack of collective vision, they are easy prey for the American politics of Divide and Rule.
EUROPEAN OR WORLDWIDE? THE EXPANSION.
The American Vision of NATO goes even further. The US wants NATO to evolve from a European-American military alliance to a worldwide, military security organisation. A kind of ‘United Nations of the Willing’, which will result in the marginalisation of the actual United Nations.
The United Nations is not popular amongst American politicians. Many would happily see the UN abolished and replaced by something that better represents American interests. The final report of the Princeton Project on National Security makes it clear that this vision is widely shared. This project includes both Democrats and Republicans under leadership of George Shultz, the former minister of Foreign affairs. The report recommends the creation of a Concert of Democracies: "While pushing for reform of the United Nations and other major global institutions, the United States should work with its friends and allies to develop a global “Concert of Democracies” – a new institution designed to strengthen security cooperation among the world’s liberal democracies. This Concert would institutionalize and ratify the “democratic peace.” If the United Nations cannot be reformed, the Concert would provide an alternative forum for liberal democracies to authorize collective action, including the use of force, by a supermajority vote." (Concert is an old name for a collaboration and refers to the Concert in Europe after the Congress of Vienna in 1815, when all the main European states worked together to keep the power balance in order to protect peace in Europe.)
The discussion about partnerships with countries from the Pacific has been on NATO’s political agenda since the beginning of 2006. Officially it relates to practical co-operation between countries taking part in the same missions.
At the Security Conference in Munich in 2006, NATO - secretary General De Hoop-Scheffer stated: "We need to ensure that we have the closest possible partnership with those countries that can, and are willing to, help defend our shared values. To my mind, that means also building closer links with other likeminded nations beyond Europe - nations such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea or Japan. NATO is not a global policeman, but we have increasingly global partnerships." This was kept at bay during the NATO Top in Riga in 2006: there will be no Global Partnership Council with all the partners involved. However, the co-operation agreements are being negociated and the partnerships are in silent but full development. The US is able to realise exactly what it wants by using the stealthy decisionmaking process.
Ivo Daalder, Clinton’s former adviser, states his case clearly in his article entitled 'Global NATO' in Foreign Affairs. He states unequivocably that these partnerships are a first step to membership, exactly as the Partnership for Peace were for the Eastern European countries. The fact that Democratic voices, such as Ivo Daalder as Clinton’s former adviser, also defend this vision, make it clear that a Democratic President after Bush will make absolutely no difference.
However, this step is not self-evident. Partnerships with Australia and Japan, suddenly give NATO a role in the Pacific and drastically change our relationship with China. Becoming a member means that the guarantee of collective defence is extended to countries in the Pacific. This transforms NATO into a worldwide military alliance. If there is a conflict in the Pacific then Europe is automatically involved. WW I showed clearly how a local conflict can escalate into a World War through treaties promising military support. It can be regularly heard in American military circles that the next big conflict will be with China. Do we really want to get involved?
What does this mean for countries who are not part of this military alliance and who could potentially be defined as a security threat? For them these developments are a threat to which they will strive to respond to militarily. The result is the further arms race and militarisation of international relations. The idea that the threats are global could well become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Until now we have had one global collective security organisation, the United Nations. Problems of security are discussed in the Security Council. The Security Council should be able to offer guarantees against the militarisation of international relations. In practice it's being eroded..
If the US and her allies worldwide form an alliance to meet their collective security problems with a unified military solution, the Security Council will have no further function. The discussion in the Security Council will then be reduced to a pro forma excercise where the NATO decision or operation is confirmed. If Russia or China disagree, the temptation will be great to simply act in the name of NATO.
In practice NATO would then become THE worldwide collective security organisation with a military arm. However, the most important political contradictions are to be found outside the organisation. How will the countries who do not belong to the group of the ‘Willing’ react? What will it be like to not be part of the ‘right’ camp? These countries will be confronted by a global military alliance that can brand them as a security problem. They are going to want to defend themselves. Probable result: a far reaching arms race and the militarisation of international relations.
NATO, WHAT HAS IT GOT TO DO WITH ME?
A US which goes its own way is far more dangerous than a US bound to NATO. An argument regularly heard to justify NATO membership.
We pay a large price for this. The American influence on european politics is extremely clear. The european NATO countries are mainly forced to follow the american vision of international relations. Any influence in the other direction is an illusion. There are many negative consequences of our NATO membership. It forces us to agree with a far too aggressive foreign policy and reduces the playing field for a different european foreign policy. It provides us with military commitments which we would never choose in a different political alliance.
NATO nuclear weapons.
Six european countries – Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom – house 350 american nuclear weapons. This is on the basis of NATO’s ‘nuclear sharing’ treaty.
NATO’s nuclear policy is laid out in NATO’s Strategical Concept. In this document it states that “A credible Alliance nuclear posture and the demonstration of Alliance solidarity and common commitment to war prevention continue to require widespread participation by European Allies involved in collective defence planning in nuclear roles, in peacetime basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control and consultation arrangements.” (par.63)
This means that five non-nuclear powers made agreements about ‘nuclear co-operation’ with the US more than 40 years ago.
According to NATO, the presence of american nuclear weapons in Europe creates essential political and military ties between the European and North American NATO members and enables them to collectively carry the burdens and risks.
Out of the 26 NATO member states there are only six who actually carry american nuclear weapons on their territory. Every nuclear weapon is a threat to european safety and undermines international efforts towards nuclear disarmament. Every bomb is a potential target for acts of terror and brings with it an unacceptable risk of accident.
In 2000, NATO, under influence from the US, signed a new strategy for the use of nuclear weapons. This allows that nuclear weapons can be used against countries who have no nuclear weapons. Originally nuclear weapons were used as deterrent against other countries with nuclear weapons. Today countries suspected of having weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical or biological weapons, can be threatened with nuclear weapons. Considering that many more countries have acces to chemical and biological weapons than nuclear weapons, many more countries are now potential targets of NATO nuclear weapons. It is therefore possible to use nuclear weapons against a country simply if you suspect they have weapons of mass destruction.
The NATO policy of using nuclear weapons as a preemptive strike adds a dangerous dimension to the situation in combination with the american security policy pushing for war as a preventative tool.
NATO’s nuclear sharing principle is illegal because it is in conflict with international humanitarian law and with the Non-proliferation treaty. From the statement of the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1996 about the legality of nuclear weapons we can conclude that all existing nuclear weapons are illegal. The non-proliferation treaty, the treaty that counters the spread of nuclear weapons, obligates all signatories to strive for a nuclear free world. The reiteration of the political and military importance of the NATO nuclear weapons is a violation of this obligation.
JUST DO IT
The Belgian chamber of parliament and the Senate were, in 2005, the first parliamentary organ to pass a resolution requesting the removal of the American nuclear weapons from Belgian territory. To this day the Belgian government has not take a single step to carry this resolution out. Canada and Denmark (Greenland) have proved that is is possible to remove American nuclear weapons. More recently Greece (2001) sent their American nuclear weapons packing.
Nuclear weapons in European NATO-countries:
European involvement in NATO interventions.
Would European countries have troops in Afghanistan if they were not members of NATO? There is reason to doubt this. As member of NATO we subscribe to a politics of worldwide military intervention.
After the attacks on 11 september 2001 the US invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime. NATO announced their solidarity and called upon article 5 of the NATO treaty: "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area".
At that moment the US refused NATO’s help and requested assistance from countries specially chosen by themselves. It was when the war began to go wrong, that the US called for NATO help. Since August 2003 the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is active in Afghanistan under NATO leadership. The american troops also remain active under their national leadership. Initially ISAF was only active in the capital. Subsequently they have expanded to cover the whole country.
MILITARY INTERVENTION FAILS
This intervention, just as it has in Iraq, is going wrong. NATO is involved in a never ending counter insurgency operation.
In theory the military intervention should create safety and peace to enable the political process to get started and build a stable democracy. In practice safety has been an illusion for years. The US with their careless ‘collateral damage’ provoke the population to more and more resistance. President Karzai’s power doesn’t generally reach further than Kabul and he is mainly seen as a puppet of the US. There is hardly any political process to speak of, let alone one that could lead to a stable regime.
It is obvious to blame the heavy handed american tactics for this failure. However, these failures in Iraq and Afghanistan illustrate that the instrument ‘Military intervention’ is a failure. Peace making and the building of a democracy using military methods is an illusion. These political objectives are not achievable with military methods. On the contrary, military intervention is in fact an obstacle.
In a military intervention the importance of armed groups grow. It sharpens the contrasts and reduces the room for political solutions. Through military intervention one becomes a party in the struggle and ends up fighting a full blown guerilla war.
Even if such an intervention leads to a military victory, it polarises the conflict leaving a political solution more difficult to reach than before. If there is no real possibility of a working peace process, one is confronted with the choice between a military presence for years, maybe decades, or a reawakening of the conflict after the troops have pulled out.
INSTRUMENTS FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION
Still NATO continues to increase its resources to enable more efficient military interventions in the future. The NATO Response Force has been fully operational since the end of 2006. This is a quick intervention army made up of 21. 000 soldiers with the necessary military and logistic capacity to be mobilised within a week to a months time and who can face 30 days of heavy fighting. Different troops are made ready for action as NATO Response Force every 6 months. NATO invests extra funds in the necessary transport, intelligence etc. In addition, all member states aim to enable 40% of their army to be mobilised overseas and to effectively permanently mobilise 8% of their army overseas.
In other words, NATO has chosen to develop itself into an instrument for worldwide military intervention. It is questionable whether this military instrument is also able to promote its original objectives of stability, peace and democracy. This question is not being asked within the NATO structures.
The Bilateral military agreements.
Even if a country does not agree with a military intervention or a war, due to its membership of NATO it can still be involved. A good example of this is the last war in Iraq.
NATO does not have its own army. It is the member states who assign their armies to NATO and place them under a NATO commander. In addition to this, you have the national armies. Parts of these armies can be stationed on the territory of other NATO countries. NATO members make agreements about common strategy, necessary troops and their material. These agreements are not legally binding. The member states are responsible for the fulfillment of these agreements and therefore make deals with each other to create bilateral military agreements. Often these are draught agreements followed by a whole series of technical agreements before they are effectively put into practice.
A few examples: The nuclear strategy, including how many nuclear weapons are needed is agreed within NATO. Before the actual transfer of the weapons, the US and the host country make an agreement stipulating the mutual responsibilities. The same goes for the stationing of American troops in Germany. All aspects of this manoeuvre are agreed with Germany. An agreement is also made with Belgium about the so called ‘communication lines’ or the organisation of transport and supplies for these troops across Belgian territory. The European NATO countries have a whole series of these agreements with the US and other countries. Their content is secret.
These agreements make the military function of NATO possible. They are created in order to carry out the agreements in a NATO context. However, these agreements can be used for military operations that have nothing to do with NATO. This occurred during the last war with Iraq. The US used the NATO framework for their own ends.
The US often use the stationing of American troops in Europe in a way that has nothing to do with NATO strategy. The American troops in Europe are used as forward operating bases for interventions in the Middle East and Africa, without the host countries having much to say in the matter.
LOGISTICAL SUPPORT FOR WAR
The last Iraqi war is a striking example of this. Officially the Belgian government was against the war in Iraq. They found, just as the German government, it to be against international law. In practice, 20,000 American soldiers were flown out to the Gulf region from Germany and all their equipment was brought to Antwerp and Rotterdam to be shipped. Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands functioned as a logistical centre for the war. Without this co-operation the war would have been impossible, or at least more difficult to organise. With this co-operation, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands violate their obligations under the Hague Convention about neutral countries and under the UN Charter. This is questionable. On reading the leaked bilateral agreements, it becomes clear that Belgium retains the right to cancel the execution of this agreement if it is againt its national interests. Separate from this legal discussion, the war in Iraq clearly shows NATO membership can mean an involvement in unilateral American military adventures.
AND THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS?
America’s abuse of the NATO framework could in theory be far worse. American nuclear weapons in Europe have a different function in the American military strategy than they do for NATO. The US sees the potential use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. This means that the US could transport these weapons to the Middle East at any moment for use by their own troops. The stationing of American nuclear weapons also plays a role as a forward operating base for the american army, just as in the case of conventional troops.
NATO and the American politics of war.
The NATO Strategic Concept states that NATO embodies the trans-atlantic bond which binds the security in Europe with the security in North-America. This sounds fine as long as the visions of security are moving in the same direction. However, in practice it is a different story.
NATO membership is pushing the European member states into a much more aggressive political policy then they would choose for themselves. The trans-atlantic bond seems to be more of a stranglehold, often making any other sort of foreign policy impossible. The US force their vision on the other member states, threatening them if they as much as think of questioning the ‘consensus’.
The earlier chapters about nuclear policy and interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq already illustrate this view. Here are a few more examples:
THE MISSILE DEFENCE SYSTEM
The US has been dreaming of Star Wars since the 1980’s. Star Wars is a space defence system that would defend them from nuclear weapons. Twenty years ago this technology was not possible. However, recently the current president Bush approved a national missile defence system. He terminated the ABN-treaty (Anti Ballistic Missile) in order to do this. This treaty, between the US and Russia, forbids missile defence systems.
Whether it works or not is questionable, however, the initial arrangements already exist for anti-missile missiles. Europe has always been less enthusiastic about this system. The US couldn’t sell it to NATO. As a compromise, there was a study about the technical feasibility of a ‘Missile Defence System’ under the NATO charter. This was a way of keeping it at bay for many countries. This was the start of a stealthy decision making process for the US. By commissioning a study, the discussion remained about the technical feasibility and any discussion about how necessary such a system actually is has been effectively sidelined. At the NATO top in RIGA in 2006, the US didn’t get their way. Another study was commissioned! However, the Bush government is determined to develop the Missile Defense System within its term of office to such an extent that it would be impossible for any future government to stop its development. In order to make this happen they return to the old policy of ‘divide and rule’: the US negotiate with Poland and the Czech Republic separately about placing installations for the missile defense system. Result: There will be a radar installation in the Czech Republic and anti-missile missiles in Poland.
Russia is inscenced. The missile defense plans are not as such a direct threat for Russia, but Russia is considering future developments. A country with a good functioning missile defence system has the potential to launch a nuclear attack, without the possibility that the attacked country can retalliate in an equally destructive way. The whole strategic balance based on deterrence would be disturbed. This is the trigger for Russia to threaten to terminate the INF-treaty which forbids middle-long distance missiles. The results of this angry response from Russia affect the whole of Europe.
Every discussion about the necessity of such a system is already useless due to the fact that the US persist in pushing their agenda accross the board. The discussion is no longer about the necessity of such a system but about which context it will be placed in (NATO or an East European coalition of the Willing). Europe backs down, the US has won their battle. Europe is being dragged into an aggressive political policy against Russia.
The US wants to use the current weakness of Russia against it to contain its freedom of movement to the extent that it can never regain its former strength. The US is trying to gain influence over as many of the former Soviet states as possible. NATO is the perfect instrument for this tactic.
The US are pushing for an expansion to include Ukraine and Georgia. The fact that the Ukranian population is divided about this question and a large part of the population feels more alligned with Russia is of no importance. That in Georgia NATO is getting involved in a political snake pit comparable to former Yugoslavia is also of no importance.
Russia is furious. This doesn’t mean much for the US, who are mainly aiming to eliminate a potential competitor. A good relationship with Russia is far more important for Europe. Russia is a neighbour. We are better off with a good neighbour than a far away friend. Despite this, NATO decision making moves, under constant pressure, slowly towards the American position.
THE MILITARY CO-OPERATION WITH ISRAEL
No one would be willing to co-operate militarily with a country which has broken international law by illegally occupying land for years, which regularly transgresses international human rights, ignores a whole series of UN resolutions. Apparently the US have no problem with this. It turns out that NATO is also involved.
The ‘Mediterranean Dialogue’ allows various countries to co-operate militarily in the Mediterranean sea area. It includes military exercises, taking part in studying, training, sponsoring collective scientific research, etc. Including themes like terrorism and border defense. This means something completely different in the Israeli context than in a European one! In May 2006 Israel took part in the Spring Flag /Volcanex airforce exercises. Two months later the Israeli airforce bombed Lebanon.
NATO, WHAT DOES IT COST?
NATO is collectively financed by its member states. The contributions from the member states are divided on the basis of their Bruto National Product (BNP). More than 95% of the costs are not included in the NATO budget, they are paid by the member states. The NATO budget only covers the headquarters and a limited amount of collective infrustructure. The cost of training, kitting out, holding their own troops ready and sending them on military missions is for the member states themselves.
A COLLECTIVE NATO BUDGET
NATO has 3 collective budgets:
The civil Budget, from which the NATO headquarter, the Civilian staff and the scientific programmes are financed. In 2007 this amounted to 181 million Euro. The contribution to this budget falls under the budget of Foreign affairs in the most member states.
The Military Budget, from which the military Headquarters (SHAPE), several smaller headquarters and the air defence installations are financed. In 2007 this budget amounted to 954 million Euro. The contribution to this budget falls under the budget for defence in the most member states.
The NATO Security Investment Programma (NSIP) from which diverse projects are financed in order to increase the military capacity and deployment potential. The NATO pipelines fall under this budget, as do storage bunkers for nuclear weapons. The US use this budget to let the other member states help pay for their European military installations. In 2007 this budget amounted to 640,5 million Euro. The contribution to this budget falls under the budget for Defence in most member states.
COST OF AMERICAN BASES FOR THE HOST COUNTRIES
The US keep statistics showing to what extent they have been able to let other countries pay for their foreign installations. These costs are very unevenly distributed and are mainly for the countries with the largest american military presence such as Germany and Italy. The Belgian contribution has to do with the NATO headquarters, the air force bases in Chičvres (in practice an American base), the MUNSS-squadron in Kleine Brogel and the transport of American military material.
This table shows direct support, direct payment or subsidies, indirect support, the cancellation or reduction of taxes, fees, etc.
NATO, WHAT DO WE WANT?
NATO creates more problems than it solves. We do not need a machine for worldwide military interventions or a military alliance which threatens the rest of the world, creating enemies and provoking retalliations.
We want to reduce the military intervention capacity:
- the NATO Response Force to be dismantled.
- a reduction of the military budgets and a move towards actual crisis prevention and development aid.
We want to demilitarise international relations:
- no military co-operation agreements with countries from the Pacific
- An end to the military co-operation with Israel
We want an end to activities which increase conflict:
- American nuclear weapons to be removed and an end to the role of nuclear weapons in military strategy
- A review of the military agreements
- an end to the development of a missile defense system
- troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq
- No NATO expansion into Ukraine and Georgia
HOW DO WE WANT TO ACHIEVE THIS?
Whatever our analysis, we face two problems:
- Whoever seeks fundamental change always comes up against NATO.
- Whoever seeks fundamental change in our security policy will be unable to achieve that only from one country. European co-operation is a necessity.
WE ARE NOT ALONE
There are powerful movements with similar aims, developing in several European countries.
Vredesactie has been organising the campaign ‘Bombspotting’ for the last ten years. Thousands of people have taken part in civil disobedience actions. They climbed the fences of military bases, where nuclear weapons are held, without permission, trying to prevent war crimes from being carried out.
The Belgian Parliament was the first parliamentary organ within NATO to ratify the resolution to remove nuclear weapons. However, the Belgian government has done nothing so far to put this resolution into practice.
At the start of the war in Iraq, Belgian ‘trainstoppers’ stopped a train carrying american military supplies. Today Vredesactie is taking initiative for ‘NATO – Game Over’ a European campaign of Non-Violent Direct Action to get the discussion going about NATO.
Peace activists stopped a train on 17 october 2005, which was transporting material for ambitious exercises as part of the creation of a base for the NATO Response Force in Valencia. A citizens inspection was organised there for the fifth time on 12 may 2007. This action was the final action of an action week against all military bases in Spain. Ten thousand people protested against NATO as a result of the defense ministers Top, in February 2007 in Seville. The government appeared to listen to the criticism: In Seville, Spain refused a NATO request to send more troops to Afghanistan.
NATO is also under fire in Italy, mainly since the war in Afghanistan. Resistance against American military bases grew in the last few months after it was announced that the military base near Vincenza, where American planes leave for Iraq and Afghanistan, would be expanding.
A hundred thousand people demonstrated on the base at Vincenza on 17 February 2007. A few days later prime minister Prodi handed in his resignation because his government couldn’t achieve a majority to support the continuation of the NATO occupation of Afghanistan.
The Peace movement in the UK has its hands full dealing with its own British foreign policy. The protests focus on the governments full support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and on the question of the modernisation of the Trident nuclear weapon system. Apart from its own nuclear weapons, the UK also houses NATO nuclear weapons. There are 110 nuclear weapons at the base at Lakenheath, where the American 48th Fighter Wing is based. The Lakenheath Action group is the motor behind a constant stream of demonstrations and direct actions.
Germany has had a strong peace movement for years. A new development is the network of local groups around the different military bases. There is a broad movement north of Berlin, active against the use of the exercise terrain for bombing, the Bombodrom. They are using legal channels, but when these are at their end, they plan a continual occupation of the site to prevent its usage. Local groups organise actions at the bases in Büchel, Spangdahlem en Ramstein. Also at Leipzig airport, where Antonov planes are stationed for EU and NATO interventions and where American soldiers on leave from Iraq or Afghanistan land, and in Ansbach, one of the places where the American army in Germany is concentrating its forces and a helicopter regiment is based.
After the Cold War, East European countries approached NATO. Countries like Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary turned out to be well behaved and enthusiastic members. However, protest in these countries is also growing. In Czech Republic it is focussed on the placement of a radar for the American Missile Defense System. In August 2006 a coalition was formed called ‘Ne Základnám’ translated as: ‘No to military bases’. They organised the first demonstration in Prague against these plans. This movement now has local groups all over the Czech Republic and is collecting signatures for a referendum. There have been referenda in the villages around the proposed site and the results show nearly 100% of the people are against the plans.
There is also a broad movement against the Star Wars plans in Poland, where a missile site is planned. Alongside demonstrations, the action groups are also using the possibility of a referendum as a way to reach a broad public. This movement is made up of groups from various backgrounds, brought together under the coalition ‘Stop Wojnie ‘ (Stop War) which started during the war in Iraq.
Finaly there is Hungary, the first signs of resistance are visible, but on a local level. There are actions in Tubes and Pécs against the plans for a NATO radar site.
22/03/08 NATO - GAME OVER
Belgium houses the political headquarters of NATO. The possibility for European action and co-operation are at our fingertips. By calling a halt to NATO’s strategy, we step into the heart of our military security. Together with German, British, Spanish,.... peace activists the first ‘NATO-Game Over ‘ will begin on saturday 22 March 2008.
Together we will head to the NATO headquarters, five years after the start of the war in Iraq, to close it down. Literally we will shut its gates and access roads. We are nonviolent and determined. Bomspotters will enter and inspect the terrain where the preparation for the use of nuclear weapons occurs in order to stop war crimes.
‘NATO – Game Over’ is not a demonstration. It is not a game. Up until now, every non violent direct action at the NATO headquarters has been met with an exagerated show of force from the police, kilometres of barbed wire, laws about gathering in groups,... Its a shameful waste of tax payers money. Through Non violent Direct action we try to prevent wars and put a stop to war crimes. Our basic conditions for taking part are openness, active nonviolence and a strong sense of responsibility.
www.bombspotting.org and firstname.lastname@example.org