By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
The new NATO Strategy was adopted last week at a meeting in Portugal by heads of state of the 28-member NATO alliance while outside the meeting over 10,000 marchers shouted "no to war, no to NATO". Internally, I heard that career officers of NATO were not happy either. I am a citizen of the USA as well as Palestinian who lives under occupation. The US, the only remaining superpower (although declining rapidly) played the key role in forming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and still largely shapes its policies. Thus, as a US citizen, I am entitled to question the document and examine it in detail. But as a human being we should all care what politicians plan for our dying planet.
The document states innocuously that "NATO member states form a unique community of values, committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law" and then delves in further statements about common defense, deterrence, threats (e.g. "terrorism", ballistic missiles etc) (1). Many citizens of NATO countries wondered where were these lofty ideals of individual liberties, human rights, and democracy in the past 10 years. Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, secret CIA torture camps around the world, kidnapping, extrajudicial executions and more were practiced by our countries. All the data are now available for anyone to confirm these. If these were aberrations and mistakes, why has no high officials (Bush, Blair, others) paid for them? And why the strategy paper does not state that member countries are committed to these liberal principles both inside and outside their borders? Why do many NATO countries fund and support dictators (for example in Egypt) if they are sincere about democracy?
The new strategy affirms that "the Alliance is firmly committed to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and to the Washington Treaty, which affirms the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security." So how come NATO member countries have not pushed for implementation of any of the passed 35 UN Security council resolutions that deal with Israel? And how come they allowed one member state of NATO to veto dozens of other security council resolutions that attempt to secure international peace? Israel regularly violates the UN charter and even its own commitments when it was allowed into the UN (e.g. to accept UN resolutions including the right of return to Palestinian refugees). So if NATO is committed to this charter why not ask the US (the chief sponsor of the rogue state of Israel) to insist that Israel complies with International law? But then again, the US was forced by Israel's lobby to invade Iraq, an act clearly in violation of the charter of the UN (2).
The new strategic concept paper adopted states that "NATO will actively employ an appropriate mix of those political and military tools to help manage developing crises that have the potential to affect Alliance security, before they escalate into conflicts; to stop ongoing conflicts where they affect Alliance security; and to help consolidate stability in post-conflict situations where that contributes to Euro-Atlantic security." I kept thinking of one word not mentioned anywhere in the document but clearly in the minds of those drafting it: Afghanistan. Any rational reading of the role of NATO in Afghanistan would have to conclude that it decreased not increased stability. The war on this impoverished country was ill-advised from the beginning. The rulers of Afghanistan had simply demanded from the US proof that Osama Bin Laden was involved in the 9/11 attacks. The US refused to put-out any evidence and chose to occupy the country. Here we are, nearly 10 years later and Osama Bin Laden is supposedly now in Pakistan (itself destabilized by the NATO actions) and the Taliban insurgency is stronger than ever. Some 2/3rd of Afghanistan is actually now under the rule of the resurgent Taliban. The puppet government of Karzai in Kabul is corrupt and is maintained only by Western support and by bribes to corrupt war lords. Heroin trade, nearly decimated by 2001 under the Taliban rule, is now flourishing. NATO forces regularly use unmanned aircraft to bomb civilians and hatred of all Western countries increased round the Middle East. Now copy-cat "Al-Qaeda" cells are sprouting like mushrooms in places like Somalia, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, and sub-Saharan Africa. An average citizen like me asks the question: is this the employing of "an appropriate mix of those political and military tools to help manage developing crises" or is it what creates crisis?
Then the strategy paper gets even more bizarre by noting that "Terrorism poses a direct threat to the security of the citizens of NATO countries, and to international stability and prosperity more broadly." It is bizarre because it does not bother to define what "terrorism" is. One can only deduce that terrorism is left to those with big sticks to define. State terrorism seems excluded. Freedom fighters or even non-violent resisters to occupation and colonization can be labeled as terrorists. International law that guarantees rights of resistance can be dismissed. NATO leaders add that "Extremist groups continue to spread to, and in, areas of strategic importance to the Alliance, and modern technology increases the threat and potential impact of terrorist attacks, in particular if terrorists were to acquire nuclear, chemical, biological or radiological capabilities." But the paper does not explain WHY "extremist groups continue to spread". There are really only two scenarios, the one promoted by the Zionist media around the West (that Islam is the cause) and the one academic researchers and strategists showed that it had to do with western policies (pressured by the Zionists themselves). If Islam is the cause of extremism spreading, then NATO should explain why now (not 400 years ago) and what they plan to do about it other than follow the script prepared for them in Tel Aviv.
Later in the document it states NATO will work to "enhance the capacity to detect and defend against international terrorism, including through enhanced analysis of the threat, more consultations with our partners, and the development of appropriate military capabilities, including to help train local forces to fight terrorism themselves." But this is what NATO has been doing for 10 years and it does not seem to be working. Is it not time to dig a little deeper in the analysis for example by examining the role of the Western implanted state of Israel and the World Zionist Organization in fostering hatred and anger in the Arab and Islamic world and in false-flag operations that are then blamed in Muslims?
Then we see these even more vague assertions: "Instability or conflict beyond NATO borders can directly threaten Alliance security, including by fostering extremism, terrorism, and trans-national illegal activities such as trafficking in arms, narcotics and people" and "Crises and conflicts beyond NATO’s borders can pose a direct threat to the security of Alliance territory and populations. NATO will therefore engage, where possible and when necessary, to prevent crises, manage crises, stabilize post-conflict situations and support reconstruction." Indeed, but why does NATO chose to get involved in Afghanistan and its key members (US, Britain etc) choose to get involved in Iraq? Why not get involved in Israel? Will NATO strategists objectively examine these interventions to decide what could have happened if alternative strategies were pursued? Will they objectively examine why most people see the hypocrisy of causing the death of over 1 million civilians in Iraq for alleged violations of a couple of UN Security Council resolutions while giving billions to Israel (a habitual violator of International law)?
Need anyone comment on this next pearl of wisdom from NATO other than to say "show me how, where, and when": "The best way to manage conflicts is to prevent them from happening. NATO will continually monitor and analyse the international environment to anticipate crises and, where appropriate, take active steps to prevent them from becoming larger conflicts." But wait, they maybe giving us a hint: "Where conflict prevention proves unsuccessful, NATO will be prepared and capable to manage ongoing hostilities. NATO has unique conflict management capacities, including the unparalleled capability to deploy and sustain robust military forces in the field. NATO-led operations have demonstrated the indispensable contribution the Alliance can make to international conflict management efforts." If all you have is a hammer, surely everything looks like a nail. Is NATO thinking of intervening in Iran and Venezuela instead of Israel and Columbia? How many areas in the world will NATO be willing to send troops to? And if NATO keeps misdiagnosing the etiology of the problems they are facing (minor symptoms of a more systemic disease), then how can they design effective therapies or even give people a hope of a reasonably decent prognosis?
More ominous statements are included in the new strategy that is revealing: "All countries are increasingly reliant on the vital communication, transport and transit routes on which international trade, energy security and prosperity depend. They require greater international efforts to ensure their resilience against attack or disruption. Some NATO countries will become more dependent on foreign energy suppliers and in some cases, on foreign energy supply and distribution networks for their energy needs. As a larger share of world consumption is transported across the globe, energy supplies are increasingly exposed to disruption."
One wonders what does this mean. Who will determine "threats" to "supplies"? Where is the mention here of free trade and supply and demand? Will these NATO countries dependent on getting natural resources from other countries be entitled to NATO defense to ensure their supply is not disrupted if sellers get better offers from other buyers?
The NATO document vagueness gets rather scary:
"Deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy. The circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance." and NATO will work to "sustain the necessary levels of defense spending, so that our armed forces are sufficiently resourced".
Madness is indeed continuing on a path that produced more destabilization, doubled the number of countries with nuclear weapons since 1950, and increased global insecurity. With the economies in Europe and North America struggling, one wonders what is going on in the heads of these politicians as they promise to keep pumping more resources into the bloated military budgets. Even seasoned NATO officers (many retired) are questioning this logic. The US spends half its discretionary budget on its military, a military that already has enough weapons to obliterate life on earth many times over. The Nonproliferation Treaty that all these countries signed stated that they would work to reduce and then completely eliminate nuclear weapons. Yet, they proliferate them to their client states (Israel, then India and Pakistan as examples). And what does it mean that "as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance"? How will they cease to exist if those with the biggest stockpiles write such bizarre statements?
The document also claims that the alliance will work to foil "cyber attacks". But will this include such cyber attacks as clearly carried out by US and Israeli intelligence agents against Iran's civilian nuclear facilities (facilities regularly inspected by the IAEA and certified annually to be in compliance with international treaties)? And what message is sent to any country (friendly or not-so-friendly to the US and Israel if the rules of the game do not apply to powerful countries and the rules are discarded to punish smaller countries on the whim of the powerful?
Other issues seemed positive but again vague:
- "increased cooperation with UN": Does this mean NATO member states like the US will now obey the UN charter and stop invading and undermining sovereignty of other countries
- " fully strengthen the strategic partnership with the EU, in the spirit of full mutual openness, transparency, complementarity and respect for the autonomy and institutional integrity of both organisations": The EU has human rights and other treaties central to its operations but NATO does not do that. What is the way to reconcile the differences?
The document ends by reiterating that "Our Alliance thrives as a source of hope because it is based on common values of individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and because our common essential and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members. These values and objectives are universal and perpetual, and we are determined to defend them through unity, solidarity, strength and resolve."
And what about the most egregious violations of these principles by the fifth strongest army in the world (an army with a state called Israel)? Where is the insistence on individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law? Why is a key NATO country giving this rogue nation 20 of the most advanced jet aircraft? (3). As a colonial apartheid regime, the Israeli violations of all these principles indeed foster instability that affects NATO member state security at every conceivable level. Further, the presence of strong Zionist lobbies in NATO key members has pushed these states (e.g. Britain and the US) to engage in elective and costly wars (e.g. on Iraq) that undermined global security. And most significantly, where is the honesty about how the misplaced priority of NATO governments makes the rich richer and the poor poorer in these countries? Where is the discussion of people's rights to economic security? Isn't the job of government to ensure people have a future worth living or is the job of governments to secure corporations and wealthy aristocrats in their endless greed that is already destroying our planet? Isn't global warming a more important threat to our survival than some manufactured threat from a bearded man in Afghanistan (or is it Pakistan or is it Langley base)?
I ask these questions since I am a US citizen (a NATO country). What of non-NATO countries? I am also a Palestinian citizen and thus can equally criticize the Palestinian government which like many non-NATO countries is intimidated into silence about issues that affect the welfare of people around the world. Our representatives (whose tenure had ended but still remain in office without elections) are not even allowing a discussion of options going forward (4). But the more I look into machinations of politicians in this new world order, the more convinced I am of my life long persistence in trying to effect change at the grass-root level. After all, that is how real change happens in society not because of political leaders but in spite of them (see women's rights, civil rights, ending the war on Vietnam, ending apartheid South Africa etc). Thus I felt friendship to those 10,000 people on the streets in Lisbon and I felt sorry for those politicians with the body guards and the shiny suits shaking hands in well guarded buildings. History will show indeed that we, the people, hold the answers.
2) See Connecting the dots: IRAQ & PALESTINE by Mazin Qumsiyeh
http://www.qumsiyeh.org/connectingthedotsiraqpalestine/ and read the book by Mearsheimer and Walt "The Israel Lobby"
3) see http://www.mondoweiss.net/?s=virginia+tilley
4) see for example of good analysis Palestine at the UN: An alternative strategy By Mouin Rabbani
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