NO TO NATO! CALL FOR DEMILITARIZATION!

Build the anti-imperialist movement! Struggle for just peace everywhere!

ILPS Commission 4 called for activities to join in the protests against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the time of the NATO Summit held in London, UK from December 1 to 3. An international peoples’ counter-summit entitled “The New World Disorder” was organized by the No to War, No to NATO Network on November 30, followed by street protests. Other activities were staged in different countries. On November 29, for example, the Just Peace Committee and Vancouver Peace Council co-hosted a public forum on NATO. Speakers from both groups presented to members and local residents at a public library in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced next NATO Summit on May 22, 2019. He did so at a meeting with the British Prime Minister on a visit to London, where they agreed to hold the NATO 70th anniversary events in London, UK, from December 1 to 3 in 2019.

One observer (Euroactiv.com with AFP, May 22, 2019) noted the following in relation to the present context of NATO. “Tensions with Russia are at a high not seen since the Cold War. There are also concerns about US President Donald Trump’s commitment to the alliance and his willingness to honour its mutual self-defense pact. Trump has been unstinting in his criticism of NATO’s European members, accusing them of freeloading on the protection offered by the US military while not spending enough on their own armed forces. Before taking office, Trump called NATO ‘obsolete’.”

When Stoltenberg met with US President Trump in Washington, DC, two weeks prior to the NATO Summit, Stoltenberg responded to Trump’s pleas to offset the financial burden of militarization on the US state by demanding that all NATO member countries contribute at least $100 billion to NATO annually. To put this into perspective, Canada’s military budget is $29 billion while the US’ budget is around $900 billion.

NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization and is an alliance of 29 states committed to upholding its common goals. Created during the Cold War, the founding members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK and The United States. They all agreed to provide collective security from attack by the USSR or any other party (Article 5) and stop communism from spreading. Although the USSR is no more, NATO’s modus operandi is still to deter or stop states and movements deviating from the monopoly-capitalism model. It defends the present-day set of policies known as neo-liberalism. Its work is thus to develop counter-revolutionary strategy and launch offensives, which imperialist military and political leaders typically characterize as defense of freedom and democracy.

According to a pro-NATO scholar named Stanley R. Sloan (2019), NATO promotes and defends a notion of “the West” along the lines mentioned above. “Even in the beginning, NATO had a political and economic as well as a military purpose,” he writes. (2019, p. 5)

At the Vancouver forum, Barbara Waldern spoke for the local Just Peace Committee, a member group of the ILPS Canada Chapter, and Kimball Cariou spoke for the Vancouver Peace Council, a branch of the Canadian Peace Congress. Cariou began by putting Canada’s membership in NATO into the historical context of WW2 and the creation of NATO based on the narrative that says imperialist wars have defended democracy and freedom, a glorious cause worth the sacrifices. Asserting that NATO is really deployed to defend and push forward the global system of monopoly capitalism, said Cariou, the narrative supported the shift in ownership and control of Canadian production and resources from the UK as the British Empire sank to the US as it rose as a superpower. A rising newly industrializing country at that time, Canada’s economy and military policy soon became subordinated to those of the US. Promising democracy and prosperity, the Liberal Party government of the day carried out its “Abbott Plan” to sell off its resources. Part of the new relationship entailed a commitment to NATO.

Waldern talked about the president-day context of the sharpening contradictions and global crisis as the world economy is heading towards another great recession. This is a dangerous time for more reasons than one. She cited a few facts demonstrating the extreme economic fragility of the Europe, US-Canada and China, emphasizing their mammoth debt-loads. War is often a solution to economic crisis and extending conflict stimulates the arms trade and whole economies. She also referred to political tensions among European countries and between the US and various big powers. This is the situation in which questions about NATO’s existence is taking place. The US more isolated and retreating from some international pacts and collaborations, dissatisfaction is being voiced by numerous European states, some representatives of whom are recommending withdrawal from NATO, even the dismantlement of NATO. What could be the outcome of an exodus from or even a shutdown of NATO? Signs are telling that such states are leaning towards a preference for fascism, which means increased militarization to repress people’s movements as well as destroy states not conforming to the US-led imperialist model. Also, the absence of an alliance could result in war among Western powers. The danger of nuclear war is higher today.

The necessity for a united people’s movement for just peace and national liberation, one armed with a critical understanding of imperialism, is more urgent than ever before. The forum discussed prospects for uniting and building a just peace movement. Participants highlighted the importance of education and dissemination. AS well as criticizing imperialism and its institutions such as NATO, movements should put forward proposals for solutions and adopt a long-term vision of an alternative to imperialism.

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