NATO – an alliance for the 21st century?

MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: NATO's new strategy document is a continuation of the neoconservative line after Anders Fogh Rasmussen's politicization of the group, revealing an ideological chasm between the old and the new NATO.

The US government recorded that its air force was almost intact after World War II. This created a political-economic power relationship between the USA and Europe. They could secure free trade across the Atlantic, with Europe as a market for American over-production of goods after the war.

But in NATO’s (North-Atlantic Treaty Organization) new strategy document (#NATO 2022 Strategy Concept) significantly is changed: «NATO is determined to safeguard the freedom and security of its Allies. Its key purpose and greatest responsibility is to ensure our collective defence against all threats from all directions. We are a defensive Alliance.» But, was NATO never rigged for a collective defense against all threats and from all directions?

Initially, NATO consisted of twelve European equivalent member states with experience from the Second World War. The treaty was to ensure that none of the members would attack each other again, and if that happened, the others would collectively help defend against the attacker. So why does a treaty-based defensive alliance need a strategy document today?

NATO 21st Century Editorial

Security, strength, deterrence, nuclear

The structural changes in the new NATO are clearly expressed in linguistic terms. Every 44th word in the 2022 strategy concept is «security.» It is used in 98 places against 61 in 2010. «Strength» is used far more often in 2022. The same with «deterrence”. «Instability» is used five times more often, and the word «nuclear» twice as often. The use of the terms «deter» and «global» has now quadrupled. In contrast, the word «democracy» appears only twice in both strategy documents.

It is, to a large extent, a completely new military and political organisation that we now see built up in the treaty’s framework from 1949. From being a Western European and North American defensive alliance, NATO now appears to have become a pan-European organisation with global security interests, led by the USA, but under the promise that the task is the same: «to ensure that the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security and shared values.»

But what is meant by this, and what «common values» does NATO have?

Right up until 1992, NATO was a defensive alliance that was supposed to guarantee stable security in Europe. During Fogh Rasmussen’s tenure as Secretary General, NATO became a multinational group-run security organisation with political purposes, where growth was a measurable success rate. The rapid eastward expansion following the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a response to the development of a global NATO.

NATO became a unique security alliance that made «military forces able to operate together in any environment, that can control operations anywhere through its integrated military command structure», such as ensuring the «freedom and security of its members.» Something that, according to the NATO concept, could hardly be carried out individually (2010:36). The consequence was that national security was sacrificed.

The situation was so stable that Rasmussen, in 2008, referred to NATO as the world’s most successful peace movement. Peace in Europe had lasted for 70 years – except for when NATO bombed civilian targets without a UN mandate Belgrade for 78 days. However, the term «peace movement» is not used in NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg’s strategy document.

Political activity

Now in 2022, NATO assures that «the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security and shared values”. No one becomes a NATO member without sharing NATO’s values. However, NATO is primarily a military organisation, and the question is why a military organisation should promote peace and democratic development. The mix of NATO’s military and political activities is startling. What values ​​does the military organisation NATO really have?

In the strategy document from 2010, the partnership between NATO and the EU is highlighted in Article 32: «The EU is a unique and essential partner for NATO. All members of both organisations share common values» (2010:32). Since «all members of both organisations share the same values», NATO and the EU share common values. Thus NATO members must also share the EU’s values. Military standardisation is only one of the requirements that NATO countries must meet.

Associations to “the Allies”

The term «allies» is used twice as many times in 2022 as in 2010. The strategy document from 2010 used «parties» and «allies» interchangeably, but now the term «allies» is used consistently.

The original NATO treaty from 1949 did not refer to the member states as «allies» but as «parties», as mutually equal parties in a treaty-based defensive alliance. It was only after Bush’s redefinition of Article 5 in 2001 that «allies» became a rhetorical possibility in NATO, and not until after 2010 that it became a rhetorical necessity after the restructuring of NATO. «Allies» creates associations with «the allies» during the Second World War.

In 2022, Russia was described as the main threat to NATO. The rhetorical «we» as «the allies» convinces us that «we» are on the right side and will win the war. But the Allies during the Second World War (from 1941) consisted primarily of Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States in a joint fight against Nazism and fascism.

Moreover, the concept of freedom that the military organisation NATO defends in the document is the EU’s four freedoms – such as the free flow of capital, goods, services, and people. This is in stark contrast to Roosevelt’s concept of freedom as the most important: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from distress, and freedom from fear (Atlanterhavserkläringen, 1941).

The definition of NATO members as US «allies» does not differ significantly from how the Roman Empire referred to its client states.

Such a Hobbesian society is far from a Nordic representative democracy governed by reason.

The United States – a full-fledged democracy?

Stoltenberg’s NATO document defines the values ​​more precisely as the transatlantic ties between nations as indispensable for our security: «We are bound together by common values: individual liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” But Stoltenberg is secretary general of NATO and not of the UN.

In Stoltenberg’s strategy document, the word «bulwark» appears for the first time in NATO’s history, and it is used a total of three times, including in the foreword. «Rule of law» is most often used for «the rule of law», nevertheless it is impossible not to think of Thomas Hobbes’ descriptions of a purely materialistic society («a war of all against all»), where the law (the will of the sovereign) is the only bulwark against the anarchy, implemented by the military power. But such a Hobbesian society is far from a Nordic representative democracy governed by reason.

In the book About Tyranny (2017, Norwegian edition 2022), Timothy Snyder defined how little separates the American state constitution from despotism, where the tripartite division of American society consists of the president (the sovereign), the people (the mass), and the military – which is represented as a separate nation of power in the state. The USA is no longer considered a full-fledged democracy but a flawed one, partly because of insufficient freedom of expression (democracy index 2022). The elimination of Osama Bin Laden (2011) and Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi (2022) is not worthy of a rule of law.

Marianne Solberg
Marianne Solberg
Regular contributor to our sister publication NY TID in Norway.

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