Isn’t it all a big sham in the end, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization? Secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg insists for its member nations to raise their defense budgets. And President Trump, NATO’s chief promoter, asks for a doubling from two percent of the GDP to four. Is this how we are going to celebrate the 70 years anniversary this April, applauding two of the well-paid lobbyists for the arms industry?
The fresh report, NATO at Seventy, from Harvard Kennedy School is subtitled «An alliance in crisis». The world’s «most successful alliance» apparently confronts its most complex challenges ever. Really? Yes, some are afraid that the American president might not acknowledge «article number 5» – the «one for all and all for one» of the 29 member nations. Also, there are the challenges of bio-weapons, information weapons, and artificial intelligence, which will lay claim to 20 percent of defense budgets to cover costs of surveillance, intelligence, and new tech. A third challenge for NATO is the EU, The African Union, and The Arab League – which they want to get more deeply involved in the race.
On its 70-year birthday, the NATO-led military-industrial complex can congratulate itself with a world that spends more than 1800 billion dollars in preparation for war – so as to make the world a more peaceful place. NATO makes for half of this. The U.S. alone spends almost 600 billion dollars (3.5 percent of their GDP) in preparations for war, and China comes next (they have doubled their spending the last ten years). Russia is next in line, spending a tenth of the US, while Norway spends a tenth of that, about 6 billion dollars a year.
The core values «democracy, individual liberty, and rule of law».
In our increasingly militarized world, the motivating powers are Russia, especially after their annexation of the Crimea, and China – even if most enlightened people see these countries as being more concerned with defense than offensives.
What is supposed to justify NATO’s enormous expenditure are the core values of «democracy, individual liberty, and rule of law». Well, NATO could have exerted pressure on countries like Hungary, Poland, and Turkey, whose democratic values are faltering. But the US, being the leading nation of the NATO are signing enormous arms contracts with Saudi-Arabia, a country whose military spending almost equals that of Russia. And as Jon Hellesnes writes in The NATO Complex (2019), the US as the leading nation of NATO has initiated a series of offensive wars, where international law is transgressed, while prisoners and civilians are tortured. The superpower has conducted a series of extralegal executions by drones. And Russian collusion with US elections? According to Hellesnes, the US has meddled with 66 elections since WW2. Here the US clearly breaks with the second of the core values.
Well, the «alliance of free and sovereign states» (like Norway), are expected to give their support whenever called upon. But if one happens to disagree with the US or the interests of the greatest powers, there is no tolerance for supporting liberation movements in the third world, for instance. The feudal lord creates vassal states. At the government level in Norway, there is accordingly no mention of the many destabilized and destroyed countries resulting from de many US interventions – where war was supposed to make peace – like Iraq or Libya. The latter is a great shame for Norway who not even today dares to acknowledge how deceitful and meaningless the bombings were.
And rule of law?
NUPI recently presented the book Visions of an improved organization of the world. Progress and counter-forces, written by the experienced diplomat Bjørn Skogmo. Drawing upon his 43 years in foreign service the retired Skogmo talks about how the US with Kissinger’s linkage and NATO has attached smaller states like Norway.
As a Norwegian counterbalance to powerful alliances and blocs, Skogmo used to work to promote a more multilateral cooperation in order to harness conflicts and the abuses of the superpowers – through binding agreements and rule of law.
I asked Skogmo if he would take on the challenge of describing a future scenario where Norway makes a bold move stepping out of NATO. A delinkage – possibly replaced by a Nordic or European defense alliance. The diplomat answered. «The possibility of a delinkage from NATO, that’s something I can’t really assess. It is a political question, both here in Norway and for others. We can, of course, dream up such scenarios, but whether it is politically possible or desirable, needs to be debated politically. And my book intended to spur debates.» Well, he should have been bold enough to describe a Norway outside NATO – the need for diplomatic solutions rather than military wastefulness and destruction is more pressing than ever.
«Out of NATO» has been NY TID’s (Modern Times) stance, and looking back to NATO’s 20 years anniversary in this Norwegian newspaper (our predecessor Orientering), the position was firm already in 1969; criticism of the Parliament’s attitude to NATO (Finn Gustafsen of party SF); an unfortunate military cooperation (writer Tore Linné Eriksen); Norwegian espionage towards Russia (military agent Svein Blindheim) or criticism of the base policy, which is now abandoned.
We know that Russia and China aren’t democracies. But is the US better, where President Truman dropped nuclear bombs on Japanese cities despite their negotiations for peace – as a demonstration of power and to break with the Soviet Union. And President Clinton who in the 90’s broke the deal (Bush/Gorbachev) of not surrounding Russia. It should be obvious where we find the aggressor who makes the military budgets soar.
Unfortunately most people wish to live under the protection of NATO – unknowingly deceiving themselves. On the 70th anniversary we might do well in reminding ourselves of Orwell’s 1984: In the novel, the enormous concrete buildings of the Department of Truth carry the following inscription: «War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.»