Next week, Trump is coming back to London for NATO’s 70th anniversary summit. He will no doubt take the opportunity to further promote his friend Boris Johnson – a case of foreign intervention in an election if ever there was one. There are many reasons to oppose Trump, and his militarism, war-mongering and reckless addiction to nuclear weapons must feature pretty near the top of the list. Looking back over his record in the White House it’s hard to believe that during his election campaign, Trump promised to put an end to pointless foreign wars and attacked spending on useless and massively expensive new military equipment. The truth is the Trump presidency has ushered in a new era of militarism and his defining policies indicate preparation for high-tech massively violent wars against Russia and China, together with the development of a whole new generation of ‘usable’ nuclear weapons.
During his election campaign, Trump also put a question mark over his commitment to NATO but that turned out to be short-lived – he now sees it as a cash cow to fund his military aspirations. When he attended his first NATO summit in Brussels in 2017, he took fellow member states to task for failing to meet the agreed annual 2% of GDP spending on defence year, a target which few NATO countries meet. At his second summit in 2018, Trump turned up late, threatening to pull out of NATO if member states didn’t cough up, and raised his demand from 2% to 4% of GDP.
NATO’s role as a nuclear-armed alliance continues with US nuclear bombs stationed in five countries across Europe. Meanwhile, NATO has expanded steadily since the 1990s; most of the countries of eastern Europe have been admitted to NATO including former Soviet republics. This scale of expansion has contributed to international tension as Russia sees itself increasingly surrounded by US and NATO bases. But developments have not been limited to expanding its membership. At NATO’s fiftieth anniversary conference in Washington in 1999, a new ‘Strategic Concept’ was adopted. This moved beyond NATO’s previous defensive role to include ‘out of area’ – in other words offensive – operations, anywhere on the Eurasian landmass. This fits neatly with Trump’s current orientation to dominate that massive expanse.
Subsequently, NATO has moved to adopt a global role for itself, often falsely posturing as a force for humanitarian relief. It has even moved into Latin America, with Colombia designated as a ‘global partner’, not to mention its extensive global alliances with other states and regional alliances. NATO’s war continues in Afghanistan: begun by Bush in 2001 it continues today, the longest war in US history, involving all NATO countries. NATO’s war-fighting has also reached Africa, where Libya has been destroyed; the consequences have been terrible, as thousands have been forced to flee while refugees face ongoing military brutality in the Mediterranean. The international community urgently needs to bring an end to the militarization of the Mediterranean Sea and to all military action against refugees.
Worldwide, people are in need of real peace which means social justice, environmental security, equal access to resources, a warm welcome for refugees fleeing wars and oppression and more. It has been surprising, over the last few years, to hear members of the Labour front bench speak in glowing terms about NATO, and very disappointing to see in Labour’s 2019 election manifesto, under the heading A New Internationalism, Labour reiterating its commitment to NATO, to replacing Trident and to spending at least 2% of GDP on ‘defence’. When Labour is challenging so much, surely Britain’s role in the world can be rethought too, rather than repeating policies designed to maintain the last knockings of Britain’s imperial splendours?
It’s a shame to see Paul Mason wasting time suggesting ‘How the Left could save NATO’, in the New Statesman this week. What aspect of aggressive, nuclear-armed, expansionist, war-mongering and mass-murdering doesn’t he understand? It harks back to his 2016 piece ‘The left-wing case for nuclear weapons’. There is no case where nuclear weapons make us safer, or enhance our security. These are weapons of mass destruction, designed to threaten, terrorise and destroy all life on earth. He sadly misunderstands the values of the left if he thinks that they, or NATO, can ever be part of what it stands for.
NATO and everything it represents breeds war, global injustice, brutality and inequality and these are what the peace movement campaigns against. We have marched at NATO summits, with the movements from Europe, the US and beyond, against the nuclear doctrine of NATO, against its expansionism, against its destabilising global power grabs. And we will continue to do so, and to argue for an alternative, whoever is in government, because to condone and embrace NATO is to abandon the cause of peace, the pursuit of justice, and any vision of a world that exists for the people.
Please stand with us, march with us. Don’t let these crucial issues be sidelined and marginalised. Because the truth is you can’t build a new internationalism if you play a role in NATO’s nuclear-armed, aggressive, global aggrandisement and embrace weapons of mass destruction.
A new approach to international relations is required – and membership of NATO has no part in that.
Join our counter-summit: The New World Disorder – anti-NATO summit 30 November 2019
Join the demonstration: No to Trump – No to NATO – London Demonstration 3 December 2019