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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/22/10

Global NATO Raises Alarms From Arctic To Brazil

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Global NATO Raises Alarms From Arctic To Brazil
Rick Rozoff

The current century's only and history's largest military bloc will hold the latest of what have become annual summits in Lisbon, Portugal this November 19 and 20. Heads of state, defense chiefs and chiefs of general staff from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 28 full members will be in attendance, as will be leaders from an unannounced number of the military alliance's forty some odd partner states.

Starting last year a 12-member Group of Experts headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and ex-president and chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell Jeroen van der Veer toured Europe and North America to promote NATO's new Strategic Concept, its first in the 21st century as the current version was adopted in 1999, the year of the bloc's first expansion into Eastern Europe and its 78-day air war against Yugoslavia, the first military assault against a sovereign nation in Europe since World War II.

On May 17 of this year Albright and her cohorts submitted their recommendations - a set of already determined priorities for the expanding military alliance - to the North Atlantic Council, NATO's top governing body, to be formally endorsed at the Lisbon summit. [1]

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The new Strategic Concept will elaborate upon and extend the policies of its predecessor and will reflect the past decade's transformation of an erstwhile Cold War-era alliance into an increasingly global warfighting machine. One which has grown in the interim from 16 to 28 full members, the 12 new inductees all in Eastern Europe, 10 of them former members of the Warsaw Pact and three of those ex-Soviet republics.

When the 1999 Strategic Concept was approved NATO was conducting its first full-blown war, Operation Allied Force, a nearly three-month-long relentless bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, followed by the deployment of 50,000 troops under NATO command to the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Two years afterward the North Atlantic bloc intervened in an armed conflict in Macedonia, itself the offshoot of NATO's war against Yugoslavia, with the deployment of troops under the banner of Operation Amber Fox.

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Since 2001 all Balkan nations, including ones that did not exist as the time, have become NATO members or partners. [2]

In the same month, September, NATO activated its Article 5 collective military assistance provision for the first time in its then 52-year history the day after the September 11 attacks in the United States, although no state actor had been accused of perpetrating them. In so doing it committed itself to the following month's invasion of Afghanistan and all that has ensued.

The war in Afghanistan will enter its tenth year almost two months before this year's NATO summit and there are currently 150,000-strong foreign troops in the war zone, 120,000 from 50 nations serving under NATO's International Security Assistance Force. The Alliance also has bases in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and has conducted shelling and helicopter and special forces raids inside Pakistan.

After invoking its war clause on September 12, 2001, NATO launched the ongoing Operation Active Endeavor naval surveillance and interdiction mission throughout the entire Mediterranean Sea, which will last as long as NATO itself does.

NATO has also run troop airlift operations in Africa, first in the Darfur region of western Sudan and later in Somalia. Since 2008 it has conducted naval surveillance, interdiction and boarding operations off the Horn of Africa.

The NATO Training Mission - Iraq continues to instruct Iraqi officers and soldiers inside the country and at NATO facilities in Europe. [3]

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What has occurred since and as a result of the adoption of the last Strategic Concept at the 50th anniversary summit in Washington, D.C. while the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were welcomed as member states and bombs and cruise missiles descended on Yugoslavia, is a qualitative transformation of the U.S.-dominated, European-based military alliance into an international intervention and occupation force.

In 2003 the bloc launched its first rapid reaction force, the NATO Response Force, described by NATO as to consist of 25,000 troops "capable of performing missions worldwide across the whole spectrum of operations." [4] Its initial test was in the Steadfast Jaguar exercise in the African nation of Cape Verde in 2006 with 7,800 troops, U.S. F-16s, German armored vehicles and Spanish helicopters. NATO's first major deployment on African soil.

What has transpired in the interim is what Ivo Daalder, now U.S. permanent representative (ambassador) to NATO, advocated in a 2006 article in Foreign Affairs appropriately titled "Global NATO": The Alliance has expanded into not only a combat-capable and expeditionary organization but one with members and partners far from its original area of responsibility and one conducting operations around the world.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/
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