Martin Kettle in Britain's Guardian newspaper writes:
"Supporters as well as critics of NATO converge on the point. The great achievement of NATO is that it has helped to keep the peace in Europe - with occasional exceptions - for more than 60 years. The longer this peace lasts, and the more distant the memory of war becomes, the more it needs to be reiterated that this is an epochal achievement on the grand historic scale."
Why does an experienced journalist accept such a meaningless assertion? This statement aims to frighten people into accepting the prioritization of defence spending above everything else; NATO must continue to exist, vast sums must be spent or there would be wars on our door step. Oh, really? The same politics of fear was invoked during the Vietnam War citing the "domino doctrine", stated simply as: that if the communists were to take over South Vietnam, it would lead to the spread of communism, which would threaten the United States. America was defeated in 1975 and South Vietnam became part of a communist united Vietnam. That war resulted in the death of 4.5 million Vietnamese and Laotians and 58,000 Americans (Wikipedia). Communism did not spread in spite of that defeat; of course, had America won the war, it would have claimed credit for saving the world from communism.
The Soviet Union declined and finally collapsed by the burden of its war in Afghanistan and the failure of its economic model. Had American politicians been wise, the Vietnamese and American people could have been spared the carnage, the misery, and the expenditure on a pointless war. Is there a lesson for the United States here?
According to Wikipedia, the combined military spending of NATO is 70% of the world's total military spending, with the United States alone accounting for 43% of the world's total military spending. It is not surprising, then, that those governments, supporters and those mildly critical of NATO would make such an assertion. How else is the American government going to justify a defence budget of 663 billion dollars amounting to 4.3% of GDP? It is clear that the purpose of such massive military hardware and fire power is to bully and intimidate nations to compel them to toe the line in their foreign and economic policies.
On Iran he opines:
"The other big subject is Iran, whose conduct plays to NATO's need to find a new threat - not without reason in this case - against which it can justify its existence. Iran's intention of producing missiles that would threaten Europe is now treated as a given by NATO strategists"
"Not without reason in this case"! It seems that missiles developed in NATO countries are not armed with warheads, but "peaceheads" and, of course, they could not possibly be a threat to anyone; however, Iran's missiles are nasty and threaten the security of Europe. Tell that to the people of Iraq, Iran's neighbours. The West seems to be incapable or unwilling to see it from the Iranians' perspective. Iran is surrounded by American bases and armies in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Gulf, and subject to the constant bellicose rhetoric of a nuclear armed Israel. Having witnessed the devastation of Iraq, is it any wonder the Iranians want to develop their military capability to avoid the fate that has befallen Iraq? It is now clear that Iraq was attacked because it was weak and was thought of as an easy target. It was the fierce resistance in that country that stopped Iran and Syria from being targeted next, as the neocons explicitly stated prior to the invasion.
The existence of NATO risks militarising every problem to the detriment of the lives of its countries' citizens and millions across the globe. End it; slash the defence budgets and use the money to help people cope with life as they struggle to survive the harshness of the depressed economic climate in America and Europe. Reach out to people of other regions and cultures in the spirit of mutual respect. America and the west need to empathise and put themselves in the position of the "other" to envision the world from the perspective of people at the receiving end of NATO's war machine.
Will any of this happen? It will only happen when Americans wake up and take power from voracious corporations, aided and abetted by their cheerleaders in mainstream media that is diminishing the quality of their lives.
Now, that would be a truly worthy vision to strive for.