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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/23/21

What Planet Is NATO Living On?

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by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies

NATO Brussels headquarters
NATO Brussels headquarters
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: Ad Meskens)
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The February meeting of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Defense Ministers, the first since President Biden took power, revealed an antiquated, 75-year-old alliance that, despite its military failures in Afghanistan and Libya, is now turning its military madness toward two more formidable, nuclear-armed enemies: Russia and China.

This theme was emphasized by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a Washington Post op-ed in advance of the NATO meeting, insisting that "aggressive and coercive behaviors from emboldened strategic competitors such as China and Russia reinforce our belief in collective security."

Using Russia and China to justify more Western military build-up is a key element in the alliance's new "Strategic Concept," called NATO 2030: United For a New Era, which is intended to define its role in the world for the next ten years.

NATO was founded in 1949 by the United States and 11 other Western nations to confront the Soviet Union and the rise of communism in Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, it has grown to 30 countries, expanding to incorporate most of Eastern Europe, and it now has a long and persistent history of illegal war-making, bombing civilians and other war crimes.

In 1999, NATO launched a war without UN approval to separate Kosovo from Serbia. Its illegal airstrikes during the Kosovo War killed hundreds of civilians, and its close ally, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, is now on trial for shocking war crimes committed under cover of the NATO bombing campaign.

Far from the North Atlantic, NATO has fought alongside the United States in Afghanistan since 2001, and attacked Libya in 2011, leaving behind a failed state and triggering a massive refugee crisis.

The first phase of NATO's new Strategic Concept review is called the NATO 2030 Reflection Group report. That sounds encouraging, since NATO obviously and urgently needs to reflect on its bloody history. Why does an organization nominally dedicated to deterring war and preserving peace keep starting wars, killing thousands of people and leaving countries around the world mired in violence, chaos and poverty?

But unfortunately, this kind of introspection is not what NATO means by "reflection." The Reflection Group instead applauds NATO as "history's most successful military alliance," and seems to have taken a leaf from the Obama playbook by only "looking forward," as it charges into a new decade of military confrontation with its blinders firmly in place.

NATO's role in the "new" Cold War is really a reversion to its old role in the original Cold War. This is instructive, as it unearths the ugly reasons why the United States decided to create NATO in the first place, and exposes them for a new generation of Americans and Europeans to examine in the context of today's world.

Any U.S. war with the Soviet Union or Russia was always going to put Europeans directly on the front lines as both combatants and mass-casualty victims. The primary function of NATO is to ensure that the people of Europe continue to play these assigned roles in America's war plans.

As Michael Klare explains in a NATO Watch report on NATO 2030, every step the U.S. is taking with NATO is "intended to integrate it into U.S. plans to fight and defeat China and Russia in all-out warfare."

The U.S. Army's plan for an invasion of Russia, which is euphemistically called "The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations," begins with missile and artillery bombardments of Russian command centers and defensive forces, followed by an invasion by armored forces to occupy key areas and sites until Russia surrenders.

Unsurprisingly, Russia's defense strategy in the face of such an existential threat would not be to surrender, but to retaliate against the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.

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Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. 

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