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Sunday, June 26, 2022

NATO is a danger to world peace. It must go

D. Raja writes: The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is rooted in the expansionary logic of the military alliance

Written by D. Raja |
Updated: April 6, 2022 9:01:26 am
NATO began as a military partnership between the leading capitalist nations of the world, led by the United States of America, ostensibly for “collective security”. (Reuters)

The war in Ukraine has brought the spotlight on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). NATO was formed in the aftermath of the Second World War by the Western powers in response to the rise of the USSR. The rapid all-round progress made by the USSR, a planned socialist economy, made the capitalist economies uneasy and insecure. Thus, the capitalist West evolved a strategy to contain the spread of socialist ideology and NATO became its military instrument.

NATO began as a military partnership between the leading capitalist nations of the world, led by the United States of America, ostensibly for “collective security”. But its real motive was to encircle the USSR and other socialist states in Eastern and Central Europe. The West made a narrative that Western Europe is facing a military threat from the Soviet Union. The USSR-led Warsaw Pact came into existence only after NATO integrated West Germany into the alliance and started weaponising the region. The USSR at that time was supporting national liberation movements in the Third World.

With the disintegration of the USSR in the early 1990s and the collapse of other socialist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe, NATO should have been dissolved. Instead, it was refashioned and expanded to realise the hegemonic ambitions of the US, which sought to build a unipolar world order. Ironically, NATO did not militarily intervene formally even once in the Cold War era; it started after the disintegration of the USSR! The leaders of Western powers had assured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s that NATO would not expand into the East. But it kept expanding, and now has 30 member states in the place of the original 12 — all the Warsaw Pact allies except Russia are now NATO members.

Destruction and instability have marked NATO’s footprints. NATO’s involvement in Kosovo is well known. Over 500 civilians lost their lives due to NATO’s indiscriminate bombing in that campaign. During the 11-week long bombing, the Chinese Embassy was destroyed causing an international furore. The Afghan war, according to the Costs of War Project led by Brown University, saw 1,76,000 deaths between 2001 and 2019. Over 46,000 of the dead were civilians. Similarly, the US-led intervention in Iraq resulted in over 1.5 lakh deaths from March 2003 to 2010 — 80 per cent of them civilians. NATO’s intervention in Libya to enforce a no-fly zone is estimated to have killed more than 400 civilians. Close to a million people have died in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen etc. These numbers do not include indirect deaths nor do they reveal the havoc wreaked by forced migration, loss of property, psychological damage or geopolitical instability.

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NATO has a state-of-the-art arsenal and a combined defence expenditure of $1.036 trillion (2019) compared to Russia’s $60 billion defence budget. Moscow’s apprehensions of NATO reaching its borders need to be considered in this backdrop. After the deterrence offered by the USSR ended, NATO has become an instrument to achieve the US’ foreign and defence policy objectives in Europe and Asia. A body of the size and influence of NATO, with its 30 members accounting for close to 60 per cent of the global defence expenditure, enjoys a disproportionate advantage and mastery over the international scene by its mere existence.

The fact is that NATO’s continuous expansion and involvement in world affairs is a threat to global peace and a just world order. Peace-loving people and states of the Global South should be opposed to the very idea of such a military alliance for it thoroughly distorts the level-playing field at the international level where every nation state is supposed to be equal.

As NATO’s track record suggests, instead of the “collective security” it promised, it has only offered grave insecurity to nations opposed to US interests. Its needs have filled the coffers of the military-industrial complexes and monopolies, effectively diverting funds from vital programmes that could otherwise be deployed to improve the lives and livelihood of the people.

The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is rooted in the expansionary logic of the military alliance. We oppose the ongoing war in no uncertain terms. It should be stopped immediately and the parties should engage in a dialogue. At the same time, questions must be asked about the cost of NATO to humanity. If peace is to prevail in the world, NATO should be disbanded.

This column first appeared in the print edition on April 6, 2022 under the title ‘It goes back to NATO’. The writer is General Secretary, CPI

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