Over the last two months, NATO has failed to stop or sanction military aggression by NATO member Turkey against the Kurdish majority region of northeastern Syria. By allowing Turkey to invade Syria without consequences, NATO abandoned its erstwhile Kurdish allies against aggression and war crimes by the Islamic State and became complicit in the war crimes committed by Turkey against Kurds in Syria. Out of the NATO meeting, France, Germany, and the UK agreed with Turkey to “consult” about the Syrian invasion, showing that NATO has little to do with the mutual defense, peace, and human rights agenda that it professes to uphold.
The NATO meeting this week on its 70th anniversary made clear once again that NATO is more of a military platform for western imperialism than a defensive alliance.
The imperialist agenda of NATO has been especially obvious in the last three decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact between 1989 and 1991. The US and other NATO powers promised that NATO would not expand toward Russia – “not one inch eastward” Secretary of State James Baker told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev three times in a February 1990 meeting. Yet NATO has expanded into central and eastern Europe right up to Russia’s borders, growing by 13 nations since 1999, from 16 to 29 members, incorporating 10 former Warsaw Pact members and three former Yugoslav republics. Meanwhile, NATO members have bombed, invaded, and/or occupied countries outside its members’ territories across the Balkans, the Middle East, and North Africa.
It is time for the United States to begin a progressive and orderly withdrawal from NATO. Withdrawal from NATO should be part of a larger process of closing all foreign US military bases and adopting a non-offensive defense of US territory.
The US should focus on resolving international conflicts with diplomacy. The US should use its wealth to be the world’s humanitarian superpower instead of its global military empire. Humanitarian aid will make friends instead of enemies. It will do more to promote US national security and world peace than the endless wars of the US global military empire.
US diplomatic initiatives should emphasize nuclear disarmament. The United States should end its multi-trillion nuclear modernization program of upgrading its strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. It should pledge no first use of nuclear weapons and unilaterally disarm to a minimum credible deterrent.
On the basis of those tension-reducing initiatives, the US should pursue urgent negotiations among all the nuclear powers for complete nuclear disarmament. The US is obligated to do so under the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is also now under pressure to do so from 122 non-nuclear nations who agreed to the language of the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017.
The Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for achieving the nuclear prohibition treaty. Yet very few Americans are even aware of that award. None of the major party presidential candidates promote policies to reverse and end the new nuclear arms race. Forcing the nuclear disarmament agenda into public debate is another reason why the Green Party must run candidates up and down the ballot in 2020.
The main result of this year’s NATO meeting was its accommodation to the new US National Defense Strategy that great power competition with Russia and now China, not terrorism, is now the primary focus. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg sought to focus NATO on competition with China, the primary target in the great power competition strategy of the United States, saying before the meeting that NATO needs to counter China’s growing military budget and its economic expansion into the Arctic, Africa, and Europe. However, in a statement at the end of the meeting, all the NATO members could agree to was that China presented “both opportunities and challenges that we need to address” and that Stoltenberg should lead a strategic review addressing the China question.
NATO is increasing its military expenditures from 2016-2020 by $130 billion. Of a total world military expenditure of $1.8 trillion in 2018, NATO countries accounted for nearly $1 trillion, while Russia spent $61 billion and China $250 billion. Greenhouse gas emissions from US military operations are the world’s single biggest contributor global warming. The US military and intelligence agencies themselves have been warning for years that climate change is the biggest threat to US and world security.
Instead of “competition” with Russian and China, which really means trying to dominate them as the world’s sole superpower, the United States should seek cooperation with those countries to address the most urgent threat to all countries: the pending climate disaster. Russia is dependent on exporting oil and gas and is moving aggressively into Arctic oil and gas extraction. China is leading the coal power plant boom. Instead of encouraging more military spending by the US and its NATO allies, to which Russia and China are responding in kind in a new arms race, the US should be leading the world away from military spending and into a Global Green New Deal to avert climate catastrophe and help all nations build the sustainable clean-energy capacity to provide the basic needs of all within ecological limits.