Culture of Peace, Europe, Nonviolent Activism, North America

Has NATO Met Its Match?

No To NATO - Yes To Peace - April 2019, Washington DC

By David Swanson, March 6, 2019

Despite claims by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to have defeated its own troops using Facebook (and, really, what plot to take over a high school hasn’t done that?), the biggest challenge NATO will face this year will probably not be nefarious Russian social media posts.

Nor will it be the dreaded Russian military, now sucking down 6 percent as many dollars each year as the war machines of the NATO nations.

Nor is NATO terribly threatened by a U.S. president who demands that its members spend more, that more nations join, that the North Atlantic nation of Colombia partner up, and that the war games and weapons deals and expansion eastward press ahead, but who once blurted out obvious stuff his handlers would never allow him to act on, such as that NATO serves no good purpose. (Which of his projects does serve any good purpose?)

NATO is extremely popular among militarists, warmongers, weapons dealers, Republicans, and Democrats, some of them proud of its various aggressive and catastrophic wars, some of them willfully ignorant of them or eager to excuse them. It’s that last group that presents a danger for NATO, a weak link. People think that NATO somehow makes wars legal or acceptable, which actually makes wars easier to start. People think NATO is defensive, so that distant aggressive wars are OK. People think putting nuclear weapons into more countries is safe and legal if they’re NATO countries. People think adding Russia’s neighbors to NATO makes them safer, but that adding Russia would endanger them. But will people resist learning the truth when NATO celebrates itself on a date that belongs to peace and Martin Luther King Jr?

This is where the unexpected and possibly significant challenge to NATO comes in. It’s a challenge from the Peace Movement, the demise of which has been seriously exaggerated. Check out this list of events:

Thursday, March 7 Free webinar: No to NATO — Yes to Peace

In Washington, D.C.:

Saturday, March 16 Hands Off Venezuela

Saturday, March 30 Rally at Lafayette Park

Sunday, March 31 Concert for Peace and to End War

Sunday, March 31 Anti-NATO Conference

Tuesday, April 2 No to NATO — Yes to Peace and Disarmament Counter-Summit

Wednesday, April 3 No to NATO — Yes to Peace FESTIVAL

Thursday, April 4 No to NATO — Yes to Peace Rally

Thursday, April 4 Black Alliance for Peace program at Plymouth Congregational Church

All this because NATO plans to bring the foreign ministers of its vassal states to Washington, D.C., on and about April 4th to celebrate its 70th birthday . . . on a day that ought to belong to peace. April 4th is the date of MLK’s biggest speech against war, and of his assassination exactly one year later.

Events in solidarity are popping up in other places too:

March 30: Conference and Rally in Saskatchewan

April 4: No to NATO action, Parliament Hill, Ottawa

April 7: Conference in Florence, Italy

Monthly: NATO protests in Toronto

This burst of activity comes out of faith in activism and in education. If we did not believe that people who’ve been saturated with militarism can see their way out of it, none of this would be planned.

While claiming to “preserve peace,” NATO has violated international law and bombed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has exacerbated tensions with Russia and increased the risk of nuclear apocalypse. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world.

War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. We’re calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70th anniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4th.

While Donald Trump once blurted out the obvious: that NATO is obsolete, he subsequently professed his commitment to NATO and began pressuring NATO members to buy more weapons. So, the notion that somehow NATO is anti-Trump and therefore good would not only be silly and practically amoral on its own terms, it is also at odds with the facts of Trump’s behavior. We are planning an anti-NATO / pro-peace action at which opposition to the militarism of NATO’s dominant member is welcome and necessary. Here are the Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO no matter what Trump does.

NATO has pushed the weaponry and the hostility and the massive so-called war games right up to the border of Russia. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. NATO is used to free the U.S. Congress from the responsibility and the right to oversee the atrocities of U.S. wars. NATO is used as cover by NATO member governments to join U.S. wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. NATO is used as cover to illegally and recklessly share nuclear weapons with supposedly non-nuclear nations. NATO is used to assign nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war, and therefore to be prepared for war. NATO’s militarism threatens the earth’s environment. NATO’s wars fuel racism and bigotry and erode our civil liberties while draining our wealth.

A whole lot of people support peace. Now we just need to take that extra little step to reach the point of recognizing that being for peace requires being against war. If we’re against war, we have to be against its biggest proponent. NATO nations and peoples would be better off without NATO, exactly as the rest of the world would be. Let’s begin a public and global conversation about how to leave NATO behind us.

#NoWar2019 Pathways to Peace conference in Limerick, Ireland October 5-6 2019

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