October 6
by Mark Lewis

NATO: Now Almost Totally Obsolete?

On the eve of the NATO defense minister's meeting at the Broadmoor, hosted by Donald Rumsfeld, who recently called some of it's members "old Europe" and "chocolate makers"; I think it's apropos to re-examine the relevancy of the institution as a whole. There are a variety of arguments against NATO, it's current planned expansion, and it's role in international politics in general, but I would like to make the following 5 points about NATO.

1. European security is up to the EU and member countries.

Not from the position of isolationism, but from the position of sovereignty and personal responsibility, the EU should make it's own arrangements for security. France, Germany, and several other European countries have met stiff resistance from the US when suggesting this regional responsibility for self defense.

2. US domination of NATO is unhealthy for the organization and for us.

This week we learn that again, the US arms dealers are the most proficient in the world, with $13.3 Billion in sales this year, and $8.6 Billion in sales to developing nations. The incentive for warfare under the umbrella of NATO, the UN, or the new favorite: unilateral invasion and occupation; is obvious.

The Iraq war has led to a giant rift between the NATO member states. France, Germany and Belgium blocked resolutions to defend Turkey against feared aggression by Hussein, which was unfounded, like everything else, it turns out. In response to the US support, Turkey refused to allow troops to cross the border with Iraq, continues to threaten the Kurds in northern Iraq, and, of course, it's oppression of the Kurdish minority in Turkey, which would be cause for dismissal from any humane organization, goes on unabated.

The naked aggression of the Bush administration has scared our NATO allies so much as to render their participation negligible.

3. NATO is obsolete.

NATO was formed in 1949 as a dubious, and now proven unnecessary, reaction to Soviet expansion. It's relevancy now is even more questionable. The era of the Cuban missile crises, Berlin wall (except in Palestine), and Soviet Union is over. The peaceful, political resolution of disagreements has always been more complete, more fair, and more humane.

4. The UN is the better alternative for democratically deciding international disputes.

We don't need a "mini-UN" when we have the UN's almost complete worldwide representation of 146 countries; a much better association of the world's people with all our diversity and contextual issues. NATO has almost none of the political institutions, programs of conflict resolution, and humanitarian support that the UN does, and represents just 13% of the world's nations.

5. NATO is incompetent.

Siding with the genocidal KLA in Kosovo in 1999 was just one disastrous example of the old adage, "politics makes strange bedfellows". In that case, as with the NLA and mercenaries in Macedonia, and the Mujahadin in Afghanistan; supporting temporary allies with money, arms, and training had disastrous repercussions world wide. Except, or course, for those who make a living at warfare. For them it has meant job security.

The "Balkans Syndrome" in the aftermath of the war there has obvious parallels to the Gulf War Syndrome, which, this week, included a double rate of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The more immediate dangers of NATO actions include land mines and cluster bomblets left behind for innocent civilians to stumble across. The effects of uranium tipped shells used by NATO in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Serbia will be spreading it's silent death throughout the region long after we're all gone.

This week the present head of NATO will travel to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to meet with two of the worst despots on the planet. Both are members of NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program designed to expand military cooperation with former Warsaw Pact countries. The effects on relations with Russia are disastrous, especially in the light that those countries have no tactical or strategic value, except for pipelines of Caspian Sea crude running to the terminus at the ports of Pakistan.

The NATO security in Kabul has been a disaster. The death rate for the 5,300 troops there is far worse, by percentage, than even Iraq. The rest of the country, outside the capital, is in a state of total anarchy. Again, the strange bedfellows of NATO's political hypocrisy include, but are not limited to, Northern Alliance General Dostum, who should be under indictment for war crimes, but instead sits on Karzai's cabinet.

In conclusion; NATO not only suffers from it's cold war origins in restrictive membership along racial and geographic lines, but also it's reactionary, militaristic solutions to political conflicts. The 21st century is further from the 1950's and 60's than the numbers imply. The obsolete tactics of violent domination of adversaries is a dead science. It never had spiritual sanction, even though all sides continue to claim such. The cost/benefit analysis has always shown that "it isn't worth it". The stimulation of violence by violence in a perpetual cycle of reciprocal hatred and "self defense", has made only the arms companies rich.

About the author:
Mark Lewis is a Colorado Springs photographer/illustrator and musician. He has been a peace activist for 37 years and works locally with the Springs Action Alliance and the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission.

He also compiles a daily list of news stories, which is available here.

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