NATO is a treaty on wheels -- it can be rolled in any direction to suit Washington's current policy
By William Blum
Online Journal Guest Writer
Feb 5, 2008, 00:12
Have you by chance noticed that NATO, the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization, has become virtually a country? With more international
rights and military power than almost any other country in the world?
Yes, the same NATO that we were told was created in 1949 to
defend against a Soviet attack in Western Europe, and thus should have gone out
of existence in 1991 when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact expired and
explicitly invited NATO to do the same. Other reasons have been suggested for
NATO's creation: to help suppress the left in Italy and France if either
country's Communist Party came to power through an election, and/or to advance
American hegemony by preventing the major European nations from pursuing
independent foreign policies. This latter notion has been around a long time.
In 2004, the US ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, stated: "Europeans
need to resist creating a united Europe in competition or as a counterweight to
the United States." 
The alliance has been kept amongst the living to serve as a
very useful handmaiden of US foreign policy, as well as providing American arms
and airplane manufacturers with many billions of dollars of guaranteed sales
due to the requirement that all NATO members meet a certain minimum warfare
Here's some of what NATO has been up to in recent years as
it strives to find a new raison d'�tre in the post-Cold War era.
It is presently waging war in Afghanistan on behalf of the
United States and its illegal 2001 bombing and invasion of that pathetic land.
NATO's forces free up US troops and assume much of the responsibility and
blame, instead of Washington, for the many bombings which have caused serious
civilian casualties and ruination. NATO also conducts raids into Pakistan, the
legality of which is as nonexistent as what they do in Afghanistan.
The alliance, which began with 15 members, now has 26, in
addition to 23 "partner countries" (under the reassuring name of
"Partnership for Peace"). Combined, that's more than one-fourth of
the entire United Nations membership, and there are numerous other countries
bribed and pressured to work with NATO, such as Jordan which recently sent
troops to Afghanistan. Jordan and Qatar have offered to host a NATO-supported
regional Security Cooperation Centre. NATO has a training mission in Iraq, and
Iraqi military personnel receive training in NATO members' countries.
In recent years, almost all members of the alliance and the
Partnership for Peace have sent troops to Iraq or Afghanistan or the former
Yugoslavia, in each case serving as proxy US-occupation forces. Israel has had
talks with the alliance about the deployment of a NATO force in their country.
India is scheduled to participate in upcoming NATO war games. The list goes on,
as the alliance's outreach keeps reaching out further, holding international
conferences to bring together new and potential allies, under names such as the
Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, and the Mediterranean Dialogue (Algeria,
Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia), or expanding military
ties with existing international organizations such as the Gulf Cooperation
Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates).
After the September 11, 2001, attacks, NATO gave the United
States carte blanche to travel throughout Europe transporting men to be
tortured.  It's like a refined gentleman's club with some unusual member
privileges. NATO also goes around monitoring elections, the latest being in
Upper Abkhazia (claimed by Georgia) in January.
The alliance has military bases in Germany, Italy, Spain,
Portugal, the Netherlands, and elsewhere in Europe, and regularly conducts
"naval operations in the Mediterranean to actively demonstrate NATO's
resolve and solidarity," as NATO puts it. This includes AWAC (Airborne
Warning and Control) aircraft patrolling the Mediterranean from above and frequently
stopping and boarding ships and boats at sea. "Since the start of the
operation," reports NATO, "nearly 79,000 merchant vessels have been
monitored [as of 12 April 2006] . . . The surveillance operation utilizes ship,
aircraft and submarine assets to build a picture of maritime activity in the
Area of Operations." The exercise includes "actions aimed at
preventing or countering terrorism coming from or conducted at sea and all
illegality possibly connected with terrorism, such as human trafficking and
smuggling of arms and radioactive substances." NATO is truly Lord of the
Mediterranean, unelected, unauthorized, and unsupervised.
NATO, which has ready access to nuclear weapons from several
of its members (only with Washington's approval), has joined the United States
in its operation to surround Russia. "Look," said Russian president
Vladimir Putin about NATO as far back as 2001, "this is a military
organization. It's moving towards our border. Why?"  As of December
2007, Moscow's concern had not lessened. The Russian deputy foreign minister
lashed out at NATO's steady expansion into former Soviet-dominated eastern
Europe, saying the policy was "a leftover from the time of the Cold
Finland, which shares a border with Russia of more than 1300
km, is now being considered for membership in NATO.
Ever since it undertook a Washington-instigated 78-day
bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999, NATO has been operating in the
Balkans like a colonial governor-general. Along with the UN, it's been leading
a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo and takes part in the policing of Bosnia,
including searching people's homes looking for suspected war criminals wanted
by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The triumvirate of NATO, the United States, and the European
Union have been supporting Kosovo's plan to unilaterally declare independence
from Serbia, thus bypassing the UN Security Council where Serbia's ally,
Russia, has a veto. We, therefore, have the Western powers unilaterally
declaring the independence of a part of another country's territory; this
because the Kosovo ethnic Albanians are regarded as much more reliably
"pro-West" than is Serbia, which has refused to look upon the free
market and the privatization of the world, known as "globalization,"
as the summum bonum, nor shown
proper enthusiasm for an American or NATO military installation upon its soil.
Kosovo, however, does have a large US military base on its territory. Any
attempt by Serbia to militarily prevent Kosovo from seceding would in all
likelihood be met by NATO/US military force. You may wonder what a United
States military base is doing in Kosovo. People all over the world wonder the
same about their local American bases.
You may also wonder: What force exists to slow down the
growth of the Mediterranean Monster? Who can stand up to it? The military elite
of the triumvirate take such a question seriously. What they apparently fear
the most is nuclear weapons in the hands of the wrong people; i.e., those who
don't recognize the triumvirate's right to dictate to the world. On January 22,
the Guardian of London reported that the former armed forces chiefs from the
US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands had released a manifesto which
insists that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an
"indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic
prospect of a nuclear-free world." The paper had earlier been presented to
NATO's secretary general and to the Pentagon. It is likely to be discussed at a
NATO summit in Bucharest in April, along with the possible extension of the
alliance to include five more countries which had been part of, or bordered on,
the Soviet Empire: Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Albania and Ukraine.
The five generals who authored the report could have
advocated a serious international campaign to begin the process of actually
creating a nuclear-free world. Instead, they call for an end to the European
Union's "obstruction" of and rivalry with NATO and a shift from consensus
decision-taking in NATO bodies to majority voting, meaning an end to national
So there you have it. The international military elite are
demanding yet more power and autonomy for NATO. Questioning voices in the
alliance, in the European Union, or anywhere else should forget their concerns
about a nuclear-free world, international law, preemptive war, wars of
aggression, national sovereignty, and all that other United Nations Charter and
human-rights nonsense. We're gonna nuke all those Arab terrorists before they
have a chance to say Allah Akbar.
The arrogance continues, with the manifesto specifying
"no role in decision-taking on NATO operations for alliance members who
are not taking part in the operations," calling also for the use of force
without UN Security Council authorization when "immediate action is needed
to protect large numbers of human beings." Now who can argue against
protecting large numbers of human beings?
The paper also declares that "NATO's credibility is at
stake in Afghanistan" and "NATO is at a juncture and runs the risk of
failure." The German general went so far as to declare that his own
country, by insisting upon a non-combat role for its forces in Afghanistan, was
contributing to "the dissolution of Nato." Such immoderate language
may be a reflection of the dark cloud which has hovered over the alliance since
the end of the Cold War -- that NATO has no legitimate reason for existence and
that failure in Afghanistan would make this thought more present in the world's
mind. If NATO hadn't begun to intervene outside of Europe it would have
highlighted its uselessness and lack of mission. "Out of area or out of
business" it was said. 
 Jewish Telegraph Agency, international wire service,
February 16, 2004
 The Guardian (London), June 7, 2007, article by Stephen
Grey, author of "Ghost Plane: The inside story of the CIA Torture
 Associated Press, June 16, 2001
 Focus News Agency (Bulgaria)/Agence France-Presse,
December 26, 2007
 Much of the NATO material can be found on NATO's website. Also see an abundance
of material here.
is the author of "Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since
World War 2," "Rogue State: A Guide to
the World's Only Superpower," "West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War
Memoir" and "Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American
Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor