Wherever there is the threat of war there are always people banging the drum—and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) is among the worst.
Made up of 28 member countries, Nato tries to claim it is a defensive alliance dedicated to upholding peace and freedom. This is a lie. In reality it is a tool for Western imperialism. Nato is the main vehicle of imperialist strategy for the US and its allies.
While the poorest around the world face poverty, Nato’s members between them account for over 60 percent of the world’s military expenditure. And the US accounts for more than 70 percent of the total defence expenditures of Nato’s member countries.
The US and Nato war in Afghanistan has seen thousands killed in the name of “humanitarian” intervention. Nato’s occupation there has almost come to an end, but has left a bitter legacy of worsening poverty.
There have also been bloody incursions into Pakistan where US drone strikes have killed thousands, including many children. Most recently the US and Nato are involved in a dangerous game of sabre rattling with Russia in Ukraine.
Its “Rapid Trident” military exercise is set to put British and US troops on the ground there next month. This kind of dangerous inter-imperialist rivalry is what Nato has always been about.
It was formed in 1949 against the backdrop of a war-ravaged Europe and growing rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union. It began with 12 countries, and was designed to ensure that the US’s European allies were kept in a subordinate military position.
The US needed to “stabilise” Europe and protect it from the perceived Soviet military threat and internal unrest. France and Italy also both had mass communist parties and militant workers’ movements.
From its earliest days Nato explicitly reserved the right to act against “Communism” or any other subversive forces within its member countries. Since then Nato has expanded to the 28 members it has today.
Its major period of growth came as a direct result of the US victory in the Cold War. Its gains included Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. This expansion eastward was a major goal of Western imperialism.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Nato for the first time became directly involved in military action. It intervened in the Balkans as part of the US’s attempt to reshape the post-Cold War in their own interests.
For 11 weeks Nato bombed Yugoslavia, and dressed it up as a humanitarian effort. Since then it has wreaked havoc and destruction in countries around the world to further US interests.
March against leaders who bring austerity and war
World leaders will descend on the Celtic Manor in Newport, South Wales, this August for the first Nato summit in Britain in almost 25 years.
Anti-war activists are planning a counter summit and protest. Police are expecting thousands from across Europe to join the march.
Cops are planning the biggest security operation of its kind with thousands of police coming from every county.
Forty organisations have already backed the call for a counter-protest.
They include the Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disatmament (CND) and the People’s Assembly.
Adam Johannes is the Cardiff Stop the War secretary and has been involved in planning the No to Nato Newport protest.
He told Socialist Worker, ‘‘The US will be pressuring European governments to increase their already huge military budgets at a time when poverty and inequality are soaring.
“Nato expansion has contributed to a dangerous crisis in Ukraine threatening a regional war.”
The planned week of action will begin on 30 August with a mass demonstration. On 1 and 2 September, activists will hold a counter summit in Cardiff and Newport.
International speakers will come to oppose the summit. There will also be further protests and direct actions will take place on the opening day of the Nato summit.
Marianne Owens from the PCS NEC, said, ‘‘We need trade unions to support this demonstration—it’s against both war and austerity.”
The summit will be attended by world leaders responsible for austerity packages across Europe. Marianne said, ‘‘The world leaders coming to Newport in September include Angela Merkel, who’s been imposing vicious austerity measures on Greece’’.
Adam added, ‘‘The most powerful people on the planet will be making their voice heard. “We must make sure that the voices of millions who want an end to war and austerity are also heard. Earlier this year, 50,000 people marched in Moscow against war.
“Now let’s link arms by confronting our warmongers on the streets of Newport.”
Getting summit for nothing?
Getting warmongers together for a summit has a very big price tag.
The cost of the 2012 Nato summit in Chicago cost approximately £9 million. Almost all of that was for the police department.
Cops wracked up millions of dollars in overtime, training and related costs. The security for this year’s summit in Wales is set to cost more than that for the Olympics.
Hiding behind brutal cops
Demonstrators who opposed the 2012 Nato summit in Chicago faced a brutal crackdown from cops.
Activists from Occupy Chicago clashed with police. Up to 90 people were arrested, and many released without charge.
At least 70 of the protesters were injured and others needed treament for trauma.
Fingers on the nuke button
NATO is prepared to unleash nuclear devastation. Up to 200 US B61 nuclear bombs are stationed in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey.
Nato rejects a policy of “no first use”. This means it would be prepared to use nuclear weapons in a first strike.