By Medea Benjamin and Marcy Winograd / CounterPunch
At his speech during the NATO Summit in Lithuania, President Biden called the U.S. and Europe “anchors for global security” when in reality there are no anchors during this increasingly dangerous and polarized time of never-ending war in Europe. Our NATO allies are not, as Biden would suggest, anchors in a turbulent sea of demons but rather catalysts stirring the cauldron of war on behalf of U.S. empire.
The instability of the NATO alliance was evident in the controversy over the key issue of Ukraine membership. Biden and his administration tried to work both sides of the street. On the one hand, Biden insisted that “Ukraine’s future lies at NATO.” But then the U.S. teamed up with Germany to make sure the summit made only a vague statement about Ukraine joining when allies agree and “conditions are met,” incurring the wrath of a fuming President Zelensky. Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN that everyone “needs to look squarely at the fact” that allowing Ukraine to join NATO at this point “means war with Russia.”
But this does not mean that Biden, or NATO, are ready to endorse peace talks. On the contrary. The NATO Summit came on the heels of Biden’s much-scorned decision to send banned cluster bombs to Ukraine. And at the Summit, France announced plans to send new long-range strike missiles; Germany announced a new round of military aid, including tanks and artillery shells; and 11 NATO countries pledged to train Ukrainian pilots to fly nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets. In short, Ukraine’s Zelensky walked away from the NATO summit with a declaration of years of military subsidies, a virtual blank check to make Ukraine a forever proxy to maintain US hegemony. As NATO members send Ukraine more and more destructive weapons, the terrifying possibility of a wider war, even a nuclear war, casts a shadow over the entire globe.
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Instead of seeking a negotiated solution to Russia’s criminal invasion, NATO has shunned peace talks that might address key issues such as neutrality for Ukraine, referendums on the future of the Donbas and Crimea, a demilitarized zone along the border between Ukraine and Russia, and nuclear disarmament agreements that would remove Russia’s short-range nuclear weapons from Belarus in exchange for removal of U.S. anti-ballistic missiles in Romania.
NATO has pushed the world towards greater militarization precisely at this delicate moment in history when we need to invest our resources in thwarting the climate crisis that threatens the future of this planet with collapsing ecosystems, wildfires and floods. Moreover, the tens of billions of dollars spent to continue the Russia-Ukraine war could be invested in alleviating global poverty that affects the daily wellbeing of millions of families worldwide.
Once again, we see that NATO’s modus operandi is war. NATO has never been a defensive alliance. It invaded Yugoslavia in 1999 without a mandate from the UN Security Council. NATO waged a 20-year war in Afghanistan, leaving the people dirt poor and back in the hands of the Taliban. NATO illegally toppled the government of Libya in 2011. In addition to the present war with Russia, it has its sights set on China, building up a provocative Asia-Pacific military alliance with South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand to counter China. NATO is also a cash cow for arms manufacturers, and it is the enemy of nuclear disarmament in its opposition to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Next year, the NATO summit will be held in Washington DC to mark NATO’s 75th anniversary. It would be a good time for the emergence of a global peace movement that says 75 years of nuclear proliferation, war and gifts to military contractors is enough. Without NATO, Europe would build its own security architecture to address the security concerns of all stakeholders, including Russia. Without NATO, there are greater chances to avoid a confrontations with China. Without NATO, the world would be a safer place. In a world where people are desperate to end war and anxious to see a transfer of public funds from the military to human needs, NATO should indeed become a relic of the past.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the 2018 book, “Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Her previous books include: “Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection” (2016); “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control” (2013); “Don’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart” (1989), and (with Jodie Evans) “Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide)” (2005).
Marcy Winograd, Coordinator of CODE PINK CONGRESS, is a long-time anti-war activist who also serves as Co-Chair of the Peace in Ukraine Coalition and Co-Chair of the End Wars & Occupations Team for Progressive Democrats of America. In 2020, Marcy served as a DNC delegate to Bernie Sanders, mobilizing 500 other DNC delegates to challenge the influence of neo-conservatives. Marcy also co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party to demand the funding of human needs, not endless war. Marcy’s activism began in high school when she marched against the Vietnam War and later joined the defense team of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. A retired English and government teacher, Marcy blogs about militarism and foreign policy at Common Dreams, CounterPunch, LAProgressive and elsewhere. On joining with CODEPINK, Marcy says, “I am honored to work with such creative and committed activists and look forward to mobilizing co-sponsors and congressional votes for peace legislation.”