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Outdated NATO not a defensive body

By Jan Oberg | China Daily | Updated: 2022-04-14 07:36
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Photo taken on April 6, 2022 shows a sculpture and flags at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. [Photo/Xinhua]

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is 73 years old. NATO's raison d'etre during the Cold War had unambiguously been the existence of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact (established six years after NATO, in May 1955) and its socialist ideology. But the Cold War ended more than 30 years ago.

Despite that, NATO chose triumphalistically to expand-today it has 30 member countries, 10 of which are former Warsaw Pact members. And it has broken the West's promises to not expand given to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. That is, fundamentally, what the NATO-Russia conflict, tragically playing out in Ukraine, is all about.

Over the years, NATO has come to violate its own 1949 Treaty which states:

Preamble: "The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.

They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law."

Article: "The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."

What a difference from NATO's actual behavior.

In the West, NATO is always called a defense alliance. But what is defense? It is to defend oneself on one's own territory with a limited, close security zone and to use only weapons with a short range and limited destruction capacity. Defensive defense works only when you are attacked, it cannot be used for attacking others far away.

In contrast, long-range weapons with huge destructive capability, including nuclear weapons (not mentioned in the Treaty), by definition are offensive. Deterrence and dialogue combined is like pointing a gun to an adversary's head and saying: Shall we talk?

A defensive alliance would enable common security-feeling secure because the adversary also feels secure. Offensiveness means mutual threat, never-ending armament and peacelessness.

Psychological illness of NATO

NATO has only one answer to every problem: It is somebody else's fault and we need more money and more weapons. After Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, NATO will drastically increase its military spending, although it is already 12 times higher than Russia's.

To legitimize itself, it has to constantly produce enemy images. In reality, it does not serve its peoples, but its member states' military-industrial-media-academic complexes.

The sophisticated but deliberately deceptive "fear-ology"-that is, making citizens pay by means of information and propaganda (fake and omission)-guarantees that people fear these constructed enemies and feels saved from them: NATO is a savior from problems created by NATO.

What to make of an alliance that for 30 years has been unable to define the real world and its post-Cold War mission, and has been violating international law and its own treaty?

What to make of NATO's militaristic elites who are vastly and increasingly superior to their self-defined enemies in terms of spending capacity and technological quality, but feel they must shout and scream constantly about all the existentially threatening enemies they perceive (Serbia, Russia, Iraq, China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Libya, Venezuela and…)?

What to make of United States-managed NATO elites that constantly threaten others with war, impose sanctions on them, seek to isolate and demonize them, and accuse them of doing what they themselves do to a much larger extent and degree?

What should we call the elites? Paranoid? Psychotic? Autistic? Insane? Should we say NATO is losing the grip, thrives on invented enemy images, lives in a fantasy world filled with illusions and self-deception?

Are NATO's enemy images psycho-political projections (and larger versions) of its own dark sides?

Or, should we say NATO just suffers from dangerous "groupthink", which excludes the possibility that NATO's decision-makers ever experience counterviews and counter-facts and therefore have come to believe they have been exclusively chosen by God to lead the world and that they are always right, never wrong?

And what if NATO leaders feel emboldened by a megalomaniac illusion that they are omnipotent and should be rulers of the world.

I'm not sure what defines the illness. But I am sure that today's NATO is unhealthy and dangerous.

To manage history's strongest military alliance, you must be utterly wise, careful and humble. Nobody possibly sees NATO and its dominant member states as humble. They see themselves as exceptional with the "rules-based international order" for the West, and international law for the rest.

Without NATO, world would be peaceful

We would be living in a peaceful world if it was not for NATO. No other organization has triggered and been involved in so many wars for so long, killed so many people and destroyed so much.

Since, it is all paid for by taxpayers' money, why not a tax revolt? And let NATO sell cakes and coffee to finance its work like the peace movement always has to finance its work? There would be fewer wars!

Citizens of NATO countries are cheated: The stability, security and peace that NATO has promised its members and the world since 1949 does not exist and will not come. If you have promised to achieve something for over 70 years which has still not materialized, it does not take rocket science to realize something has gone badly wrong and it's time to create common security and real peace through peaceful means.

NATO members keep devoting absurd or perverse amounts of economic, technical and human resources in times of multiple crises for the West. There have been a series of failed wars in the past, a Ukraine war that could have been avoided, and much more of the same armament.

NATO is the main reason why the West is declining, militarizing itself to death. The world needs a completely new peace and security thinking and politics that makes us all safer and frees resources to solve humanity's most urgent problems.

The author is the director of Sweden-based Transnational Foundation for Peace& Future Research.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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