People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 46

November 14, 2010

Say No to NATO!

Yes to Peace!


R Arun Kumar


THE NATO is going to organise its summit in Lisbon on November 19-20 to plan its future 'strategic vision'. The Portuguese Communist Party along with 100 more organisations has planned massive demonstrations against the summit on November 20. Thousands, including people from countries across the world, braving all the severe restrictions imposed by the Portuguese government, have planned to go to Lisbon and protest. This summit, held in the background of global economic recession and growing burdens on the common people, is going to discuss among many other things the need for increasing defence expenditure.


In May this year, there was a meeting of 'experts' led by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright that recommended a new ten year strategic vision for NATO. They stated, “If NATO is to fulfil these ... missions successfully (deploy forces further afield and guard against unconventional threats such as terrorism and cyber attack), it must halt the precipitous decline in national defence spending, implement new reforms and efficiencies, and set priorities for future capabilities”. Acknowledging the economic constraints imposed by the severe economic crisis, NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen observes “too deep cuts at the expense of future security may also have damaging economic implications”. So, the 'experts', instead recommend their European allies to cut their social spendings; spent to maintain their “increasingly burdensome social welfare-states”. This is the real face of imperialism!


The US, which claims to be coming out of the global economic crisis, is unable to find enough money to create jobs and reduce unemployment. On the other hand, its legislatures and government did not take much time to increase the military budget of the country by another $37 billion. US is already spending 53.3 per cent of its federal spending on military and its military budget for 2011 is more than what it had spent in World War II. It alone spends around 47 per cent of what the whole world spends on war, arms and ammunition. This shows that imperialism is not only unconcerned about the lives of the people of third world countries, but is also equally, if not more, unconcerned about the lives of its own toiling people.


Imperialism wants to come out of this crisis by imposing further burdens on the people and prising open the markets of the third world countries. The expansion of NATO is a vital component of the imperialist “Project for the New American Century”, aimed at establishing American global hegemony. In order to facilitate NATO’s global role, the alliance has embarked upon the task of building up a multi-tiered system of partnership with important regional states that share 'values' and security priorities. Underlying the US objectives behind NATO expansion is its desire to re-establish its trans-Atlantic leadership role and secure the backing of its allies in pursuit of its global strategy.




The US intends to shape NATO as a politico-security vehicle that advances the containment policy towards those powers it considers as a challenge to its hegemony. This can be discerned from its efforts to consolidate partnerships with the Central Asian states flanking Russia, China and Iran and establishing seven new military bases in Colombia.


The US is also trying to erect a security architecture in Asia, along with Japan and Australia, in order to contain China and expand US influence in South East Asia. Japan has been incrementally abandoning its pacifist approach to international affairs, which it adopted in the post-war period. The US policy under the Bush administration has accelerated the militarisation of Japan and drawn it into its strategic ambit. Australia has also been an ally of the US in the 'war on terror' and had sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2007, Japan and Australia signed a security agreement designed to enhance military cooperation between the two countries. Efforts were made to include India in order to form a strategic 'quadrilateral' along with the US, Japan and Australia. The joint naval exercise of the four countries in the Bay of Bengal was aimed in this direction.


gain control over all the major energy producing areas and routes NATO has forged partnership agreements with several ‘pro-West’ Arab regimes at a bilateral level and within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Through NATO, the US is trying to gain control over all the major energy producing areas and routes that transfer energy resources. Singapore and Taiwan are heavily militarised with a view to control the Straits of Taiwan and Malacca.


A naval network is being created by the NATO to function as a 'global naval force' under the command of the US. This is initially to cover the Persian Gulf, the waters of East Africa, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. The US Pacific fleet is placing enormous importance on even small islands, which it considers to be of strategic importance along with its deepening collaboration with Australia, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines.


The transformation of NATO into a transatlantic organisation with 'global missions, global reach and global partners' is most evident in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is an example, where NATO conducts the war to gain control over this strategically located country. NATO presence in Afghanistan is virtually open-ended and the US considers the success of operations in Afghanistan as crucial for the future of NATO as a viable global politico-security organisation.


The US president Barack Obama, terming this war in Afghanistan as a 'just war', reasons that in a world where 'threats' are becoming more 'complex', “America cannot act alone” and “that's why NATO continues to be indispensable” and appealed to all the NATO countries to go along with the US troop increase. The US, which had nursed the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda in the first place, is today once again depending on the local warlords for its operations in Pashtun areas. Militias controlled by Afghan warlords have been providing protection for NATO convoys and forward US bases. General McChrystal, who led the NATO operations earlier, had himself acknowledged that American and NATO ties with warlords were one of the reasons for the alienation of the populace from the occupation forces.


The US also hopes to promote partnerships between NATO and the African states. The principal strategic aim of the US is to establish control over Africa’s vast energy resources and safeguard its economic interests from being eroded consequent upon more and more African countries reaching out to China in recent years.


NATO provides a US-led framework of collective security, which enables Washington to selectively engage the UN where it suits US interests and to bypass the UN where it is expedient to do so. NATO is also being integrated into the National Missile Defence system that is currently being developed by the US. The November NATO summit in Lisbon is 'important' as it represents a deadline for allies to fix plans to construct an integrated missile defence shield stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok, which Rasmussen calls, 'the security roof'. It is also intended to discuss the suggestions of the 'experts', referred to earlier, on defence expenditure.




These moves to expand NATO are not without opposition. There is significant opposition to US-led imperial designs. People in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Japan are protesting against the US military bases and occupation. Efforts to become part of US strategic designs in Asia and join the 'Asian NATO' have met with protests in India too. The demonstrations that are planned against the NATO summit in Lisbon, thus are of enormous importance not just to the people of this continent Europe, but to the people all over the world. It is the duty of the communists across the world to expose imperialism through these protests.


Lenin dealing with 'The Question of Peace' states, “The yearning for peace is one of the most important symptoms revealing the beginnings of disappointment in the bourgeois lie about a war of 'liberation', the 'defence of the fatherland', and similar falsehoods that the class of capitalists beguiles the mob with”. People of the world today, are not only seeing through the lies of imperialism, but are also comprehending the cruelty of imperialism.


The global economic crisis, following on the heels of the food crisis in 2006-08, has deprived an additional 100 million people of access to adequate food. Today, 1.02 billion people do not have enough to eat in this world and this is more than the combined population of US, Canada and the European Union. They are hungry not because the world does not produce enough for all, but because these people are unable to purchase necessary food grains due to falling incomes and speculation-driven price rise.


Hunger can be eliminated if the governments can reduce their expenditure on defence and spend this money on employment generation and social welfare measures. The FAO estimates that it needs only $44 billion a year to launch the necessary programmes to completely solve global food crisis. (Remember, the increase in the military budget of the US this year alone is $37 billion!) For the price of one missile, a school full of hungry children could eat lunch every day for 5 years. With the money the world spends on military in two days, we could prevent the death of 100 million children who die of starvation and preventable illness. Using 4 per cent of the money that the US has spent on bailing out banks, we could end world hunger. But as the actions of various governments had shown, they are not ready to redefine their priorities. It is these double-standards of the bourgeoisie ruling classes that the people today are questioning through their participation in the demonstrations for peace.


Lenin urges, “This symptom (yearning for peace) should attract the closest attention from socialists. All efforts must be bent towards utilising the masses’ desire for peace...we must make use of the desire for peace so as to explain to the masses that the benefits they expect from peace cannot be obtained without a series of revolutions”.


The objective conditions created by the crisis are making people ponder over – the reasons for the crisis, growing inequalities, the unjustified wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the increasing military bases and defence budgets. The writings of Karl Marx are once again being eagerly read. Imperialism, fearing this growing interest on communism has launched an ideological offensive. This ideological offensive can be countered only by launching a counter-offensive exposing imperialism – its inhuman, warmongering, greedy nature.