The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in April 1949 as a military alliance to protect Western European countries against aggression by the Soviet Union. NATO originally had 12 members including Canada and the United States. The first Secretary-General of NATO said that its goal was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." However, when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, NATO did not close shop. On the contrary, it expanded and became even more contentious. NATO now has 29 members, 12 of whom were formerly associated with the Soviet Bloc. The expanded NATO alliance apparently wants to surround nuclear-armed Russia with military bases and anti-ballistic missile sites.
The failure of NATO to disband after the collapse of the Soviet Union is not surprising. The United States has always been the dominant member of NATO, which has consistently functioned as a military agent of U.S. world domination. This outcome was manifest in the very formation of the NATO alliance. In 1949 (and for many years thereafter), the Soviet Union was still recuperating from the devastating effects of World War II in which it lost 13 percent of its population and most of its industrial plant. Moscow had neither the intention nor the capacity to invade Western Europe.
But NATO provided enduring legal sanction for de-facto U.S. military control of Western Europe and beyond. It was also a military shield for European capitalism. After World War II, strong leftist movements existed in several Western European countries. NATO enabled U.S. armed forces to intimidate and/or suppress any anti-capitalist revolutionary movements in the region. It also allowed the United States to circumvent (and hence weaken) the United Nations, over which Washington never exercised complete control.
NATO is a dangerous, harmful, and thoroughly unnecessary force in the contemporary world. It creates fear and insecurity rather than well-being and political stability. Instead of preserving peace, it increases the likelihood of war. NATO divides our world into hostile military alliances reminiscent of the antagonistic coalitions that fostered World War I. Moreover, the NATO alliance constitutes a lucrative subsidy to weapons-producing industries and hence a huge theft from billions of needy human beings.
A passionate denunciation of NATO is given by Dennis J. Halliday, former United Nations assistant secretary-general (1994-98): "NATO as it expands today is absolutely not what the world of struggling economies and deprived populations require. It is nothing but a negative force. It is undermining an already fragile United Nations. NATO has not been appointed policeman for the globe. It is self-serving, lacks integrity, has demonstrated its leadership cannot be trusted and creates nothing positive. It only yields destruction and human poverty, insecurity and misery. NATO must be abolished!"
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.