What is NATO, anyway?

The most powerful militaries the world has ever known, united for "self-defense."
What NATO's "humanitarian intervention" looks like. Libya's oil is now being divided up among NATO partners.

The following is a statement by March Forward!, which is taking part in the NATO protests in Chicago.

Few organizations are responsible for as much death, suffering and destruction as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known by its acronym NATO.  This week, thousands from around the world will protest at the bloc’s summit in Chicago.

What is NATO, and why should service members oppose it?

NATO was founded by the United States, Canada and 10 European States – including fascist Portugal – in 1949 as a strategic military alliance. It was never a “defensive” alliance as U.S. leaders claimed, but instead an offensive coalition, led by the United States, against the socialist countries and the anti-colonial movements rising then in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

It is a coalition united on the premise that the interests of the their big banks and corporations reign supreme over the interests of the global 99%.

“Self-defense” for the most powerful empire in history

NATO was formed by and has always been led by the United States government. The creation of this aggressive alliance was presented to the public as a response to the imaginary threat of an impending Soviet invasion of Western Europe.  The Soviet Union lost more than 27 million killed in World War II that ended in 1945. Two thirds of the country’s industry and agriculture had been destroyed. NATO was part of a strategy of “containment,” a code word for regime change in countries not bowing to the interests of big business.

In 1968, NATO troops in Germany were put on alert to intervene in France, in case the revolution there overturned a hated right-wing government. From the 1950s to the 1970s, NATO supported the fascist Portuguese military in its brutal counter-insurgency wars in its colonies Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO not only continued to exist as the international military muscle of the super-rich, it was greatly expanded, taking in many of the countries that had formerly been part of the socialist bloc.

There are now more than 50 countries in this so-called “defensive alliance”—but who is it defending against? Why are there still U.S. military bases and more than 53,000 troops in Germany, 67 years after the end of World War II? Why are there U.S./NATO bases in Turkey, Spain, Italy, Great Britain and more?

The answer is simple: the “defensive” label is a lie. Its purpose is to maintain a global empire that benefits nobody but a tiny percentage of super-rich owners and executives.

“Democracy” by bombing

In the 1990s, NATO made war against the former Yugoslavia, playing a central role in fragmenting the federation into smaller, more easily controlled states, many of which are now part of NATO. The U.S. and the other four top powers in NATO—Britain, France, Germany and Italy—continue to occupy Kosovo, a country they supposedly “liberated.”

In 2011, NATO launched another war of aggression against Libya, which ended in the overthrow of the existing government and its replacement by one that has opened the country’s rich oil fields to the multinational oil monopolies. Libya was completely destroyed and its population thrown into disaster. While families in the United States are experiencing massive budget cuts, unemployment and foreclosure due to “lack of money,” the U.S. government shelled out about $10 million a day of our tax dollars to sponsor the Libya operation.

 Since 2003, ISAF, the joint occupation force in Afghanistan, has been under U.S./NATO command. The U.S./NATO war masked in “democracy,” “human rights” and “self-defense” is in reality just another war for the big business interests of the NATO clique. The thousands of U.S. and other NATO service members killed and wounded, and the hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians who have been killed, wounded or undergone tremendous suffering owe their fate to the NATO generals. To the brass, our lives are just pawns on their imperial chessboard, to be thrown away for their chance at more treasure.

While the Pentagon brass sends U.S. service members to kill and die in their wars for profit, they rely on NATO when they need the assistance of other armies and their satellite states. Like the United States government, the leaders of the other NATO countries pretend to be motivated by concern for “human rights” and “democracy,” but their real aim is a share of the loot for their big banks and corporations.

Far from being a defensive alliance, NATO is key instrument of empire and U.S. global domination. It should be disbanded immediately.

Fight NATO, not their wars

The history of NATO is one of despicable crimes against humanity for the interests of the super-rich. Every service member has the right to refuse to be part of its criminal legacy. 

Thousands of people, including U.S. service members, veterans and military families, will confront the NATO summit in Chicago. March Forward! members will be there in the streets. For those who truly want to fight against the world’s criminals—those responsible for unmatched crimes against our brothers and sisters around the world—the fight is in Chicago against the NATO brass, not killing and dying in their bogus wars.


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