21/06/2021 |

Webinar Report: Dissolution of NATO

Last week the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit took place in Brussels, bringing together the heads of state of the Alliance. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the future of the organisation with its 2030 agenda. On the occasion of this meeting, the European Left, the Left in the European Parliament and the No to War – No to NATO network organised two anti-NATO days, the 13th and 14th of June. Several topics were discussed during the counter-summit, including a webinar in which GCOMS members participated entitled: Dissolution of NATO – for solidarity, sustainability and disarmament.

Speakers included:

  • Opening Greetings: Özlem Demirel, Germany, Member of the European Parliament, The Left
  • For nuclear abolition and common security: Sean Conner, USA/Germany, IPB
  • NATO imperialism in Africa, Mikaela Nhondo Erskog, researcher at the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research.
  • Transformation for sustainability and peace: Tamara Lorincz, Canada, Women for Peace
  • Achieving disarmament: Quique Sánchez, Barcelona, GCOMS officer

Özlem Demirel, member of the European Parliament, introduced the discussion by looking back to the last two years of the pandemic, on the restriction of citizens’ freedom. She called for more freedom and diplomacy in the coming year.

Sean Conner dedicated his intervention to nuclear abolition and common security. Conner had recently attended the 2022 Commission on Common Security (more information here) which aims to discuss and confront the many issues we face: climate change, unbalanced globalisation, crumbling disarmament treaties, the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the decline of democracy.

He brought the attention to the astonishing figure of 72.6 billion dollars spent in 2020 on nuclear weapons. NATO countries (notably the US, Britain and France) have spent two thirds of it, i.e. 49.3 billion dollars. The total number of nuclear weapons in the world is estimated at 14,000 and NATO has half of them. It should also be noted that NATO boasts that it “guarantees freedom and security through political and military means”. According to Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s general secretary, “nuclear weapons play a vital role in preserving peace in an uncertain world”. At the same time, he’s demanding NATO countries to spend more and more money year after year. Seeing this, we are entitled to ask: how more and more weapons leads to more security?

Mikaela Nhondo Erskog, researcher at the Tricontinental Institute for Social research and on the Coordination Committee of Local World, focused her intervention on new imperialism. With experience in several cross-sectoral organisations, and based on a forthcoming article, Nhondo Erskog turned the attention to African sovereignty against NATO imperialism. She revealed two majors’ issues that need to be addressed. First, there is an internal fragmentation amongst the African States, and at the same time there is external pressures. The example of Libya speaks for itself. In July, the Tricontinental Institute will release a record on US military bases in Africa and the future of African unity (see their website here). She ended her speech by advocating for a reallocation of Africa’s resources, which should be invested in the public sector, instead of in militarisation.

Tamara Lorincz wanted to recall the dramatic situation that Canada is experiencing today. From Waterloo, Canada, she is currently experiencing a moment of strong protest. Indeed, a large mobilisation has been created in the face of the harm inflicted on indigenous communities (First Nations). There are about 50 of these communities that do not have access to drinking water and live in a situation similar to a “third world country”. This is even more concerning when one considers the amount of money invested in the military sector. The empoverished and the environment are being sacrificed for NATO’s new toys. NATO and especially the US are pushing other countries to spend more and more, as NATO serves as a market for US arms sales. This is what NATO 2030 agenda is all about: a desire to expand the alliance “politically, financially, militarily and geographically”. It is how NATO is undermining the United Nation sustainable goals and how NATO is blocking progress on the Paris agreement.

Dissolution of NATO | GUE/NGL

The last participant was Quique Sánchez, officer of the GCOMS campaign in Barcelona. In his intervention he addressed NATO as the most visible and explicit driver of military spending rises. He brought attention to the aggregated military expenditures of NATO member states in 2020, which reached $1103 billion, accounting for 56% of the world’s total. This is an increase of 13.6% over the previous year, with nearly all members of the alliance seeing their military burden rise in 2020. 12 NATO members spent 2 per cent or more of their GDP on their militaries, the Alliance’s guideline spending target. From a perspective of the GCOMS, this militaristic approach to security only serves the interests of the military industrial complex and makes of the world an increasingly dangerous place.
Sánchez then quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, particularly his remarks related to NATO 2030:

“Global warming is a crisis multiplier. So, NATO must address the security consequences of climate change. My ambition is (…) to significantly reduce military emissions, contributing to net-zero.”
“To do all of this we need to invest more. We are on the right track, with seven years of consecutive increases in defence spending by Europe and Canada. We must keep up this momentum”

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Stoltenberg stated in that same speech:

NATO’s main task during the pandemic is to make sure the health crisis does not become a security crisis. And throughout, we have remained ready, vigilant and prepared to respond to any threat. We have done what is necessary to keep our forces safe. To maintain our operational readiness. And sustain our missions and operations. Beyond that, we have also been able to provide support to civilian efforts to cope with COVID-19.
Across NATO, we have seen the vital role that our armed forces have played to help save lives.

According to Sánchez, it was “painful to hear Stoltenberg talk about NATO’s role fighting climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic” when, following NATO target spending guidelines “we’ve been wasting resources on the military that were very much needed on civil sectors like healthcare”.

Jessica Pardo, from the IPB, as a moderator, opened the discussion to the audience by taking some questions from participants present at the Zoom room.

To watch the full webinar, find the YouTube video here.