NATO and the Military Industrial Complex

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It was President Eisenhower who with brilliant foresight used the phrase ‘the military industrial complex‘, 50 years ago..  He said, in 1961, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.  We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.  We should take nothing for granted.

He was right and nowhere has this been more true than in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.  NATO had already become a huge force under the domination of the US and its close allies such as the UK, before the end of the Cold War.  At the end of totalitarian communism and as the regimes began to tumble across Europe at the end of the 80s, NATO began to hatch its plan for expansion.  The governments of Central Europe – the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – were eager to join this military alliance, as they saw it, which promised them defence  against any rise of the USSR again and, in the case of Poland at least, their old enemy Russia.  The eastern European nations – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were drawn in under the same arguments.

What of course was never explained to the populations clearly was that the new expanding NATO was not bringing security but dangers.  NATO was growing heady with power as it had always been.  It saw itself as dominating the world.  You only have to look at the picture on the cover of the 2000 NATO Review. There is a map of the world; the area where NATO states are is a glowing golden yellow representing one is supposed to think, light, peace and goodness.  The rest of the world is benighted in dark green and black.

This new global dominating NATO was not there for the well being of the citizens in the member states or indeed across the world.  NATO was there as the military arm of the US ‘empire’ and to maintain power over resource for the countries of the global north.

NATO even managed, with little outcry, in October, 2009, to make an agreement with the United Nations.  According to reports, Ban Ki-Moon was pressurised into signing the agreement by France, the USA and the UK.  The agreement stated that ‘cooperation will continue to develop in a practical fashion, taking into account each Organisation’s (that is NATO and the UN) mandate, expertise, procedures and capabilities, so as to contribute to improving coordinated response to global challenges.’

This agreement goes completely counter of course to the spirit and wording of the UN Charter.  How can the UN remain ‘independent’ if it is aligned with one large scale military alliance?  The very opening words of the charter are, ‘We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,… are made hollow by this agreement.  NATO does not prevent war, it provokes it and even now is carrying out a violent and futile war in Afghanistan.

So these are the pressures for the expansion of NATO which come from the western powers in pursuit of power and the energy sources.  But what other pressures are there?
Here we must go back to Eisenhower’s far-seeing speech and words. We could first look at the expansion in the 90s into Central and Eastern Europe.  A key word is ‘interoperability’, an ugly word for an ugly policy.  The new members of NATO’s military - land and air forces - had to be able to fly the same planes and drop the same bombs as the existing NATO states.  That is the new NATO states were told to throw out the old Soviet military hardware and buy the new, bright and shiny American military hardware.  These were countries which were, and are now, in extremely difficult financial conditions.  In 1996, Bruce Jackson helped to found the ‘US Committee on NATO’.  Now Bruce Jackson was also Vice President for Strategy and Planning at the Lockheed Martin Corporation.  Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest manufacturer of military strike aircraft. Jackson was also President and Founder of the Project on Transitional Democracies which aimed at speeding up the ‘reform’ of the post 1989 democracies and bringing those countries into the ‘institutions of the Euro-Atlantic.  The Euro Atlantic institution was NATO.  As soon as the states of central Europe came into NATO, they had to be prepared to buy US planes and military hardware.  Linked was yet another post Bruce Jackson held when he was the Chair of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI)  This was a body aimed at persuading the US public that a war on Iraq was need to get rid of  Saddam Hussein.  But the other agenda was to make sure US oil companies controlled the oil in Iraq – and of course the war brought about new sales of military hardware.

When we speak of military hardware, we should look at which countries have bought, or are buying, Lockheed Martin planes; a policy which was carefully planned over 15 years ago.  Between 2006 and 2009, the Polish government which was, and is, the strongest supporter of the US government, bought no fewer that 36 F16C52s and 12 F16D 52s (each costing about $34 million) military aircraft..  Yet Poland is one of the poorest countries in Europe.  At the same time another country which is in grave economic difficulties, Greece, bought in the last two years 20 F16C52 and 10 F16D52s, the latter order at a cost of $2 billion.

It never ends.  Last year on  the 10th anniversary of the NATO Strategic Concept, the Heads of State in Strasbourg asked the Secretary General to develop a new Strategic Concept, which is defined as an authoritative statement of the ‘Alliance’s objectives and to provide the highest level of guidance on the political and military means to be used in achieving them.’  It was termed a ‘major intellectual exercise’...  So a conference was held in July, 2009, to launch the, so called, public debate. 

Who would you invite to such a conference to give their advice?  You or me or our representatives from civil society?  Parliamentarians?  Well, no, that is not who attended.  NATO invited Madeline Albright, she who replied when asked about a possible half a million children dying under the sanctions regime, ‘We think the price is worth it’.    NATO invited the Supreme Allied Commander - Transformation, James Mattis; the Chief Executive Officer of ENI and the Chairman of Lloyds (the world wide insurers) of London, the grandly named, Lord Levene of Portsoken (you might believe this was mediaeval times from the title).  Lord Levene had good experience for this new role; he had been Chief of Defence procurement in the UK Conservative government in the 80s.  NATO apparently wanted to start a dialogue between a wide range of experts and the broader public.  The trouble is the broader public never really seem to have entered the picture.

Over the year there were also other documents published by ‘experts’.  And who were these ‘experts’?  One of great interest was the Strategic Advisors Group, (SAG) which was set up by the Atlantic Council to tackle the tough issues facing NATO.  It was co-chaired by the Atlantic Council Chairman, General James L. Jones, General Brent Scowcroft and former Norwegian Defence Minister, Kristin Krohn Devold.  SAG is hardly independent; it is ‘generously sponsored by the Scowcroft Group, EADS North America and Airbus’.   All these are military manufacturers or military ‘advisors’!   Now where are the likes of you and me?

This group of experts produced a paper for the Strategic Concept of ‘NATO’s Nuclear Policy in 2010: Issues and Options’.  Not surprisingly, the Group came up with the recommendation that the new SC should not address nuclear sharing arrangements as, they said,  ‘There is no consensus within NATO for withdrawal of existing weapons so to propose altering the existing arrangements would set off a deeply divisive debate on a marginal issue.’  Are nuclear weapons marginal?  They were looking to ‘a more visible system to committing survivable nuclear forces to NATO missions’.   What nonsense is that?  What are survivable nuclear forces?  Were they suggesting more money for more research into new forms of nuclear weaponry?

SAG came to the following conclusions.

The nuclear doctrine need to be up-dated :
By focusing on deterrence of nuclear attacks
Enhancing nuclear burden sharing beyond the ‘dual key’’ arrangements
Pledging robust resistance to nuclear proliferation
Supporting reduction in both strategic and theatre nuclear arsenals and Endorsing the long term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

But there are no positive steps to the latter mentioned.  The rest is the same old story.  There never was such a thing as ‘deterrence’; it is simple a useful policy presentation to allow the nuclear weapons states to continue to develop nuclear arms.
Resistance to nuclear proliferation is a complete contradiction. It is NATO countries themselves, including the USA, the UK and France, which are proliferating nuclear weapons, while nuclear burden sharing is proliferation by another name….

But then look at the Group board members who come from, among others:
Thales, EADS North America, Dornier Aircraft, The Cohen Group, the RAND Corporation, The Scowcroft Group, The Krull Corporation, The Spectrum Group Caplin and Drysdale, Deloitte….. There is one solitary member of the European Parliament.
NATO policies are being forged by huge corporate companies - mainly American.
The military industrial complex is well and truly with us – and thriving.
It is helping to build yet again NATO’s deadly dangerous policies.
We need to expose this because NATO policies are dragging the world into more and more conflict which neither protects the citizens in its member states nor those across the world.  Bonanzas of weapons spending gobble vast amounts of money at a huge cost to the poor of the world.

Rae Street 
November 2010

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