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Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Debate in Canada: Opposition grows to steroidal NATO

 

Tamara Lorincz (kneeling on left) is also a board member of the Global Network


The Saturday Debate: Should Canada leave NATO?  

By Tamara Lorincz

Toronto Star

The pandemic and the climate emergency have rightly caused Canadians to rethink national security and defence. Many are questioning Canada’s continued membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which the Trudeau government has said is the “cornerstone” of our country’s defence policy.

NATO is an anachronistic Euro-Atlantic military alliance. It was founded in 1949 by 12 Western countries, including Canada, for collective defence against the Soviet Union and to stop the spread of communism.

By 1992, though, the Soviet Union had collapsed and the Cold War was over. NATO should have disbanded, like the Warsaw Pact, instead it expanded. Over the past three decades, 14 more countries have joined the alliance.

The key architect of the expansion of the transatlantic alliance in the mid-1990s was Lockheed Martin, the American weapons giant, which founded the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. Company executives traveled to the newly independent countries in Eastern Europe to convince them to join the alliance. The U.S. Committee to Expand NATO then lobbied the U.S. Senate to approve the accession of Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic in 1998.

At the same time, Lockheed Martin pressured the Clinton administration to give loan guarantees to these new Eastern European allies to buy American weapons.

The U.S. Committee to Expand NATO later evolved into the Project on Transitional Democracies headed by Lockheed Martin executive Bruce Jackson. In the early 2000s, the project pressured the U.S. government to approve more members into the alliance: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

NATO expansion guaranteed a market for American defence companies. To become a member, countries have to institute political, economic and military reforms. They have to move toward a free-market economy and upgrade their militaries to be interoperable with the U.S., which commands the alliance.

This explains why the White House constantly chastises allies like Canada to spend more on their militaries and why Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics are major funders of the NATO Association of Canada, which has its office in Toronto.

At the Wales Summit in 2014, NATO members pledged to spend 2 per cent of GDP on their militaries and of that amount to spend 20 per cent for weapons. To meet those targets, the Canadian government is spending $553 billion to modernize our military over the next 20 years.

No wonder Lockheed Martin Canada enticed retired Canadian Air Force Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who commanded the NATO operation that destroyed Libya in 2011, to become CEO and help the company secure lucrative defence contracts in Canada.

Canada is planning to buy 88 new fighter jets for $19 billion and to build 15 new warships for $77 billion. Yet, these costly, carbon intensive weapons systems will exacerbate the climate crisis. NATO is locking Canada into fossil-fuelled militarism that will make it much more difficult to decarbonize.

 


According to NATO’s latest Defence Expenditure report, Canada spent $30.8 billion on the military, which is 1.4 per cent of GDP, in 2020. That’s an increase of $12 billion for the defence budget over the past seven years.

Imagine if the Canadian government had instead invested that money on pandemic readiness as was recommended by the SARS Commission in 2007. Canada was woefully ill-prepared for COVID-19 without adequate personal protective equipment, health-care personnel and domestic vaccination production.

NATO’s continued reliance on a dangerous nuclear deterrent also poses an existential risk. Canada is shamefully not joining the new landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to abolish the worst weapons of mass destruction, because of our membership in the nuclear-armed alliance.

NATO’s past expansion and current efforts to bring Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance, despite a promise not to move closer to Russia, is irresponsibly provocative. Canada is fomenting this tension with 540 soldiers leading a NATO battle group in Latvia right now. By contrast, Canada has only 42 blue-helmeted soldiers on UN peacekeeping missions worldwide trying to de-escalate conflict and preserve peace.

Without a doubt, NATO’s post-Cold War record has been disastrous with repeated violations of international law and increased violence. Canada and allies conducted a 78-day illegal bombing operation in Serbia without UN Security Council authorization in 1999 that killed thousands of people. NATO forces, including Canada, are implicated in war crimes committed against innocent civilians during its ruinous 20-year mission in Afghanistan.

It is time for Canada to leave NATO. Our country should work co-operatively and peacefully with the international community through the UN system on disarmament and achieving the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, which will provide genuine security for all of us.

~ Tamara Lorincz is a PhD Candidate, Balsillie School of International Affairs, and fellow with the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, and member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. The Toronto Star is Canada’s largest newspaper with the biggest circulation.

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