By Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
(1) NATO is a creature of the Cold War and should be
abolished, not expanded.
(2) NATO's official military doctrine reserves for
itself the right to use nuclear weapons despite the
fact that in 1996 the World Court made such use, or
threat, illegal. NATO's "first use" nuclear weapons
policy means it is willing to use nuclear weapons even
when none have been used against them. The use of
nuclear weapons contravenes International
Humanitarian Law because civilian deaths would be
massive and indiscriminate.
NATO's nuclear weapons also pose the risk of
environmental catastrophe, including the global
holocaust of "nuclear winter." NATO's nuclear weapons
policy also contravenes the Nonproliferation Treaty
(to which all NATO members are signatories) that
requires all states to press quickly to abolish
nuclear weapons. NATO member states (US, UK and
France) now have more than 9,000 nuclear warheads in
active service, about 60% of the world's nuclear
arsenal. These three NATO states have committed some
of their nuclear weapons to NATO for its use in war.
NATO itself maintains between 60 and 200 nuclear
weapons at airbases in Western Europe. NATO's nuclear
weapons and the threat of their use are a means of
coercion and intimidation, especially against states
that do not possess these weapons.
(3) NATO's powerful core members (the U.S., the U.K.,
France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Spain) have a
long history of controlling vast empires. Former
colonies of these NATO countries -- today's Third
World -- still suffer from tragic economic
inequalities resulting from hundreds of years of
imperialism imposed by nations that are now members of
Transnational corporations controlled by economic
interests in NATO countries continue to dominate these
former colonies under a neoliberal economic system now
labeled "corporate globalization."
(4) According to the Stockholm International Peace
Research Institute, about 80% of the world's total
military equipment was produced by NATO members in
1996. The following NATO members are among the
world's top ten military producers: the U.S., the
U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Canada.
The U.S., U.K. and France alone contributed about 70%
of world's total arms production for that year.
(5) After the disappearance of the Soviet Union and
the Warsaw Pact, NATO became increasingly irrelevant
and needed a reason for its continued existence. NATO
therefore escalated its efforts to foment ethnic wars
in the Balkans in order to create excuses for its own
military interventions in the region. NATO's
interventions -- so-called "humanitarian wars" --
were then sold to the public as a means of settling
conflicts between ethnic groups. NATO's real purpose
is to expand the colonial spheres of influence of its
member states and their corporate allies.
(6) NATO waged a war of aggression against Yugoslavia
that was illegal under its own Charter and various
(7) NATO forces used 1,200 warplanes and helicopters
to fly 35,000 combat missions against Yugoslavia. It
dropped 20,000 bombs and missiles containing 80,000
tons of explosives on that country. Contrary to
international law, NATO targeted civilian
infrastructure, including over 1,000 targets of no
military significance, such as: schools, hospitals,
farms, bridges, roads, railways, waterlines, media
stations, historic and cultural monuments, museums,
factories, oil refineries and petrochemical
(8) NATO's illegal bombing campaign severely impacted
the health of Yugoslavia's civilian population.
Thousands of civilians were killed, at least 6,000
were injured and countless others, especially
children, suffered severe psychological trauma.
(9) According to the UN Environmental Program, NATO's
bombing campaign triggered an ecological catastrophe
in Yugoslavia and the surrounding region.
(10) In its war against Yugoslavia, NATO used weapons
that are prohibited by the Hague and Geneva
Conventions and the Nuremburg Charter, such as
depleted uranium missiles that are radioactive and
highly toxic weapons with long-term, life-threatening
health and environmental consequences, and
anti-personnel cluster bombs designed to kill and maim
(that contravene the "Ottawa Process on Landmines"
because many "bomblets" do not explode during
initial impact). NATO continues to stockpile these
prohibited weapons for use against civilian
populations in future wars.
(11) After its bombing of Yugoslavia, NATO refused to
disarm the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as required
by United Nations resolution 1244.
Instead, NATO converted the KLA into the Kosovo
Protection Force supposedly to maintain peace and
order in NATO-controlled Kosovo. Under the watchful
eye of 40,000 NATO troops, the revamped KLA terrorists
ethnically cleansed the area of 250,000 people who
were not of Albanian heritage (as well as some ethnic
Albanians loyal to Yugoslavia). During NATO's
occupation, 1,300 citizens have been killed and
another 1,300 have been reported missing. Kosovo's
remaining minorities have no freedom of movement,
live in ghettoes and face frequent terrorist attacks
and property destruction.
(12) NATO appointed Agim Ceku, an alleged war
criminal, as commander of the Kosovo Protection Force.
Ceku, an Albanian Kosovar, led the Croatian army's
"Operation Storm" that ethnically cleansed the Serbian
population from their ancestral lands in Croatia. If
the Hague were to pursue an indictment of Ceku, and
other such terrorists, it would be a major
embarrassment to their NATO bosses.
(13) As an occupying colonial power, NATO forces
helped to enforce the cancellation of election results
in Bosnia, shut down the offices and transmission
towers of media stations that were critical of NATO's
presence and seized the assets of political parties
that refused to cooperate with them.
(14) The exploitative behavior rampant in military
culture is exemplified by the actions of NATO troops
based in the Balkans. For example, NATO troops fuel
the demand for prostitution in both Bosnia and Kosovo.
The women who service NATO troops live in deplorable
conditions and are frequently held against their will
by local captors. When evidence of
UN or NATO involvement in this trade has surfaced,
implicated officers have been discharged and sent home
but no criminal proceedings have ever been initiated
(15) NATO has been a prime source of destabilization
in Macedonia by giving military assistance to Albanian
terrorists there. The London Times (June 10, 2001)
reported that NATO's appointee to the Kosovo
Protection Force, Agim Ceku, sent 800 KLA troops to Macedonia to
aid the nascent Albanian insurgency there. This June,
NATO troops intervened to evacuate KLA fighters when
Macedonian forces closed in on the rebels near
German media reports state that NATO's evacuation was
ordered because 17 former U.S. military personnel --
hardened by years of Balkan fighting and working for a
private U.S. mercenary group -- were among the KLA
terrorists. NATO has also used diplomatic means to
pressure the Macedonian government to succumb to
(16) NATO's aggressive policy of expansion into
Eastern Europe severely threatens international
stability. With NATO's annexation of the Czech
Republic, Hungary and Poland now complete, Albania,
Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia have declared an
interest in joining the NATO juggernaut. NATO has
also set its sights on penetrating even further into
former Soviet spheres of influence by trying to
encompass Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and the
Ukraine. NATO's intention to press beyond the former
borders of the Soviet Union is dangerously
confrontational and risks provoking war with Russia.
(17) NATO's expansion into Central and Eastern Europe
is a means of integrating the military forces within
those countries under NATO (and largely U.S.) control
As military units within NATO, the armed forces
of new NATO member states must submit to demands for
standardization of military training, weapons and
other military equipment. Requirements that new
members standardize their military equipment to NATO's
exacting specifications is a tremendous boon to U.S.
and European military industries that profit greatly
from these expanded export markets.
(18) New NATO member states may also lose sovereignty
over other important aspects of their armed forces,
such as the command, control, communications and
intelligence functions, which also risk being subsumed
under the auspices of NATO standardization.
(19) The reasons for NATO's expansion eastward are
largely economic. For instance, NATO's military access
and control over Eastern Europe helps Western European
corporations to secure strategic energy resources such
as oil from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. The
U.S. and Western European corporations will greatly
benefit from NATO's control of the oil corridor
through the Caucasus mountains. NATO wants its troops
to patrol this pipeline and to dominate the
Armenian/Russian route to the Caspian Sea.
The Caucasus also link the Adriatic-Ceyhan-Baku
pipeline with oil-rich countries even farther east, in
the former Soviet Central Asia republics of
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Billions of dollars in oil
may someday flow through these corridors to Western
Europe for the benefit of Western-based oil companies.
(20) NATO's growth is not only a provocation to
Russia, it also threatens the security of China and
other Asian states that may respond in kind by
increasing their military spending, thus diverting
resources from the essential needs of their citizens.
NATO's expansion may eventually provoke an anti-NATO
alliance in Asia, further destabilizing peace and
leading to possible future wars.
(21) As part of the "NATO Defence Capabilities
Initiative," NATO member states have committed
themselves to increase their military abilities
for "power projection, mobility and increased
interoperability." This will require significant
additional military expenditures. European NATO
countries have already increased their expenditures
for military equipment by 11% in real terms since
1995. Meanwhile, military budgets in the U.S.
and Canada have also increased over the past two
years. The military budgets of NATO countries
amounted to about 60% of the world's total
military spending (US$798 billion) for the year 2000.
Rather than focusing on such genuinely humanitarian
priorities as providing food, housing, health care,
education, environmental protection and public
transportation for their populations and the rest of
the world, NATO is intent on increasing their military
budgets for future interventions even farther
(22) The testing and training conducted by NATO to
prepare for war, also has numerous negative impacts on
people and the environment. NATO's war preparations
include military exercises, the training of pilots and
the testing of weapons and warplanes. For instance,
low level flight training areas and bombing ranges in
Nitassinan threaten the traditional lifestyle of many
in the Innu Nation. Their unceded territory in Quebec
and Labrador is being turned into a military wasteland
by NATO test flights. NATO nations also carry out
dangerous bombing practices on Vieques Island,
off Puerto Rico.
(23) In the late 1940s-early 1950s, at the bidding of
the CIA, NATO helped to set up secret paramilitary,
anti-communist cells in at least 16 European
states. Originally called Operation "Stay Behind,"
this network of guerrilla armies was created to fight
behind the lines in case of a Soviet invasion. It was
codified under the umbrella of the Clandestine
Co-ordinating Committee of the Supreme Headquarters
Allied Powers Europe (which became NATO). These
clandestine armies were condemned by the European
Union in a resolution (Dec. 22, 1990) that blamed the
CIA and NATO for their 40 year role in overseeing this
covert operation. Widely known by the code name for
the Italian campaign (i.e., "Operation Gladio")
these organizations, which the EU feared may still
have been operating in 1990, were accused of illegal
interference in political affairs, conducting
terrorist attacks, jeopardizing democractic structures
and other serious crimes.
(24) Key NATO representatives have interfered with
internal electoral/political developments in Europe.
Although recent elections in Albania were fraught with
irregularities and fraud (ballot box stuffing,
ghost voters, selective disenfranchisement) NATO
General Secretary George Robertson pronounced the
election fair and legitimate. Earlier this year,
another NATO spokesperson openly threatened that if
the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (the party of
former premier Vladimir Meciar) entered a coalition
government, Slovakia would not be welcomed into NATO
or allowed early European Union membership.
FREE SAMPLE COPY OF COAT's MAGAZINE EXPOSING NATO'S
The next issue of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms
Trade's quarterly magazine, Press for Conversion!,
will elaborate on the above list of reasons to oppose
NATO. We'll gladly mail a free sample copy of that
issue upon request. This offer is applicable to folks
in Canada who haven't previously received a free
issue. If you're interested, email us your street
address in Canada before September 15.
(If you're outside Canada, send US$5 to COAT at the
address below, or buy an annual subscription for
US$17. Folks in Canada can also buy a copy
for Cdn$5, or subscribe for Cdn$20.)
Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
A national peace network supported by
individuals and organizations across Canada
541 McLeod St., Ottawa Ontario K1R 5R2 Canada
Tel.: 613-231-3076 Fax: 613-231-2614
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: http://www.ncf.ca/coat
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