NATO – An Idea Whose Time Has Gone 28

Having saved the world economy by re-labelling various huge sums of money they are going to print, our glorious leaders have now moved on for another showpiece event in Strasbourg, a summit on the 60th anniversary of NATO.

In the shadow of the ludicrously over-egged G20, they are trying desperately to raise the hyperbole still further, with President Sarkozy declaring that the freedom of mankind is dependent on the outcome of the conflict in Afghanistan.

As NATO is fighting in Afghanistan to keep in power a puppet government whose ministers include the largest heroin barons in the World, whose President’s family are deeply involved in drug smuggling, and which has just passed legislation to roll back the rights of women, including enshrining the right of a husband to force sex upon his wife (or wives, as the legislation in fact specifies but has not been generally noted), it is a little bit difficult to understand how freedom depends upon all this. Especially when a key part of the strategy is an alliance with President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, undeniably one of the World’s worst dictators, who provides the NATO German airbase at Termez and with whom the US is in negotiation to resume its alliance.

The occupation of Afghanistan is of course part of the so-called “War on Terror”. It is a good pointer to the flaws in the whole concept, because the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. For every civilian killed by aerial bombardment, for everyone tortured in Baghram, for everybody pushed around by alien coalition forces, there is a reaction of growing opposition to the invasion and increasing support for fundamentalism, especially among the Pashtun population of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The whole conflict is in a dizzying downward spiral which threatens to undermine Pakistan, with highly destabilising consequences for the sub-region.

It is a crazy concept, unless you are in the security or armaments industries, where the last eight years of war have been extremely profitable, just as conflict increased energy prices have been for the oil industry. It is a disaster for the ordinary taxpayer, but a huge and never-ending payday for some.

Angela Merkel has stated that Afghanistan points the way to the future of NATO. To which some may reply that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation plainly has a poor sense of direction. The idea that the way to defeat terrorism is to point the largest conventional forces in the World at it, is plainly nonsense. Asymmetric warfare thrives and recruits just on that mismatch.

I was Head of the Foreign Office Maritime Section when the Berlin Wall came down, and shortly afterwards was First Secretary Political at the British Embassy in Warsaw. I recall all the policy papers on the future of NATO, as the opposing Warsaw Pact evaporated. The question the papers all tried to answer was “How do we find a new role for NATO?”. The prior question “Is NATO needed any more?” was never asked. At that time the consensus was that the future focus of NATO would be on drug-smuggling, though how you stop drug-smuggling with tanks was something about which my scepticism was not entirely ill-received. (It is worth noting – and I am no Tory – that dissenting opinion was welcomed and discussed in the thirteen years I worked in the FCO under the Tories. Under New Labour dissent very quickly became viewed as disloyalty).

Throughout the 90s NATO then moved into a situation when Eastwards expansion became, in itself, the raison d’etre of the organisation. There was so much work to do in ensuring that all the Eastern European militaries could communicate in English, share radio frequencies and fire the same ammunition as their Western NATO colleagues, that there was no time for any thought as to why we were doing it. But even before Putin came to power, the signs that we were stoking nationalism in a now encircled Russia became clear.

Then 9/11 and the War on Terror solved the existentialist gap. NATO became the more respectable wing of the “coalition of the willing”. Ironically, as in the early 90s it had been positioning itself as an anti drug smuggling organisation, NATO presided over and protected the great ever opium harvests and heroin production levels in human history. It expanded into Central Asia. Under the NATO Partnership For Peace alrrangements, British troops trained Uzbek forces in marksmanship before they carried out the Andijan massacre.

Now here we are, with a real disaster unfolding in Afghanistan – a state which failed because the Cold War was fought there by proxy over twenty years, with the US fostering the very fundamentalist forces it now is losing to. And NATO, having drifted into this mess, declares sonorously that this is its future.

Ironically, President Obama made some more hopeful progress while in London by agreeing with President Medvedev to restart talks on nuclear disarmament. Compare that to Bush’s apparent eagerness to kickstart a new arms race, which suited Putin’s authoritarian agenda just fine.

But Obama’s new disarmament initiative points up still further the utter folly of New Labour’s plans to spend £120 billion on a replacement of the Trident nuclear weapon system, thus adding massively to mankind’s capacity for self-destruction at a time when the UK is broke, and when we need to be spending many. many times more than we are on renewable energy.

I am a harsh critic of Russia’s government, which has no respect for human rights or democracy. But Russia is not the Soviet Union and we d not need to face it in terms of massive blocs and mutually assured destruction. The time for the British nuclear deterrent is gone. And so is the time for NATO.


Added into comments by Alba, and making my point perfectly: “The US today has signed an agreement with the butcher of Uzbek people to transit goods through Uzbekistan”.

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28 thoughts on “NATO – An Idea Whose Time Has Gone

  • anticant

    One can only wonder whether our “leaders” are lunatics, utterly corrupt mendacious liars, or just plain dim. I charitably cling to the latter option as much as I can, but it’s becoming increasingly hard to sustain.

    Obama certainly isn’t dim: a perusal of his “Dreams From My Father” makes that crystal clear, which is why the gap between his pre-election rhetoric and his presidential utterances is so dismaying. It’s almost as if he engaged in a colossal con which is evidently still working, to judge from the rapturous reception he’s been getting in Europe.

    As for nuclear disarmament, the proposal to cut weaponry by one third is nonsensical and mere window dressing. If they cut their nuclear arms by 95 per cent. they’d still have too many for all of us to sleep soundly in our beds. This stockpiling of enough nuclear capacity to destroy life on earth several times over is mind-bogglingly stupid. One day a disastrous “accident” is bound to happen.

  • Alma

    The US today has signed an agreement with the butcher of Uzbek people to transit goods through Uzbekistan.

  • self hating joo

    Nato should have been disbanded along with the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union. Now it is a tool of the Zionist NWO to plunder resources from the world’s poor.

  • researcher

    “I was Head of the Foreign Office Maritime Section when the Berlin Wall came down […]

    The question the papers all tried to answer was “How do we find a new role for NATO?”.

    The prior question “Is NATO needed any more?” was never asked.”

    “It is worth noting […] that dissenting opinion was welcomed and discussed in the thirteen years I worked in the FCO under the Tories. Under New Labour dissent very quickly became viewed as disloyalty.”

    It was discussed but but not in writing ?

    So the difference is before there was an illusion of dissent ?

    And opposition was paid wages too, as long as they kept the dirty secrets.

    Do you feel attachment to the old system

    and how could dissent have an effect on policy and life then

    if it could not be discussed in writing ?

  • MJ

    anticant: of your options I’m afraid I have to go for no.2: utterly corrupt mendacious liars. Despite the great increase in troops deployed and the constant assurances of how important this war is, things get remarkably vague and hazy when it comes explaining why. Controlling the heroin trade, protecting vital oil and gas pipelines, a key, strategic region for any empire wishing to control the Eurasian landmass; why can’t they say these things, surely they’re good enough?

    As for 911 and the “war on terror”, which kicked it all off, a rather vital research document has recently appeared: “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe”. Well well, who would adam and eve it, eh? for abstact and link to full report.

  • Craig

    Yes, I have deleted the comment about the Georgia Guidestones. As with kabbalism, green lizards, etc – comments which go wildly off thread ar out.

  • anticant

    mj, I am a sceptical observer rather than an enthusiastic conspiracy theorist, but having studied many sources on the internet and elsewhere during the past three or four years I have become reluctantly convinced that what we have been told during the past decade bears little resemblance to what is actually happening. Doubtless many of those peddling the official line ?” even up to ministerial level ?” are ‘useful idiots’ but they are being manipulated by some very sinister forces.

    One of the most informative writers on these topics is my anonymous American friend Yankee Doodle, who I believe is an honest and very courageous whistle-blower. If you have a couple of hours to spare, settle down and surf through his blogs:

    and, more recently,

    When you absorb the full implications of what he is saying I think you will be shocked, as I was. Indeed, I find it difficult to live with this knowledge. It reminds me of my involvement in health education in the very early days of AIDS, when I walked along Oxford Street thinking “none of these people have any inkling of what’s about to hit us all”.

    Hence you will realise why I am somewhat gloomy in my ninth decade. I am old enough to remember what it felt like in the 1930s when the prospect of war with Hitler’s Germany grew from being a small black cloud the size of a hand to an all-enveloping hurricane which swamped all our personal lives. The dreadful difference is that I feel that today, we ?” the West ?” are in many ways supporting the wrong side.

  • David McKelvie

    It is arguable – in fact it has been so argued – that the formation of NATO was what led to the setting up of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation (the Warsaw Pact): or was it a case of ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’?

    NATO types used to argue that ‘they did it first’, in that the Organisation is supposed to have followed on as a response to Andrei Zhdanov’s visit to Warsaw in September 1947 in which he enunciated the ‘Zhdanovishchina’ doctrine.

    This divided the world into two mutually hostile zones of the ‘imperialist anti-democratic forces’ and the ‘democratic anti-imperialist forces’ locked in the international class struggle: something that Leonid Brezhnev reiterated, in a manner of speaking, in September 1968.

    This ‘Brezhnev Doctrine’ was so broad in concept that the Sovs used it to justify their invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Plus

  • Tom Welsh

    ‘The prior question “Is NATO needed any more?” was never asked’.

    Certainly not by the bureaucrats and career soldiers enjoying plush careers within NATO. Bureaucracy is like cancer – it rarely shrinks or withers away unless destroyed from outside.

  • liberal pixie dust

    Sarkozy is right. But it’s not the freedom you guys are thinking about, nor is it for the reasons you are thinking about either.

  • liberal pixie dust

    But what Sarkozy is talking about is not true because someone has decided it doesn’t suit within the perimeters of their comfort zone.

    Needed to be said I’m afraid.

  • Anas Taunton

    Nato is like the shoe-shining service at a posh hotel, discrete and practical.

    For example it prevented Saddam Hussain’s oppression of the Kurds. But it works alongside another exclusive service which replaces obviously worn out shoes, like Saddam, with new, more serviceable ones, otherwise known as regime change. The two services work in collusion or are one and the same.

    If you didn’t have the normal service, you wouldn’t put out your shoes. That’s the function of Nato, to be a front for world manipulation by the dark forces of I don’t know what or what they are hoping to achieve. I personally want to please God and go to Heaven.

    I looked up anticant’s references and found them way off beam. Clearly hysteria has infected the minds of both sides of the war on terror. Islam is sweet to people who retain a conscience. Wouldn’t you like to see the perpetrators of torture and genocide brought to justice? I would. Please don’t listen to those who try to portray the love of justice as another form of tyranny. Equally, it can’t be right for Muslims always to assume the worst of organisations like Nato. It’s only when you see the war crimes that you come to suspect them. No doubt Tony Blair thinks the Disneyisation of Iraq is a noble cause and the end justifies the means.

    By their fruit shall you know them. Manifestos are not available and a statement of intent like the Geneva convention or indeed the Qur’an may be a cover for all sorts of other intentions. Sorry to be boring, but the West has consistently attacked Muslims over the centuries with the effect of deviating them into mindless revenge. I can’t share other people’s grievances and they can’t share mine but I do TRY to understand where people are coming from.

  • anticant

    Anas –

    I didn’t say I agree with everything that guy says – he believes the USA is a force for good in the world, which I don’t any more. But he’s dead right about the corruption in Washington. And about the dominant influence of the international drugs trade in shaping both Western and Eastern policies.

    Americans, Muslims and Jews all live in a bubble of self-delusion. Have you read this:

    Note well the signatures – there are some very familiar names there, and if you want to know who some of the “dark forces” are which have had a huge influence during the Bush years that’s a good place to start. And read John Perkins’ book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”.

    Of course I am constantly accused of being ‘anti-American’ for saying such things. But I am not. I have had some charming American friends during my long life, and still do. It’s just that even the nice ones – except the expatriates living in Europe – simply don’t understand very much at all about the world outside America.

    Nor am I anti-Muslims as human beings: I live in an area of London where there are many Muslims and know some very nice ones. But I’m afraid I am not convinced that the theocratic nature of your religion is compatible with Western-style democracy, and this is a source of great potential friction. I shall not pursue this here as it is off topic.

  • anticant

    And, as Craig has said, you don’t have to agree with everything you read on a blog to find it worthwhile. What Yankee Doodle has convinced me of, because of the copiously documented evidence he has produced, is that 9/11 was almost certainly a false flag operation and that therefore everything that has happened since is the result of a conspiracy by people who wished to exacerbate tension and conflict on a global scale.

  • hawley


    I too followed anticant’s link. I couldn’t see at first where the blogger was coming from, especially with a blog title like ‘Stop Islamic Conquest’, but I understood better when I read this post:

    “JIHAD ME is a holy war improvement service dedicated to making your terrorism the most pleasing jihad imaginable in the eyes of Allah.

    Here is a testimonial from one of our satisfied clients, Sheikh Osama bin Laden.”

    The blog now has this note posted in the sidebar:

    “stopislamicconquest [at] yahoo [dot] com

    This email account has been subpoenaed; even deleted emails are subject to recovery and disclosure in the public record.”

    Relating to that, a law comes into force in the UK tomorrow, under which records of all emails, phone calls and web searches must be kept by the ISPs for one year.

    They’re tightening the screws on dissent.

  • anticant

    The reason why Yankee Doodle’s earlier blog has been closed down is that for the past couple of years he has been concentrating his fire on corrupton and dirty dealings in US politics and doesn’t hesitate to name some very high up names. He posts lengthy extracts from US Congressional hearings and other official documents ato back up what he says, and has convinced me that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’.

    It is indeed alarming when dissident voices are harassed and frequently silenced in self-styled democracies.

    Unfortunately we are living in an age where integrity is all too rare.

  • Anonymous


    Ireland and Sweden are not meembers. Nobody invaded them last time I looked. Who are NATO protecting us from?

  • Anas Taunton

    When the issues get confused deliberately we call it fitnah. Then Islam itself starts to contribute to the fitnah.

    So we ask God to forgive us, and to stop us confounding the problem, even if we have been provoked, and to give us strength and victory over the originators of confusion.

    Who are they? Those who believe that trust in anything but God is dispensible.

    For example the present Kurdish government put their trust in Nato because it helped them, only to find that their friend destroyed the fabric of Iraq.

    So I ask Anticant, which part of Western democracy will survive our present financial and moral bankcruptcy, if the status quo with all its dirty tricks prevails? And which parts of Western democracy would he keep, if he was in power and given a free hand to put things to rights?

    All the money and control would be back in the same hands by the end of the week.

  • anticant

    Very simple, Anas. The essential freedom to think independently, to differ, to debate peacefully with mutual goodwill and the comon aim of arriving at the best solutions. No tolerance of intolerance, whether social, governmental, or religious. That would require a big change of attitude on the part of authoritarian belief systems, not least Islam.

  • Anas Taunton


    Did you see the cartoon of Gordon Brown as a huge unmovable toad sitting in front of a vast mound of frogspan?

    Do you like this sort of authority, spawning millions of clones ready to replace the present incumbent?

    Whatever we say, nothing ever changes in this country. Why does Germany have a Green law forcing people to insulate their older homes, a competitive manufacturing industry and a properly managed banking system while we have freedom of speech and a total zombie at the helm?

    Why is our foreign policy controlled by U.S. Zionism? Is this the kind of authority you prefer?

  • Anonymous

    To Daniel

    The alternativer is simple – not to be a member of a military alliance

  • OrwellianUK

    As Noam Chomsky recently said, Nato should be disbanded. No replacement ‘alternative’ is necessary.

  • Daniel Hoffmann-Gill

    So to be clear, the solution for the both of you it seems it that there is no NATO at all and no military alliances whatsoever.

    Right, glad we’ve got that bit of genius cleared up.

  • anticant

    Maybe a European mutual defence alliance, but not NATO any more.

    These days, NATO benefits the USA far more than it helps anyone else. The world would be a lot better off, and probably a good deal more peceful, if America meddled less in the affairs of other countries and concentrated on sorting out its own domestic messes instead of exporting them to us, as it has just done with the originally American, and now global, financial crisis.

    Why would America be bothering its head about the Middle East and Central Asia, and trying to draw the rest of NATO more deeply in there, if it were not for Americans’ insatiable greed for oil [and drugs]?

    The Middle Eastern imbroglio stems from the post-1914-18 war colonial follies of the British and the French. When our hegemony over the suppoedly ‘tame’Arab countries was broken by the 1956 Suez fiasco – which I still remember vividly, because of the unprecedented way that total strangers argued heatedly with one another in public places – the Americans [who always were so scathing about British ‘imperialism’] eagerly snatched the faltering torch. As long as they go on blundering around in places inhabited by people of whom they know nothing and care less, things will get worse and worse. It’s already evident that Obama isn’t going to change the Bush ‘war on terror’ policies very much. So we would be well advised to keep out of these absurd entanglements.

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