Jan Oberg in China Daily: Abolish NATO and Build Peace Instead


Jan Oberg, Ph.D. | The Transnational – TRANSCEND Media Service

This was published as an Op-Ed in today’s China Daily with the title “NATO shouldn’t be a bloc on road to peace.”

18 Nov 2022 – While most organisations are evaluated and reformed as time goes by, NATO isn’t. It has become sacrosanct and criticism of its operations silenced. In Western media, it is always called the ”defensive” alliance. It does not see itself as party to the conflict with Russia – but rather as an innocent property owner who protects himself against a burglar. This frees it from co-responsibility for the present, fateful situation.

The NATO-Russia conflict that plays out in Ukraine is grossly a-symmetric: NATO is 30 members with at least 12 times higher military expenditures than Russia. The former NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, recently boasted that ”Putin knows that NATO spends 10 times more than Russia and NATO can beat him into a pulp.” Quite sensational given that NATO has always told us that Russia is a formidable threat.

After losing its raison d’etre in 1990, NATO has been expanding horisontally and vertically – ever more militarist. That breaks all the promises made to the last Soviet leader, Gorbachev, about not expanding ”one inch.” All Russian leaders have protested. So have eminent, knowledgeable security experts, former US politicians and ambassadors to Moscow. And no opinion poll in Ukraine has ever shown a majority for NATO membership.

NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg states ad nauseam that countries must freely choose their security partnership. NATO never let Ukraine do so. Since 1991, NATO has been wooing, training, arming, financing, integrating and aiming at only one security arrangement for Ukraine: NATO membership

While Russia is responsible for the war in Ukraine, NATO is responsible for the underlying conflict – and that conflict is about the right to feel secure around one’s border and not be encircled. No NATO state would accept what NATO has expected Russia to accept.

Ukraine was the one too many expansions of the increasingly autistic alliance. Militarism has become the West’s new secular religion, NATO its church and the NATO elites with their intellectually empty summits as the congregation: You shall have no other gods but NATO!

NATO no longer bases itself on intellectual analyses. It states and postulates. Deterrence on which it builds is a basically offensive concept; it includes the ability to harm and kill the other on his territory – the opposite of common security and defensiveness. NATO’s ’defence’ ultimately rests on the right to first use of nuclear weapons even against a conventional or cyber attack. It has only one answer to every problem: More weapons.

NATO postulates threats and challenges. It does not argue them. China is a ’challenge’ because it has different interests and values. This means that NATO believes in universalising Western/Occidental values, making others like itself. The real problem is, however, that US/NATO cannot live without enemies. It seeks confrontation, not cooperation. At its moment of decline and coming fall, the West stands together in hate, enemy-making and armament – all negative energy – not in a vision of a better future.

Since 1949 when it was created, NATO has squandered trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money, but it has not made them secure or created peace. NATO has 8% of the world’s population but consumes 57% of global military expenditures. We are closer than ever to a major war, perhaps involving nuclear weapons. The world must ask NATO: Why have you failed so miserably and what shall we do now – together? It’s a politico-intellectual task, not a military challenge to match.

There are other questions: The Russians have asked to become members of NATO in 1954, and so have Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin. Why has the door always been closed? Or, how come an organisation whose treaty is a copy of the UN Declaration (with Para 5 about mutual defence added) can violate its own Treaty every day and, for example, bomb Serbia and Kosovo, Libya and now expand violently into Ukraine?

China must calculate with another nasty factor: NATO’s evolving globalisation. It has 30 members, and future members have to be European, but it has 40 ”partners” over all continents. It’s the main US tool for maintaining global dominance. Now, the US is a declining empire bound to fall, but it can do a lot of harm before that happens.

The sad and risky fact is that the West does not have a single leader who can be trusted to preside grace- and peacefully over that process. Gorbachev could have used weapons, even nukes, when the Soviet game was over. But he was a man of ethics with a constructive vision about a new European peace and conflict-resolution structure. NATO cheated him.

The most dangerous aspects of the West’s crisis is the vicious circle of moral and intellectual disarmament and ever more military armament and militarism.

Therefore, we must all do what can be done to replace NATO with defensive defence, common security, early warning, mediation, civil conflict-resolution, a much stronger UN, peace academies and peace education. For our global common good, survival and peace.


Prof. Jan Oberg, Ph.D. is director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. CV: https://transnational.live/jan-oberg


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