John Catalinotto / Workers World & Manlio Dinucci / Workers’ World – 2016-07-08 16:12:45
NATO’s Warsaw Summit Threatens War with Russia
John Catalinotto / Workers World
(June 21, 2016) — The location of NATO’s next summit meeting is itself a provocation against Russia. NATO leaders will meet on July 8-9 in Warsaw, Poland, less than 200 miles from the Russian province of Kaliningrad.
The meeting follows NATO military maneuvers under US command that threaten Russia. On June 5, a sea exercise called Baltops 16 began in the Baltic Sea with 6,100 troops, 45 ships and 60 warplanes from 17 countries, as bombers flew toward Russian borders.
A June 7-16 military exercise called Anaconda 16 moved 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles, including tanks, from 19 NATO members and six other states, across Polish territory.
The Warsaw summit is expected to agree on placing thousands of troops and heavy equipment in Poland and the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — on or near Russian borders.
This is happening as 51 State Department officials petitioned the US government to take military action against Syria — which means attacking Syria’s Russian ally. Taken together, this all points to escalating US military aggression and increased war danger.
US’s NATO Strategy: 1949-1989
NATO has always been a tool of US imperialist policy. In 1949 Washington founded NATO to prevent workers’ revolutions in war-ravaged Western Europe and to confront the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe. Only later did the Soviet Union establish the Warsaw Pact with its allies.
In 1990, during negotiations between the US and Soviet leaders, Washington promised not to move NATO eastward. An article in the German magazine Der Spiegel on Nov. 26, 2009, made clear that during these negotiations “there was no doubt that the West did everything it could to give the Soviets the impression that NATO membership was out of the question for countries like Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia.” (tinyurl.com/nvm476v)
Now these former Warsaw Pact members and others that had been part of the Soviet Union are not only capitalist states but have been drawn into an anti-Russian military alliance.
New NATO Role: World Cop
The Soviet Union’s impending disintegration in 1991 and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact ended NATO’s declared purpose.
But since 1991, far from dissolving NATO, Washington expanded the military pact, always under US command. The US proclaimed in a military strategy paper made public by the New York Times in 1991 that it would use NATO to maintain the same hegemony in Europe as it would worldwide.
Even Washington’s imperialist allies like Britain, France and Germany were to be prevented from putting their own interests before US imperialism’s interests.
The US turned NATO into a type of imperialist police force for military intervention — and not only in Europe. Under US command, NATO has become a worldwide intervention force at the service of the transnational monopolies that exploit the world’s labor and resources.
The first actual US-NATO aggression destroyed Yugoslavia. US-led NATO military interventions followed: Afghanistan in Central Asia, Iraq in West Asia after the 2003 US-British invasion, and Libya in North Africa.
NATO not only defends imperialist interests. During the last 25 years it has attempted to reconquer those areas of the world that had gained some independence from imperialism during the existence of the Soviet Union. Now Russia, the only country with sufficient nuclear weapons to confront the US, is the target of US-NATO war provocations.
Summit Arouses Opposition
The Anaconda 16 exercises moved NATO troops close to Russia’s Kaliningrad Province. It was the first time German tanks have moved eastward through Poland since Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union in July 1941.
Not only big NATO powers participated in Anaconda 16. So did Sweden — not officially part of NATO — and Finland. Before 1989 Finland was always a neutral buffer state between the Soviet Union and the West. This new move lines up another border country against Russia.
Even many West European officials recognize the dangers from such a provocative war exercise. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticized the exercises, calling them “saber-rattling,” and spoke out for more cooperation with Russia. (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 18)
The World Peace Council and other groups have called for demonstrations worldwide on July 9 to oppose the war plans of the NATO summit. Demonstrations and an anti-war summit are planned in Warsaw itself.
In the US, the United National Antiwar Coalition, which is sending a representative to the Warsaw protest, as well as the US Peace Council, Veterans for Peace, the International Action Center and others have called a rally in New York City on July 9 at 2 p.m. at the Army Recruiting Center in Times Square. (For more information, see unacpeace.org.)
US Missiles in Romania and Poland
Put Europe on the Nuclear Frontline
Manlio Dinucci / Workers’ World
(May 20, 2016) — At a ribbon cutting ceremony at the airbase of Deveselu in Romania, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg inaugurated the “Aegis Ashore” land-based installation of the US Aegis missile system.
Stoltenberg thanked the United States, because this installation greatly increases its ability to “defend European allies against ballistic missiles outside the Euro-Atlantic area.” He announced the start of work to establish another “Aegis Ashore” in Poland, similar to the one in operation in Romania. This one will also be equipped with Lockheed Martin’s SM-3 interceptor missiles and MK 41 vertical launchers.
The two land-based installations are added to four Aegis ships (also equipped with SM-3 missiles and vertical launchers) which — sent out by the US Navy from the Spanish base of Rota — cross the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Baltic Sea, while linked to a powerful radar system in Turkey and a command center in Germany.
NATO’s secretary general, on the one hand, says that “our missile defense program is a long-term investment against a long-term threat.” On the other hand, he ensures us that “this site in Romania, just as the one in Poland, is not directed against Russia.”
The function of the so-called “Scud” anti-missiles is actually offensive. If the US were able to implement a reliable system capable of intercepting ballistic missiles, it could keep Russia under the threat of a nuclear first strike, relying on the ability of the “Scuds” (shields) to neutralize the effects of retaliation.
In reality, this is not possible at the present stage, because Russia and also China can take various countermeasures, which makes it impossible to intercept all nuclear warheads.
For what then is the Aegis system, which the US is enhancing, being deployed in Europe? Look to Lockheed Martin itself for the explanation. Illustrating the technical features of the MK 41 vertical launch system — the one installed on Aegis missile ships and now even at the land base of Deveselu — the company stresses that it is capable of launching “missiles for every mission: anti-air, anti-ship, anti-submarine and to attack ground targets.” Each launch tube is adaptable to any missile, both to interceptors and to those for a nuclear attack.
Thus, no one can know which missiles are really deployed in vertical launchers at Deveselu or those on board vessels sailing in the Russian territorial waters. Unable to inspect them, Moscow must assume missiles are present that enable a nuclear attack.
Europe thus returns to a climate of Cold War, to the benefit of the US, which can thus increase its influence on its European allies.
In the meeting with the leaders of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway on May 13 in Washington, President Barack Obama denounced “the growing presence and aggressive military posture of Russia in the Baltic-North Sea region” as he reaffirmed the US commitment to “Europe’s collective defense.”
At the same meeting, Obama highlighted the European consensus to maintain sanctions against Russia, praising in particular Denmark, Finland and Sweden, who, “as members of the EU, strongly support the TTIP [the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership], a treaty that I reaffirm that I want to conclude before the end of year.” We see that Lockheed’s vertical launchers can also contain the TTIP missile.
This article was published in Il Manifesto on May 15. Translation by WW managing editor John Catalinotto
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