There was no mention at the Madrid Summit of arms control, non-proliferation, disarmament or de-escalation in Ukraine.
NATO’s New Strategic Concept: A Dangerous Plan to Preserve Western Power through Global Militarism
Tamara Lorincz / The Toronto Star
(July 17, 2022) — At the recent Madrid Summit, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) released its new Strategic Concept. It is the first update of the transatlantic alliance’s principles and purpose in 12 years.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called it the most significant transformation of the alliance since the end of the Cold War. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described it as “the blueprint for how we will approach the world together.”
All 30 members of the alliance, including Canada, approved NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept. It will profoundly influence Canadian foreign and defence policies over the next decade.
Yet, it’s a dangerous plan to preserve western domination through greater militarism and division. As the 13-page concept explains, the Euro-Atlantic alliance is preparing for combat and competition in a “contested and unpredictable world.”
With a “360-degree approach,” NATO is extending its operating domains beyond land, air and sea to information, cyber and space. Allies will bolster their interoperability and capabilities for “high-intensity, multi-domain warfighting.”
NATO’s rapid reaction force will increase from 40,000 to 300,000 troops, and more ammunition will be pre-positioned in Eastern Europe. Sweden and Finland — which share a maritime and a land border respectively with Russia — will join the alliance, exacerbating tensions with Moscow.
At a press conference in Madrid, Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand announced that Canada will bolster its troops leading NATO’s battle group in Latvia. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is supplying more weapons to Ukraine, including sniper rifles, ammunition, drone cameras and armoured vehicles, to continue the fight against Russia “for as long as it takes.”
Nuclear Weapons: NATO’s Definition of “Security”
NATO allies’ continued export of arms to Ukraine risk further escalation and a catastrophic nuclear exchange with Russia. Like the 2010 Strategic Concept, the current one states that nuclear weapons are NATO’s “supreme guarantee of security,” but they are causing more instability.
The United States, U.K. and France, all nuclear-armed members, are modernizing their arsenals. The new NATO-controlled Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defence systems in Poland and Romania enable a first-strike attack threatening Russia.
There was no mention in the concept or at the summit of any measures for arms control, non-proliferation or disarmament. Moreover, in Madrid, allies did not call for de-escalation, a ceasefire or a negotiated resolution to end the raging war in Ukraine.
A war that was largely instigated by NATO’s “foolish” expansion, as John Mearsheimer, international relations expert at the University of Chicago, and Jeffrey Sachs, economist at the University of Columbia, have argued.
NATO has put China directly its crosshairs. The concept describes how the alliance will extend beyond the Euro-Atlantic region into the Indo-Pacific. For the first time, leaders from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea attended a NATO summit and described China as “coercive” and “aggressive.”
Africa and the Middle East are also identified as regions where NATO will have a greater presence to counter “terrorism.” However, the subtext is that NATO will challenge China in both regions to undermine its Belt and Road Initiative, a massive infrastructure program to help poor countries develop and improve trade with Asia.
To pay for this NATO enlargement, allies agreed to invest more in NATO’s common fund and in their military budgets, in order to meet or exceed the two-per-cent-GDP target. Yet, as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has reported, the 30 allies account for 60 per cent of the $2-trillion annual total for global military expenditures.
NATO’s latest defence expenditures report shows Canada is sixth-highest among all allies, at $35 billion for military spending in 2022 — a 75 per cent increase since 2014.
NATO’s New Strategic Concept: Dominion
NATO’s new Strategic Concept is not a plan for “international peace and security.” It’s a plan to maintain the West’s power and wealth through armed force and the containment of other countries. It will divert public funds away from needed social programs like housing and health care to the military and the arms manufacturers.
Most troubling, NATO’s plan over the next decade will derail the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement climate targets, as the Euro-Atlantic allies confront other countries instead of co-operate with them on global challenges.
Canadians should reject NATO’s new concept and reconsider our continued membership in this military alliance.
Tamara Lorincz is a PhD candidate at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University and a researcher with Science for Peace.
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