Why do Social Democrats do what they do?

July 28, 2009

PEACE CONGRESS DEMANDS "CANADA OUT OF NATO", April 16-30, 2009, issue of People's Voice
















(The following article is from the April 16-30, 2009, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 133 Herkimer St., Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)


Excerpts from a statement by the Canadian Peace Congress on April 4, the 60th anniversary of the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Since its inception, NATO has been an aggressive military alliance whose purpose is to be the self‑appointed enforcement officer for the strategic and economic interests of Western capitalist states. The alliance started out as an anti‑Soviet institution of the Cold War, taking in countries in North America and Europe and dominated by the military‑industrial complex of the United States. The end of the Cold War meant the vaporization of its mission to "contain communism" and NATO itself should have disappeared. Instead, the military alliance has expanded, both in membership and scope, and drawn more countries into its role of controlling and directing the resources of the world toward the benefit of capitalist countries and particularly U.S. capitalism.

This shift in NATO's role is exemplified by its aggression against Yugoslavia. After several years of harassment and interference, NATO began bombing Yugoslavia in 1999, under the pretense of humanitarian intervention but with the very clear objective of breaking up the last socialist‑oriented country in Europe and forceably reorienting it toward a neoliberal, capitalist economic model. In the middle of the bombing campaign, NATO chiefs gathered for a gala celebration of the alliance's 50th anniversary and to announce NATO's "new strategic concept", which extended its scope beyond the North Atlantic arena and allowed it to militarily attack anywhere in the world on "humanitarian" grounds. The war against Yugoslavia revealed much of NATO's "humanitarian" vision - the bombing campaign was savage, unilateral and criminal, and it resulted in a destroyed infrastructure and thousands of dead or displaced civilians.

NATO's ongoing war against Afghanistan is the current "theatre of operations" for the new strategic concept, and it clearly exposes the intent of U.S. imperialism and its NATO and EU allies to perpetuate in the 21st century the cycle of wars of aggression, militarization and economic crisis that characterized the 20th century. Afghanistan represents two significant and troublesome "firsts" for the alliance: it is the first time NATO has undertaken a mission outside of the North Atlantic arena, and it was the first time that the alliance's "mutual defence" clause had been invoked. Both of these developments were nothing less than desperate attempts to secure a role for NATO in the world. Specifically, NATO and its core membership of Western imperialist states have used the war in Afghanistan to secure a foothold in the resource‑rich areas of Asia, controlling strategic pipeline routes and encircling China and Russia.

Shamefully, successive Canadian governments - both Liberal and Conservative - have supported and facilitated NATO's new role. Canada participated in the wars against Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, and Minister of National Defence John McCallum facilitated the transfer of command of the Afghanistan mission from the United Nations to NATO...

Canada's participation in NATO and its complicity with the alliance's policy of aggression and domination is not only a threat to world peace, but is an increasingly dangerous and self-destructive policy for Canada. Canada's membership in NATO requires an abdication of Canadian sovereignty in the areas of military and foreign policy, and it necessarily means that a growing amount of domestic legislation is subject to the policies of the military alliance. For example, through NATO membership Canada is committed to helping to pay for the maintenance of NATO's nuclear armaments around the world and to developing and contributing to NATO's nuclear policy; this impacts directly on Canadian government policies toward resource and industrial development in Canada.

NATO's strategic view of the Middle East, and the role that the state of Israel plays in that vision, has undoubtedly been a factor in the dramatic changes in Canada's foreign policy toward Palestine, which is now nothing more than embarrassing parroting of U.S. policy. Furthermore, NATO's current exercises and buildup in the oil‑rich areas of Africa will no doubt place pressure on the Canadian government to circumvent the democratic process as it frames its foreign policy toward this area. Canada's withdrawal from NATO is a necessary first step to securing an independent foreign policy of peace, disarmament and international cooperation for Canada. This has been the policy of the Canadian Peace Congress since 1949.

Wherever NATO intervenes in the world, it commits and encourages flagrant violations of basic principles of international law and the founding Charter of the United Nations. As a global military alliance, its very formation contravened the provisions of the Charter of the newly‑formed United Nations; in the six decades since, NATO has sought to undermine the U.N.'s mission to bring peace to the world. NATO's longstanding policy of first‑strike, or pre‑emptive attack, and its maintenance of its right to use nuclear weapons are both outright violations of the precepts of the United Nations.

Clearly, the time has come for a massive movement of people calling for the dissolution of NATO and all military alliances, and replacing it with instruments that facilitate equal and genuinely cooperative relations between states, based on respect for sovereignty and self‑determination. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of NATO, the Canadian Peace Congress calls for such a mobilization and launches its own campaign for Canada to withdraw from NATO. It is up to the people in NATO countries to stop the drive to war - the military‑industrial complex of the United States and its allies around the world must be stopped.

A new, progressive, democratic world order is possible. As a first step, the Canadian Peace Congress encourages all peace‑supporting people in Canada to mark the 60th anniversary of NATO's formation by taking action to force Canada's immediate, unilateral withdrawal from NATO.

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