Letter to the members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs concerning the Committee Meeting on 6 July next on the NATO summit in Warsaw

Today Oorlog is geen Oplossing sent the following letter to members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament:

Hardly a week before the crucially important NATO summit this weekend in Warsaw the government sent you the official letter about the Dutch contribution. In light of the debate that you will have with the government tomorrow afternoon, we as Oorlog is geen Oplossing would like to share with you the following points of attention:

1. In paragraph 2 ('general') the security threats facing the NATO countries are summed up. What is missing in this summing up in our view is that all these security threats have been caused by (military) action of the NATO alliance as a whole, or the most important NATO countries acting together in or with respect to the countries mentioned. We only mention the substantial eastward enlargement of the NATO treaty area after the end of the Cold War and the invasions or otherwise military operations of (members of) the North Atlantic alliance in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Counteracting the increased insecurity that has resulted from these military activities by the West by stepping up Western activity with respect to these regions in our view seems an enterprise fraught with dangers.

2. In the first part ('Russia') of paragraph 3 ('eastern flank') the government appears to have chosen a careful and balanced approach ('not reciprocating Russian rhetoric and activities'). But this cannot conceal that the NATO posture towards Russia, especially as a result of the positions of the Baltic states and Poland, is antagonistic and asertive and little reflects this restraint and balance. Further down the letter it turns out that the Netherlands in this matter as well prioritises its image as a reliable ally over any attempt to really interrupt the escalation in which NATO and Russia find themselves and which has brought back into international affairs the nuclear deterrence which we thought to have left behind a quarter century ago. It is this (nuclear) escalation that in our view constitutes the greatest threat to our security, and not the security risks the government identifies in the previous paragraph.

3. In the second part ('Ukraine') of this paragraph the support of the 'reform' of the Ukrainian security sector is central, something the Netherlands wants to support out of the security fund. We wonder how this intention relates to the analysis of the outcome of the referendum which the government shared with your Chamber and in which it estimated that the 'No' on the part of a large majority of those voting should be attributed to the fear of a more intensified military collaboration with Ukraine. Of course that concerned and now NATO, but in the letter the government explains (especially in paragraph 7) that the military activities of the international organisations will be integrated more and more. If the government takes its own analysis of the referendum outcome serious, it will abstain from further military cooperation with Ukraine.

4. Paragraph 4 ('Military adjustment') concerns the shaping of the 'rotating permanent presence' alongside the rapid intervention forces facing a purported Russian threat in which the Netherlands has played an active role. In our view the government in this paragraph indicates very well how the rotating character allows it to circumvent the previous agreements with Russia in 1997 about deploying NATO units in the former Warsaw Pact countries. Such a 'trick' in our view is irresponsible if the goal is true peace and security and the Netherlands therefore should resist this permanent military presence and certainly not take part in it.

5. In paragraph 5 ('southern flank') many words are spent on emphasising that the intended training and observer activities by NATO in or over Iraq should not be interpreted as a participation by the NATO alliance in the anti-ISIS coalition. This sustined distinction seems to us to be entirely artificial and it will not be taken serious by any of those among the concerned who find confounding the two problematic. NATO therefore will in the end become entangled in a spider's web it wanted to stay away from, and will have to count with all possible (terrorist) retaliations.

6. Another part of this paragraph deals with the maritime NATO activities in the Aegean and the Mediterranean to control the 'migration crisis'. Here one is struck by the fact in the entire letter the reference to is 'migration crisis' instead of the more usual 'refugee crisis'. As a result the military measures to prevent the crossing of refugees from the MENA region to Europe is uncoupled from the cause of this migration wave, viz., the complete unhinging of the security in the respective countries (Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan), brought about not least by the consequences of military activities of NATO allies in these countries in past and present. As long as the link between North Atlantic military activities in this region and the refugee flow is not made, the military involvement of the alliance in the envisaged reinforcement of the security sector in the region and the assistance in solving the refugee crisis, are both doomed to fail.

7. Paragraph 6 deals with defence expenditure which supposedly is too low. This judgement is not based on an international comparison (for instance by comparing the defence expenditure of Russia and China , because then it would have become clear that there still exist a vast, unbridgeable gap between NATO and these two most important competitors on the world stage). Instead it is based on agreements within the NATO alliance and more particularly, among the relevant ministers. But in this way every group of ministers van reach the judgment that expenditure in their particular policy are are irresponsibly low. As we argue in this letter –- and incidentally also in the attached Manifesto against a rise in Defence expenditure presented last year to your Chamber –- an intensification of military capacities and activities will not make any contribution to international security and only work to reduce it. The ambition to be a reliable NATO ally seems to is not a good reason to add hundreds of millions to the defence budget in a situation in which the world's needs require entirely different expenditure.

8. The limited effectiveness of military means to bring about peace and security transpires most emphatically from what is said in paragraph 8 of the government's letter ('Afghanistan'). The investments which the Netherlands continues to contribute to the Afghan security sector disappear (and have disappeared) in a bottomless pit. There are other and better possibilities to give form and content to international solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.

We hope that you will want to consider these points in your consideration of the Dutch contribution to the NATO summit of the coming weekend in Warsaw. It may well be that this summit will have vast consequences for the security situation in Europe in the near future.

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