On the war path (5). NATO Summit in Warsaw

This article is a translation of "Op oorlogspad (5) De NAVO-top in Warschau"

11 November last year we presented a petition to the Permanent Committee on Defence in the Second Chamber against the planned rise in Dutch defence expenditure, on behalf a large number of peace organisations and activists. Socialist Party defence specialist Jasper van Dijk helped prepare this visit. We brought a large map depicting expenditure per country that showed that the supposed Russian threat was not based on a worrisome defence budget. And that was before Moscow announced that this year that budget would be reduced by ten percent as a consequence of falling oil prices and economic warfare by the West.

In the picture (by Joël van Dooren) on the left, committee chairman Han ten Broeke, Peter van Griensven holding up the map, and the undersigned explaining it.

In the discussion we had afterwards with several members of parliament, we soon agreed that the threat indeed had little to do with a shortfall in defence expenditure, because the European NATO states already much more than Russia. However, it was a matter of agreements and these, we were told, have to be honoured.

The NATO summit that will be held in Warsaw on 8 and 9 July will therefore not be about a real threat, because militarily NATO's power is overwhelming. But the countries that set the agenda for the alliance, the US first of all, themselves intervene in or even create conflicts (intervention in Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq, intervention in Libya, support for jihad in Syria, and support for anti-Russian ultras in Ukraine) and the instability this leads to is then presented as a threat.

After the statements by the German foreign minister, Steinmeier, that large-scale military exercises close to the Russian border (most recently, 'Anaconda', in which 31,000 NATO soldiers took part) only increase tensions, it is obvious that everyone with sympathy for NATO is now called on to present the 'threat' as a clear and present danger. And who knows we can still arrange a nice incident that will work to shut up voices like Steinmeier's.

The Dutch Protestant daily, Trouw, for instance, in its edition of today, 5 July, makes its contribution with a report over several pages entitled 'Joint guard duty'. It deals with the dangers to which the Baltic states are supposedly exposed. No, not the rehabilitation of ex-Nazi's and SS men in those countries, who have their regular marches, or the risks of withholding civil rights from the Russian minorities in notably Estonia and Latvia (24 and 29 percent, respectively). Last May surveys revealed that 80 to 90 percent of ethnic Latvians and Estonians think there are too many Russians and that they should be deported to Russia. That means, ethnic cleansing.

Instead the aforementioned daily produces a report of the RAND Corporation (the think tank of the American aerospace industry, but that is not mentioned) explaining that the military balance on the Baltic-Russian border is in favour of Russia. Of course a large map is adduced to illustrate. Would anyone really have expected that there would have been more British and Americans troops on that border, plus of course the small armies of these new NATO and EU member states themselves, than Russian military in Russia?

We are once again on the war path, sailing along with NATO propaganda about an imminent large Russian invasion.

In reality we must fear growing tensions with the large Russian minorities in these countries, which also happen to be concentrated in the cities. Their rights are still being negated and even further restricted. A new language law in Latvia for instance prescribes the use of Latvian in Russian-language secondary schools.

So there is sufficient danger, but not the danger of a Russian invasion but of ethnic tensions caused by anti-Russian nationalism. Military posturing by NATO is meant to provide cover for that policy. So on to Warsaw!

Kees van der Pijl

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