Why I Am Protesting at the NATO Summit
I am convinced that we are at one of those pivotal moments like the 1930s or the 1960s when the general public has been awakened to the fact that something is very wrong. It is why I support the Occupy movement and why I am going to Chicago in May. Here is a rather long and involved statement of my position on the NATO summit.
The US invocation of Article 5 in response to the attacks of 9-11 was not consistent with the purposes of the North Atlantic Treaty and the commitments that that invocation of the treaty must now be ended by ending the war in Afghanistan.
The North Atlantic Treaty lays out its formal purpose in Article 1 and Article 2:
The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.
Article 5 provides a recipe for unending war because of the way it is constructed:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.
“Security Council” is taken to mean UN Security Council. And notice that it is not when the Security Council declares an end to hostilities but when the Security Council acts to maintain international peace and security. Do you see any problem with that arrangement? Has it ever worked to increase stability and promote peace?
So what was the problem with the US invocation of Article 5 after 9-11? It obligated 27 countries who weren’t attacked to support the US strategy for a particular and self-defeating response and inserted into the conflict in Afghanistan countries whose people were very much opposed to a warfare response in Afghanistan (and who probably had a better understanding of Afghanistan than did US soldiers). The fact that it was a rude imposition of US interests on its allies that is the primary reason that those allies should insist that the war in Afghanistan come to an end sooner instead of later.
The formal end to the war in Iraq and the coming end (one way or another) to the war in Afghanistan provide an opportunity that was missed at the end of the Cold War. It is time to end the 65-year-old now-antiquated complex of US national security institutions and replace them with a more limited means of national defense both in scope of responsibility and in cost to the taxpayer.
This is personal. I was conceived shortly before the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have lived my entire life in a garrison state, and so have you. I don’t want my children and grandchildren to live in a world threatened by nuclear war, conventional war, or asymmetric warfare. As we approach the end of the recent round of cynical stupidity, it is time to demand change.
The culture of militarism waxes and wanes but it is constantly promoted. Veterans organizations that once were interested in World War I being the last war now cheerlead every opportunity for additional warfare. The symbols of patriotism have become so inextricably bound up with militarism that dishonoring the flag (a symbolic piece of cloth after all) has become a protest of endless war. People who are on the fence need to see that there are a large number of patriotic Americans who want and end to America’s permanent state of war.
The world spends $1.5T or so a year for militaries. NATO countries account for two-thirds of those expenditures. US expenditures account for 70% of NATO expenditures or roughly half of total global military expenditures.
Global GDP is $79T. So military expenditures are around 2% of global GDP. The US spends around 5% of GDP. The really big spenders are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Israel, Chad, and Eritrea.
The top 15 spenders in order are:
1. United States (NATO)
3. United Kingdom (NATO)
4. France (NATO)
6. Japan (US ally)
7. Saudi Arabia (US ally)
8. Germany (NATO)
10. Italy (NATO)
12. South Korea (US ally)
13. Australia (US ally)
14. Canada (NATO)
15. Turkey (NATO)
The US provides around $5B in foreign military financing of arms purchases a year. The recipients of aid (2008 figures) in order were: Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Colombia, Poland, Phillipines, Bahrain, Turkey, Oman, Romania, Morocco, Georgia, Ukraine, El Salvador, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yemen, Tunisia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Czech Republic, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Albania, Mongolia, Hungary, Liberia, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Panama, Nigeria, Indonesia, East Timor, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Haiti, Dominican Republic, “Eastern Caribbean”, Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Chile, Tajikistan, Senegal, Moldova, Ghana, Slovenia, Fiji, Turkmenistan, Tonga, Belize, Suriname, Guyana, Bahamas, Sudan, South Africa, Peru, Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, Guinea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Argentina. These funds are of course subsidies or grants for purchase of US-made military equipment. Tell me how this makes the world safer. Is military hardware the only thing that the US has comparative advantage in trade for, and then only after subsidies?
The US Intelligence Community comprises sixteen publicly-known agencies:
Central Intelligence Agency
Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency
Army Intelligence and Security Command
Defense Intelligence Agency
Marine Corps Intelligence Agency
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
National Reconnaissance Office
National Security Agency
Office of Naval Intelligence
Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, US Department of Energy
Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Department of Homeland Security
Coast Guard Intelligence
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Drug Enforcement Administration
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State
Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Department of Treasury
Apparently all of the rest sprung up because CIA, the unified intelligence successor to the World War II OSS, was not “serving its customers”. The intelligence community budget outside of military intelligence was declared as roughly $50B, about one-twelfth of the total national security budget. About 70% of this $50B goes for contractors and vendors of technology.
So as intelligence agencies have metastasized in the US government, the use of private contracting has also metastasized.
And what is their mission? Executive Order 12333, issued by Ronald Reagan in 1981 defines the mission as:
(a) Collection of information needed by the President, the National Security Council, the Secretaries of State and Defense, and other Executive Branch officials for the performance of their duties and responsibilities;
(b) Production and dissemination of intelligence;
(c) Collection of information concerning, and the conduct of activities to protect against, intelligence activities directed against the United States, international terrorist and international narcotics activities, and other hostile activities directed against the United States by foreign powers, organizations, persons, and their agents;
(d) Special activities [sic, undefined];
(e) Administrative and support activities within the United States and abroad necessary for the performance of authorized activities; and
(f) Such other intelligence activities as the President may direct from time to time.
Emphasis added. “Hostile activities” by “organizations, persons, and their agents” is a pretty broad and dangerous mandate. Who decides what is “against the United States”? Who decides what is a “hostile activity”? And who decides which organizations, persons, and their agents are of interest? This goes way beyond the concern for foreign powers traditionally the focus of intelligence activities.
All of this was set in motion by the National Security Act of 1947. That act set out to central control of the armed forces across the two major services (Army, the War Department and Navy, the Department of the Navy) and the two minor services that saw an increased role in World War II (the Army’s Air Corps and the Navy’s Marines). It combined the departments into the Department of Defense, created a National Security Council in the President’s office, created a central intelligence agency, and created a joint council of military chiefs-of-staff (Joint Chiefs of Staff). But inter-agency rivalries continued and that structure metastasized as well.
In 1947, the other two pillars of Truman’s Cold War national security architecture were the Truman Doctrine (part of an address on the situation in Greece and Turkey in 1947) and the Marshall Plan (economic assistance to rebuild Europe). Both of those doctrines must be revisited in light of the failure of similar strategies in wars of counterinsurgency.
One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the war with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won over countries which sought to impose their will, and their way of life, upon other nations.
To ensure the peaceful development of nations, free from coercion, the United States has taken a leading part in establishing the United Nations. The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members. We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free peoples to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes. This is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed upon free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States.
The peoples of a number of countries of the world have recently had totalitarian regimes forced upon them against their will. The Government of the United States has made frequent protests against coercion and intimidation, in violation of the Yalta agreement, in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. I must also state that in a number of other countries there have been similar developments.
At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.
One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.
The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.
I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.
No matter how well-intended, that doctrine has caused no end of mischief over the past 65 years.
It is also time to revisit the real Marshall Plan and not the nostalgic or critical myths that surround it. Ludwig Erhard disliked it. Walter LeFeber criticized it at the turn of the 1960s for being economic imperialism. Ludwig von Mises criticized it for masking the socialist policies that European governments were initiating. Reviews of subsequent economic development aid and loans show that aid and loans in general are used wastefully and self-servingly by government officials. Noam Chomsky argues that the funds that went to France and Netherlands substituted for funds those countries used to re-establish their colonial rule in Indochina and Indonesia.
The Marshall Plan is what folks today would point to as “soft power”. That framing of what was seen popularly in 1947 as American generosity should be troubling enough to merit serious reconsideration of economic aid.
The trend toward private contractors for national security activities must end and existing private military contractors and mercenary armies be disbanded.
The International Peace Institute has a study Five Blueprints for Regulating the Global Security Industry. Why regulation? What appears to be the case is that the International Peace Institute is concerned about workers in global economic development projects, who depend on private security company protection where governments are unwilling or unable to protect them.
But private military and security contractors are building capabilities as private armies, which should worry citizens. Who guards the guardians when they are a corporation hired by your own government? Or an influential private corporation?
And how do you downsize private military and security companies with guys whose skill is only military and police work? What do they do if they don’t find work? Somehow the idea of an SEC-type organization to regulate these companies doesn’t make sense. And why not an end to private military contracting according to the International Peace Institute? The contractors themselves and their (well-lobbied?) home countries object to framing them as the mercenary armies without loyalties that they are. And if that’s the best that the peace veal pen can do, it is time to raise some serious questions in protest. Where better than at the NATO summit.
As American hegemony recedes, a system of global order must evolve to replace it. That system must reduce the level of violence, not increase it and must not result in replacing one hegemony by another.
Those of you celebrating the decline of US power need to check your enthusiasm. It’s time we all had a serious talk. What takes the place of American hegemony? Better said, what are the characteristics of a practical system of global order that encourages a build-down of weapons, a civilianization of militaries, and a lowering of violence. (Yeah, after the Revolution.)
There are some possibilities for a post-American Century world. Each of them has their security challenges and benefits.
The obvious successor: another country or bloc of countries attains hegemony over the global order. As France, UK, America rose to power and declined, this view assert the inevitability a hegemon moved further westward. China is often mentioned as the most likely but it is not the only possible hegemonist. Exactly how would a Chinese or other hegemony differ from the current US one?
A second possibility are new regional alignments that are in continual conflict. You have that potential in the interaction between NATO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Union of South American Nations, and the African Union. All of these have some degree of collective military policy currently and could develop stronger internal ties and a more integrated military.
A third possibility is a strengthened global collective security organization — i.e. a stronger UN with a more effective Security Council operation.
A fourth is chaos. An increase in organized crime, piracy, and political terrorism as a result of the reduction of American power. Analysts see the eruption of piracy off the Somali coast as an example of that.
A fifth is rapid devolution into subregions – independence for Scotland, Catalan, Tibet, and how many more, including the devolution of national power in the US, the Russian Federation, China, India. A localism that has some sort of cultural ties.
A sixth is rapid devolution into city states. The ultimate localism.
A seventh is some sort of balance of power among possible hegemonists that allows for a build-down of weapons and a high degree of self-determination for smaller nations just from the competitive pressures of the balance of power. There are any number of patterns of regional and global powers that could arrive at this condition. The problem is keeping its stability.
The People’s Summit during the week before the NATO summit provides a good opportunity to begin to discuss what a demilitarized world order might look like. And what it would take to get there.
NATO might be a part of the creation of that system of global order, but not with its increase in armaments and capabilities that increases the range and reduces the cost of violence. And the contribution that NATO can make can only occur when it is not dominated by US national interests in the expansion of the military-intelligence-security industrial complex and policies that abet that.
Whatever the shape of the emerging global order, it will have some form of collective security if it is not to become a chaotic war of all against all. Hans Morgenthau was a “realist” analyst of international relations in the sense of this quotation by him:
The statesman must think in terms of the national interest, conceived as power among other powers. The popular mind, unaware of the fine distinctions of the statesman’s thinking, reasons more often than not in the simple moralistic and legalistic terms of absolute good and absolute evil.
He listed three pre-requisites for collective security (as opposed to every nation for itself) to be able to prevent war:
The collective security system must be able to assemble military force in strength greatly in excess to that assembled by the aggressor(s) thereby deterring the aggressor(s) from attempting to change the world order defended by the collective security system.
Those nations, whose combined strength would be used for deterrence as mentioned in the first prerequisite, should have identical beliefs about the security of the world order that the collective is defending.
Nations must be willing to subordinate their conflicting interests to the common good defined in terms of the common defence of all member-states.
I highlighted what I think to be the critical issue that we face in looking at war and peace in 2012. What are the minimum common beliefs about the security of the post-American world order? The commonality of beliefs is why the UN does not work well and why NATO does. (Maybe NATO in terms of war and peace works too well on war and not well enough on peace.)
However realistic Morgenthau was about 1948 (interestingly, the year after the passage of the National Security Act of 1947), we cannot survive the conventional interplay of “power among other powers” nor the statesman who thinks in terms of national interest alone instead of global public interest (or however you choose to talk about taking seriously responsibility for global security against state-caused violence). Realism means something different today, something that must take into account the presence of enough nuclear weapons (still!) between the US and Russia to destroy human civilization, human life on earth, and possibly life on earth (don’t underestimate the cockroaches). Realism must operate within a global context for the real interests of humans collectively and not a parochial context.
So what does it mean to be realistic about the global interest over against the system of powers against powers?
And protest the fact that we are not yet having that conversation transparently anywhere in the system of international organizations. Including the G8. Including NATO.
That’s why I protest. That is why I’m going to Chicago in May.