“NATO should have been dissolved with the Soviet bloc.”

Interview with Gabriel Galice*, economist and political scientist, Bern

NATO, founded to combat communism, should have disappeared at the same time as the USSR, says Gabriel Galice, President of the “International Peace Research Institute” (GIPRI) in Geneva. Instead, he regrets, the military organization has become the armed division of the United States.

Echo Magazine: In your opinion, the organisation of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) should have been dissolved long ago. Why?

Gabriel Galice: Because the enemy it was supposed to fight against does no longer exist.

What do you mean by that?

The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949. Its political-military organisation, NATO, was formed the following year by a dozen states, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy and France, in order to ward off an attack by the Soviet Union. However, this threat disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991.

In concrete terms, who was NATO’s enemy?

The Warsaw Pact. This military alliance was founded in 1955 as a reaction to the expansion of NATO, that had incorporated Turkey, Greece and West Germany. It was founded under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, then First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and brought together the USSR, the People’s Republics of Eastern Europe and the GDR. It was dissolved six months before the actual collapse of the USSR on 1 July 1991.

Why was NATO not dissolved at that time?

There was a moment of uncertainty about how to proceed. This was echoed by a statement of a former NATO admiral: “We tried to replace NATO by something else, but we found nothing”. Russia had tried to get closer to its neighbours by, among other things, proposing the “Common House of Europe ” before the fall of the wall in 1989. Some have considered rebuilding the Alliance by involving the former Soviet power. A Nato-Russia Council was even set up. Anyway, one has worked on it. Until the strong trends regained the upper hand.

What does that mean?

By this I mean the pressure from oil lobbies and the war industry, the struggle for control of natural resources, etc. At the end of the nineties, the leaders of the military alliance, which was under pressure from the US government, decided to expand to Eastern Europe in order to bring the Atlantic troops dangerously close to the Russian border. The former president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev described this decision in a book published a few days ago as “the greatest strategic mistake of the West”.

What is so worrying about NATO’s enlargement if its goal is to secure peace and stability in the world?

Peace is entrusted to diplomats, not to soldiers! I doubt that the Afghan, Iraqi and Serbian populations consider NATO as a factor of stability. Thousands of people have died in all the regions where their troops have intervened.
And yet the military organisation continues to grow. It extends on the Baltic and eastern countries and now has
29 members ...
By considering NATO, which has just celebrated its 70th anniversary, as a shield against communism, its constant expansion after the fall of the Soviet Empire is incomprehensible. On the other hand, by regarding this military superpower as what it has become, an instrument of American hegemony, everything becomes clear.

An instrument of American hegemony?

NATO’s headquarters is in Brussels, right. But 70% of the budget of this army of 3 million men in active service are financed by the Americans. This is followed by Great Britain (6.2 %), France (5 %), Italy (2.5 %), Canada (2.1 %) ... It is no secret: this army, which is the most powerful in the world is controlled by the United States.

But what do the thinking heads of the greatest world power say, such as the influential American analyst Thomas Friedman, an advocate of globalisation?

“The hidden hand of the global market would never work without the hidden fist. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps […].” It is clear that globalisation goes hand in hand with a military organisation for the conquest of populations and territories.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall this hidden fist is again turning towards Russia ...

Yes. The NATO is now besieging Russia. This is not good for peace – we have seen it in Georgia, Ukraine, in the Crimea, but also in Syria. Common and united defence (of the free world, of the democracies) was replaced by the concept of security. Much more vague, this concept allows American troops to intervene anywhere, anytime, and far beyond the North Atlantic. The mere threat to a supply source of an Alliance member may justify an attack. If China desires oil in Nigeria, this may be a reason for intervention. This alliance, no longer defensive but offensive, is a threat to peace.

Does the NATO have a counterweight today?

Yes, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established in response to its expansion. This military and economic alliance, signed in 2001 between Vladimir Putin and former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, also includes four Central Asian countries (see box). With the accession of the Indian giant and its Pakistani neighbour in 2016, the number of members rose to ten. These are two more nuclear powers, to which about a dozen partner and observer states have been added, including Turkey (NATO member!) and Iran. Through the SCO, China and Russia stand together against the USA and NATO.

Does Europe have any leeway for manoeuvring between the SCO and NATO?

We must do everything in our power to escape this double grip – to preserve our independence, but also because Chinese and Americans could agree at our expense. We must approach the Russians, who reach out to us and who feel European, even if they are allied with the Chinese. So let us be reasonable, let us take this opportunity to move closer to Moscow. That would be better for Europe and for the global balance.    •

(Interview Cedric Reichenbach)

* Gabriel Galice is President of GIPRI and author of “Lettres helvètes 2010-2014”.

Source: Echo Magazine, No 45, 7 November 2019, www.echomagazine.ch

(Translation Current Concerns)

North Atlantic Treaty (NATO): USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, Iceland (1949). Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017).

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (2001), India and Pakistan (2016) as well as some ten partner and observer states, including Turkey and Iran.