Submitted by George Callaghan…
NATO was founded to oppose a country and an ideology that no longer exist. There is no Soviet Union and there is no communism anymore. So why does NATO exist?
Russia is the principal successor state of the USSR. But Russia has only half the population of the USSR. It does not espouse a Marxist-Leninist philosophy. Flights between London and Moscow are full several times a day. There need be no bad feeling between the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation. NATO still perceives itself as an anti-Russian alliance.
No one has ever claimed that Russia has ever even dreamt of taking an inch of British soil. No Russian soldier has ever set foot in the United Kingdom unless he has was invited. British troops intervened in Russia in 1918. I bet you never learnt that in school! The UK also fought Russia in 1853 over Crimea of all places.
Should Crimea be part of Russia or Ukraine? It makes not a jot of difference to me. I have never been there nor am I likely to go. Why would I care what flag flies over it? NATO is squaring up to Russia over this far away peninsula of which we know little.
With Brexit in the offing it is time for a complete rethink. Why is the UK part of this alliance that was founded in 1949? Does NATO enhance peace? Or does it start wars of aggression? The bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 was held by most jurists to be unlawful. Aerial assault on Libya in 2011 was also a NATO operation. The fratricidal turmoil that still reigns in Libya is testimony to the unpardonable folly of NATO’s misconceived intervention. No more flights of ill-judged Gladstonian rhetoric. No more flights of bombers either please.
NATO was founded in 1949. It was based on the premise that the USSR was resolved to start a Third World War. After twenty-five million Soviets gave their lives the country had no desire to start another war. The USSR was also in no fit state to start such a war. The presence of American troops close to the USSR in peacetime made the Soviets think that the United States was plotting to invade them as the United States had done in 1918.
The UK is a medium sized country in population with 70 000 000 people. Its land area of 240 000 km squared is not large. But the UK is not vulnerable as a set of islands.
There are two defence policies a country can have. Either be part of a puissant alliance or else be neutral.
Look at the Republic of Ireland. We became independent in 1921. Since then Irish policy has been one of neutrality. This was observed scrupulously at times. In recent decades this has become something of a fiction as we joined the European Union. The EU is ever more militarized and pugnacious. Nonetheless the pretence of neutrality has served the Irish State fairly well. No one has ever invaded us despite our tiny army of 8 000 soldiers and our lack of any heavy equipment.
If the Republic of Ireland can be safe with 8 000 soldiers how safe can the UK be with 80 000? The UK has nuclear weapons. No one has ever invaded a nuclear weapons state and no one ever shall.
After the Second World War the United States refused to share nuclear weapons technology. The UK had given the Americans radar free of charge. British scientists had done most of the early work on nuclear weapons. They gave the United States their findings gratis.
The United Kingdom has followed America almost slavishly into conflict after conflict. Korea, Lebanon, Somalia, Syria, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and where is next? The UK has fought alongside the United States in almost every conflict except Vietnam.
The idea was that the UK has to keep America onside. How has the United States repaid this unstinting loyalty and obeisance? The US slaps Britain in the face and Britain say ‘thank you, sir’. Suez, Northern Ireland, the Falklands and Grenada: in each of these cases Washington did what is could to undermine Britain.
The United States adamantly opposed the British intervention to protect the UK’s possession: the Suez Canal. You might think the British action was stupid and illegal. But America’s reaction was not one of an ally. Washington took the side of Egypt which was a Soviet ally! With friends like these….
Unlike the Americans the Soviets looked out for their allies.
A conflict erupted in Northern Ireland in 1969. The causes are too complex to elucidate there. The situation was hugely aggravated by funding and arms for terrorists sent by people in the United States. The US Government was very tardy and inefficient in clamping down on weapons smuggling. IRA and INLA men went on the run in the US. They were never extradited to the United Kingdom. What kind of ally shelters such people? The IRA and INLA were both far left organisations that were totally against America’s foreign policy. Indeed the INLA was Marxist. Yet so many Americans took their side against the UK. Was it marginal figures who advocated for the IRA? One of them was Joe Biden – probably the next President of the United States.
The US did the Republic of Ireland a tremendous disservice by conniving at arms smuggling. The IRA and INLA killed people and robbed banks in the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Government had its work cut out trying to combat these terrorists. But your average IRA supporter in Boston would not realise that. The conflict hugely polarized opinion in Ireland. It exacerbated anglophobia in Ireland and hibernophobia in Great Britain.
A celebrated Irish historian Dr Edward Burke proved that US sailors actively assisted the IRA during the conflict. The US Navy had a base in Northern Ireland at the time.
What was this hyper-nationalist movement that so many American politicians sympathized with? It was the IRA. It was not widely understood that the IRA killed hundreds of Protestants for their faith. It was just like the loyalist terrorist outfits who killed Catholics. Would these Americans – many of them Protestants – like the IRA to be doing this in the United States? The IRA was also an open ally of the PLO whom the United States reviles. The IRA was a key ally of FARC – the Colombian Marxist narco terrorists with a penchant for kidnapping Americans. The United States preferred these people to its supposed ‘ally’?
Nonetheless Washington weighed in on the Irish nationalist side. The US pressured the UK to make concessions to Irish nationalism. So much for non-interference in domestic politics. Can you imagine if the UK meddled in America’s domestic controversies? The reaction would be apoplectic. What is this alliance? Principle One of an alliance is respect for the ally’s territorial integrity. If you do not have that then you do not have an alliance.
What had the Republic of Ireland done to deserve such assistance from the US? Not a single Irish soldier fought alongside the US. Eire was not a member of NATO. Eire did not host US bases. Dublin usually did not vote the US way in the United Nations. The Republic of Ireland made up a minute fraction of US trade. The British did all these things for the United States. What did the UK get in gratitude? Animosity and arm twisting from her ally.
In 1982 the Argentines invaded the Falklands. The United States dithered. Despite the supposed love in between President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher the US would not unequivocally back the British.
Elizabeth II is Queen of Grenada. The UK was not even consulted over the American invasion of Grenada. It was acutely embarrassing for the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister of Grenada was Maurice Bishop. He had been warmly received the Queen and Margaret Thatcher. He was shot dead by America’s acolytes.
The UK has been fighting in Afghanistan for 18 years. Why? Because the United States invoked the article of the NATO charter which compelled other member states to come to her aid. After 500 British deaths and countless billions of pounds down the drain NATO has lost. It has been an ignominious defeat. NATO is based on a bogus premise. NATO is also a loser. What does Britain gain from NATO? Why should the UK care about the internal affairs of Afghanistan? Afghanistan has not been successfully invaded for centuries. Perhaps it is time to get out of the graveyard of empires.
In Afghanistan the situation was the theatre of the absurd. NATO was fighting the Taleban. A key plank of NATO’s mission was to prevent the heroin trade. NATO was a firm ally of the Afghan Government which was mostly made up of heroin barons. Heroin production increased exponentially during NATO’s presence. It was the exact opposite of NATO’s object. At the same time the United States provide billions of dollars of military aid and hardware to Pakistan. The Pakistanis used the money and arms to pay and equip the Taleban to go and kill NATO soldiers. Oh what a lovely war!
The military-industrial complex is making a mint off these forever wars. Nice work if you can get it!
More than one British soldier told me he saw millions of dollars being handed over to an Afghan provincial governor by British officials. It was Danegeld. The NATO counties paid the Taleban not to fight. At least not for now in that province. They would use the money for salaries and arms to kill NATO troops in the next door province.
Under Blair the UK signed a new extradition treaty with the United States. Britons could be easily extradited to the US but Americans could not be so easily sent the other way. It was the depths of national humiliation.
What about the special relationship? It might be special to a deluded Atlanticist in Britain. But enough about Tony Blair. As George Galloway said the UK’s relationship to the US is Monica Lewinsky to Bill Clinton. Personally I am gagging already. My gullet is too shallow for Uncle Sam. Up off our knees!
The special relationship is almost never mentioned in the US. Americans often say Israel is their dearest friend. The UK is not even in the ha’penny place. Israel does nothing for the United States and gets everything. With the UK it is the other way around. Are we crazy? The special relationship is a merry dance across the graves of British soldiers.
Despite Donald Trump being half British he has made no attempt to conceal his contempt for the UK. He has been clear and consistent that the UK can expect no favours from him. On the other hand he ‘loves’ North Korea which has done so much for America? Is there something I am missing here?
The United States has often proved to be a faithless ally. This is despite the UK affording her military bases. By contrast the UK was saved by Russia in 1812, in 1916 and in 1942.
You might say that Russia has squared up the UK. Yes, that is so but only because the United Kingdom is an American air base. Think back prior to 1941. The USSR offered an alliance in 1938. Before the October Revolution the UK and Russia were allies much of the time. It could be that again. Or the United Kingdom could simply adopt a neutral stance. Don’t poke out nose into other people’s affairs.
The UK does not need to become a Russian ally. The United Kingdom ought to consider becoming a supersized Switzerland. She can trade with every other countries. She should remain neutral and avoid war. Switzerland has no natural resources. It has many geographic disadvantages. Her Switzerland’s extraordinary prosperity is due to one policy: peace.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.