Chomsky - Disband NATO
It's been over 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell, yet the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), a military group which was originally created to defend Western Europe from Russia, continues to exist, with 28 member states pledged to collectively defend one another in the face of outside aggression.
MIT linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky thinks it's time to disband the organization, which he believes is now an "international intervention force" that only exists to project U.S. military power on the other side of the globe.
"The official purpose of NATO was to defend Europe from the Russian hordes," Chomsky told Big Think. "With the Russian hordes gone, it should therefore have disbanded. Interestingly, that was not even seriously proposed. Rather, NATO at once expanded to the East, in violation of pledges to Mikhail Gorbachev. ... And since then its mission has expanded worldwide, serving as a U.S. intervention force, and to secure the global energy system on which the West relies."
In a 2009 video interview with Democracy Now!, Chomsky detailed how a succession of U.S. presidents has expanded NATO eastward, despite these assurances to Gorbachev: "Now we have to have a huge military establishment and military budget, and not to protect ourselves from the Russians, who are collapsing, but because—literally, because of the technological sophistication of third world powers," said Chomsky in the interview. He derided the idea that Third World technology could warrant NATO's continuing existence, and worried that the organization's push to expand is part of an energy grab.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.), another voice in favor of disbanding NATO, told the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 that the only gains from NATO's expansion would be for the U.S. military industrial complex—which would profit from arms sales to new members. He also warned that providing U.S. military guarantees to Eastern European republics would only further strain our military: "
This NATO expansion may well involve the U.S. military in conflicts as unrelated to our national interest as the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia," said Paul in a statement. "The idea that American troops might be forced to fight and die to prevent a small section of Georgia from seceding is absurd and disturbing. ... NATO should be disbanded, not expanded."
NATO's first Secretary General, Lord Ismay famously said after the organization was formed in 1949 that its purpose was to "keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." In a post-Cold War world, these goals are long gone and the organization's annual budget of over $2.5 billion simply goes toward asserting U.S. military power in Europe and securing our energy interests, says Chomsky.
Why We Should Reject This
Alain Deletroz, the vice president of the International Crisis Group, a non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict, calls it a paradox that some in the West should want to disband NATO right at the moment that the organization has become so attractive to former Warsaw Pact members. He says NATO has "splendidly served two very important goals: a) to protect western Europe during the Cold War; b) to help stabilize the continent after it was over."
Deletroz admits that NATO needs to redefine its mission, and suggests the organization should open its doors to Russia, saying "NATO membership has proved a powerful tool for military and political reforms in all new member states and if Russia wants to join the alliance it will have to reform its armed forces and set upon them a system of real democratic control."
He believes NATO can continue to be vital as "a military alliance that can play a crucial role in deploying quickly where needed to prevent conflicts or keep peace, with common criteria of engagements among member states."
David Hirschman on August 27, 2010, 12:00 AM
Nato air strike 'kills nine civilians'
05.03.07. Guardian. Two incidents involving US forces have left around 19 Afghan civilians dead since yesterday, prompting furious protests against the US and Nato. . In the first incident, up to 10 civilians were killed as a convoy of US marines fled after being attacked by a suicide bomber in a minivan in eastern Nangarhar province yesterday. … Then today Afghan officials said nine civilians had been killed after a Nato air strike hit a house during a firefight between US forces and militants, killing nine Afghans who lived there. … A count by the Associated Press, based on reports from Afghan, Nato and coalition officials, puts the overall civilian death toll in 2006 at 834, most from militant attacks. See also NASDAQ. story .
Investigation Into Afghan Deaths
05.03.07. BBC / Truthout. Afghan authorities have launched an investigation into the circumstances of a militant attack on a US Marine convoy in which eight civilians died. Thousands of local people took to the streets on Sunday to protest against the incident, accusing the Americans of deliberately firing on the civilians.
16 Civilians Killed as U.S. Troops Fire on Afghan Road
05.03.07. C. Gall, NY Times. American troops opened fire on a highway filled with civilian cars and bystanders on Sunday, American and Afghan officials said, in an incident that the Americans said left 16 civilians dead and 24 wounded after a suicide car bombing in eastern Afghanistan. One American was also wounded.
Report: Officers withheld Tillman death details
23.03.07. nfl. A Pentagon investigation will recommend that nine officers, including up to four generals, be held accountable for missteps in the aftermath of the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, senior defense officials said.
Statement on the Pentagon Briefing on Investigations of Pat Tillman's Death By Friendly Fire
27.03.07.Tillman family statement, Counterpunch.
Congressman Requests Hearing Into Tillman's Death
Tillman case could bring punishments
28.03.07. AP / local news watch. Two generals singled out for blame in the Pat Tillman case have retired since the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan , but they remain within reach of the military justice system.
Top general tried to warn Bush on Tillman
31.03.07. AP / USA Today/legitgov. General Sought to Warn Bush Not to Say Tillman Died in an Enemy Ambush. Just seven days after Pat Tillman's death, a top general warned there were strong indications that it was friendly fire and President [sic] Bush might embarrass himself if he said the NFL star-turned-soldier died in an ambush, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. It was not until a month afterward that the Pentagon told the public and grieving family members the truth that Tillman was mistakenly killed in Afghanistan by his comrades. The memo reinforces suspicions that the Pentagon was more concerned with sparing officials from embarrassment than with leveling with Tillman's family.
Tillman Probe: No Criminal Negligence
01.04.07. CBS. Army and Defense Department investigators said that officers looking into the incident passed along misleading and inaccurate information and delayed reporting their belief that Tillman was killed by fellow Rangers. The investigators recommended the Army take action against the officers. Among those blamed were the three-star general in charge of Army special operations as well as Tillman's regimental commander.
Iraq To Sue US, Britain Over Depleted Uranium Bombs » Depleted Uranium
A True Weapon Of Mass Destruction
Depleted uranium is a waste obtained from producing fuel for nuclear
reactors and atomic bombs. The material used in civil and nuclear military
industry is uranium U-235, the isotope which can be fissioned. Since this
isotope is found in very low proportions in nature, the uranium ore has to
be enriched, i.e., its proportion of the U-235 isotope has to be
industrially increased. This pocess produces a large amount of radioactive
depleted uranium waste, thus named because it is mainly formed by the other
non-fissionable uranium isotope, U-238 and a minimum proportion of U-235.
American military industry has been using depleted uranium to coat
conventional weaponry (artillery, tanks and aircraft) since 1977, to
protect its own tanks, as a counterweight in aircraft and Tomahawk missiles
and as a component for navigation instruments. This is due to depleted
uranium having characteristics making it highly attractive for military
technology: firstly, it is extremely dense and heavy (1 cm3 weighs almost
19 grammes), such that projectiles with a depleted uranium head can
penetrate the armoured steel of military vehicles and buildings; secondly,
it is a spontaneous pyrophoric material, i.e., it inflames when reaching
its target generating such heat that it explodes.
After more than 50 years producing atomic weapons and nuclear energy, the
USA has 500,000 tonnes of depleted uranium stored, according to official
data. Depleted uranium is radioactive also and has an average lifetime of
4.5 thousand million years. This is why such waste has to be stored safely
for an indefinite period of time, an extremely costly procedure. In order
to save money and empty their tanks, the Department of Defence and Energy
assigns depleted uranium free of charge to national and foreign armament
companies. Apart from the USA, countries like the United Kingdom, France,
Canada, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Gulf monarchies, Taiwan, South
Korea, Pakistan or Japan purchase or manufacture weapons with depleted
When a projectile hits a target, 70% of its depleted uranium burns
and oxidizes, bursting into highly toxic, radioactive micro particles.
Being so tiny, these particles can be ingested or inhaled after being
deposited on the ground or carried kilometres away by the wind, the food
chain or water. A 1995 technical report issued by the American Army
indicates that "if depleted uranium enters the body, it has the
potentiality of causing serious medical consequences. The associated risk
is both chemical and radiological". Deposited in the lungs or kidneys,
uranium 238 and products from its decay (thorium 234, protactinium and
other uranium isotopes) give off alpha and beta radiations which cause cell
death and genetic mutations causing cancer in exposed individuals and
genetic abnormalities in their descendents over the years.
In its 110,000 air raids against Iraq, the US A-10 Warthog aircraft
launched 940,000 depleted uranium projectiles, and in the land
offensive, its M60, M1 and M1A1 tanks fired a further 4,000 larger caliber
also uranium projectiles.
It is estimated that there are 300 tonnes of radioactive waste in the area
which might have already affected 250,000 Iraqis.
After the Gulf War, Iraqi and international epidemiological
investigations have enabled the environmental pollution due to using this
kind of weapon to be associated with the appearance of new, very difficult
to diagnose diseases (serious immunodeficiencies, for instance) and the
spectacular increase in congenital malformations and cancer, both in the
Iraqi population and amongst several thousands of American and British
veterans and in their children, a clinical condition known as Gulf War
Syndrome. Similar symptoms to those of the Gulf War have been described
amongst a thousand children residing in areas of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia)
where American aviation also used depleted uranium bombs in 1996, the same
as in the NATO intervention against the Yugoslavia in 1999.