The Guardian June 16, 1999


NATO's "humanitarian" record is not so proud

by Libero Della Piana,
member of the Young Communist League, USA The bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO countries was justified by reference to NATO's "tradition of democracy" and "mandate to defend humanitarianism in Europe".
One has only to look at the internal record of the NATO "democracies" to reveal the lie of their humanitarian cloak. Portugal is a perfect case in point. Portugal, with the fascist dictator Salazar at the helm of the State, was a founding member of NATO in 1949. Salazar then and revisionist historians now attempted to recast Portuguese fascism as a neutral player in World War II, trading with both Axis and Allies. In reality, Salazar's regime was cut from the same cloth as Nazi Germany and Fascist Spain and Italy. Within Portugal, up until the Portuguese Revolution of April 25, 1974, Salazar and his cronies tortured and killed thousands, focusing their wrath on the communist anti-fascists. There was no freedom of the press nor of assembly; there were not even the vestiges of democracy. Externally, Portuguese colonial policy was ruthless. Bloody colonial wars and rapacious extraction of wealth left a dark mark across Africa and the Pacific. And one needn't mention the active role the US and the CIA played in undermining the Portuguese Revolution and inciting violence against the Portuguese Communist Party. This is NATO democracy. Greece is another example of NATO's "humanitarian" history. While Greece was not a founding member of NATO, NATO countries, particularly the US, played a central role in the development of Greece in the post-war period. The civil war, which engulfed Greece after WW2, pitted communist partisans against the forces of a collaborationist government. However, Socialist Greece was only thwarted with the full military participation of both the British and then the US military. These lawless interventions laid the groundwork for the NATO pact. Of course, US military intervention rarely means a transition to democracy, and it was not the case in Greece. Victorious, the military commanders seized full control of the Greek Government and began the repression and slaughter of communists, sympathisers and other partisans who refused to accept the role of Greece as a US protectorate. Despite a few years of civilian rule, a US-backed military junta once again ruled Greece beginning in 1967. The Communist Party of Greece, played a leading role in leading workers, peasants, and youth in the struggle for democratic rights and against the military dictators so warmly welcomed in NATO. It is no wonder that the demands of the protesting students at the Polytechnic School of Athens in their 1973 uprising was "NATO OUT!" The Greek Government was not chastised by the US or NATO for brutally putting down the student uprising. The Heroes of the Polytechnic, as they are known, did not sacrifice in vain. This event helped usher in the democratic revolt of 1974 that ended the dictatorship and legalised the Communist Party for the first time since 1936. NATO's blindness to humanitarian suffering and political repression isn't just history. Turkey has had a questionable democracy since joining NATO in 1952 along with Greece. It's imperialist invasion and occupation of Cyprus is recognised by the UN and all the world to be a travesty of human rights. The Ankara Government's brutal attacks on the Kurds, and their systematic repression of the Kurdish language, culture and organisations could only be called ethnic cleansing. Most recently, Turkey's illegal detention of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, which was orchestrated by the US and supported by Greece, Germany and Italy, shows what NATO thinks of the human right to political asylum. It is clear from history and from daily experience that NATO cares nothing for human rights except as verbiage to cover it's imperialist intentions, in Yugoslavia as elsewhere. NATO serves only the interests of the ruling class in each of its member countries and the US ruling class primarily. Founded on the heels of the war against fascism, NATO was supposedly an alliance for stability and peace, but was really a bulkhead against revolution in Europe. The NATO countries were willing to do almost anything to stave off revolution in Europe and around the globe. They suppressed protest and political parties at home; waged horrifying wars in Asia, Africa and Latin America; bombarded the socialist countries with propaganda; and threatened the world with extinction through a nuclear arms race that included putting US missiles on European soil. Even the excuse that NATO was founded as a military alliance to fend off the communist military threat is belied by the fact that the Warsaw Pact was founded three years after NATO in response to the capitalist military threat. In the past, NATO has cared little for the human rights of citizens in NATO countries, even less for the victims of NATO countries' imperialist endeavours abroad. How ridiculous then was the bold statement by President Clinton at NATO's 50th anniversary celebration, that NATO won the Cold War "without firing a single shot". How even more ridiculous is the lie that NATO bombed Yugoslavia out of humanitarian concern for the people of Kosovo.
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People's Weekly World

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