The Guardian July 28, 1999


The phantom body which runs NATO

by Brian Denny

NATO officially ceased to exist on April 25, 1999 when the 50-year mandate 
expired while the military alliance was celebrating its birthday at the 
Washington summit.

No new mandate has been publicly launched since then except for the fact 
that it dropped its previous stated policy of only carrying out military 
action in defence of its members.

This new aggressive policy was graphically illustrated by it's illegal and 
terroristic attacks on Yugoslavia which left thousands dead.

Not only does NATO not officially exist, but a secretive and unofficial 
five-power inner circle known as "the Quint" which decides its policy also 
has phantom-like qualities.

"The Quint" took a leading role in setting NATO policy during the war 
against Yugoslavia and seems set to continue despite some resentment.

The kitchen cabinet of Foreign Ministers of the United States, Britain, 
France, Germany and Italy formed a steering committee that dictated policy 
during the war in daily telephone conferences.

Now the precedent has been set, this unofficial body continues to decide 
policy on the takeover of the Balkans, relations with Russia and 
coordinating policy towards what is left of Yugoslavia.

"No one will officially confirm the existence of the Quint, because the 
smaller NATO members hate the idea of being excluded  .... But everyone 
knows it calls the shots", a West European diplomat said.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine lifted the lid on the group in a 
candid interview in the newspaper Liberation earlier this month.

"The real core of the conduct of the matter was the daily contact among the 
five Ministers. We discussed things openly. It wasn't a clash of national 
viewpoints; we created a real dynamic. It was a rare diplomatic and human 
experience which we are trying to perpetuate", Vedrine said.

Diplomats said that the French Minister, who left his British and German 
hawkish counterparts to wage the war because of domestic opposition within 
the French Government, was apparently keen to show that France had been a 
big player throughout the war.

The contacts helped to manage differences between the hawkish British, who 
openly advocated a ground war, and the Germans and Italians, who publicly 
opposed it because it would have brought down their "left-wing" coalitions.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, facing bitter internal criticism 
in his Green Party, used the forum to press for a diplomatic initiative to 
a pave the way for NATO occupation of Kosovo.

Mr Vedrine said that the Europeans were able through the Quint to convince 
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright of the need to involve Russia in a 
political settlement and persuaded her of the desirability of a fig leaf of 
a United Nations Security Council resolution to occupy Kosovo.

The wishes of NATO countries such as Turkey, Greece, the Netherlands, 
Denmark, Norway and Spain, home of NATO leader Javier Solana, were ignored 
along with the majority of the world which opposed NATO aggression.

This contempt for democracy reflects the drive to make NATO effectively the 
armed wing of the most powerful imperialist countries in the world, 
answerable to no-one and a threat to anyone.

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Morning Star

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