The Guardian December 4, 2002


NATO escalates security risks and threatens peace

Leaders from NATO's 19-member countries converged on Prague for a 
"Transformation Summit" on November 21-21. They were joined by officials 
from seven prospective members  Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, 
Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia  to begin accession talks. The Summit 
adopted a package of measures to meet "the grave new threats and profound 
security challenges of the 21st century". In particular, these included 
agreement on stronger political and military commitments from member 
states; a NATO Response Force for immediate deployment anywhere in the 
world; a military concept for "defence against terrorism"; and the decision 
to initiate a "missile defence feasibility study". They also issued a 
statement on Iraq, promising to "take effective action" to enforce the most 
recent UN Security Council resolution on Iraq.

Postmark Prague reports that hundreds of protestors, mainly young 
Czechs took part in anti-NATO demonstrations.

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia held a counter-summit before the 
NATO one. It was attended by 150 delegates from the European Peace Forum, 
the World Federation of Democratic Youth and nearly 40 communist and left 
parties from all over Europe and further a field. They adopted a document 
called The Prague Appeal. This rejected NATO's new role as the world's 
policeman. The following is the text of the Appeal.

The Prague Appeal

NATO's existence was always defended by its founders on the grounds that it 
was a "defensive alliance" against "the Soviet threat". However, NATO was 
created in 1949 and the Warsaw Pact in 1955.

Logically the demise of the Soviet Union and the disbanding of the Warsaw 
Pact should have led to NATO's dissolution.

The opposite has happened. NATO is being strengthened, not disbanded. 
Contrary to its founding Washington Treaty, NATO has officially assumed the 
right to intervene militarily against anyone in any part of the world 
whenever it sees fit.

This not only violates its own statutes, it openly challenges international 
law and NATO has usurped the authority of the international community  
the United Nations Organisation and its Security Council.

The war against Yugoslavia in 1999, waged without a mandate from the UN 
Security Council in breach of the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions, is 
convincing proof of a new aggressive and interventionist strategy which for 
the first time since 1945 has brought aggressive war to Europe.

The governments of the NATO countries, notably the USA, escalated tension 
and instigated a civil war aimed at breaking up Yugoslavia.

They bear the essential responsibility for the Balkans tragedy. They are 
using the tribunal in The Hague to settle accounts with their opponents and 
with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Another major example is the Anglo-US attack on Afghanistan as part of the 
so-called "war against terrorism", led and supported by certain NATO 
states.

The attack did not respect fundamental humanitarian principles or spare the 
civilian population, infrastructure and lives and the rights of prisoners 
of war. Nor did the change of the ruling elite that was imposed solve the 
Afghan people's basic problems.

The preparations for an attack on Iraq and efforts to bring about 
geopolitical changes in the Middle East as part of a new American strategy 
of preventive strikes are an attempt at expansion and the solution of US 
economic and political problems at the expense of other nations.

Decisively influenced by the USA, NATO is ever more clearly seen to be a 
military-political pact which is concerned with more than defence.

It is becoming an instrument for expansion and consolidation of the 
influence of its biggest member states.

NATO, as well as the Partnership for Peace, is a major instrument for 
pursuing US plans throughout the world and its influence and interests on 
the European continent.

US hegemony in the pact's military composition is based on the privileged 
status and authority of the US leaders and US control of the armed forces, 
the military and security apparatus, the "defence" industry and the 
technology of member states linked to it.

NATO's integrated military structures are beyond the control and at 
critical moments not subject to the consideration of national state bodies, 
especially in the European member states and the UN.

For these reasons we shall oppose the strategy of preventive strikes and 
the creation of NATO rapid reaction forces.

Nuclear weapons, whose use is contrary to the constitutions of individual 
countries and in practice subject to the decision-making and control of US 
military-political authorities, have been deployed at US and NATO military 
bases.

This means that there is an increased danger of individual countries being 
dragged into military scenarios which are not subject to the consideration 
and control of legitimate national authorities.

Under pressure from the US, there is thus a growing danger today that 
Europe and the world will be dragged into a new round of the arms race, 
exhausting not only the USA but also the other NATO states.

Human civilisation is threatened by the militarisation of international 
relations and militarisation of space in the same way as by the growing 
military interventionism which increasingly dominates US policy.

As an instrument of the policy of US hegemony, NATO gives priority to the 
escalation of tension and the use of force instead of the peaceful solution 
of international disputes and civilised methods of overcoming the economic 
and social problems which are intensifying disputes throughout the 
contemporary world.

NATO is not equal to the task of solving these problems politically, with 
the build-up of military forces and plans for their deployment being the 
focus of its activities.

To secure peace

To secure peace on its continent and the establishment of peaceful 
relations with other nations of the world, Europe does not need an 
aggressive alliance which undermines and in practice challenges the UN's 
role.

NATO is unacceptable in its present form and the demand for its abolition 
is highly relevant today.

We see suspension by European states of their membership of NATO's military 
structures as a realistic way of achieving this.

It is vitally important for Europe and its states and nations to maintain 
an appropriate degree of sovereignty when taking decisions and to prevent 
them from being drawn into new military adventures.

Europe needs a different security system from the one represented by NATO, 
defensive and non-aggressive, which on the basis of equal status and 
dignity includes all of the continent's states, from Portugal to Russia and 
the Caucasus, from Scandinavia to the Balkans.

A system which would be based on the necessity not only of the existence 
but also the reform of the United Nations Organisation, so that it 
corresponds to the new reality of the world and creates effective 
structures for peace-keeping, conflict-prevention and conflict-resolution.

A system which fully respects the UN Charter and the spirit of the Helsinki 
process can stand up to pressure from the USA and the interests of other 
powers acting contrary to international law.

It should be based on co-operation and the sovereignty of all nations and 
respect for peaceful relations and co-operation.

We propose that this concept is implemented by using the experience of the 
OSCE.

Europe has always been one of the parts of the world most threatened by the 
arms race policy and the development of nuclear, chemical, biological and 
cosmic weapons of mass destruction.

It bears its share of responsibility for gradual and balanced disarmament 
until these weapons are completely eliminated, beginning with the big 
powers, which will allow the huge resources wasted on military spending to 
be used to solve the great social, economic and environmental problems 
which beset the globe.

The aggressive NATO pact is incapable of becoming the foundation of Europe-
wide security.

The future lies in developing the process of economic and political 
integration of all the continent's countries on the basis of the equality 
and sovereignty of all and opposing any kind of rationale whereby wealthier 
countries or social groups dominate the others, and therefore on wholly 
different foundations from those of anti-social liberalism and Atlantic 
subordination.

On the occasion of the NATO summit meeting in Prague, at which it is 
expected that the Alliance will be enlarged to the east by the acceptance 
of new countries, the signatories of this appeal, who belong to various 
ideological trends but are united by their common desire for peace, call on 
all the nations of Europe and UN member states to unite and mobilise 
against the policy of war and armaments and for practical steps towards 
peace and justice throughout Europe and the whole world.

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