May 19, 2012
For a larger perspective and real global context regarding the NATO summit itself — beyond official press briefings — there’s no source like the Stop NATO website, profiled here last week. Here are some recent stories; click on titles for the full entries.
[Also, do not miss “My Kind of (NATO) Town,” the highly informative and highly readable perspective offered by Asia Times’ correspondent Pepe Excobar via Al Jazeera; it’s clear that a Escobar is a reader of Stop NATO.]
A meeting of foreign ministers in Beijing – prelude to an SCO summit June 6-7 (just before the international conference on Afghanistan June 14 in Kabul) – indicated increased cooperation on foreign policy, including united opposition to the U.S./NATO anti-ballistic missile program which is being promoted in Chicago (Russia & India Report).
SCO includes Russia, China, and four Central Asian nations; India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia have observer status (membership requests from India and Pakistan are under consideration); NATO member Turkey is likely to be granted “dialogue partner” status.
SCO countries should be active participants in international discussions on Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said recently. Moscow and Beijing argue against the continuing presence of foreign troops there.
A draft final declaration was adopted that says “unilateral unlimited expansion of the anti-ballistic missile system may damage international security and strategic stability.”
A consolidated SCO position on anti-ballistic missile systems has the potential to become a significant counterweight to NATO’s plans in this area.
Leaders of Central Asia states are invited to the Chicago summit in order to get their agreement to host NATO military facilities to accommodate forces being withdrawn from Afghanistan, but the Shanghai Cooperation Organization presents an obstacle (Trend News Agency).
The presidents of SCO members Kazakhistan, Kyrgystan, and Uzbeikistan have been invited to Chicago but are sending their foreign ministers in their places.
“Now it becomes clear that NATO is not going to leave Afghanistan in the next ten years. In this case, they need the territory of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries to place their own military bases.”
“The introduction of all sorts of collective sanctions bypassing international institutions does not improve the situation in the world while reckless military operations in foreign states usually end up with radicals coming to power,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told an international legal forum in St. Petersburg (Novosti).
“At some point such actions, which undermine state sovereignty, may well end in a full-blown regional war and even – I’m not trying to spook anyone – the use of nuclear weapons,” he said.
One of the major topics in the NATO summit is to “establish a vision for our enduring presence in Afghanistan,” said General John R. Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO force in Afghanistan (Xinhua).
The May 20-21 summit will feature a series of bilateral agreements “that will create a network of strategic partnerships, bilaterally, around the world with Afghanistan,” the general told attendees at the 2012 Joint Warfighting Conference held in Virginia Beach.
“The United States, and our key partner nations, including France, the United Kingdom and Italy, have already signed strategic partnerships with Afghanistan, making a long-term commitment to that country’s security, development and governance,” Allen said. “And soon, other countries will sign agreements as well.”
Foreign forces were originally scheduled to be pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but a U.S.-Afghanistan strategic partnership agreement provides for U.S. forces in Afghanistan well beyond 2014.
A series of U.S. military scandals in the war-torn country this year were widely criticized, including the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians, the burning of Korans, a video of Marines urinating on dead insurgents and photos of soldiers posing with corpses and body parts of failed Afghan suicide bombers.
Mongolia will attend the Chicago summit under a new individual partnership status (China Daily).
In March, NATO and Mongolia signed their first bilateral cooperation program under NATO’s new policy of developing more flexible partnerships with countries that engage significantly with international security affairs.
NATO could help Washington accelerate its shifting strategic emphasis to the Asia-Pacific by growing toward the East, said Zhai Dequan, deputy secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
Mongolia sent contingents to support NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo in 2005 and 2007 and has provided troops for NATO’s Afghanistan mission since 2010.
NATO is strengthening its positions in Central Asia, and nations there are thinking of how they can get the most out of the situation (Voice of Russia).
“NATO has always been a war-making institution lacking in accountability to the peoples of the nations it claims to represent. But NATO at least once claimed a defensive purpose that it neither claims nor represents any longer.
“NATO has militarized the nations of Europe against the will of their people, now maintains hundreds of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear European nations in blatant violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and is threatening Russia with missile base construction on its borders.
“Having fought aggressive wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, NATO remains in Afghanistan, illegally, immorally, and to no coherent purpose. The people of the United States, other NATO nations, and Afghanistan itself, overwhelmingly favor an end to NATO’s presence, while Presidents Obama and Karzai, against the will of their people, work to commit U.S. forces to at least 12.5 more years in Afghanistan.
“NATO provides the United States with a pretense of global coalition and legality. …NATO’s interests are neither democratically determined nor humanitarian in purpose. NATO does not bomb all nations guilty of humanitarian abuses. Nor does NATO’s bombing alleviate human suffering, it adds to it….
“An analysis of NATO’s real motivations reveals a desire to control the global flow of oil, to support dictators who have supported U.S./NATO wars, prisons and torture operations, to back Israel’s expansionist agenda, and to surround and threaten the nation of Iran….”
Is there any way to put a brake on this arms race? Yes, of course. At the Russia-Nato ministerial meeting in Brussels, Moscow suggested as a first step that, at its Chicago summit, Nato pledges its “adherence to the rules of international law” in its final declaration (Daily Telegraph).
Such a commitment would mean that the alliance would respect the jurisdiction of existing international institutions, and renounce the independent use of force unless it was authorised by a relevant UN Security Council resolution.