REPURPOSING AND REINVENTING NATO Keshav Prasad BhattaraiAmid debates over the relevancy of Cold War period security alliance between North American andEuropean countries - the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has just concluded its 25thformal Summit at Chicago, the home town of U.S. President Barrack Obama. The two days Summitthat was the largest in its 63 years old history was focused mainly on building the alliancescapacity to address twenty-first century threats and expand its partnership in regions - mainly onAsia- Pacific and Middle East not covered by NATO‟s geography. Besides, the Summit formalizedits troop‟s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan by 2014 and spelt out its decision to enhance thecapacity of 350,000 Afghan security forces - a formidable job of meeting the challenge of nationbuilding, state building and security building of the world‟s most troubled country.When NATO treaty was signed on April 4, 1949, it was meant for collective defense frame work forits 12 member countries mainly bound by the famous Article 5 of the treaty that states, “TheParties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shallbe considered an attack against them all; and consequently they . . . . will assist the Party or Partiesso attacked by . . . . the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the NorthAtlantic area”.NATO was later followed by another treaty called Baghdad Pact that came into existence onFebruary 4, 1955. Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and United Kingdom were its member countries andUnited States had joined it as an associated member. But after the Iraqi revolution thatoverthrew monarchy in July 1958, Iraq withdrew from the Baghdad Pact in March 1959. Andresultantly the pact was renamed as Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) with continuation ofother member countries.CENTO worked as a part of NATO on the Southern border of former Soviet Union. Both NATOand U.S. forces had rights to use the military bases and intelligence out posts stationed in those
countries. But after another revolution in another member country – Iran, CENTO became defunctin 1979.After NATO and CENTO, on May 14, 1955, a new collective defense pact came into existence underthe leadership of former Soviet Union named as Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), also known asthe Warsaw Pact. The prominent collective defense alliance after NATO was mainly meant forconsolidating Soviet control over the communist countries of Eastern Europe. But, along with thepressures of anti Soviet and anti communist uprisings in Eastern Europe, first the militarystructures of Warsaw Pact was abolished in February 1991 and later in July the same year itsremaining political structures were also demolished. RUSSIA, CHINA, OCCUPY CHICAGO MOVEMENT AND NATO In early May, there was another international conference on “Missile Defense Factor in Forming aNew Security Space” in Moscow where high ranking officials from Russia, NATO and delegationsfrom 50 countries had participated.In the conference, according to a leading Russian news agency- RIA Novosti, Russian DefenseMinister Anatoly Serdyukov, strongly opposed U.S. led NATO missile shield to be stationed inEastern Europe and declared that Russia will take necessary military measures to respondchallenges and threats posed by them. According to Russian leaders although Washington andNATO officials have repeatedly told them that the missile defense is not directed against Russiabut meant to meet the challenges posed by rogue states like Iran and some terrorist organizationssupported by them, NATO has failed to give legal guarantee that the missile defense system to bedeployed in Europe will not be used against Russia.Russia is much concerned over the NATO‟s planned deployment of the third and fourth phases ofmissiles defense in Europe that would be completed by 2018-20. This will have capability tointercept part of Russia‟s intercontinental ballistic missiles and sub marine based missiles.Several times, Russian military and political leaders have warned its western partners that if NATOfails to take Russia in confidence in addressing its concerns, it may deploy its Iskander series shortrange nuclear missiles next to that of NATO‟s.
On the other hand, back to Chicago, when NATO was busy with its unprecedented Summit,thousands of peace activists led by some 20 veterans of Iraq War, thronged at down town area ofthe city where 51 world leaders were busy with Summit deliberations.The protests as reported by international media marked quite unusual while some “black block”protesters - covered completely with black clothing pushed their ways to the venue where theNATO Summit was being held. This forced both the police and protesters clash each other – policewith batons and protesters with plastic bottles and sticks. Prosecutors charge few persons withterrorism related offences and some were even accused of manufacturing Molotov cocktails aimingvarious targets in Chicago.Likewise, voice against NATO was also heard naturally in China. The online edition of People‟s Daily(May 23, 2012) has raised question on the relevancy of NATO regarding its legality. How anorganization established during Cold War can explain its justification when the adversary to whomthe defense pact was aimed does exist no more, was its main point.The second point People‟s Daily raised was the unprecedented debt crisis of NATO‟s Europeanalleys – that stands as “the biggest security threat” to their survival- that ultimately is makingNATO obsolete. And the third according to the Chinese daily is that the two sides of the Atlantic “have an increasing divergence of views on the orientation of NATO, that will inhibit the defensealliance go stronger, but go marginalized in the long run, however at short term Europeans willcontinue to take NATO as their symbol of strength.People‟s Daily further suggests that in an era of globalization “NATO must change its mentality” ofthe military alliance of the Cold War period and reorient itself not striving in maintaining the“unsustainable life” of western alliance while “exaggerating others‟ military threats, pulling newmembers into it and establishing expansive missile defense systems”.REPURPOSING AND REINVENTING NATOAfter the fall of Berlin Wall, many former Warsaw Pact countries joined NATO. Countries likeAustralia, Japan and South Korea and other non NATO European countries have also developed avery strong partnership with the alliance. For all practical purposes, even India a prominent founderof Nonaligned Movement and a long time opponent of military alliances, has extended an exceptionalrelationship with NATO under its Civil Nuclear program. And even the more confronting Russia andNATO have a formal mechanism to discuss and find solutions on security challenges and threats
they face commonly. In UN Security Council both China and Russia directly or indirectly hadsupported NATO led military operation in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.Today the entire strategic environment and the grounds that governed NATO when created 63years ago, has gone astray - both in meaning and in substance. Similarly, at a time when any attackupon any NATO member country in Europe and America by any regular army of the world is mostunlikely, then how can NATO justify its existence, is a most crucial question of the day. Is NATOgaining its existence only to satisfy the ego of some western powers or only to serve the purpose ofsome big military- industrial establishment?Question are many and there are more questions that are pricking the mind of world communityabout the dangerously diffusive challenges from intense ethnic rivalry – never experienced inhuman history to terrorism, including nuclear terrorism , piracy in major sea lanes, cyber attacksand the disruption of major routes of global fuel supply.Indubitably, globalization has made ideology irrelevant in relations among nations. Besides, globaleconomic integration has left no space for major or minor powers to confront with each other, butfind ways to live and prosper together in spite of their political differences. And there are spacesin NATO that may help it gain global acceptance even among major countries like China, Russia,India and Brazil.In a multi-polar world, former director of policy planning in the US State Department - Anne-MarieSlaughter - in Project Syndicate says “the actors that matter are not single states but groups ofstates that are more or less densely connected”. Working as a “multi-hub security network, in whichthe hubs are regional organizations of different sizes and strengths” NATO can prove itsjustification in a new and completely changed scenario than at the time it was established. Similarly,Ms. Slaughter has referred former National Security Advisor General Brent Scowcroft who hasalso envisioned NATO in changed context as “a standing military force to enforce Security Councilresolutions”.Therefore, if NATO wants to maintain its relevancy it must draw its legitimacy from among all themajor countries of the World including United Nations and must develop a complete but mutuallyguaranteed security framework for giving NATO a new global role, that in the words of a Turkish
academician - Memduh Karakullukcu , is “the protection of global commons, the preemption of globalthreats and the management of global calamities” effectlively. email@example.com „The Reporter „weekly, May 28- June 3, 2012