The deranged expansionist policies of Nato are implicated in the wars in Gaza, Ukraine and Iraq argues Chris Nineham
UN agencies and leading charities confirmed over the weekend what many people are thinking and feeling about the state of the world - we are witnessing an unprecendented level of global turmoil and violence.
The UN added a series of countries to its extreme crisis list and a senior foreign policy advisor at Oxfam briefed:
"I haven't seen anything of this scale before...across the board, the humanitarian community sees this as one of the worst moments we've ever had to confront in terms of simultaneous, mostly man-made crises."
This follows a UN announcement a few weeks ago that for the first time since World War II, the number displaced people worldwide exceeded 50 million.
This is the disturbing context in which the leaders of the Western world will be coming to Newport in South Wales for a high-profile Nato summit.
The crises in Gaza, Iraq, Eastern Europe and beyond tend to be reported as entirely seperate cases with little or no investigation of either wider context or history. Palestinian representatives - on the few occiasions have been given air time - have argued that the long history of Israeli expansionism backed by Britain and the US is key to comprehending current events. Invariably they have been brusquely brought up to date, told that 'we are where we are' and that they should concentrate on finding solutions.
But there is no prospect of solutions to any of these terrible crises without understanding what is driving them. The most obvious but mostly unconsidered factor is that all three of these situations are directly linked to an increasingly aggressive Western foreign policy promoted by Nato over the last two or three decades.
Western leaders appalling response to the Israeli attacks on Gaza was not in the end of the day a product of ignorance, misjudgement or even Israeli lobbying. It was a direct result of the fact that Israel remains the Western powers' main ally in the Middle East at a time when control of the region is contested. Whatever criticisms they may have of aspects of Israeli conduct, underlying US support for Israel was confirmed by a major arms shipment at the height of Operation Protective Edge.
The explosive crises in Iraq and Ukraine are more than anything the product of recent disastrous Western foreign policy. Even the mainstream media cannot completeley ignore the deadly legacy of the invasion and seven year occupation of Iraq. But it normally only gets a passing mention before the narrative moves on.
The truth is the combination of the destruction of Iraqi infrastructure, the brutality of occupation and the divide and rule tactics used to sustain it are the key factors that have brought Iraq to the brink of break up. The US and Britain have learnt nothing from this experience and are once more setting off down the road to war, this time with air strikes and by arming the Iraqi kurds. This after the catastrophes caused by various combinations of similar policies not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.
The barely-mentioned background to the war in Ukraine is two and a half decades of Nato expansion in Eastern Europe, including the incorporation of twelve new countries since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The immediate cause is undeniably the replacment of a government friendly with Russia by a pro- Western regime, partly selected by Washington.
No serious analyst of the region can be surprised that the Russian government feels profoundly threatened by these developments on its doorstep. But once again the Nato powers seem only to know one kind of response. On Sunday US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, Nato's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, threatened Russia that Nato will respond militarily if Russia 'infiltrates' any troops in to Easern Ukraine.
The leaders most responsible for these disastrous policies are soon to be gathering in South Wales in what is being flagged up as the most critical Nato summit for years.
As if to prove responsibility, Iraq, Gaza and Ukraine will be at the centre of their deliberations. We need to make sure that the scale of anti-war opinion and the spirit of the great Gaza demonstrations is on display in Newport and Cardiff for all the world to see.
The anti-war movement is having an impact. The tide of opinion has turned in favour of the Palestinians. So far, the British government has been reticent about getting directly involved in the bombing of Iraq with Downing Street briefing that any Brtish participation 'would be politically impossible'.
At the Nato summit the hawks will be arguing for increased arms spending and more 'decisive action' in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. We need to be there demanding that Nato stops endlessly repeating its terrible mistakes.
Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
More articles from this author
- We need a new foreign policy built around peace
- The Bolsheviks Come to Power - book review
- Crisis in France: the view from the left
- Corbyn and the chances of change – book extract
- Surprise, surprise: Brexit and the general election – book extract
- A state of mutiny - book extract
- Fighting back in the 21st century: the NUT and social movement trade unionism