John Pilger speaking at Southern Cross University, August 2011. Photo: SCU media students via Flickr John Pilger speaking at Southern Cross University, August 2011. Photo: SCU media students via Flickr

Journalist, John Pilger, discusses the role of Nato in Europe and US imperialism

It has just been announced that Donald Trump will be attending the London NATO conference in December. What kind of role do you think NATO is likely to be discussing in a Trump led western alliance? 

I’m not sure Trump is leading the NATO alliance; one day he hates NATO, the next he thinks it’s a good thing as long as it does what he wants. The Pentagon will play its usual dominant role; the generals and their allies in the national security establishment and Congress have been the political force in Washington since Barack Obama gave them the key. There will be pressure to build up forces on Russia’s western flank (a Pentagon favourite) and to declare Iran a renewed enemy (a Trump/Pence favourite). Britain will sing from its anti-Russia playbook, especially if the current Defence Secretary (known among Tories as Private Pike) is still in the job. On foreign policy, the EU is so weak and deferential – Germany aside – it’s impossible to say which American insanity will be adopted.  

NATO likes to present itself as a force for peace and stability in the world. What is your assessment of the strategic role of NATO during the Cold War?

NATO was, is, an American invention designed to impose American power on Europe. The Alliance achieved this during the Cold War and successfully spread the illusion – long debunked in declassified files – that Russia was a threat to all we hold dear. Today, Nato exists as a provocateur to post-Soviet Russia, with its undeclared American goal of breaking up the Russian Federation. Some of the Europeans running NATO’s war bureaucracy are as zealous as the Americans, such as the secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, a rabid propagandist.

Over the last twenty years opposition to war has grown in Britain and in many parts of the world. What do you think is the significance of the movements against the West’s wars?

The anti-war movement had its memorable successes during the 1980s when it effectively stopped the deployment of US medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe. These were the heady days of Greenham Common and a million people filling Manhattan for the Freeze Movement. Since then, there hasn’t been an international movement. In Britain and around the world, there were huge rallies and marches in February 2003 against the invasion of Iraq; and Stop the War has endured, remarkably, and can claim to have kept the threat of war in the consciousness of many people in this country. In the US, the election of Barack Obama killed the anti-war movement, which is now lost in identity politics and the seductions of a parochial ‘new left’ in the Democratic Party, as keen for war as any. The danger this presents is the great unspoken. As Washington desperately seeks to maintain its faltering dominance over world affairs, there is the familiar smell of fascism and of beckoning disaster. Never has a truly international anti-war movement been more urgently needed.


Chris Nineham

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.

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