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What are we going to do with NATO?

Ingeborg Breines makes a strong settlement with the "security strategies" of the authorities, NATO and the military industry. A secure future is not built with weapons, but with a peace culture based on dialogue and solidarity, she writes.


11. and 12. July held NATO summit in Brussels. Member States had to agree to immediately use two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for military defense, the US president even wanted European countries to spend four percent. Heavy military exercises are being prepared. More troops will be sent to Afghanistan, which is in greater need of reconstruction than soldiers. NATO's member states must accept ever-new military bases and installations, closer and closer to Russia. But what are NATO interests, and what are the United States? Several European leaders have become insecure, and the EU is now strengthening its own defense capabilities. How does the United States react to NATO's paragraph 5 on "all for one," in case someone needs military rescue?

Many are skeptical about the situation and NATO's role in the world today. In Norway, too, there is cause for concern: We have a government with strong defense interests, and our former Labor Party prime minister has become NATO commander. The leaders of almost all political parties express their belief in a strong military defense. The discussion is only about whether we should be connected to NATO / US distant "operations" and how strong defense capabilities we should have here at home. Norway buys frigates and fighter planes for billions – but can neither afford to maintain small school districts, local hospitals, local police, build student and senior housing, or strengthen the arts and cultural life. Our politicians are depleting the districts and do not seem to understand the importance (even in a security context) of scattered settlement, small-scale farming and love of the home. Norway allows US intelligence stations, weapons stores and bases on Norwegian soil. Can Norway's role in the polarization between the West and the East make the country a battlefield?

It must be invested in people, not in weapons.

This fall, the largest NATO exercise in decades will be held in Central Norway. "Trident Juncture" will take place from October to November, with 40 soldiers, 000 warplanes, 140 warships – and miles of tanks. The exercise will cost Norway at least NOK 70 billion, and in addition comes the costs of repairing damage, wear and pollution of the areas in which the exercise will take place.

Today, the UN budget is 1/615 of the world's military budget. In order to secure our future, the UN must be strengthened and NATO shut down. We must build a safe and trusting world, foster dialogue, solidarity and friendship. Build a culture of peace based on non-violence principles.

We will not

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talks to Spain's Defense Minister Pedro
The mothers who are at the Trident Juncture exercise in 2015. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

On July 11, parts of the peace movement held a flag against militarizing Norway in front of the Storting. The purpose was to start a real debate about what security is; what makes us safe today. We wanted to focus our attention on human security, as opposed to state, militarized like this: The military can neither solve the climate nor the environmental crisis – it is, on the other hand, the largest environmental degradation. Nor can the military remove the nuclear threat, or resolve the conflicts that arise from ever-increasing social and economic inequalities. Therefore, resources must be moved from military defense to real defense of humanity and our unique planet. Military production and the military system must be converted to fight for sustainable development – for the survival of mankind, not annihilation. We need food security, clean air and clean water that is safe for us, for our children and grandchildren – for everyone.

We highlighted our distrust of military power in front of the Storting because we are scared, indignant, disappointed – yes, really furious – that the many cunning methods of making the population believe that military power provides security and security to a large extent appear to have succeeded. We were there because we believe our security policy is outdated and illusory – and, had it not been so dangerous, simply ridiculous. We were there because we believe that war must be criminalized and that those who lead or encourage war must be brought before international law.

We will not want armaments, we will not allow the widespread pollution of the military industry and military operations. We do not want NATO exercises in Norway; no barbed wire fence along the border with Russia; not US weapons stocks on Norwegian soil, nor military bases or intelligence. Not at Værnes, not at Sætermoen, not at Rygge, not at Andenes, not at Fauske, not at Vardø – and not at all at Svalbard.

In order to secure our future, the UN must be strengthened and NATO shut down.

We do not want to be part of NATO's aggressive and expansive "out-of-area" policy, as we have seen in Europe, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. 

We also will not accept NATO's nuclear weapons strategy. We do not believe in the deterrence strategy, and do not understand what 15 nuclear warheads need. Nor do we understand that NATO can arrogantly insist on the right to use nuclear weapons first – that is, without having even been attacked with nuclear weapons. We do not want nuclear weapons on Norwegian soil, neither in peacetime nor in wartime. We feel a frightening discomfort that US nuclear weapons are stationed in European countries; Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey. We will not accept that nuclear bombs like the B000 should once again be "modernized and made more efficient". All nuclear weapons must be destroyed – before they destroy us. We want to follow UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as he insists in his new disarmament agenda, Securing Our Common Future, on the importance of disarmament in the difficult and chaotic world situation we are in.

peace movement

Polarization and enemy image spreading is only useful for the military industry and the arms dealers. Our energy and our natural resources should not be wasted on useless and dangerous production and consumption. Instead, we need common security in the Nordic countries, in Europe, in the world – without nuclear weapons, and with Russia on the team. A fundamental paradigm shift is needed, in which all countries join in a robust investment in peace – in interpersonal understanding, in humanism and with equal opportunities for all. It must be invested in people, not in weapons.

We do not understand what to do with 15 nuclear warheads.

It is a worn-out myth that democracies do not wage war: the world's largest democracy and superpower lead to war, and the Middle East's "only democracy" commits horrific abuses against parts of its own population. In the name of democracy, one is allowed, more or less secretly, to provoke regime changes. One can hardly speak of a genuine people's government when the will of the people is constantly diverging from what power is based on, and so many important decisions are kept hidden from the people. Security policy is the black hole of democracy. If Norway is a democracy, we are all responsible for what our country does – in Libya, Afghanistan and Syria. Do we take this all the way inside us?

Some would probably argue that we peace activists are naive utopians. It is just as far more naïve to think that military power can solve the enormous challenges the world faces. It is a threat to all life on earth not to base political decisions on the knowledge of the acute environmental hazard ("ecocide") we are in the middle of.

The so-called utopia – the dream of peace and the good life – is important as inspiration for change. The peace movement wants Norway, as a rich small country, to take the lead and show what is possible when prioritizing peace culture and dialogue. In this way we can contribute to sustainable development – and to create beauty, meaning and joy. And so we can inspire others – and live up to our reputation as a peace nation. Satisfied, creative people do not commit violence and do not start war.


International peace organizations have joined forces to form the No to war – no to NATO network:

The worldwide network is organizing demonstrations aimed at NATO, most recently in connection with the Brussels Summit in July.

In Norway, a march against militarization was held, with the symbolic title Five On Twelve, in front of the Storting 11 July at. 1155.

Ingeborg Breines
Ingeborg Breines
Breines is an adviser, former President of the International PEACE Bureau and former UNESCO Director.

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