Order the summer edition here

NATO – an alliance for the 21st century?

MILITARY INDUSTRY / NATO's new strategy document is a continuation of the neoconservative line after Anders Fogh Rasmussen's politicization of a group-run NATO 2009–2014. The new document reveals an ideological chasm between the old and the new NATO.

[Note This is also available on engelsk]

The US government recorded that its air force was almost intact after World War II. It created a political-economic power relationship between the USA and Europe. They could secure their free trade across the Atlantic, with Europe as a market for American over-production of goods after the war.

But in NATO's (North-Atlantic Treaty Organization) new strategy document (NATO 2022 Strategy Concept) is somewhat significantly changed: "NATO is determined to safeguard the freedom and security of Allies. Its key purpose and greatest responsibility is to ensure our collective defence, against all threats, from all directions. We are a defensive Alliance.” Basically was NATO however, never rigged for a collective defense, against all threats, from all directions.

Originally, NATO consisted of twelve European equivalent member states with experience from the Second World War. The treaty was to ensure that none of the members would attack each other again, and if that happened, the other members would collectively help defend against the attacker. So why does a treaty-based defensive alliance need a strategy document today?

Security, strength, deterrence, nuclear

The structural changes in the new NATO are clearly expressed in linguistic terms. Every 44th word in the 2022 strategy concept is "security", it is used in 98 places against 61 in 2010. "Strength" is used far more often in 2022, the same with the word "deterrence". "Instability" is used five times more often, and the word "nuclear" twice as often. The use of the words "deter" and "global" has now quadrupled. In contrast, the word "democracy" appears only twice in both strategy documents.

It is to a large extent a completely new military and political organization that we now see, built up in the framework of the treaty from 1949. From being a Western European and North American defensive alliance, NATO now appears to have become a pan-European organization with global security interests, led by the USA, but under the promise that the task is the same: "to ensure that the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security and shared values."

But what is meant by this, and what "common values" does NATO have?

Right up until 1992, NATO was a defensive alliance that was supposed to guarantee stable security in Europe. During Fogh Rasmussen's tenure as Secretary General, NATO became a multinational group-run security organization with political purposes, where growth was a measurable success rate. The rapid eastward expansion following the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a response to the development of the global NATO.

The rapid eastward expansion following the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a response to the development of the global NATO.

NATO became a unique security alliance that made "military forces able to operate together in any environment, that can control operations anywhere through its integrated military command structure", such as ensuring "freedom and security of its members". Something that, according to the NATO concept, could hardly be carried out individually (2010:36). The consequence was that national security was sacrificed.

The situation was so stable that Fogh Rasmussen in 2008 referred to NATO as the world's most successful peace movement. Peace in Europe had lasted for 70 years – with the exception of when NATO bombed civilian targets without a UN mandate Beograd for 78 days. The term "peace movement" is not used in NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg's strategy document.

Political activity

Now in 2022, NATO assures that "the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security and shared values". No one becomes a NATO member without sharing NATO's values. NATO is primarily a military organisation, and the question is why a military organization should promote peace and democratic development. The mix of NATO's military and political activities is startling. What values ​​does the military organization NATO really have?

In the strategy document from 2010, Article 32, the partnership between NATO and the EU is highlighted: "The EU is a unique and essential partner for NATO. All members of both organizations share common values" (2010:32). Since "all members of both organizations share the same values", NATO and the EU share common values, and thus NATO members must also share the EU's values. Military standardization is only one of the requirements that NATO countries must meet.

Associations to "the Allies"

The term "allies" is used twice as many times in 2022 as in 2010. The strategy document from 2010 used "parties" and "allies" interchangeably, but now the term "allies" is used consistently.

The original NATO treaty from 1949 did not refer to the member states as "allies", but as "parties", as mutually equal parties in a treaty-based defensive alliance. It is only after Bush's redefinition of Article 5 in 2001 that "allies" become a rhetorical possibility in NATO, and not until after 2010 that it becomes a rhetorical necessity after the restructuring of NATO. "Allies" creates associations with "the allies" during the Second World War.

In 2022, Russia is described as the main threat to NATO. The rhetorical "we" as "the allies" convinces us that "we" are on the right side and will win the war. But the Allies during the Second World War (from 1941) consisted primarily of Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States, in a common fight against Nazism and fascism.

Moreover, the concept of freedom that the military organization NATO defends in the document is the EU's four freedoms – such as the free flow of capital, goods, services and people. This is in stark contrast to the concept of freedom that Roosevelt formulated as the most important: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear (Atlanterhavserkläringen, 1941).

The definition of NATO members as US "allies" does not differ significantly from how the Roman Empire referred to its client states.

The United States – a full-fledged democracy?

Stoltenberg's NATO document defines the values ​​more precisely as the transatlantic ties between our nations, indispensable for our security: "We are bound together by common values: individual liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law." But Stoltenberg is secretary general of NATO, and not of the UN.

Such a Hobbesian society is far from a Nordic representative democracy governed by reason.

It is in Stoltenberg's strategy document that the word "bulwark" appears for the first time in NATO's history, and it is used a total of three times, including in the foreword. "Rule of law" is most often used for "the rule of law", nevertheless it is impossible not to think of Thomas Hobbes' descriptions of a purely materialistic society ("a war of all against all"), where the law (the will of the sovereign) is the only bulwark against the anarchy, implemented by the military power. But such a Hobbesian society is far from a Nordic sensitive and rational representative democracy.

Timothy Snyder defined in the book About tyranny (2017, Norwegian edition 2022) how little separates the American state constitution from the despotism, where the tripartite division of American society consists of the president (the sovereign), the people (the mass) and the military – which is represented as a separate nation of power in the state. The USA is no longer considered a full-fledged democracy, but a flawed democracy, partly because of insufficient freedom of expression (democracy index 2022). The elimination of Osama Bin Laden (2011) and Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi (2022) is not worthy of a rule of law.

avatar photos
Marianne Solberg
Solberg is a regular critic in Ny Tid.

You may also like