NATO summit in Madrid: a summit for imperialist war

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"Europe militarises and announces the largest troop deployment since the Cold War", "Russia's war against Ukraine has shattered peace and seriously altered our security environment", such are the threatening headlines of the Madrid summit. Russia, but also China, are openly singled out as "enemies of democracy".  The Madrid Summit has been a clear warmongering exercise. And words are matched by decisions. They talk of spending 200 billion euros on armaments, of deploying up to 300,000 troops in Eastern European countries in the arc from the Baltic to the Black Sea. They threaten China. They defy Putin. It is a summit for imperialist war.

NATO: an instrument of US imperialism

 In 1949, in the context of the imperialist confrontation between the US and the Russian bloc, the United States founded NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) as a key tool against the enemy bloc. It was a military and political alliance that enabled the USA to control its allies, whose armies, secret services, intelligence cells and armaments increasingly depended on American devices, patents, supplies and protocols. Any of the military bases of an allied country can be used by NATO, i.e. by the USA.

With the collapse of the Russian bloc in 1989, the countries formerly under US tutelage tried to break away from its control. The American bloc disintegrated and today there are no imperialist blocs. However, this did not bring about a "new world order" of peace, democracy and prosperity, as promised by the then US president Bush Senior. On the contrary, what we have seen in the last 30 years has been a proliferation of increasingly chaotic and bloody wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya, Yemen etc.) which, among many other ravages, have led to the largest exodus of refugees in history: 26 million in 2017, 86 million in 2020; and in May 2022 the 100 million mark was exceeded[1] .

The war in Ukraine and 52 other conflicts are currently engulfing the world in bloodshed. As we said in Militarism and Decomposition, written in 1990, “in the new historical period we have entered, and which the Gulf events have confirmed, the world appears as a vast free-for-all, where the tendency of ‘every man for himself’ will operate to the full, and where the alliances between states will be far from having the stability that characterized the imperialist blocs, but will be dominated by the immediate needs of the mo­ment. A world of bloody chaos, where the American policeman will try to maintain a mini­mum of order by the increasingly massive and brutal use of military force. "[2] .

The United States did not dissolve NATO, but continued to use it as a means of controlling its former allies. For example, Germany has 20 US military bases on its territory and its army is closely dependent on NATO hardware and software.

In February 1990, then US Secretary of State James Baker promised Russian President Gorbachev that "if the United States maintains its presence in Germany in the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO's existing military jurisdiction will be extended eastward".[3]

Between capitalists and even more so between states, the most sacred agreements are a dead letter after a few minutes. The United States did the opposite of what it promised. Since the mid-1990s, it has extended NATO to the countries of the former Russian orbit: Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, etc.

In this expansion there was mutual interest on both sides. By incorporating the former Russian satellites, the United States was driving a wedge between Germany and Russia, keeping both under political and military pressure. For their part, the former Soviet countries have gained a powerful sponsor to defend themselves against the imperialist ambitions of their two big neighbours and, protected by the NATO umbrella, to indulge their own imperialist appetites.

NATO and the war in Ukraine

This strategy of "eastward expansion" has clashed with the interests of Russia which, having recovered to some extent from the huge debacle of 1989, thanks to Putin's iron hand, is trying to play a global role on the imperialist chessboard, getting involved in the war in Syria and in several wars in Africa, establishing alliances with Venezuela, Iran, Nicaragua etc.

In this policy of seeking lost imperialist glory, it has come up against the iron curtain imposed by the US on its western flank. In particular, attempts to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO have been a red line that Russia could not tolerate. It thus responded with its brutal "special military operations”.

In 2008, Russia set a trap for Georgia by taking it to war and imposing two "independent" republics that are a Russian wedge into Georgian territory: South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

In 2014 it repeated the operation with regard to Ukraine by occupying Crimea and proclaiming two 'people's' republics in the Donbass that act as a military subcontractor to the Russian godfather.

The current explosion of barbaric warfare in Ukraine has its roots in this imperialist struggle between Russia and the US, although, as we have explained, the US has set a trap for the Kremlin: for months it announced the invasion of Ukraine while saying that the US would not intervene. It was a repeat of the same trap the US set for Iraq in 1990 when it implied that Saddam had the green light to invade Kuwait. Putin has taken the bait and pounced on Ukraine.

The US has used the war in Ukraine to tighten NATO's grip on its former allies. They, especially Germany and France, want to get rid of this annoying alliance that prevents them from pursuing their own imperialist ambitions. Macron spoke of a "brain-dead" NATO. He has had to swallow his words, at least for a while. The US has restored NATO's strength and Biden has proclaimed in Madrid that "Vladimir Putin was seeking the finlandisation of Europe. What he's going to get is a NATOisation of Europe".

At the Madrid summit, the United States will make full use of "support for Ukraine", the defence of the Ukrainian David crushed by the Russian Goliath, to tie up its "European allies". Zelensky, in a new Internet intervention, once again reproached Germany and France for raising the pretext of "not humiliating Russia" in order to exchange "peace for territory". The NATO summit reaffirms the US policy of dragging Russia into the bloody quagmire of a long war that is currently stalled in the Donbass with an enormous human and productive cost: according to Zelensky between 60 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers die every day; he says nothing of the civilian dead, while Russia is losing 150 soldiers every day. One of the most serious consequences of this war is that it has paralysed the transport of wheat to African and Asian countries, causing famines that, according to the UN, are affecting 197 million people.

One of the goals of the summit is that the contingent of NATO troops deployed in the border arc with the Russian Bear from the Black Sea to the Baltic should be expanded from 40,000 to 300,000! The United States is to station 100,000 troops, Germany has promised to deploy 20,000, France has installed 1,000 in Romania. In the same vein, NATO is opening a gigantic military base in Poland, the United States is sending two destroyers to Spain and is setting up a missile defence shield at the Rota base.

If we compare the Madrid summit with previous NATO summits, we see a clear escalation of warmongering: "The response of the allies to this new context will be to mobilise more troops, more weapons, more ammunition on their eastern flank, to flex their muscles against Moscow". The hypocritical language of peace has been left in the drawer and replaced by  war chants. Reinforcing the whole atmosphere, the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, countries historically disguised as "neutrals", adds even more fuel to the warlike fire. It is beyond doubt that all these decisions, both public and secret, are part of a dynamic of warmongering confrontation and will contribute to new imperialist tensions which are the seeds of new wars.

Riding the strong momentum of militarisation in Eastern Europe, Poland and the Baltic states are constantly calling for more weapons, more troops, brazenly displaying their own ambitions. "Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday announced the construction of hundreds of public shooting ranges across the country and a new law on access to firearms to ‘train society’ in national defence. He said that ‘if Russia ever thinks of attacking Poland, let them know that 40 million Poles are ready to defend it with weapons in hand[4] .

Another of the points addressed by the Summit is the "technological modernisation" of weapons, defence systems, cyber-warfare means, etc. This involves huge investments that will be paid for by the member states and, above all, will increase technological dependence on the USA.

In this context, the renewal of NATO's "Strategic Concept" further reinforces the warmongering atmosphere that has been imposed in Madrid and symbolically translated into the police occupation of the city by more than 10,000 uniformed officers. For the first time in NATO's history China is directly pointed at: the Strategic Concept "heralds a new era in transatlantic security marked by the actions of ‘authoritarian actors who challenge democratic interests, values and way of life’, leading to the conclusion that China "seeks to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains". Moving from words to deeds, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, China's Pacific rivals, have been invited to Madrid. The message could not be clearer.

The main threat to US imperialist world leadership comes from China. The Asian giant has deployed an economic-imperialist strategy, the Silk Road[5] , to challenge US dominance. The trap the US has set for Russia is ultimately aimed at China. Caught in a long and grinding war in Ukraine, Russia has become more of a burden than an asset to China. China has been very reluctant to support its Russian ally. On the other hand, the Ukrainian war destabilises China's Silk Road both economically and militarily.

The blacklisting of China in NATO's Strategic Concept is yet another step in the escalation of warlike tensions in the world. With this strategic move, the United States is developing a policy of "encircling China": on the one hand, in the Pacific, the US has formed an alliance with China's rivals (Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam); on the other hand, it is severely weakening China's Russian ally; finally, plans to expand the Silk Road are being destabilised by the war in Ukraine.

But equally significant in the imperialist escalation is the inclusion of the "southern flank", i.e. Africa, in NATO's "Strategic Concept". Here Spain is betting high because it affects its own interests (Sahara, Morocco, defence of the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, protection against migratory waves, etc.).  However, the ultimate goal is to block Russian and Chinese expansion in Africa. Russia employs its Wagner mercenaries in the various African conflicts while China weaves a web of military and trade agreements: for example, it has secured a military base in Djibouti.

The root of war is capitalism

The summit gives a boost to the warlike confrontation that is currently gripping the world. And in this confrontation, the leading role of the United States and the strength of its political-military arm, NATO, are strengthened.

However, this success is temporary. Since the collapse of the Russian bloc, we have shown that the US's ability to impose its "world order" is deteriorating. In a world where each nation state goes its own way without respecting any discipline, where increasingly destructive local conflicts proliferate, where the imperialist ambitions of all states are unleashed in full force, the only means the American gendarme has to stop the chaos is militarism, war, the proliferation of armaments. However, these displays of force do not stop the chaos, but only exacerbate it. "As soon as the United States boasts of its military superiority, all its rivals cringe, but the retreat is tactical and momentary. The more the US strives to assert its imperialist dominance, brutally reminding them who is the strongest, the more determined the questioners of the American order are to dispute it, because their ability to retain their rank in the imperialist order is a matter of life and death".[6]

This analysis is crucial if we are to dismantle the trap set by the far-left groups of capital and even government ministers linked to Podemos, who blame the warlike tension on NATO and even allow themselves a "neutral" stance: neither Putin nor NATO.

NATO is an instrument of imperialist confrontation, but it is neither the cause of wars nor of this confrontation. Its reinforcement and its militaristic boasts will not bring peace and democracy, as the Atlanticist leaders promise with less and less conviction, but neither are they the only cause of the barbaric warfare that is covering the world in blood. All states, whether pro-NATO or anti-NATO, are agents of war, all participate in the planet's slide into a spiral of chaotic conflict.

When they talk about "NATO no, bases out", these leftist groups serve war and imperialism. They want us to go to war in the name of national defence, rejecting the "multinationalism" of NATO.  Melenchon in France opposes NATO by proposing that France "arm itself to the teeth as a peacekeeping force". In this ultra-militarist design he goes so far as to propose the restoration of military service!

The proletariat must reject war and militarism, whether they are made "inside NATO" or deployed "outside NATO". These extreme left warmongers who "oppose NATO" inject the poison of National Defence. They want us to kill and murder in defence of Spain and accept inflation, redundancies, blows to our living conditions in order "to be able to send arms to Ukraine". A Trotskyist group calling for the "Disarmament of NATO" proposes that "the European workers must give the broadest internationalist solidarity, sending supplies and international workers' militias, as in the 1930s in the Spanish Civil War"[7] . With such "anti-NATO" arguments these servants of capital propose what the USA and NATO want: that the workers involve ourselves in the imperialist slaughter in Ukraine, that we sacrifice ourselves on the economic front and become cannon fodder on the military front.

Opero and Smolny 30-06-22


War in Ukraine