The American Bear


Should NATO Exist? | Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: Phyllis Bennis, you were in Chicago. Thousands of people were protesting outside. What do you think of the results of the summit and whether the 63-year-old organization, NATO, should exist at all?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: I think that we learned a number of things from the NATO summit in Chicago this past weekend. One of them was that a number of European countries have a far more functional democracy than we do, in the sense that governments are far more accountable to public opinion, particularly on the war in Afghanistan. I think that NATO played the role that it has played for a very long time, which is to provide political—and to a small degree, military and economic, but primarily political—cover to United States operations. What we see in NATO is that this is a U.S. set of decisions, and NATO is being brought on board, encouraged to keep even a few troops there. My personal favorite of the moment is Austria. They have three troops in Afghanistan at the moment. You know, this is designed to make it appear to be a multilateral operation in Afghanistan. And in fact, this is a U.S. operation and needs to be treated as such.

I think that what we’re dealing with is a scenario in which a relic of the Cold War, the NATO alliance, which was always designed in a far more offensive way than defensive, I think, has reached, if it hadn’t before—and we can argue that separately—but certainly has reached the end of any shred of legitimacy in this period of history. You know, this is really about the hammer and the nail. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you’re a military alliance, every problem looks like it requires a military solution. NATO is a giant, big hammer. The problem is, Afghanistan is not a nail, Libya is not a nail. These are political problems that need to be dealt with politically. And by empowering, more than any other regional organization, a military alliance, NATO is really serving to undermine the goal of the United Nations Charter, which speaks of the importance of regional organizations, in political terms, for nonviolent resolution of disputes, not to put such a primacy and privilege on military regional institutions that really reflect the most powerful parts of the world.