Log In

Reset Password

Is Nato really a defensive alliance?

Dear Sir,

A Belgium Air Force F16 fighter jet participates in Nato’s Baltic Air Policing Mission in Lithuanian airspace on January 25. As tensions build with Russia, Nato is focused on defending its 30 member countries. The world's biggest military organisation doesn’t do sanctions; it does security. That means deterring any attempt to destabilise members on its eastern flank such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Nato stands ready to beef up its defences there should Russia invade Ukraine. (File photograph courtesy of Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence/AP)

With the tensions growing between the West and Russia, I have found it necessary to keep abreast of developments. As part of that, I had the opportunity to review a January 17 article by Ben Wallace, the British defence secretary, discussing the situation in Ukraine. Your readers may find it on the British Government website, titled “An article by the Defence Secretary on the situation in Ukraine.”

There are quite a few things in this article which I found worthy of comment, although in the interest of space, I will not be able to cover all of them.

The first main assertion made is that “Nato is, to its core, defensive in nature.” While it is certainly true that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty does speak to collective defence, it is difficult to see Nato's military operations since the end of the Cold War as being defensive in any way.

Take, for example, the dismantling of Yugoslavia by Nato. Yugoslavia had not attacked any Nato member, yet this did not stop this “defensive” alliance from launching an offensive war on Yugoslavia and facilitating its dismemberment.

Or consider Libya. The Gaddafi regime launched no attack on a Nato member; however, that did not stop this “defensive” alliance from launching an offensive war to usher in an era of mass rape, open slave markets and a litany of war crimes. Nor can we look at the war on Afghanistan as legal under international law, and certainly not the act of a defensive alliance.

At that point, it is a bit rich for Britain to lecture others on peace, after its illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, with all the horror it unleashed during and since.

Another interesting assertion by Mr Wallace is that Vladimir Putin’s actions are because of “ethnonationalism at the heart of his ambitions”. It does seem rather bizarre that Mr Wallace, part of a Brexit government that has at its heart the ethnonationalism of “Little England”, is critical of the Russian president for ethnonationalism. Odder still that while he attacks Russia on this matter, he is blind to Britain arming and training far-Right, even neo-Nazi, anti-Russian ethnonationalist militias in Ukraine.

It should emphasised, though, that Mr Putin is not an ethnonationalist. Certainly, an advocate of an authoritarian Russian State — at most, state nationalism — but not one predicated on ethnic Russian supremacy.

It is hard to take the British — or the Americans, for that matter — as honest brokers when they wax poetical about freedom and democracy, while they turn a blind eye to authoritarian regimes that are pro-West, such as Poland, Hungary, Egypt or Saudi Arabia. It is harder still to believe their claims of peace while they train and arm Saudi Arabia in its criminal war in Yemen or its invasion and occupation of Bahrain.

Let us hope that cooler heads prevail, and the West takes the opportunity to be honest with itself, instead of peddling more propaganda to support its imperial interests and the bank accounts of weapons manufacturers.


Hamilton Parish

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published January 29, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated January 28, 2022 at 1:21 pm)

Is Nato really a defensive alliance?

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon