Shut down NATO

Nonviolent action against NATO

On 4 April 1949, the North-Atlantic
Treaty Organisation
was founded with the signing of the NATO treaty. On 3 and 4 April
2009, the heads of state and government of the 26 member states and
their delegations will meet in Baden Baden and Strasbourg to
celebrate NATO's 60th birthday with a NATO summit (ed.).

its foundation in 1949 NATO pretended to defend the so-called “free
West” against the allegedly aggressive communism. If this would
have been the real reason of NATO's existence, NATO would have had to
dissolve in 1991 after the end of the Warsaw Pact. But this did not

the Cold War NATO fueled for more than 40 years the arms race, which
is not to legitimise the senseless actions of Russia's armament
policy. But recently released documents show: the strategic objective
of NATO has been – at least for many years – the military push
back of the Sowjet Union and the revision of the outcomes of the
Second World War. During the Cold War NATO participated with its
secret operation

in repression against leftist movement with the NATO countries, and
was linked also to the military coups in Greece in 19671
and in Turkey
in 19802.

the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact NATO
quickly turned itself to new tasks.

From a defence alliance to an alliance for military interventions

with the Rome Declaration of 1991 NATO positioned itself with a new
strategy. An attack from the the East was no longer likely, instead
NATO formulated as “news threats” the consequences of economic,
social and political difficulties in central and eastern Europe, for
which NATO had to be prepared3.

Based on this new definition the “defence alliance” became very active
with a range of military interventions outside of its old area of
operations. From July 1992 on NATO warships began to verify the UN
arms embargo against Serbia and Montenegro in the Adriatic Sea, and
later also enforced it4.
This was the beginning of a development that led to the NATO military
interventions first in Bosnia and later to the illegal bombardment of
Yugoslavia and the NATO military intervention in Kosovo.

Today, NATO is active militarily in a variety of places: in Afghanistan
since 2003 with about 60,000 soldiers, in Kosovo
since 1999 with today about 16,000 soldiers, in the Mediterranean

since October 2001 with up to 2,000 soldiers as part of Operation
Active Endeavour
, and in Iraq since August 2004 with a training mission with 140 soldiers. With this operation NATO in fact support and legitimises the fact created
by the US and UK occupation of Iraq, and the Iraqi government created
by the occupiers. The ”Anti-Pirate-operation” in front of the
of Somalia
was handed over to the European Union on 12 December 2008 and is now
named ATALANTA6.

From these military operations the one in Afghanistan is central for
And NATO's actions in Afghanistan are more and more aggressive and
reckless. The outcomes of this occupation are more and more obvious:
a brutalisation of society, more misery and more bomb deaths. From
January 2006 to July 2008 more than 1,000 Afghan civilians were
directly victims of NATO and US military operations8.

Via civil-military cooperation as it is practised in Afghanistan, even
development aid is being integrated into the NATO war efforts.
Caritas International criticised NATO in June 2008, saying that "the
distribution of aid money is not linked to the real need for aid, but
oriented towards the need of counter-insurgency
At the NATO summit in Bucharest it was decided to make civil-military
counter-insurgency generally the focus of present and future NATO

Nuclear sharing

of the present NATO strategy is the so-called nuclear sharing – the
involvement of non nuclear weapon states in NATO's nuclear weapons.
The strategy paper of 1999 stresses the requirement of “widespread
participation by European Allies ... in nuclear roles, in peacetime
basing of nuclear forces on their territory and in command, control
and consultation arrangements.

It concludes that “[t]he
Alliance will therefore maintain adequate nuclear forces in Europe

of this, US nuclear weapons are based in Germany at Büchel, in
Belgium at Kleine Brogel, in the Netherlands at Volkel, in Italy at
Aviano and at Ghedi-Torre, and at Incirlik in Turkey11.
“Nuclear sharing” allows that in times of war pilots from a
non-nuclear weapon state, which is a member of the Non-Proliferation
Treaty, can use nuclear weapons, which would be a violation of the

addition, neither NATO, nor the nuclear weapon states within NATO –
the USA, Britain and France – did rule out the first use of nuclear

A new NATO strategy: more military interventions

NATO summit in Strasbourg and Baden Baden is not just about
celebrating NATO's 60th
birthday. The main discussion will be to continue the development of
NATO into an aggressive alliance for interventions, as it was started
with the Rome Declaration from 1991. The summit will therefore begin
a discussion on a new NATO strategy which will replace the strategy
of 1999, which has been agreed during the Kosovo war, in 2010 – if
everything goes well.

elements of such a new strategy have been proposed in a paper called
“Towards a grand strategy” of five former high ranking NATO
officers at the end of 2007. In this paper, the threats are even more
global. Future threats are especially religious and political
fundamentalism, the “dark” side of globalisation (international
terrorism, organised crime and the spread of weapons of mass
destruction), as well as climate change and securing access to energy
resources (control of resources and conflicts as a result of climate
change and climate change induced migration).

be prepared for these challenges, NATO needs to stick with the option
of first use of nuclear weapons, so the authors of the paper.13

authors also make proposals for changes to NATO's structure, so that
NATO will be “better” able to act. They propose for NATO to
abolish the principle of consensus for decisions within NATO, and
propose to introduce majority decisions, which means faster actions
through abolishing the veto right of member states. Especially
important is the proposal to abolish national caveats in NATO
operations of the kind that “plague” the Afghan campaign. In the
future, NATO members that are not part of a NATO operation should not
have any say about the operation.


law will be weakened even more though the use of military force also
without the authorisation of the Security Council of the United
Nations, if “immediate
action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings

at present these proposal are not official proposals, it can be
assumed that they will be an important part of the discussions.

the US are already trying to build a missile defence with bases in
Polen and the Czech Republic, NATO too will develop its own missile
defence. This will also be one of the topics of the NATO summit in
April 2009 in Strasbourg and Baden Baden.15

further expansion of NATO, especially towards the east, will be part
of the development of NATO. At the summit in Strasbourg and Baden the
new NATO members Albania and Croatia will probably finally be
accepted as members16.
NATO also attempts in include Ukraine, Georgia, Macedonia and Bosnia
and Hercegovina, and with all these countries exist bilateral
partnership agreements with the long term objective of NATO

Even without war: NATO kills

now NATO kills even without war. The financial resources committee to
military spending are no longer available for other purposes, such as
social welfare, the fight against poverty or health care. And this is
not just 'peanuts'. The total of the military expenditure of all NATO
members amounts to more than 70% of global military spending. Of
this, the USA alone is responsible for almost 50% of global military
spending, followed by France and Britain with another 10%.

to the Stockholm based peace research institute SIPRI in the last
decade global military spending increased by 45%, and amounted to
1339 billion US dollar in 2007. In Eastern Europe military spending
increased by 162% between 1998 and 2007. In the view of experts, the
NATO membership of formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe is
the main reason for the increase in military spending in these
countries, which try to bring their military structure in line with
the standards in other NATO countries18.

Shut down NATO – Nonviolent action against NATO

A broad international coalition is preparing a range of protest
activities for the NATO summit in Strasbourg and Baden Baden. The
concept that has been agreed at an international preparatory
conference in Stuttgart on 4/5 October 2008 includes:

  • a counter-conference on 3 April 2009 in Straßburg;

  • an international demonstration on 4 April 2009, also in Strasbourg.
    There will also be a feeder demonstration from Kehl on the German

  • action camps

  • actions of civil disobedience.

groups are preparing actions of civil disobedience for the working
dinners of the foreign and defence ministers and the heads of state
and governments on 3 April in Baden Baden and for the morning of the
NATO summit on 4 April in Strasbourg.

Under the working title “Shut down NATO – Nonviolent Action against
” several nonviolent organisations – among them War
Resisters' International, Vredesactie in Belgium, the Werkstatt für
gewaltfreie Aktion Baden, the Bund für soziale Verteidigung, DFG-VK
and others – and individuals formed a coalition to organise an
action in Strasbourg within the framework of the blockades that are
being organised by a broad spectrum of groups.

objective of the action is to block the main access routes to the
summit in Strasbourg with a blockade and a “human carpet”. This
will symbolise: the participants in the summit (i.e. chancellor
Merkel, president Sarkozy, president Obama) will need to leave their
limousines and have to walk over people lying on the floor to get to
the summit. Thus they will experience the reality of 60 years of
NATO: that NATO walks over corpses.

At present, the above mentioned organisations are working on the
practical preparation for the action. Help is urgently needed. Take
part in the action! Mobilise for the actions! Organise nonviolence
training, and come to Strasbourg and Baden Baden from 1-5 April 2009.

Andreas Speck

Andreas Speck is staff at the London office of WRI and represents WRI on the International Coordinating Committee No to NATO 2009.

Contact for the action:
Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International, Email, Tel
+44-20-7278 4040.

This is a translated version of an article that will be published in
Graswurzelrevolution February 2009


Guardian, 5 December 1990

Warfare: Operation Gladio and NATO's Stay-Behind Armies, Parallel
History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact, Center for Security
Studies at ETH Zurich and the National Security Archive at the
George Washington University,,
accessed on 18 January 2009

Alliance's Strategic Concept agreed by the Heads of State and
Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic
Council, Rome, 8 November 1991 ,,
accessed on 17 January 2009

Militäreinsätze im früheren Jugoslawien, Handelsblatt, 22 August

Vertretung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland bei der Nordatlantikpakt
Organisation, Brüssel: Militärische Operationen,,
accessed 17 January 2009

hands over counter-piracy operation to EU, 15 December 2008,

7see for example Bucharest
Summit Declaration, Issued by the Heads of State and Government
participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in
Bucharest on 3 April 2008,

Rights Watch: Afghanistan: Zivile Opfer durch Luftangriffe, 7
September 2008,

Pflüger: 60 years of NATO are enough! The Broken Rifle no 79,
September 2008,;
see also: Jürgen
Wagner: Zivil-militärische
Ossietzky Nr. 24/2008,

Alliance's Strategic Concept:,
number 63

for example: Otfried Nassauer: US - Atomwaffen in Deutschland und
Europa, updated version June 2008,

Nassauer: US - Atomwaffen in Deutschland und Europa, updated version
June 2008,

a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World. Renewing Transatlantic
quoted from: Ian Traynor: Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told, The
Guardian, 22 January 2008,

Traynor: Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told, The
Guardian, 22 January 2008,

Summit Declaration, Issued by the Heads of State and Government
participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in
Bucharest on 3 April 2008,,
number 37

of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Foreign Ministers held
at NATO Headquarters, Brussels - Final communiqué,,
accessed 20 January 2009

Amt: NATO-Außenminister: Einigung über NATO-Beitrittsprozess für
Georgien und Ukraine, 2. Dezember 2008,

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