Q:What is the result of the Symposium in Florence?
Michel Chossudovsky: The event was a great success, with the participation of speakers from the United States, Europe and Russia. We presented the history of NATO. We identified and carefully documented its crimes against humanity. And at the end of the Symposium, we presented the “Declaration of Florence,” a way of exiting the war system.
Q:In your introduction, you affirmed that the Atlantic Alliance is not a true alliance…
Michel Chossudovsky: On the contrary, under the appearance of a multinational military alliance, it is the Pentagon which dominates the decision-making mechanisms of NATO. The USA controls the command structures of NATO, which are incorporated with those of the United States. The Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR) is always a US General nominated by Washington. The Secretary General, currently Jens Stoltenberg, is essentially a bureaucrat who handles public relations. He has no decision-making role.
Q:Another theme you raised was that of the US military bases in Italy and other European countries, including in the East, despite the fact that the Warsaw Pact has not existed since 1991, and despite the promise made to Gorbachev that no extension of NATO towards the East would ever occur. What is the purpose of these bases?
Michel Chossudovsky: NATO’s tacit objective – an important theme in our debate in Florence – is to implement, under a different denomination, the de facto “military occupation” of Western Europe. The United States not only continue to “occupy” the ex-members of the Second World War “Axis countries” (Italy, Germany), but have used the badge of NATO to set up US military bases in all of Western Europe, and, thereafter, in Eastern Europe in the wake of the Cold War, and in the Balkans in the wake of the NATO war against Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro).
Q:What has changed in terms of the possible use of nuclear weapons?
Michel Chossudovsky: Immediately after the Cold War, a new nuclear doctrine was formulated, focused on the preventive use of nuclear weapons, in other words, on a nuclear first strike as a means of self-defence. Within the framework of USA-NATO interventions, presented as peace-keeping measures, a new generation of “low power” and “non-usable” nuclear weapons was created, described as “inoffensive for civilians”. US political leaders consider them to be “bombs for pacification.” The Cold War agreements, which established certain safety measures, have now been abandoned. The concept of “Mutually Assured Destruction,” relative to the use of nuclear weapons, has been replaced by the doctrine of preventive nuclear war.
Q:NATO was “obsolete” at the beginning of the Trump presidency, but now it has been rebooted by the White House. What relation is there between the arms race and the economic crisis?
Michel Chossudovsky: War and globalisation go hand in hand. Militarisation relies on the imposition of macro-economic restructuration in the target countries. It imposes military spending in order to support the war economy to the detriment of civil economy. It leads to economic destabilisation and the loss of the power of national institutions. An example – recently President Trump proposed huge budget cuts in the health and teaching sectors, and in social infrastructures, although he has asked for a massive increase in the budget of the Pentagon. At the beginning of his administration, President Trump confirmed the increase of expenditure in the military nuclear programme, launched by Obama, from 1,000 to 1,200 billions of dollars, claiming that this would serve to make the world safer. All over the European Union, the increase in military spending, coupled with austerity measures, is leading to the demise of what used to be called “the Welfare State.” Now, under US pressure, NATO is engaged in increasing military spending, and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declares that this is the correct decision to “guarantee the safety of our population.” The military interventions are coupled with concomitant acts of economic sabotage and financial manipulation. The final objective is the conquest of both human and material resources and of political institutions. The acts of war support a process of total economic conquest. The hegemonic project of the United States is to transform countries and international sovereign institutions into territories which are open for their penetration. One of their instruments is the imposition of heavy penalties on debt-ridden countries. The imposition of lethal macro-economic reforms serves to impoverish vast sectors of the world population.
Q:What is now, and what will become the role of the medias?
Michel Chossudovsky: Without the disinformation broadcast, in general, by almost all the medias, the military programme of the USA-NATO would collapse like a house of cards. The imminent dangers of a new war with the most modern weapons and the atomic peril are not the sort of news that makes the headlines. War is presented as an act of pacification. War criminals are depicted as pacifiers. War becomes peace. Reality is reversed. When lies become truth, there is no going back.
Counter-celebration in Florence of the 70th anniversary of NATO
The political leaders of NATO gathered together to celebrate this anniversary, but without the presence of President Trump. At the same moment, and against the advice of the Alliance, Trump proposed a partial nuclear disarmament with China and Russia. From their side, a few peace militants called for an exit from NATO - a position which is pardoxically close to that of Donald Trump.
Voltaire Network | Rome (Italy)
The 70th anniversary of NATO was celebrated by the 29 Ministers of Foreign Affairs, not at NATO headquarters in Brussels, but at its headquarters in Washington. The Master of Ceremonies was the General Secretary of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who restricted himself to announcing the opening speech by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.
NATO – explained the State Department – is important because, due to its existence, « the United States can better handle, either by military or political force, any global threat against their interests - NATO remains fundamentaly dedicated to military operations by the USA in the transAtlantic region (in other words, Europe) or in other strategically critical areas, like the Middle East and Southern Asia ».
So it is the State Department which states quite clearly that NATO is an instrument of the United States. There was no political reaction from Italy.
The only response came from the Symposium organised by the Comitato No Guerra No Nato and by Global Research, the research centre directed by Michel Chossudovsky (Montreal). The Symposium united about six hundred participants at the Odeon cinema-theatre in Florence on 7 April.
The conclusions are set out in the
DECLARATION OF FLORENCE FOR AN INTERNATIONAL FRONT NATO EXIT
The risk of a vast war which, with the use of nuclear weapons, could mean the end of Humanity, is real and growing, even though it is not noticed by the general public, which is maintained in the ignorance of this imminent danger.
A strong engagement to find a way out of the war system is of vital importance. This raises the question of the affiliation of Italy and other European countries with NATO.
NATO is not an Alliance. It is an organisation under the command of the Pentagon, and its objective is the military control of Western and Eastern Europe.
US bases in the member countries of NATO serve to occupy these countries, by maintaining a permanent military presence which enables Washington to influence and control their policies and prevent genuine democratic choices.
NATO is a war machine which operates for the interests of the United States, with the complicity of the major European power groups which made them guilty of crimes against Humanity.
NATO’s war of aggression in 1999 against Yugoslavia paved the way for the globalization of military interventions, with wars against Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and other countries, in complete violation of the international law.
These wars are financed by the member countries, whose military budgets are increasing continually to the detriment of social expenditure, in order to support colossal military programmes like that of the US nuclear programme which costs US $ 1.2 trillion.
In violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the USA is deploying nuclear weapons in five non-nuclear NATO States, under the false pretext of the ’’Russian menace’’. By doing so, they are risking the security of Europe.
To exit the war system which is causing more and more damage and exposing us to increasing dangers, we must leave NATO, affirming our rights as sovereign and neutral States.
In this way, it becomes possible to contribute to the dismantling of NATO and all other military alliances, to the reconfiguration of the structures of the whole European region, to the formation of a multipolar world where the aspirations of the People for liberty and social justice may be realised.
We propose the creation of a NATO EXIT International Front in all the European member countries of NATO, by building an organisational network at a basic level strong enough to support the very difficult struggle we must face in order to attain this objective, which is vital for our future.
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“ Counter-celebration in Florence of the 70th anniversary of NATO”, by Manlio Dinucci, Translation Pete Kimberley, Il Manifesto (Italy) , Voltaire Network, 18 April 2019, www.voltairenet.org/article206150.html