NATO: Our Position
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed (1949) under a treaty renouncing “the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” The Treaty calls for military action-based on the doctrine of collective self-defense only in response to an attack upon a member. By reserving the liberty of deciding when military intervention is required, it usurps the authority the UN Charter which supposedly confers on the Security Council the authority to make such decisions. But NATO’s assault on international peace and security goes much farther. Plainly, its many military initiatives (as in former Yugoslavia in 1992 and 1999, and in Libya in 2011) and its military “exercises” threatening Russia on its very borders (up to the present) have violated NATO’s self-declared limitations and international law. One might regard this as sufficient reason for a peace-seeking member nation to withdraw from this military-security organization.
Almost from its beginning, NATO has committed a still more serious breach of the spirit and letter of international agreements: it systematically strives to impose its will by the threat of nuclear war. Therefore, Science for Peace (SfP) cannot condone Canada’s adherence to an alliance which insists on its readiness to be the first to resort to nuclear arms (discussed, e.g., by the Arms Control Association). SfP would still support this stance even if NATO abruptly accepted the principle of No First Use: the use or threat of nuclear war even if retaliation incurs absolutely unacceptable danger to the survival of humanity and must be repudiated. The rationale of nuclear deterrence, far from shielding Canada or anyone under a “nuclear umbrella”, acts to multiply the ways a nuclear war may be triggered, and magnifies the destruction it threatens.
Despite the increasingly potent threats to human survival through nuclear war and climate change, the public is largely left uninformed by the media, the government, and to a great extent academia. Public knowledge of the historical context behind NATO is essential for the body politics to properly assess their support of or dissent against the alliance. With regard to laws and implementation of the binding Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, including social and economic rights, that truthfully ensure common and human security: “The malleable, indeterminate, and oft-ignored ‘rules’ of the [U.N.] Charter concerning use of force can plausibly be marshaled to support virtually any U.S. military action deemed in the national interest. Limited or ambiguous U.N. Security Council approval, where available, is easily stretched.” In 1996 the International Court of Justice declared that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles of humanitarian law”. Yet, such threats from President Donald Trump or implicitly from NATO’s first-use policy are met with silence.
Similarly indeterminate and lacking in meaningful constraints are the agreements around nuclear weapons. The U.N. Non-Proliferation Treaty has not resulted in sanctions or limit-setting in any of the states already possessing nuclear weapons and has not addressed former president Barack Obama’s $1.1 trillion allocation for nuclear weapons proliferation. The public is uninformed about the significant escalation of danger since 1991 following former President George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti Ballistic Defense Treaty. The consequence resulting in a missile defense system that effectually increases NATO’s belief that after a first strike, a missile defense system could stop a nuclear counter-attack and that a nuclear war is winnable.
Challenging the ambiguity and compromises of the U.N. Security Council in order to address the mounting threats of human extinction, non-NATO nations and civil society members joined together to implement a nuclear ban treaty. Canada, bowing to NATO pressure, did not even participate in the meetings leading up to the adoption of the treaty. Canada is also bowing to NATO pressure to increase military spending.
Science for Peace calls on the Government of Canada not only to withdraw from NATO and to cease from colluding with NATO’s pretense of pursuing defensive goals, but to join in condemning its violations of the U.N. purpose concerning the maintenance of international peace and security. We call on the Canadian government to also sign and ratify the treaty to ban nuclear weapons, to work towards dismantling NATO altogether and to oppose the global trends towards militarizing the many urgent and devastating humanitarian situations.