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New Left Review I/234, March-April 1999


Tariq Ali

Springtime for NATO

When Western leaders assemble in Washington, later this year, to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of nato, how will they assess the Balkan campaign of Spring 1999? The aim of the summit is a new mission statement for nato, transforming it from a defensive alliance into a mobile, global police force which can hit a target state anywhere in the world to defend the interests of the United States, defined, of course, as ‘human rights’ and the ‘free market’. Blair is, naturally, totally committed to the transformation of nato. New Labour is harnessed to the chariot-wheels of us military policy and it is not for nothing that the us has plied the Ministry of Defence with Tomahawk missiles and state-of-the-art weaponry. The British defence and intelligence establishment is tied to the us with an umbilical cord. Germany, Italy and France are marginally more sceptical of the go-it-alone strategy, while massive anti-war demonstrations in Athens have seriously shaken the Greek government, making it difficult for Salonika to be used as a disembarkation port for ground troops. Even new nato recruit, the Czech Republic, has distanced itself from the bombing offensive. All these states still need to be convinced that it is wise to treat Russia with contempt. What is taking place in the skies over Serbia is, therefore, of critical importance in determining who wins this argument.

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