News Releases

NATO’s Record of Destabilization

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will address a joint meeting of Congress today.

[See video of RootsAction.org news conference “NATO and U.S. Foreign Policy: Dangers Ahead” at the National Press Club on Tuesday, which included former State Department officials Matthew Hoh and Ann Wright and Martin Fleck of Physicians for Social Responsibility.]

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO. Foreign ministers from NATO countries will participate in commemorations in Washington, D.C. There will also be teach-ins and protests, see: NoToNato.org.

While Stoltenberg has argued that NATO provides stability, security and peace, many scrutinizing NATO have come to the opposite conclusion.

DAVID GIBBS, dgibbs at arizona.edu
Gibbs is professor of history at the University of Arizona, and author of the 2009 book First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, published by Vanderbilt University Press.He said today: “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s record on global security has been disastrous, especially with regard to its efforts at interventionism and regime change. Its 1999 bombing of Serbia and Kosovo greatly augmented the scale of atrocities and ethnic cleansing. The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya was even more disastrous, triggering a generalized destabilization of the whole North African region. And more recently, NATO expansion into Eastern Europe has contributed to rising tensions between the West and Russia. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO’s principal legacy has been to generate global insecurity and destabilization — all at great expense to taxpayers.”

See from FAIR: “Media Erase NATO Role in Bringing Slave Markets to Libya.”

The Norway-based analyst John Y. Jones states that NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg is seen as a Norwegian Blair (with respect to privatization and tax reduction). Jones states that Stoltenberg’s enthusiasm for Norway’s participation in the 2011 bombing of Libya was seen as his ticket to becoming Secretary General of NATO. A critical book about him, The Man Without Spine, was written by Magnus Marsdal.

See from the Swedish analyst Jan Oberg of the Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research: “NATO’s Crisis and the Transatlantic Conflict.”

NATO Expansion: The Skeptics Were “Proven Correct”

[RootsAction.org will hold a news conference “NATO and U.S. Foreign Policy: Dangers Ahead” at the National Press Club on Tuesday, which will include former State Department officials Matthew Hoh and Ann Wright. There will also be teach-ins and protests in D.C., see: NoToNato.org.]

JAMES CARDEN, [in D.C.], jamescarden09 at gmail.com
Carden is a contributing writer at The Nation and the executive editor for the American Committee for East-West Accord.

He just wrote the piece “NATO Turns 70“: “On April 4, 1949, representatives of the United States, Canada, and 10 European countries, including the United Kingdom and France, gathered in Washington to sign the North Atlantic Treaty, a defense pact created at the urging of wartime allies France and Britain as a means to, in the words of NATO’s first secretary general, Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, ‘keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.’ …

“To mark the 70th anniversary of that occasion, NATO foreign ministers will descend on Washington for a ministerial meeting, various think-tank panels and commemorations, all to be topped off by an address from NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg to a joint meeting of Congress. …

“One of NATO’s first major post-Cold War missions, the 78-day aerial bombing of Serbia, nearly ended in disaster when NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark ordered British General Mike Jackson, commander of NATO’s troops in Kosovo, to retake the airfield in Pristina, the capital, from the Russians — by force if necessary.

“Jackson refused: ‘I’m not going to start Third World War for you.’ …

“In an open letter to the Clinton administration in June 1997, dozens of high-ranking former policy-makers and diplomats, including Senators Bill Bradley, Gary Hart, and Sam Nunn; Paul H. Nitze, Ambassador Jack Matlock, and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, warned that ‘NATO expansion is neither necessary nor desirable and that this ill-conceived policy can and should be put on hold.’

“The diplomat-scholar George F. Kennan also foresaw trouble. Writing just after the New Year in 1997, Kennan predicted that ‘the Russians will not react wisely and moderately to the decision of NATO to extend its boundaries to the Russian frontiers.’ For Kennan, the decision was ‘the greatest mistake of the entire post-Cold War period.’ Time has proven the skeptics correct.

“The policy of NATO expansion is largely responsible for the dangerous deterioration in relations between Russia and the West and lies at the heart of the ongoing Ukraine crisis. …

“Instead of a self-serving, self-justifying anniversary celebration, NATO should address what has gone so wrong over the past three decades by reexamining its policies of eastward expansion and non-defensive deployment and seriously consider adopting a nuclear ‘no first use’ policy.”

NATO: “A Gift to Vested Interests, Source of Global Tension”

Next week marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO. Foreign ministers from NATO countries will participate in commemorations in Washington, D.C. General Secretary of NATO Jens Stoltenberg will address a joint meeting of Congress. There will also be teach-ins and protests, see: NoToNato.org.

RootsAction.org will hold a news conference “NATO and U.S. Foreign Policy: Dangers Ahead” at the National Press Club on Tuesday, which will include former State Department officials Matthew Hoh and Ann Wright.

DAVID GIBBS, dgibbs at arizona.edu
Gibbs is professor of history at the University of Arizona, and author of the 2009 book First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, published by Vanderbilt University Press.He said today: “Since the ending of the Cold War in 1989, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has ceased to have a positive function. Instead, it has become an extravagant gift to vested interests, including the uniformed militaries in both the United States and Europe, as well as weapons manufacturers – all funded by taxpayers. Far from providing security, NATO has become a major source of global tension. It contributed significantly to the current conflict between the U.S. and Russia, which could easily evolve into a new Cold War, posing a dire threat to world security.”

Russia and NATO Expansion

The group RootsAction.org today released an action alert: “Next Wednesday, a rare joint session of Congress will hear a speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“NATO began 70 years ago with an announced mission of being a defensive alliance of Western European nations, Canada and the United States. But in recent decades, NATO has been a destabilizing and deadly force — with large-scale military interventions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya — while more and more countries have become NATO members. …

“Just days ago, NATO confirmed that it intends to bring into military membership yet another country on the Russian border — Georgia. But before that dangerous change can take effect, the U.S. Senate must vote on it. …

“The historical record is clear. After the 1990 reunification of Germany, the first Bush administration promised that NATO would move ‘not one inch eastward.’ But during the last three decades, NATO has added 13 counties and now is up against Russia’s borders.”

PIETRO SHAKARIAN, shakarian.3 at buckeyemail.osu.edu
Shakarian is a specialist in the Caucasus region, particularly Armenia and Georgia. He is currently a history PhD candidate at The Ohio State University. He hosts the “Reconsidering Russia” podcast and has written introductions for a series of classic books on the region.

He said today: “Nestled on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, Georgia is a nation with two breakaway regions — Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both entities desire to secede as a result of longstanding grievances that erupted into open conflict with the unraveling of the Soviet Union in 1991. A peace process involving Tbilisi and these self-proclaimed republics began in the 1990s, with Russia acting as mediator. After the 2003 Rose Revolution, the pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili ascended to power with the support of Washington and made membership in the EU and NATO a priority for Georgia. This move alienated the Abkhaz and Ossetes, and aggravated Moscow. Then, in August 2008, convinced of American support, Saakashvili attacked South Ossetia, prompting the well-known bear-like response from Moscow. In 2012, his party was ousted by Georgian voters and the Georgian Dream (GD), led by the pragmatic billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, assumed power. The GD seeks a rapprochement with Russia and dialogue with the Abkhaz and the Ossetes. However, it has also retained Georgia’s EU and NATO aspirations as a form of geopolitical leverage vis-à-vis Moscow.

“Pro-NATO sentiments in Georgia are encouraged by Washington war hawks and NATO officials, such as Mr. Stoltenberg. What motivated Stoltenberg’s latest remark about Georgia and NATO? At first glance, such a statement seems like business as usual. U.S. and NATO officials periodically travel to Georgia and make such declarations to reinforce Tbilisi’s commitment to its NATO aspirations. However, the exceptional hawkishness of this particular statement suggests another context, which is the Russiagate controversy in the U.S. Keep in mind that Stoltenberg’s pronouncement came one day after Attorney General Bill Barr announced the findings of the Mueller Report. It also came a week before Stoltenberg’s upcoming address to a joint session of Congress on April 3. The idea is to bolster support in Washington for a harder policy toward Russia.

“Although especially provocative, Stoltenberg’s statement will most likely not change the status quo. It is highly doubtful that Georgia will ever join NATO, not only because the EU has no stomach for a confrontation with Russia, but also because Tbilisi does not fully control its own territory. Bringing Georgia into NATO would be a dangerous enterprise that could spark a nuclear confrontation between Moscow and Washington in the Caucasus. The alternative would be for the Georgians, Russians, Abkhaz, and Ossetes to come together at the negotiating table and resolve all matters through diplomatic means.”

Is “Russiagate” Helping Push the NATO Agenda?

Radio Free Europe is reporting that during a visit to the country of Georgia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the South Caucasus country will join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, despite Russia’s strong opposition. See: “Stoltenberg: Georgia Will Join NATO, And Russia Can Do Nothing About It.” See NATO statement on NATO-Georgian military exercises. The country of Georgia borders Russia, Turkey and the eastern end of the Black Sea. It is about 2,000 miles from the Atlantic.

Stoltenberg is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress on April 3.

STEPHEN F. COHEN, sfc1 at nyu.edu
Available for a limited number of interviews, Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University. A Nation contributing editor, he is the author, most recently, of War With Russia? From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate.

He recently wrote the piece “Even a Vacuous Mueller Report Won’t End ‘Russiagate.’

Cohen writes: “The top Democratic congressional leadership evidently has concluded that promoting the new Cold War, of which Russiagate has become an integral part, is a winning issue in 2020. How else to explain Nancy Pelosi’s proposal — subsequently endorsed by the equally unstatesmanlike Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and adopted — to invite the secretary general of NATO, a not-very-distinguished Norwegian politician named Jens Stoltenberg, to address a joint session of Congress? The honor was once bestowed on figures such as Winston Churchill and at the very least leaders of actual countries. Trump has reasonably questioned NATO’s mission and costs nearly 30 years after the Soviet Union disappeared, as did many Washington think tanks and pundits back in the 1990s. But for Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, there can be no such discussion, only valorization of NATO, even though the military alliance’s eastward expansion has brought the West to the brink of war with nuclear Russia.”

AIPAC and Israel’s Influence

The Washington Post reports in “Hoyer delivers strong defense of U.S.-Israel alliance in veiled rebuke of Rep. Omar,” “’I stand with Israel, proudly and unapologetically. So, when someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me. I am part of a large, bipartisan coalition in Congress supporting Israel. I tell Israel’s detractors: Accuse us,’ Hoyer said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference at Washington’s Convention Center.”

Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to meet today.

WALTER HIXSON, walter4 at uakron.edu
Hixson is distinguished professor of history at the University of Akron. He is author of the just-released Israel’s Armor: The Israel Lobby and the First Generation of the Palestine Conflict (Cambridge University Press).

He recently wrote “We Need to Acknowledge the Power of the Israel Lobby” for History News Network. He wrote: “While reams of type and hype have spilled forth concerning the intrusions by the big, bad Russian bear (yes, he’s back after a post-Cold War hibernation) on American politics, we hear very little about Israel’s influence, which has profoundly shaped United States Middle East diplomacy since World War II. As I document … the Israel lobby goes much deeper historically than most people realize and has long exercised an outsized influence on Congress and presidential elections. …

“Even more absurd than over-hyping Russian influence on U.S. elections while ignoring those of Israel, is the widespread condemnation of Iran for supposedly pursuing a nuclear weapon, while ignoring the history of Israel’s utter contempt for nuclear non-proliferation in defiance of the United States dating back to the Eisenhower administration.”

In his talk on Friday at the “Israel Lobby & American Policy Conference,” Hixson said that the lobby has been political armor for Israel for decades. Israel found early on it “could massacre people and rely on the lobby to effectively manage the political fallout.” The conference was on C-SPAN.

Hixson’s past books include American Settler Colonialism and The Myth of American Diplomacy: National Identity and U.S. Foreign Policy.

See piece by Institute for Public Accuracy senior analyst Sam Husseini: “Rep. Omar’s Choice.”

Russiagate: “Massive Gift for Trump”

AARON MATÉ, aaronmate at gmail.com, @aaronjmate
For over two years, Maté has written a series of pieces for The Nation questioning the prevailing orthodoxy on “Russiagate” including: “A Skeptic’s Guide to the Russiagate Fixation,” “New Studies Show Pundits Are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement in U.S. Politics,” “Don’t Let Russophobia Warp the Facts on Russiagate,” “Don’t Count on Russiagate to Bring Trump Down,” and from Feb. 2017: “Stop With the Conspiracy Theories — Trump Is Bad Enough.”

He was also featured on numerous Institute for Public Accuracy news releases on the subject, including: “Behind MSNBC’s Russia Obsession,” “From Cohen to Venezuela: Hollowness of ‘Russiagate,’” “Is Flynn/Kushner Actually Israelgate?” and “Why is Israelgate Being Downplayed?

He said today: “Robert Mueller’s findings should put to rest the Trump-Russia collusion theory that has dominated U.S. media and political culture for more than two years. They also should come as no surprise to anyone who closely followed the available evidence in the case to date. The narrative of a Trump-Russia conspiracy was not grounded in fact. Unfortunately, prominent media and political voices ignored the countervailing evidence to blow it far out of proportion and mislead millions of people into expecting that Mueller would uncover a Trump-Russia plot.”

Maté also blamed the “intelligence agencies that relied on dubious evidence, namely the Steele dossier, to target a major presidential campaign — setting up a dangerous precedent, no matter one’s party affiliation.

“The collapse of Russiagate need not be a defeat for the anti-Trump resistance that got behind it. The Trump-Russia fixation has sidelined attention on Trump’s actual policies, and channelled liberal energy into unrealistic expectations. With Mueller no longer able to fill that fantasy role, those who oppose Trump have the opportunity to build a real resistance to his administration, and confront the serious issues that Russiagate has helped us avoid. The task will not be easy: as some of us progressive skeptics of Russiagate warned, the incessant faith in a conspiracy theory did not take into account that it not only overlooked Trump’s actual policies, but also stood to benefit Trump should it collapse. With Mueller’s probe wrapping up with no finding of a conspiracy, those who led their audiences to expect the opposite have just handed Trump a massive gift for his re-election campaign.”

Trump’s Recognition of Golan Violates International Law

President Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted it’s “time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

The annual AIPAC conference begins on Sunday and The Hill reports it “boasts headliners from both parties, including Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also routinely come to the event, and will do so again this year.”

Ali Abunimah tweeted: “How do the delusional @Maddow #Russiagate peddlers explain that ‘Putin puppet’ @realDonaldTrump still refuses to recognize Russian annexation of Crimea, but just did Netanyahu’s bidding and recognized illegal Israeli annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights?”

Abunimah is among the speakers at the “Israel Lobby & American Policy Conference,” now taking place on Friday at the National Press Club. See information, including livestream — also on C-SPAN2. Other speakers include Walter Hixson, author of Israel’s Armor: The Israel Lobby and the First Generation of the Palestine Conflict and organizer Grant Smith, author of Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby moves America.

JOHN QUIGLEY, quigley.2 at osu.edu
Quigley is professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University. Regarding Trump’s statement on the Golan Heights, which was seized by Israel in 1967, he cites the Stimson Doctrine, which which forbids recognition of any legal consequences as a result of the use of force. See information on State Department website about the Stimson Doctrine.

Quigley’s books include The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict (Cambridge University Press) and The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II. He also wrote “Finding a Way Forward for Crimea,” for the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law.

Beto O’Rourke Offering “Rorschach Politics”

In a story headlined “Centrist or Liberal? Beto O’Rourke’s Political Splits,” The Associated Press reports that in the early days of his presidential campaign O’Rourke “has vowed to work with Republicans. . . The architects of his campaign insist he’s not interested in adhering to a particular ideological lane, and O’Rourke himself shuns party labels. But trying to have it both ways could leave Democratic voters with the impression that O’Rourke is a candidate with a split political personality.”

The AP story quotes Norman Solomon, who was a Barack Obama delegate in 2008 and a Bernie Sanders delegate in 2016 at Democratic national conventions. “I see him [O’Rourke] as offering Rorschach politics,” Solomon said. “In the age of Trump, when you want to be something for everybody, you’re going to end up being amorphous for a lot of people.” He added: “We can’t just be nice to Republicans. We know that doesn’t work.”

In an opinion piece published today — “Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President” — Solomon writes that “to understand Beto O’Rourke as a candidate, it’s vital to go beneath the surface of his political backstory.”

To arrange an interview, contact:

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com

Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org, which has 1.2 million active supporters online in the United States. At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Solomon was the coordinator of the independent Bernie Delegates Network. He is currently on the coordinating team of the relaunched Network.

In his article today, Solomon writes about “an inconvenient truth that could undermine the O’Rourke campaign among the people who matter most — the ones who’ll be voting to choose the Democratic presidential nominee next year.”

Solomon’s piece says that “O’Rourke would much rather talk in upbeat generalities than answer pointed questions about why anti-Republican voters should cast ballots for him — when he has a long record of going along with many GOP positions they find abhorrent.” For example, “he supported raising the minimum age for Social Security in 2012,” and while in Congress through the end of 2018 “he often aligned himself with Republican positions.”

And Solomon concludes: “In his quest for a Democratic nomination that will require support from a primary electorate that leans progressive, Beto O’Rourke will be running to elude his actual record. If it catches up with him, he’s going to lose.”

Solomon is the executive director of IPA.

NoToNATO.org: Trump a NATO Booster

NATO foreign ministers are scheduled to gather in Washington, D.C. on April, 4 2019 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the organization. There will be protests, news conferences and other events scrutinizing NATO.

DAVID SWANSON, david at worldbeyondwar.org, @davidcnswanson
Swanson is director of the group World Beyond War, which is helping organize the upcoming protests in D.C. and elsewhere with a host of other groups. See: NoToNATO.org.

On Tuesday, President Trump, while meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, said he intends “to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally — or, maybe a NATO ally.” While the Washington Post writes that “Trump misunderstands NATO so badly, he thinks Brazil could be part of it,” Swanson notes that in fact, Colombia is already a NATO partner. This policy was pushed by the Atlantic Council, which itself is funded by the U.S. mission to NATO as well as various weapons makers.

Swanson adds: “The pretense of North-Atlanticness was pretty well gone with the wars on Afghanistan, Pakistan. Libya.” Swanson also questions the depiction of Trump as “anti-NATO” while he has been “the biggest promoter of NATO ever” since his past comments have “already got most NATO members buying more weapons.”

[This week marks the anniversaries of both the Iraq invasion (see background and videos) and the NATO bombing of Libya.]

See NoToNATO.org for information, events and critical background on NATO: “NATO is the largest military alliance in the world with the largest military spending and weapons dealing (roughly three-quarters of the world total) and nuclear stockpiles. While claiming to ‘preserve peace,’ NATO has violated international law and bombed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has exacerbated tensions with Russia and increased the risk of nuclear apocalypse. …

“War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. We’re calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures.”

« Previous PageNext Page »