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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La stratégie de l’escalade politico-militaire supranationale

by Jacques Fath

A Strategy of Supranational Politico-Military Escalation

Translated Tuesday 12 February 2008, by Isabelle Métral

A blueprint proposes making NATO the decisive peace-keeping instrument worldwide.
Five former military chiefs of staff from NATO member countries have made public a blueprint entitled “Towards a grand strategy in an uncertain world. Renewing the trans-Atlantic partnership.” This blueprint precedes by a few months the 60th-anniversary summit due in Belgrade next April. It outlines tomorrow’s international security should the approach and ideas it proposes be adopted.

That grand strategy is a very classical description of a world of threat, conflict and violence; it does not raise the slightest question about Western, especially US strategies and policies, about their responsibility for past and present evolutions and crises and their aftermath. It’s a case of “them” against “us”, or good against evil. This bias, so characteristic of Bush, can serve as an apt illustration for the approach that prevails throughout the report.

The political, institutional, and military options proposed deserve to be closely examined. The blueprint reviews and assesses the main international institutions (the UN and regional organizations like ASEAN, OSCE, EU) and finds them “unable to…”, “inadequate”, “lacking in will”, or “in a broad vision”. All except NATO, which is credited with “outstanding successes”. Such simplistic subjectivism might elicit a smile or two, if it was not meant to justify the new configuration of an international order structured around NATO and a top level US-EU-NATO “steering directorate”.

The plan actually consists in setting up a topmost supranational politico-military system. Decisions concerning military operations would require only a majority vote, except at the level of the NATO council where consensus would still be required, as it is considered a political decision-making body. Only the countries that took part in an operation would have a say in the conduct of the operation. The operational commandment in a crisis would be totally independent of the governments that had sent forces. States would no longer be allowed to subject the engagement of their own troops to specific conditions. NATO would be granted a “pre-delegation” that would legitimize military interference in the event of a serious crisis that demanded urgent solutions, instead of waiting for a decision by the NATO committee. Lastly, though the blueprint does recognize the UN as being the only authority that can legitimize the use of force, it specifies that the use of force would be legitimate if time was too short to submit the question to the Security Council, or if the Security Council was unable to take the urgent decision the situation required.

All in all, the measures listed would make NATO and its military commands free to make decisions without referring to any other authority.

Taken all together, the changes proposed would make NATO increasingly independent of the Alliance’s States, and of the UN, and even of its own decision-taking authority which is considered as being the most political, namely the Council (where ambassadors or ministers of the member States all sit together). The nature of NATO itself would be changed as a consequence, the Atlantic alliance and its integrated military organization being far more centralized and independent of the community of the member States, and so even more subjected to the US.

Worse still, the blueprint envisages opening up NATO, considered as a global Alliance, even further. The US-EU-NATO directorate would constitute the crucial decision-taking axis of a security system under “Western” hegemony. The blueprint goes so far as to specify that the directorate would have a say in G8’s agendas, and that “NATO would always be the organization where all questions were first debated.” Which would spell the end of European autonomy….

As concerns Europe the blueprint is very explicit: “We have avoided making as many proposals for EU as we have for NATO, and for two reasons: first a new European treaty, which will replace the defunct “Constitution”, has been negotiated and is currently about to be smuggled through in such a way as to avoid the risks involved in submitting it to the Europeans’ vote. Secondly, new proposals have been brought up like the French president’s proposal to set up an advisory committee with a view to creating a Mediterranean zone of cooperation. The results of these initiatives will change Europe.” The telltale formulation – even as concerns the treaty and the best way to have it adopted – shows how European leaders and Nicolas Sarkozy in particular are relied upon to take the future of NATO into their hands and to set up a new international security system. This is in line with power-based strategies and policies relying on the use of force.. The blueprint is quite clear on two striking points: the pre-emptive (or “preventive”) use of military force and the first strike nuclear option would become “appropriate” options, or even “indispensable instruments as there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world… All in all nuclear weapons are indispensable, and nuclear escalation remains an element of any modern strategy.”

This “grand strategy in an uncertain world” is in fact a dismal policy of militarization and western hegemony. Particularly disturbing in this respect is the fact that very similar arguments will be found in French former Prime Minister Edouard Balladur’s recent essay, entitled “The case for a western union”.

To be sure, there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, and one report is not a settled policy. But still the question needs to be asked: since Nicolas Sarkozy has decided to push for a full re-integration of France within the Alliance’s integrated military organization, is France meant to support that policy? Can the country do so without ignoring its own values, or the UN Charter’s, or the demand for peace, disarmament, independence, and multilateralism indispensable to the resolution of today’s conflicts, the appeasement of tensions, the development of cooperation and collective security in Europe, in the Mediterranean and in the world? Following the publication of this blueprint, the French authorities will have to decide and to answer.

Jacques Fath is in charge of international relations for the French Communist Party

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