NATO summit

When world leaders gathered for the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, the laundry list of issues on the agenda spelled out war, and the concluding outcomes of the summit spelled added war. The leaders met at a time of great global tension gridlocked in dysfunction and potential peril, said observers and analysts.

The July 11-12 meet-up occurred in the “most dangerous” and “unpredictable” security environment since the Cold War, said NATO’s website. Dominating the summit agenda was the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the controversial issue of NATO expansion, and Ukraine’s membership status.

“We strengthened our commitment to defense investment, … bring Ukraine closer to the Alliance … step-up support for the long haul … and deepened our partnerships around the world,” said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of NATO.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is an international military alliance consisting of 31 member states from Europe and North America. It was first established in the aftermath of World War II on April 4, 1949, in the context of countering the Soviet Union.

President Joe Biden meets with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Wednesday, July 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Mr. Stoltenberg told journalists Ukraine was closer to membership with a newly formed NATO-Ukraine Council. The Council is a forum “where Ukraine and NATO Allies will meet as equals, hold crisis consultations, and jointly take decisions,” he said. “This is a significant step to move Ukraine closer to NATO,” said Mr. Stoltenberg.

The secretary-general said the Alliance is giving Ukraine a pass on going through NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP), a required step for countries aiming to join the military alliance. Prior to the summit, several NATO countries cosigned a British pitch to allow Kyiv to side-step the MAP program of satisfying specific political, economic and military targets. NATO leaders also concluded a contentious debate primarily with Türkiye to allow Sweden into the alliance.

The decades-long push for NATO territorial enlargement has been a central point of upset and a red line for Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited active expansion towards Russia’s borders as justification for sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine since February 2022.

John Feffer, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Foreign Policy in Focus, a project of the Institute of Policy Studies, said the summit outcomes such as NATO moving Ukraine closer to membership are not surprising and have been a long time in the making. “More importantly,” he told The Final Call, was “prior to membership, a commitment by NATO members to come to its aid if it were to be invaded again post-peace negotiations,” said Mr. Feffer.

Joe Biden, President of the United States of America, greeting Gitanas Nauseda, President of Lithuania ahead of the 2023 NATO Cilnius Summit. Photo: MGN Online

“That’s Ukraine important, (and) beyond that, I would say that the security order is indeed being reshaped. It’s obviously been focused for decades on what were considered the twin threats of Russia and China,” he explained.

Europe is more concerned about Russia and the transatlantic relationship, and the U.S. primarily concerned with China, which explains NATO expanding security partnerships with Indo-pacific powers.

There has been talk about a global NATO since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the reason being that if the Soviet Union ever fell, NATO needed another rationale for its existence. “So, an expansion beyond its natural transatlantic boundaries, has been in the cards for some time,” said Mr. Feffer.

Other observers and analysts long argued the associated impacts of such expansion can result in the unthinkable, such as World War III. Some contend the alliance is devoid of a viable vision for peace and sees the push for Ukraine to join NATO as synonymous with prolonged war.

“It would ensure that conflict would continue,” said Madea Benjamin, of the pro-peace group Code-Pink. “Russia has repeatedly said that any solution would have to be neutrality for NATO,” she added.

World leaders gathered at the 2023 NATO Vilnius Summit, July 11. Photo MGN Online

In 2008 when then-U.S. President George Bush insisted Ukraine be invited into NATO, Mr. Putin warned that was a direct threat to Russia, which borders Ukraine. “All of these years, that threat has only grown,” explained Ms. Benjamin. “So, if NATO continues to insist that Ukraine will be a member … that just means that this conflict will go on and on,” she reasoned.

A July 12 statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow will scrutinize the results of the summit, use all means and methods available to provide a prompt and appropriate response and continue to strengthen its military structure and defense system.

The world will not be turned into a “NATO globe,” said the ministry, accusing America and NATO of returning to “Cold War schemes” and dividing the world into “democracies and autocracies.”

World leaders have been warned by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, that an impasse to solve the perplexing troubles their own hands produced has been reached.

“Tyrants of the world have to be sat down and a government from God has to be established so that the suffering of humanity will end,” said Minister Farrakhan in a Jan. 2017 tweet.

In a November 1956 article called “The Grievousness of War” written several years after NATO was established, but describes the global condition in 2023, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote: “Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea, on account of what the hands of men have wrought. (Holy Quran 30:41).

The prevailing corruption is everywhere on account of men’s own evil doings. Their hands have built their own doom and never before has such prophecy been fulfilled any clearer than today. If we take the spiritual side of the above verse from the Holy Quran, 30:41, we will find that it is equally true.”

“The world today is so evil and corrupted that people do not pay any attention to the preaching of good. Their whole hearts, minds and souls are going after evil and bloodshed of each other. No peace among them, hatred and disagreement are universal. A change of rulership must take place in order to save the nations from self-destruction,” wrote Mr. Muhammad.

He explained that the land and sea are corrupted with all kinds of deadly arms; weapons of destruction which their own hands have built. “They delight greatly in war and not in peace,” said Mr. Muhammad. “Who then can enjoy peace in the midst of such a mad world? Who can be trusted? The alarm of war is heard and possibly designed to wipe mankind from the face of the earth,” He wrote.

“Where is any peace with such evil forces free to spread death and destruction on the poor innocent human beings of the earth? They glory in killing and are not satisfied with the prosperity they have enjoyed.”

Participants attend a meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Partner Nations at a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Wednesday, July 12, 2023. (Paul Ellis/Pool Photo via AP)

NATO met amid changes against the tide of a unipolar order dominated by the U.S. Now the world is transitioning from America’s control to an exertion of multipolar influence from China, Russia, Iran, the nation bloc of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa)—and others.

“There is a huge global shift taking place in the geopolitical landscape,” explained Wilmer Leon, author and political commentator. “So, they are quaking in their boots because the Global South is rising,” said Mr. Leon. “Look at the relationships now that are developing between Iran and Venezuela and China with Cuba. Those are just two examples,” he said.

“And a lot of it also has to do with the fact that these countries are moving off of the dollar.”

So, the U.S. coercive sanctions regime—usually part of a big stick approach on the world stage—doesn’t have nearly the effect it once had. America and the collective West refuse to accept the winds of change and are marshaling everything in their power, including militarization, to maintain hegemony, analysts point out.

“We have to recognize the history of NATO as a military alliance, but not a defensive one, as an aggressive one,” said Ms. Benjamin.

Whether it was the illegal bombing of Yugoslavia, the 20-year invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, or the overthrowing of Muammar Gadhafi and Libya in 2011, these were examples of NATO warfare, she cited.

“Two of those examples, (go) way beyond the Atlantic,” noted Ms. Benjamin. “And now NATO is not only deeply involved in this war in Russia, but it’s setting its sights for a war with China,” she added.

NATO has been extremely dangerous. In attendance at this most recent summit were the ”Indo-Pacific partners” of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, precisely to counter China.

“And if we look towards the future, not only should we say that Ukraine should not be in NATO, but we should call for the dissolution of NATO,” argues Ms. Benjamin.

The longtime peace activist told The Final Call that abolishing NATO is something the American people must be educated on along with building a strong peace movement and engaging public awareness campaigns. They should contact their representatives, who tend to represent the war-makers and tell them that spending over $110 billion for war in Ukraine robs much-needed money for critical matters at home.

“We see Vermont now underwater with floods … fires raging … infrastructure crumbling … people having to make choices between food and rent,” said Ms. Benjamin. “We shouldn’t be fueling war, either in Ukraine, or preparing for war in China, or getting involved in military activities around the world,” she argues.

President Biden has said NATO is important for global stability and American interests.

“I think the opposite is true, that if we want to ensure a peaceful and cooperative planet, then we must put an end to NATO,” said Ms. Benjamin.