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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Canada must become a zone of peace and leave NATO

As the NATO summit in Vilnius starts Eden Haythornthwaite of the Freedom from War Coalition writes of how Canada must become a zone of peace by rejecting NATO

By Eden Haythornthwaite

From July 11th to 12th, NATO will hold its annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. Whatever they have to discuss during this event, you can be certain Ukraine will be at the top of the list. Not mind you -- to explore peace talks or a negotiated ceasefire -- but to assure the world this war will continue relentlessly.

This will be what it always is -- the showroom for prosecuting endless war wherever people are even thinking about seeking a solution to the poverty crisis and the existential threat of climate damage.

NATO -- once charged with securing peace in Europe and promoting cooperation among its members at the end of WW2 -- has gone on to become the chief aggressor and most prolific apologist for conquest across our shiny blue dot. NATO has been peddled as a humanitarian organisation that is a positive force in the world. Its past time we in Canada gave some hard thought to stepping away from this military alliance -- in fact we must demand NATO be dismantled. If we are to be the truly peace loving country we have always said we were; if we are to contribute to the end of wars and the beginning of thoughtful international solidarity then leaving NATO behind will be vital. One thing is certain -- if there is anywhere on earth where peace is in danger of breaking out, NATO will be planning to circumvent that prospect. It is a double standard to condemn other countries for crimes which NATO with Canada’s enthusiastic assistance has committed.

The current crisis in Ukraine has heightened our recognition of the necessity to stand for peace everywhere, whether in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, Somalia or any of the places where NATO or US-led military initiatives have seen fit to conduct war. We must oppose Canada's participation in such wars. This is why a group of people on Vancouver Island established the Freedom from War Coalition. Whatever crimes Putin’s Russia has committed, the people of the world must call for peace talks and a ceasefire to ease the situation and move towards resolution much like the conditions outlined in the now defunct Minsk Accords. NATO asks only for more war.

If we are to look after our communities, we must build popular opposition to a bloated Canadian military budget -- all those resources wasted to satisfy NATO’s prime directive diverting all available wealth to violence and conflict for profit. The military budget under this regime diverts money from public services, social housing, clean drinking water, Indigenous self-determination, and carbon neutrality, in favour of enriching the owners of Canada’s war industry. This is the harvest of our relationship with the US and NATO. Imagine if all the fruits of our labours could be applied to our needs rather than the ‘end of the world’ scenario our rulers vastly prefer.

It is now routine to insist that Canada must be on guard against invasion (Russia? China? Iran?) which is why we are expected to revere our relationship with NATO and its members and pay

dearly for it as well. However, I think many of us know there is only one country motivated to annex us and that is the U.S.A. As it happens our armed forces are completely integrated with the American military largely thanks to NATO. I would say that the likelihood we can count on NATO or our own military in that event is remote. It is safe to say the call will be coming from

inside the house.

You will not hear much about this summit -- it will occur and evaporate after making decisions

which will affect everyone in this world. The preposterous cost of security is now set at thirty million euros for the 2 days which involves thousands of police and troops from Lithuania and other surrounding countries. In addition Spain is reported to have temporarily moved its NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) air defense system from its long-term position in Latvia to Vilnius, in addition to Lithuania's own NASAMS systems. It is comforting to know the forty heads of state and 150 high ranking officials will be well defended from any unpleasantness. Whether NATO cares quite so much about the personal security of the people of the world is far less obvious.

Canada must become a zone of peace and our government must retool itself as an antiwar government beginning with extracting ourselves from our disastrous membership in NATO.

Our friend Noam Chomsky has addressed the question of NATO by noting what the Secretary General of NATO maintained in a formal statement explaining its purpose in the post-Cold War world. NATO is in place to control global energy systems, pipelines, and sea lanes. That means it's a worldwide system and an intervention force under US command, as we've seen in case after case.

Is that what we as a nation wish to encourage? While we still can, Canada should walk a different path to better tend to our needs and our international obligations. If we do not, we will regret it fiercely and soon.

Eden Haythornthwaite is a founder and activist of the the Freedom from War Coalition



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