LAST Friday, at the NATO summit, the outgoing US Defence Secretary Bill Gates flayed NATO savagely and ridiculed the military alliance, threatening that the US would abandon it as useless for the tasks that lie ahead for US imperialism.
He insisted that the current Libyan war, far from being won, had exposed the NATO alliance as a paper tiger.
‘The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country — yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the US, once more, to make up the difference,’ he said.
Gates added that the NATO states’ budgets were billions of dollars short of what was necessary, but that the problem was not just financial, but political, namely, NATO’s unwillingness to respond to threats beyond the traditional ‘Cold War’ boundaries.
He accused the NATO states of not responding to the attack on the US by Al Qaeda in the way that Article 5 of the NATO charter required, since an attack on one state was an attack on all.
He condemned what he called the ‘demilitarisation of Europe’ as ‘an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st century’.
If Europe did not adopt the changes that the US wants to make to the NATO charter and militarise, then for the US, ‘The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defence,’ said Gates at the NATO summit in Brussels.
He added: ‘If current trends in the decline of European defence capabilities are not halted and reversed, future US political leaders — those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me — may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost.’
The ailing and weakening US imperialist giant is no longer willing or able to carry its allies on its new mission. Driven by the deepening capitalist crisis it plans to ‘reorder’ the planet, its peoples and raw materials according to its requirements, and requires allies that will supply the required ground forces using the required weaponry.
Its message is – after the NATO ‘strike’ that took place over sending combat troops to Afghanistan, and the feebleness of the NATO effort in Libya – that unless military budgets are escalated everywhere and militarism backed against ‘pacifist moods’, the US will turn a blind eye when one of its former allies comes under attack, and leave it to its fate.
There is not the slightest doubt, that after the US master has cracked the whip, among the first to declare eternal allegiance to US imperialism’s requirements will be the UK coalition government.
It has already been assailed by its own military for its enthusiasm for quitting Afghanistan. It will respond to the US warning by moving to increase the military budget despite the fact that this will mean even more savage cuts in health, welfare, education, pensions and wages at home, as well as a much sharper class struggle to make the workers accept ‘militarisation’.
It will also consider advancing the date for putting troops into Libya to advance the ground war, since the US has already informed the UK that it sees Britain’s future role as being dependent on its ability to provide ground forces for colonial wars, in order to keep the US casualty rate down.
Trade unions and the working class must oppose the demands for ‘militarisation’ and increased military expenditure, which are a direct threat in particular to the lives and futures of the youth of the country, by opposing the war in Libya.
Taking action against militarism means calling strike action to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers’ government.