Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or NATO as it’s otherwise known, should be closed down – and he’s right.
Following the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, NATO itself was finally launched in 1952 as a military alliance whose purpose it was to defend Western Europe against a Russian invasion that never happened. Its ultimate objective, however, was to fix the postwar military order in place. As its first secretary general, Lord Ismay, said privately, NATO exists to ‘keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down’.
NATO’s claim that it set out to defend democracy turned the truth on its head. As a military alliance, it was profoundly conservative, and has been hostile to democracy throughout its 64 years. From the outset, NATO included dictatorships like Antonio Salazar’s in Portugal, fostered military takeovers in Greece in 1967 and in Turkey in 1980 (carried out while the Turkish military were taking part in NATO manoeuvres), and cooperated with fascist Spain until dictator Francisco Franco’s death in 1975.
As many journalists and researchers have noted over the years, NATO’s military structure included secret armies put in place on the basis that they would make up ‘the resistance’, staying behind ‘when Russia invades’. But as European Parliament investigations uncovered in 1990, these ‘stay behind’ armies were ‘a clandestine parallel-intelligence and armed-operations organisation in several member states of the [European] Community’. ‘For over 40 years’, the report went on, ‘this organisation has escaped all democratic controls and has been run by the secret services of the states concerned in collaboration with NATO’.
The most alarming of these secret armies was the organisation known in Italy as ‘Gladio’, which recruited neo-Nazis to carry out several bomb attacks and assassinations to terrorise and demoralise the population – culminating in the bombing of Bologna railway station in 1980, which killed 85 people. NATO’s secret armies were not only organising anti-democratic forces in Italy, but across Western Europe – in the very countries where NATO was tasked with defending democracy. With some restraint, the European Parliament resolved to protest ‘vigorously at the assumption by certain US military personnel… of the right to encourage the establishment in Europe of a clandestine intelligence-and-operation network’.