Thursday, March 26, 2009

France's return to the NATO command structure: a threat to all peoples

Even before he was elected as president, it became increasingly evident that Sarkozy wanted to draw closer to US imperialism and the policies of Bush. That had even earned him the nickname "Sarko the American". The election of Obama has not tempered Sarkozy's pro-Americanism; on the contrary, he is now pretending it will make Euro-transAtlantic dialogue easier.

During the election campaign, he carefully avoided announcing his plan to put an end to France's special status within NATO's command structure. What is more, when he finally announced it, in March 2008, he chose to do so in a speech to the British parliament, together with a commitment to increase the French contingent taking part, under NATO command, in the dirty war on Afghanistan. He reiterated his decision during the April 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, a few months before the war in Georgia broke out. That war, which almost set the Caucasus aflame and could have spread to Europe, did not cool down his pro-America stance: while holding the 6-month EU presidency, he made repeated statements about the "military complementarity of the EU and NATO", thus taking up one of the most contested elements of the European Constitution which, after being rejected by the French and the Dutch, was replaced by the so-called Treaty of Lisbon.
French imperialism has always been a member of NATO
And an active member: the second largest contributor of troops and the third largest in financial terms, the French armed forces have taken part in all of NATO's war operations, notably in the war against Serbia, when French planes bombed targets chosen by the US military. French power-projection forces wear the NATO label, and the military doctrine of French imperialism in the coming years, as set out in the 2008 "White Paper on Defence" borrowed the main lines of US military policy: the war against international terrorism, and securing the major powers' supply lines for raw materials, oil, etc. We already see the evidence in the imminent opening of a large French military base in Abu Dhabi. This base, combining the army, air force and navy, will face the coast of Iran, in order to control the Straits of Hormuz through which 40% of the oil passes. This is one of the regions of the world with the highest presence of armies, warships, and bases, most of which are American. The Arab Emirates of the Gulf, important clients for French arms dealers, possess more Leclerc tanks than the French army does.

Sarkozy's decision runs into multi-faceted opposition
Some on the right are evoking the spirit of De Gaulle, and crying treason. They blame Sarkozy for not having gained anything in return from Washington, apart from posts for a few French generals and 1,000 military officers.
This objection is not shared by the French people themselves, whose chief concerns are:
- participation in the dirty war on Afghanistan, whose major achievement has been the destruction of a country. The deaths of French soldiers killed in combat has only strengthened this opposition.
- fear of seeing France embroiled in an opaque system which can lead it into wars: many stress that, had France been part of the NATO command in 2003, it would have participated in the total destruction of Iraq.
- opposition to the EU reinforcing its military links with NATO.
- opposition to Sarkozy's overall policies, which are beholden to the bankers, major shareholders and the employer class.
- the economic crisis, and the government and employers' desire to make the workers and the popular masses pay for it. We reject that our taxes are not only used to pay out billions to the banks, but are also paying for this militarisation. Our slogan is therefore "We won't pay for your crisis, we won't pay for your wars: No to NATO!"

One of the unforeseen consequences of Sarkozy's decision is that the NATO issue has now become part of the political debate: there is now public discussion about NATO's real purpose, and the dangers it represents for the peoples of the world, given its expansionist aims. The enlargement of NATO means the increased danger of wars designed to protect the imperialist capitalist system now in crisis, wars against liberation movements and against the emancipation of peoples and the working class.
The workers' and popular movements are increasingly calling for NATO to be dissolved.

Workers’ Communist Party of France – PCOF

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