74th Anniversary of the Founding of NATO
April 4, 1949
Dismantle NATO! Make Canada a Zone for Peace!
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an aggressive military-political alliance. It was conceived and brought into being on April 4, 1949 during the Cold War, on the pretext of defending Europe against “communist invasion” and the claim that the communist “evil” and totalitarianism were a threat to Western freedom and democracy. In this regard, it has always described itself as a defensive alliance, a myth perpetrated to this day which has no basis in fact.
Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union and people’s democracies in eastern Europe, NATO has been enlarged to incorporate some of the former people’s democracies. With its original raison d’être having disappeared, new claims have been presented in an attempt to justify its continued existence. In 1991, NATO heads of state declared that while the Soviet threat had “been removed … and thus no longer provides a focus for Allied strategy,” “the risks to Allied security that remain are multi-faceted in nature and multi-directional, which makes them hard to predict and access.”
Ten years later, 9/11 provided NATO with a new rationale and a new focus of fighting “terrorism.” This raison d’être was subsequently repeatedly recast such as by saying that dangers are posed by “authoritarian” or “nationalist’ regimes or “rogue states” threatening “freedom” and seeking to overthrow liberal democracy and the “rules-based international order.”
The first Secretary General of NATO, Lord Ismay, stated that the main purpose of the Atlantic Alliance in Europe was “to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.” While since 9/11 the U.S.-led NATO has been used to fight “a multi-dimensional global war” on several fronts utilizing its own forces as well as proxy forces as agents of chaos, the current campaign to encircle, isolate, humiliate and crush Russia is unprecedented in its scope and the danger it poses to provoking a wider war in Europe and beyond. Furthermore, NATO enlargement has failed to mitigate or resolve the contradictions in its ranks as each big power in Europe pursues narrow private interests which defy the NATO concept of collective security.
Today, the wars in which the U.S. imperialists and NATO members are engaged are not politics by other means when negotiations fail. The U.S. and big powers refuse to negotiate in good faith because their sole aim is to force submission and, failing that, destruction. They engage in nation-wrecking, not nation-building, even at home, and in no way guided by upholding any cause linked to the striving of the peoples of the world for peace, democracy and freedom. They have long since abandoned the UN Charter and international rule of law which upholds the equality of nations big or small, their right to self-determination and the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs. Today the U.S.-led NATO aims to destroy those countries that refuse to submit to the dictate of the U.S. imperialists and their allies. These are wars of destruction and, because there are no politics, there are no negotiations of peace treaties which bring with them obligations and accountability. From U.S./NATO intervention in the Balkans in 1999 where a humanitarian pretext was used to bomb Yugoslavia, to the Gulf Wars, and wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries, nothing has been sorted out. They use sanctions to accomplish the same aim.
In this regard, membership in NATO affects not only military matters but all aspects of the national state and the political life of a country. Through its “Office of Public Diplomacy” and other means, NATO pays first-rate attention to the political manipulation of parliaments, information warfare and the wrecking of public opinion. It works in conjunction with governments, including Canada’s to formulate the political structures which are to be permitted not only in Europe, the United States and Canada but, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union and former peoples’ democracies, in all countries which are deemed to be liberal democracies or “on the road to democracy” as in the case of the countries of eastern Europe and Ukraine. Any country which affirms its independence is subject to regime change by the NATO bloc, as took place in Ukraine in 2014.
One need not be a pacifist to be deeply concerned about a foreign and defence policy that is governed by U.S./NATO and invests everything in rapid deployment forces that are not designed to defend one’s own country, as well as lethal weapons and special forces used abroad for interests not approved by Canadians. No sooner was NATO launched in 1949 than people began demanding Canada’s withdrawal and an independent foreign policy, advancing a variety of perspectives on why that was necessary. There was broad opposition among Canadians to nuclear weapons and Bomarc Missiles on Canadian soil in both the 1960s and 1980s, with rallies and other actions across the country. This has continued to date in Canadian ports against the “visits” of U.S. and NATO nuclear warships while the peoples of the Arctic continue to demand that it be a zone for peace.
Canada provides millions of tax dollars and personnel to NATO and U.S. “democracy promotion” agencies to organize coups and “colour revolutions.” Since 2005, Canada has sponsored and operated the NATO Information Center in Kiev under the NATO Office of Public Diplomacy. In addition to organizing military integration of the armed forces of Ukraine into NATO and exporting armaments, Canada was involved in the creation of a ramified network of as many as 50 local pro-NATO information offices in Ukraine, many based in universities. This network was organized to combat the opposition of the Ukrainian people to joining NATO and specifically the “visits” of U.S. and NATO warships to Crimea and the Black Sea ports, and to plans to isolate Russia, and failing cooperation, bring about regime change by the NATO bloc. From 2007, NATO’s Information Center has co-sponsored the Kiev Security Forum of the Open Ukraine Foundation on which the Halifax International Security Forum, initiated in 2009 and organized by the same U.S. intelligence agencies and official circles, is modeled.
The use of Ukraine by NATO, and by extension Canada, as a outpost to threaten Russia, has now broken out into open military conflict. Canada has backed the reactionary governments brought in by the U.S.-engineered February 2014 Maidan coup. These governments feature prominently among their ranks unabashed neo-Nazis. They are not only hostile to Russia but are committing atrocities against Russian-speaking Ukrainians in eastern Ukraine as well as cities such as Mariupol. Canada is nonetheless providing more and more lethal weapons to Ukraine and has trained neo-Nazi battalions that are part of the Ukrainian military, fully aware of who they are. This conflict of the U.S. and NATO’s making is now being used to justify increased war spending in Canada and all other NATO member countries.
Elsewhere in Europe, Canada is also more than ever embroiled in U.S./NATO attempts to encircle Russia. Since April 2014, the Canadian military has been carrying out Operation Reassurance in central and eastern Europe as part of NATO. In 2023, the Department of National Defence says, “Approximately 1,000 Canadian Armed Forces Members are deployed in support of Operation REASSURANCE, making it Canada’s largest current international military operation.” This includes deploying troops to take part in a Maritime Task Force aboard the HMCS Fredericton. Canadian soldiers are also leading a NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia; members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and several aircraft have been participating in NATO enhanced Air Policing. Canada has also put 3,400 troops on standby for deployment to Europe “in case of need” as part of the NATO Response Force.
The cartel party system in Canada ensures that Canada’s membership in NATO is a fait accompli and part of “business as usual.” At no time do the parties in Parliament question a conception of sovereignty where decision-making about the crucial issues of war and peace is in foreign hands. In fact, no public debate or discussion worthy of the name on membership in NATO has ever been held in the Canadian Parliament.
In 1949 at the time NATO was founded, any MP who stood for peaceful co-existence with the then-Soviet Union was either removed, sanctioned or absent during the vote in the Parliament. Today’s assertion that membership in NATO be declared a “Canadian value” is not questioned by the parties which form governments or have seats in the Parliament. Any discussion on this is taboo. No matter what reviews of Canada’s foreign policy are conducted by the official circles, parliamentary standing committees or the monopoly media, questioning Canada’s membership in NATO is taboo. This being the case, discussions among the people are treated as “fringe” and “extremist.” The most reactionary circles are now making suggestions that opposition to NATO be treated as a hate crime and/or subject to regulations which permit the censorship of free expression which opposes NATO.
Make Canada a Zone for Peace
Enforcing this outlook is not only an assault on the conscience of Canadians but disinformation to make sure no collective consciousness can emerge which translates into taking Canada out of NATO, demanding that NATO be dismantled and making Canada a Zone for Peace.
Not only is Canada’s membership in NATO an assault on the people’s sovereignty because a foreign power decides all matters related to war and peace “on behalf of the people,” but even Parliament does not have a say over matters of war and peace because they are matters of executive privilege and/or Royal Prerogative. For example, the United States secretly deployed nuclear bombs in 27 countries and territories during the Cold War, including Canada. The agreements were known only by the Prime Minister and a handful of selected cabinet ministers. On August 28, 1950 – using the Royal Prerogative – Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent secretly agreed to the storage of 11 atomic bombs at Goose Bay, Labrador, the closest U.S. nuclear storage site to Europe. According to the secret history of the Security Section of the 43rd Bombardment Wing, cited by Professor John Clearwater in his Canadian Nuclear Weapons: The Untold Story of Canada’s Cold War Arsenal, “Units were stored in a forest, on gravel roads, approximately four miles from the base proper.”
Then on August 17, 1963 the Pearson Liberal government agreed to station 500 or more U.S. nuclear warheads in Canada. Professor Clearwater notes that Ottawa said as little as possible about its nuclear weaponry – partly because of fear that it would be criticized for being part of the Pentagon war machine. The aim was to marginalize the opposition of the Canadian people to the use of Canadian territory for imperialist war preparations, the hosting of U.S. military personnel on Canadian bases and soil, and to the presence of weapons of mass destruction. In other words, the existence of the Royal Prerogative and its use to enforce what cannot be justified is as great a political problem as banning weapons of mass destruction.
Another front of NATO’s aggressive focus today involves cyber warfare, information warfare and “election meddling.” Proposed changes to the Canada Elections Act and Criminal Code that relate to combatting “foreign influence” and monitoring the use of social media are informed by U.S. National Security Doctrine, NATO and its Atlantic Council think-tank as well as the Five Eyes intelligence agencies. These organs represent the interests of trans-Atlantic corporate and financial interests and the foreign policy elite within the United States and Europe.
The NATO Association of Canada, for its part, is involved in the behind-the-scenes changes being made to Canada’s electoral system and its electoral laws involving the control and regulation of electoral and political communication. In the name of protecting electors and the integrity of the electoral democracy, a form of censorship is introduced to determine what is legitimate and what is not, completely hiding who decides and the criteria used to decide. In social media, this affects, for example, those it decrees to be “true believers,” i.e. those who, in the words of the intelligence agencies themselves, wittingly or unwittingly become the dupes of Russia, etc., and are thus legitimate targets of persecution. Social media corporations have taken actions against alternative websites known for being critical of U.S. and Canadian government foreign and domestic policies. These include Counterpunch, the World Socialist Website, Global Research, Consortium News, Mediamatters, Common Dreams, Democracy Now, Wikileaks, Truthout, The Intercept, VenezuelaAnalysis, teleSUR and, most recently RT, RT France, Sputnik and official Russian media and news agencies.
The peoples of the world fight to realize their aspiration for peace every day. All over the world, as they affirm their rights and fight for the rights of all, they translate their desire for peace, freedom and democracy – hijacked at the time of NATO’s founding – into a political force which puts decision-making in their own hands. Taking up the demand to Make Canada a Zone for Peace is a very worthy endeavour. In Canada, the demand to Make Canada a Zone for Peace is aimed, among other things, at making sure that Canada’s foreign policy does not cause harm to other peoples as is presently the case.
What is certain is that the peoples’ striving for peace, freedom and democracy today is favoured by taking up the call to make their countries zones for peace and by uniting in action to establish anti-war governments which express a modern democratic personality which defends the rights of all as a matter of principle.
The strength of the people’s striving for peace and the defence of the rights of all cannot be underestimated or downplayed, no matter how much opposition to NATO is outlawed by governments intent on keeping the people under control. Attempts to smash this movement and deprive the people of a collective consciousness and action must be opposed. This includes waging the ideological struggle against attempts to portray military interventions abroad as being about “responsibility to protect,” “peacemaking” and upholding a rules-based international order and other fairy tales.
Anti-war activists and experts from different backgrounds who take principled stands that the existence of NATO is incompatible with the desire of the people for a modern and humane conception of security based on defending the rights of all should be listened to. Canada needs an independent foreign policy based on making Canada a zone for peace, and nation-building on a modern basis.
On the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the founding of NATO, a serious matter of concern for Canadians is to get Canada Out of NATO and see that NATO is dismantled. Let us together contribute to Make Canada a Zone for Peace!
1. The Bomarc was a winged missile stored horizontally in a shelter from which it could be launched, after being raised vertically through a sliding roof. A solid-propellant booster rocket augmented the thrust of the two integral ramjet engines. Bomarc stands for Boeing Michigan Aeronautical Research Center.