About NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a destabilizing, law-breaking force for militarization and war provocation. Its existence makes wars, including nuclear wars, more likely. Its hostility toward the few significant militaries in the world that are not among its members fuels arms races and conflicts. The commitment of NATO members to join each others’ wars and NATO’s pursuit of enemies far from the North Atlantic risk global destruction.

We hold up a vision of a world beyond NATO, where we invest to eliminate poverty, hunger, illness and homelessness; where we live in harmony with our environment; and where we resolve conflict diplomatically through the only global organization that represents the whole world – the United Nations.

Sign this statement.

How Big Is NATO?

Check out these basic military spending numbers in 2022, and in 2022 U.S. dollars, from SIPRI (so, leaving out a huge chunk of U.S. spending):

  • Total $2,209 billion
  • U.S. $877 billion
  • All countries on Earth but U.S., Russia, China, and India $872 billion
  • NATO members $1,238 billion
  • NATO “partners across the globe” $153 billion
  • NATO Istanbul Cooperation Initiative $25 billion (no data from UAE)
  • NATO Mediterranean Dialogue $46 billion
  • NATO Partners for Peace excluding Russia and including Sweden $71 billion
  • All NATO combined excluding Russia $1,533 billion
  • Entire Non-NATO world including Russia (no data from North Korea) $676 billion (44% of NATO and friends)
  • Russia $86 billion (9.8% of U.S.)
  • China $292 billion (33.3% of U.S.)
  • Iran $7 billion (0.8% of U.S.)
NATO Admits That Ukraine War Is A War of NATO Expansion

By Jeffrey Sachs, World BEYOND War, September 20, 2023

During the disastrous Vietnam War, it was said that the US government treated the public like a mushroom farm: keeping it in the dark and feeding it with manure.  The heroic Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers documenting the unrelenting US government lying about the war in order to protect politicians who would be embarrassed by the truth.  A half century later, during the Ukraine War, the manure is piled even higher.

According to the US Government and the ever-obsequious New York Times, the Ukraine war was “unprovoked,” the New York Times’ favorite adjective to describe the war.  Putin, allegedly mistaking himself for Peter the Great, invaded Ukraine to recreate the Russian Empire.  Yet last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg committed a Washington gaffe, meaning that he accidentally blurted out the truth.

In testimony to the European Union Parliament, Stoltenberg made clear that it was America’s relentless push to enlarge NATO to Ukraine that was the real cause of the war and why it continues today.  Here are Stoltenberg’s revealing words:

“The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition for not invade Ukraine. Of course, we didn’t sign that.

The opposite happened. He wanted us to sign that promise, never to enlarge NATO. He wanted us to remove our military infrastructure in all Allies that have joined NATO since 1997, meaning half of NATO, all the Central and Eastern Europe, we should remove NATO from that part of our Alliance, introducing some kind of B, or second-class membership. We rejected that.

So, he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite.”

To repeat, he [Putin] went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders.

When Prof. John Mearsheimer, I, and others have said the same, we’ve been attacked as Putin apologists.  The same critics also choose to hide or flatly ignore the dire warnings against NATO enlargement to Ukraine long articulated by many of America’s leading diplomats, including the great scholar-statesman George Kennan, and the former US Ambassadors to Russia Jack Matlock and William Burns.

Burns, now CIA Director, was US Ambassador to Russia in 2008, and author of a memo entitled “Nyet means Nyet.”  In that memo, Burns explained to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the entire Russian political class, not just Putin, was dead-set against NATO enlargement. We know about the memo only because it was leaked.  Otherwise, we’d be in the dark about it.

Why does Russia oppose NATO enlargement?  For the simple reason that Russia does not accept the US military on its 2,300 km border with Ukraine in the Black Sea region. Russia does not appreciate the US placement of Aegis missiles in Poland and Romania after the US unilaterally abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

Russia also does not welcome the fact that the US engaged in no fewer than 70 regime change operations during the Cold War (1947-1989), and countless more since, including in Serbia, Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, and Ukraine.  Nor does Russia like the fact that many leading US politicians actively advocate the destruction of Russia under the banner of “Decolonizing Russia.” That would be like Russia calling for the removal of Texas, California, Hawaii, the conquered Indian lands, and much else, from the U.S.

Even Zelensky’s team knew that the quest for NATO enlargement meant imminent war with Russia.  Oleksiy Arestovych, former Advisor to the Office of the President of Ukraine under Zelensky, declared that “with a 99.9% probability, our price for joining NATO is a big war with Russia.”

Arestovych claimed that even without NATO enlargement, Russia would eventually try to take Ukraine, just many years later. Yet history belies that.  Russia respected Finland’s and Austria’s neutrality for decades, with no dire threats, much less invasions.  Moreover, from Ukraine’s independence in 1991 until the US-backed overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government in 2014, Russia didn’t show any interest in taking Ukrainian territory.  It was only when the US installed a staunchly anti-Russian, pro-NATO regime in February 2014 that Russia took back Crimea, concerned that its Black Sea naval base in Crimea (since 1783) would fall into NATO’s hands.

Even then, Russia didn’t demand other territory from Ukraine, only fulfillment of the UN-backed Minsk II Agreement, which called for autonomy of the ethnic-Russian Donbas, not a Russian claim on the territory.  Yet instead of diplomacy, the US armed, trained, and helped to organize a huge Ukrainian army to make NATO enlargement a fait accompli.

Putin made one last attempt at diplomacy at the end of 2021, tabling a draft US-NATO Security Agreement to forestall war.  The core of the draft agreement was an end of NATO enlargement and removal of US missiles near Russia.  Russia’s security concerns were valid and the basis for negotiations.  Yet Biden flatly rejected negotiations out of a combination of arrogance, hawkishness, and profound miscalculation. NATO maintained its position that NATO would not negotiate with Russia regarding NATO enlargement, that in effect, NATO enlargement was none of Russia’s business.

The continuing US obsession with NATO enlargement is profoundly irresponsible and hypocritical.  The US would object—by means of war, if needed—to being encircled by Russian or Chinese military bases in the Western Hemisphere, a point the US has made since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823.  Yet the US is blind and deaf to the legitimate security concerns of other countries.

So, yes, Putin went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to Russia’s border. Ukraine is being destroyed by US arrogance, proving again Henry Kissinger’s adage that to be America’s enemy is dangerous, while to be its friend is fatal.  The Ukraine War will end when the US acknowledges a simple truth: NATO enlargement to Ukraine means perpetual war and Ukraine’s destruction.  Ukraine’s neutrality could have avoided the war, and remains the key to peace.  The deeper truth is that European security depends on collective security as called for by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), not one-sided NATO demands.

……………………….

Jeffrey Sachs is Professor at Columbia University, is Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He has served as adviser to three UN Secretaries-General, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General António Guterres.   Article sent to Other News by the author. September 19, 2023

The Real History of the War in Ukraine:
A Chronology of Events and Case for Diplomacy

Jeffrey D. Sachs   |   July 17, 2023   |   The Kennedy Beacon

The American people urgently need to know the true history of the war in Ukraine and its current prospects. Unfortunately, the mainstream media ––The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN –– have become mere mouthpieces of the government, repeating US President Joe Biden’s lies and hiding history from the public.

Biden is again denigrating Russian President Vladimir Putin, this time accusing Putin of a “craven lust for land and power,” after declaring last year that “For God’s sake, that man [Putin] cannot stay in power.”  Yet Biden is the one who is trapping Ukraine in an open-ended war by continuing to push NATO enlargement to Ukraine.  He is afraid to tell the truth to the American and Ukrainian people, rejecting diplomacy, and opting instead for perpetual war.

Expanding NATO to Ukraine, which Biden has long promoted, is a U.S. gambit that has failed.  The neocons, including Biden, thought from the late 1990s onward that the US could expand NATO to Ukraine (and Georgia) despite Russia’s vociferous and long-standing opposition.  They didn’t believe that Putin would actually go to war over NATO expansion.

Yet for Russia, NATO enlargement to Ukraine (and Georgia) is viewed as an existential threat to Russia’s national security, notably given Russia’s 2,000-km border with Ukraine, and Georgia’s strategic position on the eastern edge of the Black Sea.  U.S. diplomats have explained this basic reality to U.S. politicians and generals for decades, but the politicians and generals have arrogantly and crudely persisted in pushing NATO enlargement nonetheless.

At this point, Biden knows full well that NATO enlargement to Ukraine would trigger World War III.  That’s why behind the scenes Biden put NATO enlargement into low gear at the Vilnius NATO Summit.  Yet rather than admit the truth – that Ukraine will not be part of NATO – Biden prevaricates, promising Ukraine’s eventual membership.  In reality, he is committing Ukraine to ongoing bloodletting for no reason other than U.S. domestic politics, specifically Biden’s fear of looking weak to his political foes.  (A half-century ago, Presidents Johnson and Nixon sustained the Vietnam War for essentially the same pathetic reason, and with the same lying, as the late Daniel Ellsberg brilliantly explained.)

Ukraine can’t win.  Russia is more likely than not to prevail on the battlefield, as it seems now to be doing. Yet even if Ukraine were to break through with conventional forces and NATO weaponry, Russia would escalate to nuclear war if necessary to prevent NATO in Ukraine.

Throughout his entire career, Biden has served the military-industrial complex. He has relentlessly promoted NATO enlargement and supported America’s deeply destabilizing wars of choice in Afghanistan, Serbia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and now Ukraine. He defers to generals who want more war and more “surges,” and who predict imminent victory just ahead to keep the gullible public onside.

Moreover, Biden and his team (Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, Victoria Nuland) seem to have believed their own propaganda that Western sanctions would strangle the Russian economy, while miracle weapons such as HIMARS would defeat Russia.  And all the while, they have been telling Americans to pay no attention to Russia’s 6,000 nuclear weapons.

Ukrainian leaders have gone along with the US deception for reasons that are hard to fathom. Perhaps they believe the US, or are afraid of the US, or fear their own extremists, or simply are extremists, ready to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to death and injury in the naïve belief that Ukraine can defeat a nuclear superpower that regards the war as existential. Or possibly some of the Ukrainian leaders are making fortunes by skimming from the tens of billions of dollars of Western aid and arms.

The only way to save Ukraine is a negotiated peace. In a negotiated settlement, the US would agree that NATO will not enlarge to Ukraine while Russia would agree to withdraw its troops.  Remaining issues – Crimea, the Donbas, US and European sanctions, the future of European security arrangements – would be handled politically, not by endless war.

Russia has repeatedly tried negotiations: to try to forestall the eastward enlargement of NATO; to try to find suitable security arrangements with the US and Europe; to try to settle inter-ethnic issues in Ukraine after 2014 (the Minsk I and Minsk II agreements); to try to sustain limits on anti-ballistic missiles; and to try to end the Ukraine war in 2022 via direct negotiations with Ukraine. In all cases, the US government disdained, ignored, or blocked these attempts, often putting forward the big lie that Russia rather than the US rejects negotiations. JFK said it exactly right in 1961: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”  If only Biden would heed JFK’s enduring wisdom.

To help the public move beyond the simplistic narrative of Biden and the mainstream media, I offer a brief chronology of some key events leading to the ongoing war.

January 31, 1990.  German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich-Genscher pledges to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that in the context of German reunification and disbanding of the Soviet Warsaw Pact military alliance, NATO will rule out an “expansion of its territory to the East, i.e., moving it closer to the Soviet borders.”

February 9, 1990.  U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III agrees with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.”

June 29 – July 2, 1990.  NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner tells a high-level Russian delegation that “the NATO Council and he [Woerner] are against the expansion of NATO.”

July 1, 1990.  Ukrainian Rada (parliament) adopts the Declaration of State Sovereignty, in which “The Ukrainian SSR solemnly declares its intention of becoming a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs and adheres to three nuclear free principles: to accept, to produce and to purchase no nuclear weapons.”

August 24, 1991.  Ukraine declares independence on the basis of the 1990 Declaration of State Sovereignty, which includes the pledge of neutrality.

Mid-1992.  Bush Administration policymakers reach a secret internal consensus to expand NATO, contrary to commitments recently made to the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.

July 8, 1997.  At the Madrid NATO Summit, Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic are invited to begin NATO accession talks.

September-October, 1997.  In Foreign Affairs (Sept/Oct, 1997) former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski details the timeline for NATO enlargement, with Ukraine’s negotiations provisionally to begin during 2005-2010.

March 24 – June 10, 1999.  NATO bombs Serbia.  Russia terms the NATO bombing “a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter.”

March 2000.  Ukrainian President Kuchma declares that “there is no question of Ukraine joining NATO today since this issue is extremely complex and has many angles to it.”

June 13, 2002.  The US unilaterally withdraws from the Anti-Ballistic Weapons Treaty, an action which the Vice-Chair of the Russian Duma Defense Committee characterizes as an “extremely negative event of historical scale.”

November-December 2004.  The “Orange Revolution” occurs in Ukraine, events that the West characterizes as a democratic revolution and the Russian government characterizes as a Western-manufactured grab for power with overt and covert US support.

February 10, 2007.  Putin strongly criticizes the U.S. attempt to create a unipolar world, backed by NATO enlargement, in a speech to the Munich Security Conference, declaring: “I think it is obvious that NATO expansion … represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?”

February 1, 2008.  US Ambassador to Russia William Burns sends a confidential cable to U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, entitled “Nyet means Nyet: Russia’s NATO Enlargement Redlines,” emphasizing that “Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region.”

February 18, 2008.  The US recognizes Kosovo independence over heated Russian objections.  The Russian Government declares that Kosovo independence violates “the sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia, the Charter of the United Nations, UNSCR 1244, the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, Kosovo’s Constitutional Framework and the high-level Contact Group accords.”

April 3, 2008.  NATO declares that Ukraine and Georgia “will become members of NATO.” Russia declares that “Georgia’s and Ukraine’s membership in the alliance is a huge strategic mistake which would have most serious consequences for pan-European security.”

August 20, 2008.  The US announces that it will deploy ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems in Poland, to be followed later by Romania.  Russia expresses strenuous opposition to the BMD systems.

January 28, 2014.  Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt plot regime change in Ukraine in a call that is intercepted and posted on YouTube on February 7, in which Nuland notes that “[Vice President] Biden’s willing” to help close the deal.

February 21, 2014.  Governments of Ukraine, Poland, France, and Germany reach an Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine, calling for new elections later in the year.  The far-right Right Sector and other armed groups instead demand Yanukovych’s immediate resignation, and take over government buildings.  Yanukovych flees.  The Parliament immediately strips the President of his powers without an impeachment process.

February 22, 2014.  The US immediately endorses the regime change.

March 16, 2014.  Russia holds a referendum in Crimea that according to the Russian Government results in a large majority vote for Russian rule.  On March 21, the Russian Duma votes to admit Crimea to the Russian Federation. The Russian Government draws the analogy to the Kosovo referendum.  The US rejects the Crimea referendum as illegitimate.

March 18, 2014.  President Putin characterizes the regime change as a coup, stating: “those who stood behind the latest events in Ukraine had a different agenda: they were preparing yet another government takeover; they wanted to seize power and would stop short of nothing. They resorted to terror, murder and riots.”

March 25, 2014.  President Barack Obama mocks Russia “as a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength but out of weakness,”

February 12, 2015.  Signing of Minsk II agreement.  The agreement is unanimously backed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2202 on February 17, 2015.  Former Chancellor Angela Merkel later acknowledges that the Minsk II agreement was designed to give time for Ukraine to strengthen its military.  It was not implemented by Ukraine, and President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that he had no intention to implement the agreement.

February 1, 2019.  The U.S. unilaterally withdraws from the Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty.  Russia harshly criticizes the INF withdrawal as a “destructive” act that stoked security risks.

June 14, 2021.  At the 2021 NATO Summit in Brussels, NATO reconfirms NATO’s intention to enlarge and include Ukraine: “We reiterate the decision made at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance.”

September 1, 2021.  The US reiterates support for Ukraine’s NATO aspirations in the “Joint Statement on the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership.”

December 17, 2021.  Putin puts forward a draft “Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Security Guarantees,” based on non-enlargement of NATO and limitations on the deployment of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

January 26, 2022.  The U.S. formally replies to Russia that the US and NATO will not negotiate with Russia over issues of NATO enlargement, slamming the door on a negotiated path to avoid an expansion of the war in Ukraine.  The U.S. invokes NATO policy that “Any decision to invite a country to join the Alliance is taken by the North Atlantic Council on the basis of consensus among all Allies. No third country has a say in such deliberations.”  In short, the US asserts that NATO enlargement to Ukraine is none of Russia’s business.

February 21, 2022.  At a meeting of the Russian Security Council, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov details the U.S. refusal to negotiate:

“We received their response in late January. The assessment of this response shows that our Western colleagues are not prepared to take up our major proposals, primarily those on NATO’s eastward non-expansion. This demand was rejected with reference to the bloc’s so-called open-door policy and the freedom of each state to choose its own way of ensuring security. Neither the United States, nor the North Atlantic Alliance proposed an alternative to this key provision.”

The United States is doing everything it can to avoid the principle of indivisibility of security that we consider of fundamental importance and to which we have made many references. Deriving from it the only element that suits them – the freedom to choose alliances – they completely ignore everything else, including the key condition that reads that nobody – either in choosing alliances or regardless of them – is allowed to enhance their security at the expense of the security of others.”

February 24, 2022.  In an address to the nation, President Putin declares: “It is a fact that over the past 30 years we have been patiently trying to come to an agreement with the leading NATO countries regarding the principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe. In response to our proposals, we invariably faced either cynical deception and lies or attempts at pressure and blackmail, while the North Atlantic alliance continued to expand despite our protests and concerns. Its military machine is moving and, as I said, is approaching our very border.”

March 16, 2022.  Russia and Ukraine announce significant progress towards a peace agreement mediated by Turkey and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.  As reported in the press, the basis of the agreement includes: “a ceasefire and Russian withdrawal if Kyiv declares neutrality and accepts limits on its armed forces.”

March 28, 2022.  President Zelensky publicly declares that Ukraine is ready for neutrality combined with security guarantees as part of a peace agreement with Russia.  “Security guarantees and neutrality, the non-nuclear status of our state — we’re ready to do that. That’s the most important point … they started the war because of it.”

April 7, 2022.  Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov accuses the West of trying to derail the peace talks, claiming that Ukraine had gone back on previously agreed proposals.  Prime Minister Naftali Bennett later states (on February 5, 2023) that the U.S. had blocked the pending Russia-Ukraine peace agreement.  When asked if the Western powers blocked the agreement, Bennett answered: “Basically, yes. They blocked it, and I thought they were wrong.”  At some point, says Bennett, the West decided “to crush Putin rather than to negotiate.”

June 4, 2023.  Ukraine launches a major counter-offensive, without achieving any major success as of mid-July 2023.

July 7, 2023.  Biden acknowledges that Ukraine is “running out” of 155mm artillery shells, and that the US is “running low.”

July 11, 2023.  At the NATO Summit in Vilnius, the final communique reaffirms Ukraine’s future in NATO: “We fully support Ukraine’s right to choose its own security arrangements.  Ukraine’s future is in NATO … Ukraine has become increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the Alliance, and has made substantial progress on its reform path.”

July 13, 2023.  US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterates that Ukraine will “no doubt” join NATO when the war ends.

July 13, 2023.  Putin reiterates that “As for Ukraine’s NATO membership, as we have said many times, this obviously creates a threat to Russia’s security. In fact, the threat of Ukraine’s accession to NATO is the reason, or rather one of the reasons for the special military operation. I am certain that this would not enhance Ukraine’s security in any way either. In general, it will make the world much more vulnerable and lead to more tensions in the international arena.  So, I don’t see anything good in this. Our position is well known and has long been formulated.”

Both Sides Are Dead Wrong About NATO

By David Swanson, February 14, 2024

How can media outlets be taken seriously — and I do not mean this rhetorically — when they shout that two hostages have been freed while adding in the fine print that several dozen mere Palestinians have been killed in the process, when they propose that a city of starving refugees be bombed in a manner that “protects civilians,” when they equate fueling wars with “aid”?

One part of the answer is that they feature raging debates between wildly opposed positions. Surely only open and free media would allow that! Typically, they have to do this in all the small-budget (that is, non-military) policy areas. Trump’s gift to corporate propaganda is the inclusion of foreign policy among the areas of debate. But, just as with most of the other debates, the key characteristic of the foreign policy debates is that both sides firmly agree on all the basic points and get them all dead wrong.

“Arm Taiwan to build up to a war on China right now” is opposed by the demand to arm Taiwan to build up to a war on China right now.

“Militarize the border of Mexico right now” is opposed by the demand to militarize the border of Mexico a bit later. Big debate!

“Rush more free weapons to the genocide in Gaza” is opposed by the demand to rush more free weapons to the genocide in Gaza. Except that the fierce opposition of the majority of the U.S. public starts to leak through here and there. It becomes necessary to move the focus to Biden’s age, or even to talk of demanding a ceasefire while providing the weapons, or at the far extreme to discuss redundantly banning weapons shipments that already violate more laws than a Trump bank account. Debate rages!

The really big debate, however, is on the topic of Ukraine and NATO. One side (Trump and whoever tries to make sense of his logorrhea) maintains that militarism is a public service that every nation should invest in for the good of the world and to the extent of that nation’s financial ability, that arms build-ups never provoke wars but only prevent them, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted from insufficient Western militarism, and that there is no path to a better world that involves the rule of law, diplomacy, conflict management, disarmament, unarmed civilian defense, the inclusion of Russia in NATO, or the abolition of NATO. This is countered by the other side (virtually every corporate commentator) which maintains the exact same thing on every point.

So where’s the debate? While Trump evicted Russian diplomats, sanctioned Russian officials, put missiles practically on Russia’s border, sent weapons into Ukraine that Obama refused to send because it could lead to war with Russia, lobbied European nations to drop Russian energy deals, left the Iran agreement, tore up the INF Treaty, rejected Russia’s offers on banning weapons in space and banning cyberwar, expanded NATO eastward, added a NATO partner in Colombia, proposed adding Brazil, demanded and successfully moved most NATO members to buy significantly more weapons, splurged on more nukes, bombed Russians in Syria, oversaw the largest war rehearsals in Europe in half a century (now outdone), condemned all proposals for a European military, and insisted that Europe stick with NATO — all of which is considered decent and respectable, so best not to talk about, Trump also says things like that he would encourage Russia to do whatever it wants to countries that have not paid the money they owe NATO.

The debate is not over Trump’s notion of using war as the answer to all problems, but over his suggestion that Russia wage wars. That is almost the very worst thing that could ever be said, in the view of many, including — but by no means limited to — many of the same people for whom “This genocide is all right” used to be one of the very worst things that could ever be said.

As it’s our civic duty to ignore Biden’s mental blunders, according to three — count them — op-eds in Tuesday’s New York Times, I think we should also ignore, or at least not completely obsess over, the fact that Trump has no idea how NATO works, that dues paid into NATO are small and all paid, and that what he’s actually talking about is the notion that each nation should spend at least 2% of its “economy” on weapons (mostly U.S. weapons, so that Trump can brag about the sales in front of cameras, as other presidents brag behind closed doors).

Of course on the debate over whether one should encourage Russia to wage wars, the Trump side is dead wrong and the other side dead right. But the reason for that is not, as Biden says, that a commitment to NATO is “sacred” or that Trump is being “un-American.” Trump is of course being more “American” by threatening anybody else with war in the name of saving U.S. dollars. And commitments to military alliances are not “sacred.” Trump is wrong to suggest encouraging wars because war is an evil, mass-murderous enterprise.

The “NATO is a sacred commitment” crowd is of course also threatening war. The commitment in joining NATO is not to say nice things about Europe or to hate Russia or to sanction Russia or to pretend Trump never sanctioned Russia, or to buy weapons, or to pay dues. The commitment is to join in any war that any other NATO member is in, if that war is depicted as being defensive. So, if Russia attacks a NATO member, the U.S. commitment is to go to war with Russia, even if that means nuclear war and the end of life in Earth. Life on Earth is not “sacred” apparently. Or if a NATO member attacks Russia but Western media maintains Russia started it, or if the two nations attack each other simultaneously, or if minor raids escalate into larger assaults and each side gets to choose which assault constitutes the initiation of war, then the U.S. has a “sacred” commitment to end life on Earth. That may be more respectable than Trump’s blather, but I wouldn’t call it more sane. I would call it sharing in the illness of war thinking.

Trump is not wrong, as some U.S. media outlets suggest, because he takes credit for boosting weapons spending by NATO members, whereas in reality NATO members have been spending more and more on war preparations before Trump was president, while Trump was president, and since Trump was president. Trump is wrong because spending more and more on war preparations is an evil, mass-murderous enterprise that leads toward more wars, while taking funds away from health, education, retirement, environment, housing, food, and everything worth living for. The idea that anyone in Europe might not be a war-crazed maniac who is freeloading, and might instead be prioritizing something other than military spending seems to be literally unthinkable by both sides of the U.S. debate over NATO.

When NATO celebrates 75 years of itself in Washington D.C. in July, some of us will be saying No to NATO and Yes to Peace, without joining either side of the commonly understood debate. See https://nonatoyespeace.org