What Does NATO Have to Do with the Genocide in GAZA?

By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, April 11, 2023

NATO will be celebrating 75 years of itself — and plotting future wars and weapons sales — in Washington D.C. in July, and a lot of people are busy planning a counter-summit and rally to oppose NATO’s agenda.

For those who care about life on Earth, or who are upset by the horrors and risks of one of the current wars in Gaza or Ukraine, taking steps to move humanity away from the course plotted by the largest military alliance ever to exist may seem an obvious to-do-list item.

For those upset by the horrific war in Gaza, in particular, and inclined toward the common ritual of calling it “not a war” — as if there existed elsewhere some kind of war that wasn’t horrible or didn’t mass-murder families — paying any attention to NATO may seem like a distraction from the moral imperative to put a halt to a public genocide in Palestine sanctioned by the “rules based order.”

But the slaughter in Gaza could not exist without the U.S.-led military industrial complex, and its largest and most effective tool is NATO. One of NATO’s many partners around the globe is Israel. Israel’s horrific wars are of the same species as everybody else’s horrific wars. And without NATO, neither the U.S. not Israel could make any claim to being part of an “international community” or a “rules based order.”

Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty limits new members of NATO to European nations that are invited by NATO to join it. But NATO has not limited itself to Europe. It does not view its purpose as merely “resisting armed attack” (in the language of that treaty). Not only has it reconceived the concept of resisting actual attacks as deterring potential attacks — often through behavior that is clearly more provocative than deterrent — but NATO also conceives of itself as a global alliance that will wage wars anywhere on Earth, regardless of any attack on a NATO member.

Outside of Europe, therefore, NATO has added dozens of additional nations as “partners” rather than members. To invite a nation to be a member, existing members must agree that, according to Article 5, an attack on one is an attack on all. To add a “partner,” however, no such commitment is required. NATO may very well go to war in the event that one of its partners goes to war, but it is not obliged to by treaty. It is thus free to do weapons deals with partner governments, embed partner militaries in its “interoperable” system of weapons types, trainers, and operators, and decide on an ad hoc basis what wars to wage.

Always viewing militarism as the answer to the problems it creates, NATO has established partnerships across the region of Western Asia that have wreaked havoc, spreading weaponry and instability. One initiative, the Mediterranean Dialogue, includes Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. Another, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, through what NATO calls “Partners Across the Globe,” NATO has established partnerships with Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. NATO partners Israel and Pakistan are estimated to possess 170 nuclear weapons each, both without joining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The Western Asian NATO partners include some of the most oppressive, authoritarian and dictatorial governments, deemed the least “free” by the U.S.-funded Freedom House rankings, and considered by the U.S. Department of State responsible for all variety of brutal human rights abuses — plus Israel, which is also one of the most brutal, warmaking governments — one that has recently been ordered to cease its murderous activities by the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council — even if deemed flawless and “democratic” by the U.S. government that arms it.

NATO and NATO members have been supporting Israel since its creation by funding, arming, and training the Israeli military and providing diplomatic cover for Israel’s crimes. Israel imports weapons primarily from the United States and Germany, but also imports and exports weapons with other NATO members. In 2017, Israel established a permanent official mission to NATO headquarters in Brussels, and there have been efforts over the years to integrate Israel more closely into NATO to take advantage of Israel’s advanced weapons systems, so frequently tested and demonstrated on Palestinians.

NATO members have purchased billions in weapons from Israel, including the Arrow 3 missile defense system (sold to Germany for $3.5 billion) and “Kamikaze drones” and counter-drone systems. Israeli weapons exports soared after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, when NATO members saw a chance to acquire Israel’s advanced military technology. NATO is particularly interested in Israel’s use of artificial intelligence, which began with Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2021 but became a key component of its military strategy after October 7, 2023. In Israel’s targeting of Palestinians, the army has used an artificial intelligence-based program known as “Lavender,” which has played a central role in the bombing that has killed tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people in Gaza.

Israeli military officials have briefed NATO on Israel’s “innovations,” and Israel’s President Isaac Herzog visited NATO headquarters in 2023 — the first time an Israeli president has addressed NATO allies there. Like a pair of presidents, the president of Israel and the unelected-to-anything secretary general of NATO held a joint press conference.

NATO put out a statement on that occasion that read, in part: “NATO and Israel have worked together for almost 30 years, cooperating in domains such as science and technology, counter terrorism, civil preparedness, countering weapons of mass destruction and women, peace and security. Over the last year cooperation has grown, with NATO welcoming Israel’s intention to strengthen the naval interoperability by recognising Israel as a partner for NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian, and Israel’s Defence Force military medical academy now serving as a unique asset for NATO’s Partnership Training and Education Centres community.”

NATO’s Secretary General also claimed that Russia, China, and North Korea, were aligning with Iran as enemies of “freedom and democracy.” NATO and the Israeli government view Iran as an important enemy. Israel played a significant role in pushing for the disastrous war in Iraq, and has been a leading proponent of the still-threatened war on Iran for decades. “The illusion of distance can no longer hold. NATO must take the strongest possible stance against the Iranian regime including through economic, legal and political sanctions and credible military deterrence,” said NATO’s Secretary General.

NATO headquarters and the dominant decision-maker in NATO, the U.S. government, have been supportive of the ongoing genocide in Gaza, despite division among NATO member governments. Belgium, Spain, and Slovenia, have expressed some sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians, while European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has commented publicly to U.S. President Biden: “Well, if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people being killed.” Such logic does not seem to penetrate NATO, which is increasingly taking over the role of governments in budgeting, warmaking, policing, scientific research, education, and diplomacy — all without any pretense of accountability to any public, as NATO wages and fuels wars for “democracy.”

Articles churned out in the past few months by NATO-aligned stink tankers have been pushing for much closer collaboration between Israel and NATO.

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