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[Nettime-bold] Nato and beyond

NATO and Beyond

By Ellan Ray and Bill Schaap

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright referred to the August 1998 
missile assaults against Sudan and Afghanistan (allegedly in 
retaliation for the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa two weeks 
earlier) as “unfortunately, the war of the future.”1 In one 
sense, she was lamenting the likelihood of various Islamic forces 
retaliating against American civilian targets.

There is, as Albright understands, another side to these wars, 
more than guided missiles launched from a thousand miles away, 
with no danger to U.S. troops. American military strategy calls 
for “the use of overwhelming force to minimize United States 
casualties.”2 But it is not that simple. Former CIA Director 
Robert Gates was more precise: “[O]ur people and our Government 
must accept another reality: as potential official American 
targets are ‘hardened,’ terrorists will simply turn to non-
official targets– businesses, schools, tourists and so on. We can 
perhaps channel the threat away from the United States 
Government, but not away from Americans.”3 What grand scheme, 
then, is in place, that may bring these “unfortunate” wars
home, against civilians?

Recent U.S. strategy, to implement the administration’s self-
appointed role as global policeman, is now defined by its 
evolving military unilateralism, at home and abroad.

The Pathology of a Single Superpower

With the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet 
Union, the U.S. at last realized its objective to be the world’s 
only superpower. Though Washington–and Wall Street–had always 
been possessed of a rapacious ambition to control the world’s 
economy (what “globalization” is all about), there is now the 
conviction in many quarters that it is developing the military 
capability to do so. The acting Secretary of the Air Force, F. 
Whitten Peters, described the development as “learning a new kind 
of military operations [sic] in a new world.”4 It is unrealistic 
simply to wipe out every non-compliant government; and a few are 
too powerful for such a strategy. So the U.S. had devised a more 
comprehensive plan, and now, after some 20 years, is approaching 
its millennial end game. One critical element has been a 
redefinition of the “enemy,” in order to disguise greed as a 
dispassionate desire to spread western “democracy.” Its 
complement has been the development of a military strategy for 
employing that definition to globalize U.S. power.

The New Enemy

It is commonplace to say that terrorism has replaced communism as 
the new enemy of western democracy. But this replacement has been 
selectively applied, geared to the goals of U.S. global hegemony. 
Washington’s characterization of a foreign government can change 
radically when little or nothing has changed in that country. The 
Clinton administration’s most recent pledge of more billions for 
defense came as the Pentagon upgraded North Korea, Iran, and 
Iraq, which they call “rogue” states, as no longer
threats of possible nuclear missile attacks, an official position 
they had held only a few weeks before.5

Of course, when this happens, it ought to raise eyebrows among 
the citizenry. That it doesn’t is often blamed on the average 
American’s notoriously short political memory, but it is really 
due to the remarkable ability of the media to accept new 
policies, new “enemies,” new “threats,” without
acknowledging their prior, unquestioning acceptance of the old 

Enemies can become friends overnight, too. Recent events in 
Kosovo demonstrate how quickly and how hypocritically the U.S. 
government recharacterizes a situation when it suits their needs. 
The Kosovo Liberation Army was branded a “terrorist
in early 1998, but by mid-year U.S. officials, including Richard 
Holbrooke, were meeting with its leaders, while claiming they 
were not in favor of Kosovan secession and the resulting 
inevitability of a “Greater Albania.” Holbrooke was 
uncharacteristically frank: “I think the Serbs should get out of 

Ironically, after the CIA financed, armed, and trained Islamic 
“friends” in Afghanistan, President Clinton now believes that
threat they pose may justify creating a new military command at 
home to fight terrorism. As we go to press, he is weighing 
Pentagon advice to establish a commander-in-chief for the defense 
of the continental U.S., a first in peace time. [More next 


The government and its media spin artists have incited western 
fears by tarring enemy states like Iraq with the brush of 
“weapons of mass destruction” so repeatedly that the acronym
is now current jargon. Part of the “new vision” for NATO, 
discussed below, is to focus on WMD as a justification for 
millitary strikes anywhere, either as deterrence or as 
“preemptive retaliation.” The campaign around WMD is described
“a microcosm for the new NATO, and for its larger debates and 
dilemmas.”8 None of the analyses, however, point out that the 
U.S. is the only nation that has used all of these 
weapons–chemical, biological, and nuclear.

The U.S. has employed biological weapons for 200 years, from 
smallpox in the blankets of Native Americans to spreading plagues 
in Cuba; from chemical weapons like mustard gas to cripple and 
kill in World War I to Agent Orange to defoliate Vietnam–and to 
create a generation of deformed children. It is the only nation 
that has dropped nuclear bombs, and one that now makes, uses, and 
sells depleted uranium weapons.

The chemical weapons charges levied against Iraq are fraught with 
irony. When Iraq was at war with Iran, and the U.S. considered 
Iran the greater enemy (a view that changed under Israeli 
pressure), it was facilitating the sale of chemical weapons to 

The weapons inspectors in Iraq claimed that their inventories of 
“unaccounted for” WMDs came from boxes of secret Iraqi
discovered “hidden on a chicken farm near Baghdad,”10 but
were easier ways to have compiled such inventories–like reviewing 
the CIA’s reports of the secret arms deals it brokered in the 

Taking Control

For the U.S., the United Nations has been a double-edged sword. 
Because of its Security Council veto, it can frustrate actions it 
opposes, but cannot always force actions it wishes.

Thus the U.S. has fostered–and funded–U.N. tribunals to punish

alleged war crimes in Bosnia and in Rwanda, but would never allow 
such extraterritorial tribunals to investigate crimes against 
humanity in Indonesia, for example, or in any of its other client 
states. For this reason, the U.S. refuses to ratify the proposed 
International Criminal Court and opposes the trial of Augusto 
Pinochet in Spain.11

Where geographically possible, the military planners have turned 
increasingly to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which 
Secretary Albright described as “our institution of choice.”12

NATO is not “hostage” to U.N. resolutions, one
analyst” said.13 A U.S. “official” explained that the
“figures in this as far as possible,” but that the new
of NATO is meant to include the possibility of action without 
U.N. mandate.14

A Times editorial warned against “transforming the alliance into 
a global strike force against threats to American and European 
interests.”15 But Secretary Albright reaffirmed that the shift is 
from collective defense of the NATO members’ territory to “the

broader concept of the defense of our common interests.”16 This 
means, in practical terms, the U.S. forcing the NATO imprimatur 
on military interventions in the internal affairs of sovereign 
states that are not members of the alliance.17


The most obvious and illegal expansion of NATO’s mandate has been 
its intervention in Kosovo. As we go to press, NATO is voting 
whether to authorize air strikes against the Serbian military. 
The rationale for the Clinton administration’s push for the 
bombing is described as to “do something” for the sake of 
“credibility,” especially because President Milosevic might 
“belittle the celebration marking the West’s triumph over 
Communism,” planned for April in Washington.18 He might 
otherwise, one Pentagon official feared, try to turn the 
celebration into a “Kosovo summit.”19

After President Milosevic agreed to allow a monitoring 
(“verifying”) team into Kosovo, the U.S. chose career diplomat

William Walker to head the mission, under the auspices of the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.20 Walker, 
when U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, oversaw and condoned some of 
the most brutal oppression and murder in the Western hemisphere.


U.S. abuse of the U.N.’s mandate became apparent in the UNSCOM 
Scam. For some time, United Nations Special Commission inspectors 
in Iraq had attempted to gain access to President Hussein’s homes 
and similar sites on the unlikely excuse that they could be CBW 
laboratories or storehouses. The media continually berated Saddam 
Hussein when he claimed that espionage was involved. Nonetheless, 
it came as a surprise to some to learn in January that U.S. spies 
had been operating against Iraq under cover as UNSCOM inspectors. 
To add insult to injury, Iraq had been forced to pay for the 
inspectors from its “oil for food” program income.21

UNSCOM was always beholden to the United States. From 1991 to 
1997, UNSCOM had no U.N. budget, “but existed on handouts, 
especially from Washington,”22 like the Hague Tribunal on 
Yugoslavia. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Acting Alone

The U.S. has increasingly preferred NATO to the U.N. to avoid 
having its militaristic adventures vetoed. But with some 
disagreements within NATO as well, the Pentagon has taken to 
acting alone, or with a compliant ally. The August attacks on 
Sudan and Afghanistan were examples of totally unilateral 
military action by the U.S. The recent bombing of Iraq, a joint 
U.S.-U.K. operation, was taken without consulting either the U.N. 
or NATO. As one reporter noted, “the global coalition arrayed 
against [Saddam Hussein] in the gulf war has been badly frayed. 
The United States and Britain are its only steadfast members.”23

The arrogance of such an action (compounded by the repeated 
failure of its rationale, the removal of Saddam Hussein, and by 
the UNSCOM scandal), has generated considerable anger around the 
world, albeit mostly by people and governments that can do little 
or nothing about it but voice a “growing resentment.”24

However, some of that resentment has clout. Russia, China, and 
India have all voiced concerns, and the recent air strikes may 
have prompted Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov’s informal 
proposal for a strategic alliance between the three nations. 
While visiting India to discuss the initiative at the time of the 
attacks, he said, “We are very negative about the use of force 
bypassing the Security Council.”25 France and Canada also 
withdrew support. To the consternation of the Americans, France, 
has formally ended its support for the embargo on Iraq, forcing a 
reexamination of sanctions and the tightly restricted “oil for 
food” program.26

The “Parallel NATO”

Notwithstanding resentment and opposition, Washington is forging 
ahead with complex, ambitious, and risky plans, if not to 
supplant, at least to rival NATO, whenever it balks at American 
cowboy operations. The program is already well entrenched in 
Eastern Europe, where the Pentagon has bilateral military 
programs in 13 countries. Plans to expand into the Caucasus and 
former Soviet Asia are in the works.27

The result “is an informal alliance that parallels NATO, but is 
more acutely reliant on its American benefactor.”28 Another 
consequence of this operation is that “the Pentagon is eclipsing 
the State Department as the most visible agent of U.S. foreign 

Funding for some of the programs has an Orwellian flair. The U.S. 
European Command in Stuttgart runs a program called the Joint 
Contact Team Program, which was, according to the Washington 
Post, “initially paid for from a discretionary fund held by the 
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To work within 
congressional prohibitions of training foreign troops, the visits 
by U.S. military experts are called ‘exchanges’ and the
are called ‘contact teams’ rather than trainers.”30

One of the convenient side effects of the operation is the 
astonishing expansion of U.S. arms sales to the region. Eastern 
Europe “has become the largest recipient of U.S.-funded military 
equipment transfers after the Middle East.” Some Eastern 
Europeans are justifiably concerned about “whether the United 
States is fueling a regional arms race.”31

Another sobering aspect of the Pentagon’s preeminence is its 
growing collaboration with the Central Intelligence Agency. “Ever 
since the Persian Gulf war, when military commanders and CIA 
officials became convinced of the need for closer coordination 
between their services, planning for covert missions has been 
conducted jointly.”32

The New Balkanization

The western powers, having successfully re-Balkanized the 
Balkans, find this Nineteenth Century tactic to their liking. 
Indications are that there is a serious and far-flung effort 
under way to Balkanize Africa, redrawing its borders. Three of 
the largest nations on that continent, Congo, Angola, and Sudan, 
face violent struggles to divide their territories. In Angola and 
Sudan, the rebellions, supported quite actively by the U.S., have 
gone on for years. The move to divide the Congo, however, began 
only after the recent overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko, the greedy 
dictator whom the U.S. had installed and kept in power for more 
than 30 years.

Learning from the breakups both of the Soviet Union and of 
Yugoslavia, or more to the point, having long planned for such 
eventualities, the U.S. recognizes that it is easier to dominate 
a region when the governmental units are small. Already the media 
parrots are taking the cue, after years of silence on the 
subject. A recent, perhaps prophetic, piece in the New York 
Times, makes the point: The borders of African nations, set up 
arbitrarily by the Europeans who colonized the continent a 
century ago, are supposed to be inviolable. Yet Congo is now 
split in two, perhaps for good.33

Although the Organization of African Unity enshrined the colonial 
borders in its 1963 charter, and has generally seen them 
respected for 35 years, the western powers now purport to blame 
themselves for having imposed these unnatural divisions upon the 
hapless Africans.34 This, of course, encourages Balkanization and 
eases the path to further domination.

In some cases, U.S. strategy is more convoluted and 
Machiavellian. In the Sudan, for example, it has long been 
evident that the U.S. wants to keep the rebels sufficiently 
viable to avoid defeat, but not strong enough to pose a serious 
threat of the government’s overthrow. “Peace,” an
“official” is 
quoted as saying,“does not necessarily suit American 
interests.... ‘An unstable Sudan amounts to a stable

The Consequences

Perhaps we act alone because we have to act alone. Former CIA 
Director Robert Gates hinted about future wars when he wrote: 
Another unacknowledged and unpleasant reality is that a more 
militant approach toward terrorism would, in virtually all cases, 
require us to act violently and alone. No other power will join 
us on a crusade against terrorism.”36
But, the terrorists having been created, the crusade goes on. 

Ellen Ray and Bill Schaap are co-founders of CovertAction Quarterly.

1. New York Times, Aug. 23, 1998, p. 21. And see Sudan article in this
2. James Risen, “Pentagon Planners Give New Meaning to ‘Over
the Top,’” New York Times, Sept. 20, 1998, p. 18.
3. Robert M. Gates, “What War Looks Like Now,” New York Times,
Aug. 16, 1998, p. 15.
4. “The Pentagon After the Cold War,” Aerospace America, Nov.
1998, p. 42.
5. New York Times, Jan. 21, 1999, p. A7.
6. Recall that Mobutu became a “dictator” in the press only
when his overthrow was imminent; for thirty years, while he brutally raped the
Congo, he was our anti-communist ally, Mr. President. And the New York
Times always referred to the “Pinochet government” succeeding the
“Marxist Allende regime,” even though Allende was elected and
Pinochet took power in a coup.
7. Chris Hedges, “U.S. Envoy Meets Kosovo Rebels, Who Reject Truce
Call,” New York Times, June 25, 1998, p. A6.
8. At the upcoming NATO celebrations in April, the U.S. is to propose a
“NATO Center for Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Steven Erlanger,
“U.S. to Propose NATO Take On Increased Roles,” New York Times,
Dec. 7, 1998, p. A1.
9. Most notably through Chilean arms dealer Carlos Cardoen. See Ari
Ben-Menashe, Profits of War (New York: Sheridan Square, 1992), passim. Cardoen
vigorously denied any links to the CIA until his company was indicted in the
U.S., when he immediately invoked the CIA-knew-all-about-it defense.
10. William J. Broad and Judith Miller, “Germs, Atoms and Poison
Gas: the Iraqi Shell Game,” New York Times, Dec. 20, 1998, p. 5.
11. See “The Pinochet Principle” in this issue, p. 46.
12. Roger Cohen, “NATO Shatters Old Limits in the Name of Preventing
Evil,” New York Times, Oct. 18, 1998, Sec. 4, p. 3.
13. Ibid.
14. William Pfaff, “Washington’s New Vision for NATO Could Be
Divisive,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 5, 1998.
15. “New Visions for NATO,” New York Times, Dec. 7, 1998, p.
A24. Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. representative to NATO, immediately
responded, in a letter to the editor, that there are “no such
proposals.” The new strategy, he said, “will not turn the alliance into a
global police force, but will affirm NATO’s adaptability in tackling new
risks, like regional instability, weapons of mass destruction, and
16. Steven Erlanger, “U.S. to Propose NATO Take On Increased
Roles,” New York Times, Dec. 7, 1998, p. A12.
17. “The Holbrooke-Milosevic agreement on Kosovo in October was
accurately described by Richard Holbrooke as an unprecedented event. NATO had
intervened in an internal conflict inside a sovereign non-NATO state, not to
defend its own members but to force that other state to halt repression of a
rebellious ethnic minority.” Op. cit., n. 14.
18. New York Times, Jan. 21, 1999, p. A3.
19. Ibid.
20. Walker reminded his audience at a Washington briefing that, while he
spoke on behalf of the OSCE and the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), he was
still “a serving career [U.S.] Foreign Service Officer.”
Department of State release, Jan. 8, 1999.
21. The revelations, which first appeared in the Washington Post and the
Boston Globe, and then belatedly in the New York Times, caused a
“furor.” Tim Weiner, “U.S. Used U.N. Team to Place Spy Device in Iraq,
Aides Say,” New York Times, Jan. 8, 1999, p. A1. An unnamed
“senior intelligence official” quoted in the Times said that the news
“should not shock people.” An also unnamed U.N. official said it
would be “naive” to have thought otherwise.
22. Barbara Crossette, “Reports of Spying Dim Outlook for
Inspections,” New York Times, Jan. 8, 1999, p. A8.
23. Tim Weiner, “U.S. Long View on Iraq: Patience in Containing the
Ever-Deadlier Hussein,” New York Times, Jan. 3, 1999, p. 10.
24.  Richard N. Haass, the director of foreign policy studies at the
Brookings Institution, describes the concern as a “growing resentment
factor.” Serge Schmemann, “Attacks Breed a Complex Unease About U.S.
Goals,” New York Times, Dec. 20, 1998, p. 21.
25. BBC World Service, Dec. 21, 1998.
26. Barbara Crossette, “France, in Break With U.S., Urges End to
Iraq Embargo,” New York Times, Jan. 14, 1999, p. A6.
27. Dana Priest, “U.S. Military Builds Alliances Across
Europe,” Washington Post, Dec. 14, 1998, p. A1.
28. Ibid., p. A28.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. Op. cit., n. 2.
33. Ian Fisher with Norimitsu Onishi, “Congo’s Struggle May
Unleash Broad Strife to Redraw Africa,” New York Times, Jan. 12, 1999,
p. A1.
34. Typical is Howard French’s long article, “The African
Question: Who Is to Blame?” New York Times, Jan. 16, 1999, p. B7. The
subhead reads, “The Finger Points to the West, And Congo Is a Harsh
35. James C. McKinley, Jr., “Sudan’s Calamity: Only the
Starving Favor Peace,” New York Times, July 23, 1998.
36. Op. cit., n. 3. 


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