Never-ending plans to expand NATO threaten world peace
Flags of members of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad for short). Observer Research Foundation

In 2012, then President Barak Obama announced the so-called “Pivot to East Asia.” The United States started to focus less on the Middle East and more on East Asia. The main catalyst for this policy change was a fear of a rising People’s Republic of China. Today Biden warned China that if it makes any move on Taiwan, the U.S. will respond militarily.

What followed the announcements of a “pivot to Asia” was a mixed bag of increased engagement with developing countries in the region, alongside increased provocation. Now, the Biden administration is doubling down on the provocation and pursuing a path that has been described by some observers as pursuing the creation of an Asian NATO.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in 1949 as an allegedly defensive military alliance aimed at protecting Western Europe from a supposedly dangerous USSR. However, history has shown that NATO has never operated defensively. In fact, it has consistently been used as a force of provocation, offensively and as the military wing of “Western” imperialism. Its level of aggression has only increased since the destruction of the USSR.

When Yugoslavia began to fall apart in the late ‘90s and some of the new emerging governments refused to adapt to the neoliberal economic model, NATO unleashed its wrath on the region. Hospitals, community centers, and villages were destroyed by the US-led NATO forces. Even the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was bombed. When the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi sought to make Africa economically independent from the neoliberal “West,” NATO forces attacked, helped to topple his government, leaving Libya in a state of anarchy and chaos.

It was NATO’s irresponsible and confrontational continuing expansion into Eastern Europe that triggered the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine. NATO continues to take an offensive posture against Russia which has long since ceased to be a socialist country.

There once was an “Asian NATO.” The often-forgotten Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was founded in 1977. It was designed to be the NATO of East Asia. The fact that the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia were all members, none of which are countries in Southeast Asia, highlighted the imperialistic nature of SEATO. For many reasons, including the defeat of U.S. forces in the War on Vietnam, SEATO folded in 1977, and “Western” imperialism was left without a military organization in East Asia.

Lately, there have been calls to change this, as some have been calling for NATO’s direct expansion into the Asia-Pacific region. In February 2022, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said NATO should not be constrained to Europe. He said it should be allowed to expand to anywhere in the world. In April, the British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss was more specific, saying that NATO should get actively involved in the Asia-Pacific region. However, the United States, as part of its increasingly confrontational and militaristic foreign policy, seems to have a different path in mind.

In 2017, in response to a surging Chinese economy and increased Chinese involvement on the international stage, the United States revitalized the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad for short) which had previously fizzled out of existence in 2008. The Quad, made up of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, is a military organization that has often been compared to a smaller NATO in Asia. The member countries routinely have military exercises together and military leaders of the member countries meet to coordinate with each other

In the years since 2017, the Quad has tried to expand via the so-called “Quad Plus Meetings”. Among the countries invited to participate in these meetings are countries like Israel and Brazil, both of which have no border with the Asia-Pacific region.

As part of this expansion, the United States has repeatedly lobbied Vietnam to allow the U.S. military to build a naval base on Vietnamese territory. Despite the Vietnamese government’s repeated rejection of such a plan, it has so often been written about in the “Western” press that many people incorrectly think that Vietnam has capitulated to the pressure from Washington, D.C.

Another major development was the announcement of the AUKUS agreement in September of 2021. This military agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States was a major and drastic step to militarize the region. As part of the AUKUS agreement, the U.S. and the UK will help Australia build a fleet of nuclear submarines, despite global concerns about nuclear proliferation. The three countries also agreed to collaborate on other technologies such as hypersonic, counter-hypersonic, and electronic warfare.

All these moves taken together have observers concerned that the Quad +AUKUS is a prototype for a new Asian NATO. These moves are seen as a militarization of the economic and diplomatic rivalry between China and the United States, just like NATO was the militarization of the rivalry between the U.S. and the USSR.

No doubt that an “Asian NATO” would be a force for destabilization and imperialism just like its counterpart in the West. There is also no doubt that any military confrontation between China and the U.S. would be a disaster for billions of working-class people across Asia, as well as in the United States. Not only are both countries nuclear powers, but both countries are also economic powers. The repercussions from such a conflict would quickly spread worldwide. The US’s increasing militarization is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible developments in the world today.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, the opinions reflected here are those of the author.


CONTRIBUTOR

Amiad Horowitz
Amiad Horowitz

Amiad Horowitz studied history with a specific focus on Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh. He lives in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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