The world has changed dramatically, even NATO itself has changed, not necessarily for the better, but NATO nuclear policy, based upon nuclear deterrence and a first use option, has not changed.
For its first 40 years NATO was a defensive alliance. Its purpose was to defend against an attack on Western Europe by the Soviet Union. NATO relied heavily on the threat to use nuclear weapons to thwart such an attack. Regardless of what one thinks of this policy, it must be recognized that the need for such a strategy has passed.
The Cold War ended. There is no longer a Soviet Union. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved. No threat against Western Europe currently exists, and the Russians have sought friendly relations with the West.
How has NATO responded to this situation?
First, it has expanded. George Kennan, an American elder statesman who crafted the containment policy against the former Soviet Union, has called NATO expansion the single greatest mistake in American foreign policy in the post Cold War era. It is a mistake because it threatens the Russians.
Second, NATO has changed from a defensive alliance to an offensive alliance in disregard of its own Charter.
NATO, is currently engaged in hostilities that are in clear violation of international law.
Third, NATO has resisted any change in its nuclear doctrine. It continues to have a nuclear first-strike doctrine, meaning that NATO refuses to declare that it will use nuclear weapons only against attack by nuclear weapons.
Fourth, NATO continues to maintain U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe, and continues to employ a nuclear sharing policy. U.S. nuclear weapons are located in Germany, UK, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, and Belgium.
It is important to note that all of this takes place under strong pressure from the United States, and is the result of U.S. leadership of NATO.
When the new German government came to power and wanted to pursue a No First Use (of nuclear weapons) policy for NATO, the U.S. put strong pressure on them to fall into line. Similar pressure has been applied to Canada and to other NATO governments.
What is wrong with NATO’s nuclear policy?
It is terribly dangerous. It could have catastrophic results, by accident or design. It forces the Russians to greater reliance on their nuclear arsenal. It encourages nuclear proliferation. It violates international law, both the Non-Proliferation Treaty (Articles VI, and I and II) and the opinion of the International Court of Justice. Most tragically, it undermines the best opportunity we may have to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
What should NATO do?
1. Immediately declare a policy of No First Use, and a policy of Non-Use against non-nuclear weapons states.
2. Remove all U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe, including withdrawal of Trident submarines from European waters.
3. Express its support for the World Court decision on the illegality of nuclear weapons.
4. Make an unequivocal commitment to the elimination of nuclear arms and take practical steps to accomplish this end, as called for by the New Agenda Coalition.
5. De-alert its nuclear forces, and begin to separate warheads from delivery vehicles.
6. Begin negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention, setting forth an agreed upon plan for the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons.
7. Declare an immediate cease fire in the Balkans, and return the issue of peace in the former Yugoslavia to the United Nations Security Council or to the UN General Assembly under Article 20 of the Charter and a “Uniting for Peace” Resolution if the Security Council is deadlocked.
In concluding, I’d like to share with you a message I received by email from a friend in Russia, Alla Yaroshinskaya, who is an advisor to President Yeltsin:
“We are very close to theatre of war in Yugoslavia and have information from both sides. And I am very afraid we are on the eve of 3rd world’s war. NATO and USA, bombing Yugoslavia, help very much our crazy communists to take into force sooner than they dreamed about that. And I think that USA has good chance to feel destruction on their own territory if power in such country like Russia with nuclear strategical weapons fall down to the hands of bloody Bolsheviks.”