NATO's Viagra: Yugoslavia Solves NATO's Mid-Life Crisis
By Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)

For some time, NATO has been going through a mid-life crisis.  Having recently reached the age of 50, and having outlived it's main adversary, one might think that NATO could have just retired.  For decades, we were told that NATO's purpose was to counter the Warsaw Pact.  But with the disappearance of NATO's rival, and it's most-valued enemy ever -- the Soviet
Union -- NATO has been desperately searching for a new raison d'etre. 

The air strikes on Yugoslavia have given NATO renewed hope for its golden years.  Retirement now looks impossible.  The bombing has acted like some kind of martial viagra, giving new strength to NATO and revitalizing its leading member -- the U.S.A.

The primary function of this bombing campaign is to fashion a new image and a revised role for NATO.  The U.S. is trying to bill itself as the global sheriff, a righteous lawman standing tall with his loyal deputies in line behind.  They want to be seen as a new world police force whose noble goal is to fight crime on the streets of the global village. 

The most scary thing about the bombing Yugoslavia, is the precedent it sets. NATO has been very careful to chose a target which few in the west can possibly support.  They have also been very clever to side with Moslem victims for a change.  This, they hope, will help to gain some support from the Islamic world.  The U.S. image among Moslems has been severely tarnished by decades of support for Israel, seen by many as guilty of an ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians.  The U.S.-led destruction of Iraq, having killed 1.5 million people (mostly children), also hasn't helped U.S.-Moslem relations.

It is extremely naive to think that the bombing of Yugoslavia is being carried out for solely humanitarian purposes.  If morality has been a motivating goal of U.S. military policies over the past 50 years, it is certainly difficult to prove.  The U.S. has carried out dozens of covert wars, helped to subvert and overthrow numerous democracies, backed countless military coups and has supplied weapons to many of the world's most ruthless dictators.  They have used every dirty trick in the book.  Millions of  innocent civilians have perished in order to make the world a safer place for multi-national corporations to do business.

If the U.S. is so concerned about the victims of ethnic cleansing, why have they continued to arm Turkey, a fellow member of NATO which has carried out the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds?  If one wants to know about the supposed morality of U.S. military policies, one can ask the Noble Peace Prize recipients from Guatemala and East Timor, whose peoples have been murdered by brutal, U.S.-backed regimes.

If NATO now wishes to be taken seriously then it should not exercise such double-standards.  Everyone must follow international laws, including the global cops and their friends.  Ethnic cleansing is as reprehensible when carried out by an ally as it is when carried out by an enemy.  The history of North America itself is one of the best examples of ethnic cleansing on

For the newly-reconstituted global cop, Europe may be just the first block in the neighborhood.  Once the dust settles in the Balkans, it's not hard to imagine that our new global policeman will seek to enlarge his beat.  No doubt other military actions, against other sovereign countries on other continents, will follow.  Who will be next?  Libya?  North Korea?  Cuba? Russia?  China?  It is troublesome indeed to look into the future and to imagine the world after another fifty years of such hypocrisy and violence.