“No to war! No to NATO!” – And a “yes” to the democratic state? Ruthless Criticism

“No to war! No to NATO!” – And a “yes” to the democratic state?
How is this supposed to fit together?!

[Translation of a GegenStandpunt leaflet distributed at the protests against NATO's 50th anniversary, April 2009]

NATO celebrates itself – and you can't stand the birthday boy? No wonder: this association stands for war, torture and global militarization, as accused in your call to protest.

Only: if you call this military alliance a terrible world overlord, one which wages wars all over the world, ensures global misery, is responsible for the depletion of resources, social cuts, the brutalization of society and the erosion of honorable constitutional rights – do you not give too much honor to the North Atlantic Treaty?

NATO is an organization of monstrous propensity for violence which deserves all opposition. But that it tramples on innocent western democracies and foists on them domestic and foreign policies, from the climate to social spending up to foreign policy – do you seriously want to maintain this? NATO, in the end, is an alliance which the democratic homelands of the North Atlantic have founded; and not by mistake, but as an instrument of their civilian and military purposes. You nevertheless say in your call to protest what these states want to protect: a whole “unjust world economic system” which they have arranged to their advantage – for what else! And this capitalist world order which is useful for them is not to be had without a powerful, heavily armed violence apparatus!

We consider it a mistake when critical people consider the NATO states' capability and willingness to go to war to be scandalous, but besides the real democracies which are the owners and commanders of the military machinery concoct still also truly free democratic communities which are supposed to be threatened by militarization and undermined by the logic of confrontation. Do you want to come to the defense of the NATO states against their own war policies? Do you mean that democratic governments could not possibly want everything that you accuse their military association of?

With all respect for activism critical of NATO: one cannot criticize the means and leave out the political and economic state purposes which need and create these means.


If you accuse NATO of inhumane policies and in sharp contrast to it see the majority of the people oppose war, then it strikes us that the majority of common people do not have a monopoly on the disapproval of war. Even the politicians who decide on wars and lead them with their military reach their goals better without war. And if they then hold it to be unavoidable, they use their war machinery for nothing else than for the next, better peace which procures the security their national interest needs and the respect for their power which forces on other states a peace useful for their state. Even while dropping bombs, democratic warlords – and they are the only ones who make the policy of the alliance – appeal to the political mandate given to them by the majority of the people who elected them. And the majority of eligible to vote common people put up with this as a rule. They by no means cease to work, to vote – and to thereby authorize the politicians to decide over war and peace. Here they think – unfortunately – not so very differently than their political representatives: They reject war if they see no national benefit in it, if it is picked frivolously or if it goes badly. If, however, the politicians say to them that “our” way of life is at stake, that in “our” export-oriented country jobs depend on open markets everywhere, on free traffic routes at sea and in the air and on the readiness of other states to play the role assigned to them in the global market economy: then the “peace-loving people” also see that this willingness to cooperate must be forced in cases of “willful disobedience” and the peace of the capitalistic world economy must be defended.

Anyone who takes his criticism of the military policies of the western democracies seriously cannot appeal to the good people against their politicians. He does not spare criticism of the generally approved capitalistic peace.


This peace is governed in the NATO states by the same distinguished constitutional laws whose erosion you lament, in that constitutional rights are annulled in the course of wars all over the world. Should it have escaped you that these fine constitutional texts already plan all the norms and clauses for restricting constitutional rights in the event of some danger that threatens internal or external security? Constitutions are not laws for binding the state, but charters of their power; they authorize the government to enforce what they always deem necessary in the defense of the security of the free democratic state. It is with full justice that leaders of nations appeal to their constitutions when they wage war and also arm their home front.


In dealing with other states, the big western democracies understand only the language of force anyway. They speak it perfectly, however, and interpret to the world their highly armed interests as international law and human rights. The big states are not obedient followers of international law and human rights, but their makers and executors. These relevant catalogs are also the work of their power, which puts them in the position to “shock and awe” everybody they consider necessary between Serbia and Afghanistan, sending an international law and human rights license signed by their own hand after the fact.


Do not complain about the bending of constitutional rights, unconstitutional militarization and NATO's internationally unlawful wars; but notice that it is an achievement of democratic constitutional states to ensure that imperialistic interests and the international legal situation go together! War and its means always fit under this, including the procurement, constant readiness and use of nuclear weapons. In the end, it is one of the homelands of democracy which has so far used such weapons, something that, as one knows, has not damaged democratic freedom, but has spread it around the world. The powers allied in NATO need such stuff for the maintenance of their global order, in which they can show their face nowhere without vastly superior military force.

It is the luck of the real democrats that in their national capital sites they have no other opponents than ideal democrats who regard the real governance to be a violation of the spirit of the constitution and democratic realpolitik to be the opposite of the true, good and nice governance which they demand from the state-supporting parties with indestructible confidence.

So if you consider a world without NATO to be necessary, then it will probably also be necessary to present opposition not only to the uniformed subordinates of the western military alliance, but their democratic masters and the civilian order they supervise.