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“Peace, Not NATO”: As Biden Hosts Leaders in D.C., German MP Decries NATO’s 75 Years of War & Hypocrisy

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Image Credit: NATO/Flickr

President Biden is hosting heads of government from NATO member nations for a three-day summit in Washington, D.C., to mark the 75th anniversary of the expanding nuclear-armed military alliance as leaders pledge to continue supporting Ukraine against Russia’s invasion. We get response from German lawmaker Sevim Dağdelen, who is in D.C. to protest the summit and is the author of the new book NATO: A Reckoning with the Atlantic Alliance. She lays out how NATO is based on a series of myths about its purpose, respecting democracy and upholding human rights — as exemplified by member states’ staunch support for Israel’s war on Gaza. “You have rising contradictions and crisis within the European Union and the NATO states,” Dağdelen says.

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StoryJul 13, 2023Stephen Wertheim: The West Cannot Ignore Role NATO Expansion Played in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

President Biden is hosting heads of state from NATO member nations for a three-day summit in Washington, D.C., to mark the 75th anniversary of the nuclear-armed military alliance. NATO has expanded from 12 founding member states to 32. Sweden is at the summit as a full NATO member for the first time. Now Ukraine’s path to membership in the alliance is, quote, “irreversible,” according to a leaked version of a joint declaration expected to be released today. In his opening address, President Biden pledged further NATO support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Italy will provide Ukraine with the equipment for five additional strategic air defense systems. And in the coming months, the United States and our partners intend to provide Ukraine with dozens of additional tactical air defense systems. The United States will make sure that when we export critical air defense interceptors, Ukraine goes to the front of the line.

AMY GOODMAN: Also on Tuesday, President Biden awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The incoming NATO head, former Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has been called “the Trump whisperer” for an episode in 2018 when he convinced then-President Trump that NATO funding from other countries was increasing as Trump had demanded — Rutte is seen as someone who could deter Trump from leaving NATO, if he’s reelected.

Over this past weekend, an anti-NATO protest was held in Washington, D.C. Speakers included German parliament member Sevim Dağdelen.

SEVIM DAĞDELEN: We need peace instead of NATO. We need, at long last, to stand up for democratic and popular sovereignty and to reject the indignity of being a vassal state of Washington, which is just about all we have gotten from the ruling coalition in Berlin. Peace, not NATO.

AMY GOODMAN: German lawmaker Sevim Dağdelen joins us now, still in Washington, D.C. She’s a member of the German parliament with the Wagenknecht Alliance and member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Her forthcoming book is titled NATO: A Reckoning with the Atlantic Alliance. Her new piece for Consortium News is headlined “75 Years of NATO = 75 Years of Denial.”

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Sevim Dağdelen. If you can explain why you came to Washington, D.C.? And give us your history of NATO, what you think it’s most important to understand.

SEVIM DAĞDELEN: Thanks for having me, Amy.

I think the most important thing about the history of NATO is that it’s a history of denial, that they have three great myths. The first is that it is a defense alliance. And at least after 1999 with the aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, we know it is a war alliance. They breached international law. They were bombing Belgrade 79 days, even television stations, the Chinese Embassy. And 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the aggression against Iraq, the aggression in 2011 against Libya, that shows us this is just a lie, with the defensive alliance.

The second great myth of the NATO is that they are an alliance, a collective of democracies, against authoritarian regimes. And this is a historic lie. Just one example, one of the founding member states was Portugal under the fascist dictator Salazar, who tortured Africans in concentration camps in Mozambique, in Angola. So, the NATO had no — never problem with fascist dictators. Even the bilateral treaties between the United States and the Spanish dictator Franco was at stake.

And the third great myth of the NATO is that they are an alliance of values and human rights. But how can you talk about human rights and values if you still have the torture center in Guantánamo Bay, where people are tortured in the war on terrorism of the United States, or 14 years of prosecution, of torture against a journalist like Julian Assange, whose crime was to expose U.S. war crimes in Iraq or NATO war crimes in Afghanistan or even, according to the well-known Brown University in the United States, that in the last 20 years, the wars of the United States and their allies killed more than 4.5 million people?

And if we look to Gaza, which is unconditionally supported by the United States and the NATO, and especially, for example, from Germany, we see it’s a hypocrisy to talk about human rights if they are complicit to all the crimes done by the Israeli government. I mean, killing 15,000 children in Gaza, you cannot justify that with the — of course, the legitimate right of self-defense. But this war, with more than 15,000 dead children, is not an act of self-defense anymore. And the NATO is complicit to this war. So, we do have this great myth. And I think it was about time, on the 75th anniversary, to do a reckoning with all these crimes.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the summit’s crucial goals is to offer Ukraine an irreversible path to NATO membership. Of course, Ukrainian President Zelensky is in the United States right now. How sustainable is NATO’s continued military support for Ukraine? Do you see it getting in the way of any kind of negotiation that would end the war?

SEVIM DAĞDELEN: Well, first of all, we have to say that the NATO head of state and government are going to deepen their strategy in the proxy war in Ukraine. That means even more weapons and even more money for Ukraine, and, on the other side, less money for their own population for healthcare, for education, for infrastructure or for affordable social housing, because this is the other side of this coin, that they have social cuts on the other side to finance this money going to Ukraine and the weapons.

And I found it very remarkable, the last days, even though I do not agree on many things of the Hungarian head of state, Mr. Viktor Orbán, but I found it very remarkable how much he is being criticized for just trying to have a dialogue. And I think it’s the right way to go, what he is doing with his trips to Kyiv first and then to Moscow and then to Beijing and now in Washington. He is trying to have a dialogue, because whoever wants to stop the killing in Ukraine, he has to send diplomats and not weapons.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about Germany, where you are from. You’re a member of parliament there. The U.S. is the largest arms supplier to Israel. Germany is the second-largest arms supplier. This is the 75th anniversary of NATO. What are the implications of NATO’s support for Israel right now?

SEVIM DAĞDELEN: Well, the implications are that the NATO lost — even if they had at least a tiny little bit of moral integrity, they lost every moral integrity, at least in the Global South, with their unconditional support for the, in part, very extreme right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu. And even in Europe, for example, we do have support for recognition of the Palestinian state by three member states, like Ireland, Spain and Norway, because they want to stop this unconditional support —

AMY GOODMAN: And Sweden has already done it.

SEVIM DAĞDELEN: Yeah, and they want to stop this unconditional support. So, you have rising contradictions and crisis within the European Union and the NATO states according to this unconditional support. And in Germany, it’s rising, because, as you said, we are the second-biggest supplier of weapons — we’ve been, actually. And we’ve been lawsuited before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Nicaragua did an indictment against the —

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

SEVIM DAĞDELEN: — weapon deliveries and — pardon?

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

SEVIM DAĞDELEN: Yeah. And I think the most important thing is that we, as Germany, have to go our own sovereign, independent foreign policy, and not trying to —

AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there, Sevim. Sevim Dağdelen is a German parliament member, joining us from Washington, D.C. Thanks for joining us.

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