Deliberate provocations of a nuclear rival, coups d’état, colour revolutions, broken promises, broken treaties, escalation of tensions, demonization, invective, double-standards — all this while asserting adherence to international legal norms and playing innocent about our aggressions, our violations of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, of articles 1(2), 2(3), 2(4) and 39 of the UN Charter.
Abrams tanks, Leopard tanks, F-16, indiscriminate weapons, depleted uranium, cluster bombs. Summits illustrate how the moral compass of the collective West is lost in the avalanche of fake news, fake history, fake law, bellicose rhetoric, media hyperbole, serial mobbing of dissenters, persecution of whistleblowers, censorship. The Western binary mindset continues to divide the world into good and bad countries, democracies and autocracies. There is little room to accommodate a comprehensive picture of the pre-history, root causes of conflicts, and nuances. One observes an almost total absence of a sense for proportions.
The Global Majority in Latin America, Africa and Asia is increasingly alarmed by the surrealistic spectacle of a collective West that seems out of control, developing its own lethal dynamic, displaying a paroxysm of Russophobia and Sinophobia, incitement to hatred, cancel culture, refusal to entertain serious dialogue, doubling-down on eschatological demands. Many non-Western thinkers and politicians are articulating justified warnings that the on-going intestinal conflicts in the West are adversely impacting the economies of third-world countries and may ultimately result in Apocalypse for the entire planet. The West is not playing the classical Russian roulette – it has developed its own version: Ukrainian roulette, compulsive apocalyptic vabanque.
Meanwhile the Western media, notably Reuters, AP, CNN, Fox, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Le Monde, Figaro, FAZ, der Spiegel, even the Swiss NZZ ensure the daily indoctrination doses for the Western public, purveying skewed narratives that repeat and embellish what Washington and Brussels ordain, blithely ignoring other views and perspectives and the principle audiatur et altera pars. Freedom of the media in the collective West seems to mean the right to repeat NATO narratives ad nauseam, even when they have been proven wrong. This “freedom” also includes the freedom to ignore every critical voice about NATO and to refrain from asking critical questions at NATO press conferences.
Western media systematically fail to report on the fears of billions of human beings in the rest of the world, Brazilians, Mexicans, South Africans, Ugandans, Indians, Chinese, who want peace and stability in the world as well as a chance for sustainable development. Many in these countries blame not Russia but Washington and Brussels for provoking the Ukraine conflict. This Global majority is not interested in whether Crimea lies in Russia or Ukraine. They demand a peaceful solution to an internal Western strife, so that the spill-over does not dislocate the economies of non-Western countries. Peace must be sought and achieved at the negotiating table and not on the battlefield.
The power of propaganda
On the legal, moral and political arenas, truth is less important than the perception of truth. Since time immemorial language has shaped our perception of reality, coloured it according to the political agenda of the powerful. Propaganda was not invented in the 21st century. It has always existed and generated an opportunistic pseudo-reality, an epistemology that subverts our understanding of facts and events. Labels, caricatures, generalizations serve as shortcuts to judgment and influence our daily behaviour in making choices. We are not obliged to use these templates, but most people unthinkingly do so.
The narrative managers of the mainstream media are bent on persuading us into believing who is good and who is bad, what politicians we should like, whom we should despise, what “metaphysic” we should consider valid within the mainstream epistemology. Of course, we still have our own brains and can use them – sapere aude! As Horatius used to say. The sad thing is that even highly educated persons, graduates of Harvard, Oxford, Science-Po, continue to put their trust in media outlets that do not deserve our trust. As Julius Caesar put it: quae volumus, ea credimus libenter — we believe what we want to believe. Indeed, it takes temerity to realize that our own politicians and media lie to us, that they are purveyors of dis-information and practitioners of Orwellian doublethink.
The human being has an innate desire to believe in a positive metaphysic, wants to look up to some authority, needs to have benchmarks, orientation points. That is why we are all to some degree negationists, resilient to bad news. In spite of the egregious official dis-information that preceded Western aggressions in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, we still want to believe that our governments are really champions of the rule of law and human rights, that they “mean well”, even if occasionally they inadvertently “make mistakes.”
Of course, it is painful to accept that some things that affect us are ugly, but the realization actually opens new vistas. If we reject blind faith in our leaders and practice a healthy scepticism, if we pro-actively look for other views and perspective, we grow up, become mature and experience a sense of liberation from illusions, acquiring a new purpose based on the facts as they stand, and not as we would like them to be.
The function of law
Law has an epistemological function in defining what is allowed and what is reprehensible. Law is not immutable or God-given, but constitutes a codification of the rules of the game at a particular moment in time and in a particular context. Law should not be confused with justice. Law is only the expression of a certain order of things, past and future generations and other civilizations may have entirely different legal orders and different ideas as to what justice entails.
Education teaches us to respect certain “red lines” established by the scribes of our society – the law makers in Parliaments, in the United Nations, in international conferences, such as those organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which have concretized the ius in bello, the laws of war. These codifications include the rejection of indiscriminate weapons such as land mines and cluster bombs. The international Convention banning Cluster Munition (123 signatories, 111 states parties) of 3 December 2008 was signed by many states that now consider furnishing cluster bombs to Ukraine. Go figure!
Judges apply the laws that have been codified by institutions possessing law-making authority. This is what we like to call the “rule of law”, which must not be confused with the “rule of justice”. Moreover, the “rule of law” is systematically undermined when the legal profession engages in brazen double-standards and international tribunals like the International Criminal Court practice selectivity, investigating only some crimes, while letting the crimes committed by Western countries go unpunished.
Articles 9 and 10 of the London Agreement of 8 August 1945, the Statute of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, as well as the Nuremberg judgment of 1 October 1946 created a precedent for a previously uncodified crime – membership in a “criminal organization”. Several NAZI organizations including the SS, the Gestapo and the Reich Cabinet were found to be criminal organizations, a problematic concept that flies in the face of the legal principle of the presumption of innocence.
If we fast-forward to the 21st century and consider the activities of the CIA, MI6, Mossad, targeted assassinations, overt and covert actions in violation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, what is the relevance of the Nuremberg precedent to these organizations and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization itself. If we compile the evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by NATO forces over the past 30 years, this would largely suffice for the International Criminal Court to issue indictments for violations of article 7 (crimes against humanity) and 8 (war crimes) of the Statute of Rome.
Initially NATO had its raison d’être under its 1949 Treaty. But the moment that the Warsaw Pact was dismantled in 1991 this justification fell away, and it gradually morphed into an imperialistic hegemonic military bloc, bent on imposing the Weltanschauung of the collective West on the rest of the world.
While Chapter VIII of the UN Charter recognizes the legitimacy of “regional arrangements” (articles 52-54) in the field of collective security, this requires that these regional arrangements be subordinated to the higher authority of the Security Council, which has a monopoly over the legal use of force. Since the 1990’s NATO has conspired to usurp the functions of the Security Council and thus far gotten away with it, although the NATO treaty must yield to the primacy of the UN Charter, pursuant to article 103 of the Charter, the “supremacy clause”. If States are dissatisfied with the current state of international law, it is for them to seek an amendment to the UN Charter pursuant to article 108.
Undoubtedly it was contrary to the UN Charter for NATO countries to use military force against Yugoslavia in 1999 in the absence of a Security Council resolution under Chapter VII and a finding under article 39 of the Charter that there had been a previous threat or breach of international peace and security and a failure of peaceful negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. Without approval by the Security Council, NATO’s actions in Yugoslavia and elsewhere were simply illegal and engaged State civil and penal responsibility, including the obligation to pay reparations to the victims of the aggression. NATO actions since the entry into force of the Statute of Rome in 2001 deserve to be investigated under the rubric “crime of aggression” (article 5 off the Rome Statute) as complemented by the Kampala definition of aggression, and, of course under articles 7 and 8.
The end never justifies the means
The Florentine diplomat Nicolo Machiavelli never wrote the phrase “the end justifies the means” in his famous book The Prince. However, the thrust of the entire book is precisely that. Throughout the ages wielders of power have always claimed that because their goals were supposedly noble, the means to achieve those ends should be allowed. The same idea is expressed in the common idiom that you cannot make an omelette without cracking some eggs. But this is a lame excuse. What must be understood is that the evil means contaminate the end and render it evil as well.
Politicians and media in the collective West try to justify the unjustifiable, including the delivery of indiscriminate weapons to Ukraine, covering up the US involvement in the blowing up of the Nordstream pipelines, the responsibility of Ukraine for the bombing of the Zaporozhe nuclear plant and the Kakhovka dam and other dams. Politicians and media systematically engage in apologetics about the war crimes committed by NATO forces. Beyond merely whitewashing the crimes, they engage in a form of totalitarian censorship and practice a vicious persecution of whistleblowers who tell us what crimes are being committed in our name. Indeed, secrecy is an enabler of crime. Few people know that the Holocaust, the greatest crime of the twentieth century, was largely perpetrated under the cover of secrecy, that Hitler’s Führerbefehl Nr. 1 required absolute secrecy about government practices, that the killers of the Einzatzgruppen had to sign on pain of death that they would never reveal anything about the killings, why Heinrich Himmler reminded the killers in his 1943 Posen speech of the absolute necessity of secrecy. That is why there was the Nazi Operation 1005 to attempt to erase the evidence of the killings by the Einsatzgruppen, digging up mass graves and churning the skeletons, why most concentration camps in the East were evacuated and destroyed before their capture by the Soviet Army. Secrecy and denial were indispensable elements of the criminal conspiracy.
UN Rapporteur Nils Melzer’s book The Trial of Julian Assange documents the egregious violations of the rule of law in the US, UK, Sweden, Ecuador in connection with the Assange frame-up and “prosecution”. Indeed, Nils Melzer is the Emile Zola of the 21st century, demonstrating far worse judicial misconduct than Zola revealed in the 1890’s in connection with the frame-up of Alfred Dreyfus by a French military court. The Assange scandal is much worse than the Dreyfus Affair, but the mainstream media today has totally failed in its watchdog duty and many journalists have even joined the wolves.
What future for NATO?
Professors like John Mearsheimer, Richard Falk, Jeffrey Sachs, Stephen Kinzer and others have expressed their concern about the dangers that NATO poses for the survival of humanity, of the logic that it should be dismantled. The best that could be hoped for is that NATO be phased out and that the Global Majority will succeed in rejecting NATO’s ambition to further expand not only in Europe but also in the Asia-Pacific region. Perhaps if the Global Majority exposes the multiple war crimes of NATO forces over the past 30 years and demands accountability from NATO countries, the perception of NATO as a “defence alliance” will be replaced by the label “criminal organization”.
When the media indoctrination and propaganda about NATO is exposed as false, when the perception in Western countries moves from positive to negative, when people realize that NATO is a Machiavellian institution that has exhausted its usefulness, it will be possible to gradually wind it down.
Ultimately, NATO must be recognized not only as a criminal organization, a blustering vestige of a moribund Western imperialism, but as a mortal danger to the survival of civilization on Earth. NATO is on the wrong side of history.
1. Among the purposes of the UN “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace” ↑
2. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered. ↑
3. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. ↑
4. The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace…. ↑
5. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-13/key-takeaways-from-nato-day-two-putin-zelenskyy-matter/102595358. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/07/12/politics/biden-nato-summit/index.html.Compare https://www.normanfinkelstein.com/the-mask-is-off-why-ukraine-will-never-be-a-nato-member/ ↑
6. Dare to think by yourself, dare to know! Horatius, First book of Letters (20 BC). Immanuel Kant also used the expression in his 1784 essay “What is Enlightenment?” ↑
7. De bello civile, 2, 27, 2 ↑
9. A. de Zayas, Chapter 4, The Human Rights History, Clarity Press, Atlanta 2023. ↑
12. https://abcnews.go.com/International/strategically-vital-nova-khakovka-dam-blown-border-ukraine/story?id=99863763https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/putin-accuses-ukraine-destroying-kakhovka-dam-behest-west-2023-06-07/ ↑
16. A de Zayas, Völkermord als Staatsgeheimnis, Olzog Verlag, Munich 2011. ↑
17. Verso Books, New York, 2022. ↑