A new book argues the Washington-led alliance is an obstruction to peace, not its guarantor.

By Matt Bivens, Truthdig

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is celebrating its 75th birthday this week in Washington, D.C., and there is no doubt much happy talk about how tirelessly the alliance works for peace, democracy and world stability.

nato equals wwiii sign at anti nato protest in 2012
Photo credit: Julie Dermansky

A new and timely book reminds us that NATO is not very good at any of those things. “NATO: What You Need to Know” is a concise and caustic introduction to the world’s largest military alliance, written by longtime peace activists Medea Benjamin, a founder of the peace group Code Pink, and David Swanson, an author and talk-radio host. The two cover a lot of territory, including how and why NATO was formed, the way it has metastasized since the collapse of its Soviet rival (and original raison d’etre), the havoc it has wreaked, and the grim future it holds out. In the authors’ telling, NATO’s demonstrated skills have little to do with peace and stability, and everything to do with drumming up wars, disenfranchising the average citizen, nurturing the international arms trade and dragging us ever closer to a species-level annihilation event.

You would never guess it from U.S. press coverage, but around the world, NATO has few fans. Benjamin and Swanson describe a Gallup poll conducted 10 years ago, across 65 nations, which found that people everywhere considered the United States to be the world’s gravest threat to peace — a wolf dressed in NATO sheepskin. Gallup’s findings, the authors note wryly, were widely shared, “and the lesson learned: Gallup never did that poll again.”

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