All out to protest NATO’s April 4 birthday bash!

NATO, the largest military organization in the world, marks its 75th anniversary on April 4 just ahead of a NATO Summit in the United States.

The anniversary will no doubt be filled with tearful tributes, photo ops for beaming politicians, and all the pomp and ceremony that NATO’s generals believe necessary to convince the public that it is not, in fact, a global army whose purpose is to protect and expand US imperialism’s interests and profits.

At the same time the big birthday bash is being planned, NATO is ramping its real work.

Some 90,000 troops are being mobilized for a massive round of war games. Among them are 20,000 from Britain, 15,000 from Poland, 10,000 from Germany and 5,000 from Netherlands. There will also be 50 warships, 80 aircraft and 1,000 combat vehicles. The goal of this ceremony is to demonstrate to Russia that while it may well win the war in Ukraine, NATO is ready to launch a new war against it. The war games also send a signal to China that NATO is prepared to launch a war on its eastern flank.

NATO’s actions are also directed toward the United Nations, which the US and its imperialist allies including Canada are keen to destabilize and weaken.

To fund its aggression, NATO continues to lean on member countries to contribute 2 percent of GDP to defence spending annually, guaranteeing an ever-escalating dollar amount for new war spending.

For Canada, this amounts to over $50 billion – money that should (but won’t) be used for social programs, public services, job creation and action on climate change. Canada already spent $36.7 billion on military spending in 2023 (1.29% of GDP), which was a whopping $8 billion more than 2022. The government has committed bigger increases through to 2026.

What kind of expenditures soak up that kind of money?

Canada is spending $73.9 billion to buy, operate and maintain a fleet of F-35 fighter jets, which are designed to carry a B61-12 nuclear bomb. So, $74 billion that could have paid for real universal pharmacare, free tuition and a lot more will instead pay for Canada to become part of the United States’ multinational nuclear weapon delivery system.

Ottawa will pay another $84.5 billion to build 15 warships, and it will commit another $306 billion to operate and maintain them over their lifetime. So, a total of $390 billion just so we can help the US encircle and intimidate China, or provoke Russia, or maybe blockade a country that decides to nationalize a Canadian-owned mining project. And this is the same government that cries poor and drags its heels when asked to properly fund Indigenous child welfare, build public housing or commit to a comprehensive green transition that protects workers’ jobs, incomes and communities.

Canada is also being pressed by the Biden administration to pick up half the costs of “modernizing” NORAD, which inevitably means paying a big piece of the costs for US and NATO plans to militarize the Arctic.

NATO membership has also propelled Canadian support for – and involvement in – the war in Ukraine, where Ottawa has spent around $8 billion to support the war since 2022 and is ponying up another $1.5 billion this year. How much public transit could that pay for? How much high-speed electric rail?

This 75th birthday party is a moment for people to protest these kinds of policy and funding decisions, and to call for an about-face on Canada’s military spending, its foreign policy and its membership in NATO.

April 4 will be met all over the world with demonstrations, actions and calls for NATO’s dissolution. The Canadian Peace Congress and Mouvement québécois pour la paix have called for big protests throughout Canada – all anti-war, peace and solidarity groups, and especially the labour movement, need to help build these. NATO membership, militarism and aggression are not in the interests of working people – it’s time to expose the real purpose of NATO, to demand Canada’s unilateral withdrawal and NATO’s dissolution, and to convert military spending to civilian, social and environmental need.

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