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On the 3rd of December, in London, NATO leaders will be received by the queen of the United Kingdom to celebrate the 70th NATO summit, taking place on December 4th at an obscure hotel and golf course far away from the city centre.
NATO leaders, including Trump and Erdogan, will meet for this key anniversary of Western empire, while in northern and eastern Syria/Rojava the Turkish state’s NATO-led and supported invasion, begun on October 9th, continues despite claimed “ceasefires”.
So, from the 3rd and 4th of December onwards, we, the Internationalist Commmune & the “British” Isles #RiseUp4Rojava coordination, call for autonomous and decentralised actions against NATO and its supporting institutions. We call on friends and comrades from across these islands to join us in London on the 3rd of December, at 4pm in Trafalgar Square, to march on Buckingham Palace, and to organise autonomous anti-NATO actions on the 4th. We must form a global revolutionary and democratic front, united against both Turkish state fascism and NATO imperialism.
As part of this call to action we release our perspective on what NATO represents in capitalist modernity’s world-system, its role in the imperial interstate system, and its attempt to crush both the Kurdish Freedom Movement and the Women’s Revolution of northern and eastern Syria/Rojava.
What is NATO?
Founded in the Cold War as the Western imperial bloc’s military alliance, NATO has transformed in the thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then it was presented, and superficially served, as the West’s military coordination against the “threat” of the state socialist bloc led by the USSR. In fact, NATO formed the organisation that regrouped the old colonial powers of Europe around the USA’s emerging hegemony in capitalist modernity’s world-system. In this role NATO organised conservative, ractionary and even fascist forces of “counterinsurgency” against liberation movements around the globe: in Vietnam, Operation Gladio and the strategy of tension in Italy, support for Nicaragua’s “Contras”, Latin America’s countless military coups, and many, many more instances.
But, despite the Cold War’s end, the collapse of the Soviet imperial bloc, and the transformation of the bipolar interstate system into a single imperial one–albeit still full of contradictions and internal competition between states–NATO continues to exist. It continues to coordinate capitalist modernity’s leading state powers into one bloc, including current regional hegemons like Turkey and Japan, and settler-colonial states like Australia, as well as the old European powers, only excluding historic enemies and competitors who cannot be fully subordinated to US hegemony, like Russia and China. In this role the worldwide imperial alliance attempts to stabilize the interstate system under US hegemony.
NATO does this by supervising and intervening in the military expenditure of its member states, dictating both how much to buy and who from, and guaranteeing long-term integration by selling weapons that need continuous centralised support. The imperial alliance operates bases around the world, and, as part of US hegemony and in combination with financialization and debt, forces the “independent” nation-states of the Global South into neocolonialism. This has been the case especially since the neoliberal counter-revolution to the world-revolution of 1968 and its aftermath–notably during and after Turkey’s 1980 coup, which unsuccessfully attempted to crush the post-68 revolutionary left and the Kurdish Freedom Movement’s emerging struggle, but successfully restructured this crucial NATO state on neoliberal and fascist lines.
NATO is therefore fundamental to the continuing colonialism in capitalist modernity’s world-system, providing the military infrastructure for forced extraction of resources and capital from the states of the Global South, disciplining them all to empire. On the one hand, NATO attempts to crush any individual states that try to take an independent line, especially if this is aimed at any kind of economic re-distribution and/or political empowerment, such as recently in Venezuela and Bolivia. On the other hand, the imperial alliance acts to destroy any attempts by populations within states to free themselves, crushing popular uprisings or attempting to bring them under control, such as recently with the democratic uprisings in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.
All this comes together in the shape of the “War on Terror” post-9/11, when NATO became fundamental to the interstate system’s attempts to develop a single imperial approach to counterinsurgency, and develop global security architecture. This has been under the cover of defending against reactionary and authoritarian Jihadism, but in fact is aimed at all attempts for liberation and a free life beyond capitalist modernity, its interstate system, and its crises of ecology, capital, patriarchy and the nation-state.
What is NATO’s Role in Syria?
We see NATO playing all these roles in Syria. With the collapse of authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Libya, Syria and so on, the imperial alliance’s previous attempts to discipline the Middle East and North Africa had clearly failed. In response NATO attempted to subvert, fragment, and, where possible, take control of the broad democratic uprisings across the region. This included manipulating protests into ineffectiveness, and allowing the emergence of Jihadist forces to smash revolutionary forces on the one hand, and collapsing regimes on the other, while permitting elements of older regimes to regroup through military coups. In Syria in particular the US-led arming programs strengthened authoritarian Sunni Jihadists, which now, under the Turkish state and so NATO’s supervision, commit brutal war crimes and crimes against humanity on the people of Idlib, Afrin, Tell Abyad and Serekaniye.
In this Syria is only the latest in a long line of states over the last 70 years to have been attacked and internally manipulated by NATO, yet here it did not go to plan. In the shape of the Jihadist gangs the imperial alliance cannot control its own creations, much as the Taliban previously, and unlike elsewhere in the region an organized revolutionary force existed–the Kurdish Freedom Movement. The emerging organised power of the movement in Syria prompted the 2013 war against Rojava led by al-Nusra, supplied with German tanks and attacking from Turkey, both NATO states that heavily criminalise the Kurdish Freedom Movement.
All this should be seen as internally connected to the rapid emergence of Daesh (“Islamic State”) in 2014. Despite appearing to mushroom out of the ground from nowhere, Daesh is the direct result of NATO’s policy to build up Jihadist groups and provide logistics, weapons, finance, ground intelligence and training, in addition to the legacy of the imperial alliance’s intervention in Iraq, which functioned to transform tens of thousands of excluded Baathists into Jihadists highly trained by the old Iraqi state. With the emergence of Daesh’s territorial caliphate, the whole imperial alliance, even the Turkish state, realised that their policy had failed, and the US-led international coalition formed a tactical military alliance with the Kurdish Freedom Movement in Syria to crush it. But this was never intended to become a long-term arrangement, and barely six months after the Syrian Democratic Forces declared territorial victory over the “caliphate”, the Turkish state, a NATO member, began a Daesh rescue mission led by mercenaries drawn from Daesh’s own ranks.
So the war that is now taking place in northern and eastern Syria/Rojava is a NATO war: the Turkish state’s military mercenaries and political stooges, the so-called “Syrian National Army” and its political representation Etilaf, are the Syrian people’s only acknowledged representation–yet their offices are in Istanbul, and their weapons, uniforms, finances, and so their political legitimation as a whole, come from NATO. Their airspace continues to be controlled by NATO as a whole, and the Turkish state in particular provides direct military guidance and support with weapons, such as air strikes and drones, that could not function without NATO allies.
After forming a brief alliance with the SDF and Kurdish Freedom Movement to fight against Daesh, NATO has returned to its default position of attempting to exterminate the movement–which, we must remember, has been fighting against it for over 40 years. With a political solution in Syria emerging on the horizon, NATO in particular and empire as a whole is maneuvering to fix the outcome to the benefit of capitalist modernity, but the Women’s Revolution stands in their way. No player in the interstate system wants the Syrian Democratic Council, or any other representatives of the movement for a democratic society in Syria, to be at the table. They correctly recognise the threat the Women’s Revolution represents not only to the Syrian regime and Turkish state, but to capitalist modernity as a whole and all states everywhere. They will act to defend the 5000-year civilizational system of patriarchy, class society and the state, even in its current terminal crisis amid rapid climate change and the stagnation of capital. It is up to us, as friends and comrades around the world, to rise up and force their hand.
So now is the time for action! No to NATO, no to empire, forwards to a united, global front against fascism and empire, forwards to the common struggle for a free life everywhere!