The North Atlantic Treaty Organization represents the stage of capitalism where the imperialists, after making nuclear annihilation a possibility, have taken advantage of this horrific reality that they themselves engineered. The equivalent has happened with Covid-19, in which the IMF has used the pandemic as a pretext for imposing further austerity measures onto 81 countries. As the climate crisis intensifies, the same pattern is appearing, with the U.S. empire making plans for future wars predicated on responding to climatic disasters. It’s already invaded Haiti using climate-related emergencies as an excuse. This is what capitalism as a whole does as its unsustainable social model leads to ever more catastrophes: portray these catastrophes as only solvable through the same system that produced them, and seize power so that it can inflict even more profit-motivated violence.
NATO’s role in this vicious cycle was to be the “solution” to how capitalism, as shown by the first and second world wars, necessarily leads to conflicts. So long as world workers revolution is delayed, there’s no way to avoid war, because states as they exist under bourgeois rule depend on war’s perpetuation. Even when there’s “peace” under capitalism, that peace only represents a period where the imperial powers are preparing for new wars.
This situation is the inevitable conclusion of the colonial project. After the imperialists finished their theft of territories, and their division of the world’s new borders, the only thing they could do next was go to war with each other. Capital needs perpetual expansion in order to survive. It must keep growing into new markets, or it won’t be able to displace its inevitable crises and the bourgeois system will collapse. So the imperial powers, the “core” countries which developed according to this principle of requiring always-growing extraction from the “peripheries,” could only respond to the reaching of colonialism’s territorial limits by competing with one another.
This was the real reason for World War I, not an assassination of one European leader like bourgeois education teaches. When the imperial powers were finished with their initial great clash, Germany happened to be the one that mainly lost its imperial holdings. The fascists were then able to exploit the capitalist crisis which consequently ravaged the country, blaming the people’s suffering not on the bourgeois system but on the Jews, the Russians, the Romanis, the Freemasons, the communists, and other substitutes for the true culprits. The Nazis, along with the fascists of the other imperialist countries who had won by exploiting imperialism’s crisis, then reproduced the first world war. Except in a form even more destructive, and infused with a program for exterminating capitalism’s scapegoats. As the Nazis murdered 11 million in the Holocaust, murdered 27 million Russians in its eastern land grab attempt, and turned most of Europe into a de facto colony, fascist Italy invaded Abyssinia—the only African country that hadn’t been colonized—using mustard gas. Spain, after undergoing its own imperial collapse and fascist takeover, carried out the equivalent by intensifying exploitation of Spain’s rural areas, amounting to an internal colonialism facilitated by brutal dictatorship.
When this latest horror was finished, the imperialists who took over for the early 20th century’s fascists as the chief arbiters of violence devised yet another way to exploit this destructive pattern. Taking advantage of the fears about European countries again going to war with one another, they formed NATO, an arrangement for unifying the imperialists in their efforts to expand exploitation of the peripheries. They employed former Nazi officials to run the organization, and let Germany become one of the world’s richest countries by giving it a great share of the neo-colonial profits. They got all of the imperialist countries, including Japan, to support the U.S. as it assumed the role of the foremost purveyor of bloodshed for capital. Washington murdered tens of millions over the next several generations, invading dozens of countries and installing genocidal dictatorships in dozens more. NATO acted as a tool for preventing the inter-imperialist conflicts that had in the past hindered the imperialists in fighting revolutionary movements.
When the Cold War ended, NATO couldn’t be disbanded, because it still had to be there to uphold American hegemony. As soon as one of the organization’s major justifications for existing vanished, it began to manufacture a fresh crisis that could ensure its political survival. After British intelligence predicted in 1992 that Ukraine and Russia were likely to eventually go to war now that they weren’t unified, NATO did everything it could to bring about such a scenario. It broke its vow to Russia not to expand, it refused Putin’s offers for cooperation, then in 2014 its principal power the USA perpetrated the act of political meddling that ensured this war would come. The State Department instigated reactionary riots that brought down the democratically elected government, then in defiance of even the EU, Obama’s team maneuvered to ensure that an anti-Russian regime came to power. Even if this regime was a fascist one that sought to ethnically cleanse the Russian speakers in Ukraine’s east.
When Russia inevitably intervened to demilitarize this regime, and ensure its own security while rescuing the eastern separatist republics from invasion by fascist Kiev, NATO used this to unite its members and fully expand into the Nordic states. NATO used the same tactic that worked in Yugoslavia: perpetrate atrocities, then blame a designated target for the violence, then intervene. Once Operation Z started and war became no longer theoretical, the empire’s foremost goal was to exhaust Russia with a war of attrition. This is indicated by how from the way imperialist leaders have talked about their decisions prior to the conflict, it’s clear that they at the least knew war could easily come about from the ways they were provoking Russia. They engaged in a gamble by making all of these decisions that increased the likelihood of Russian action. Their hope was that imperialism would be strengthened.
In macro terms, this wish has not come true, and imperialism has instead been weakened. NATO has become stronger only as an institutional presence within the imperial sphere, not as a driver of geopolitics. Most of the globe beyond the imperial countries has not participated in the sanctions, forcing Washington to coerce Europe into taking on most of the costs from this economic war. Consequently, the process of imperial decay has accelerated. The capitalist contradictions in these countries have intensified, the livelihoods of their working classes being sacrificed for the sake of a geopolitical maneuver that hasn’t even succeeded. The sanctions weren’t enough to destabilize Russia and broader Eurasia, as the imperialists hoped.
Because of this strategic failure by NATO, and because of the war crimes by Kiev so obvious that even Amnesty has reported on them, the Ukraine psyop isn’t effective enough to prevent the people from rising up. Unrest has again erupted in France, and the U.S. population only needs another major provocation to revolt like it did in 2020. This is in part because of NATO’s own past crimes. Because of the 2011 bombing of Libya, the country’s oil supplies are now cut off from Europe due to being controlled by an anti-imperialist faction in the civil war. So Europeans are now left with a historic energy crisis as neoliberal austerity intensifies. The imperialists continue to steal oil from Syria because in this dire situation, such primitive accumulation is the only way it can delay its own collapse.
NATO is not just evil, it’s a failure. The latest failure by capital to maintain the extractive dynamic that the bourgeoisie depend on to keep profits up. It’s failed because of the nature of the system to produce wars. When wars between the imperial powers ended, they then had to be started in other areas. When the U.S. empire applied this principle to catastrophic effect by invading Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington lost its international respect, and the empire unraveled amid a Chinese rise and Russia’s breakaway from client state status.
NATO reacted to this imperial unraveling by instigating the war in Ukraine, then hoped this would reverse the transition to multipolarity by making Eurasia collapse. This hasn’t happened, and ultimately all the imperial powers are left with are the tremendous economic costs. Given the last century’s history of how capitalism reacts when it’s desperate, we’ll keep seeing a resurgence of fascism across the imperialist countries prior to imperialism’s final defeat.
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