The fact that NATO is a military alliance that should be dissolved, there is broad agreement in the peace movement and the left, although the assessments of its character and role differ. It is controversial, however, how important a commitment to the transatlantic alliance should be, how it could be eliminated and what concrete demands must be made in Germany. Especially for the activists who attach a significant role to NATO in the current wars and crises, the simple demand for “dissolution of NATO” is too undetermined. The alliance does not have a mechanism for this and it is not to be expected that the members will decide their dissolution together at a summit. By pointing this out, Gregor Gysi, the slotted-ear, has signalled to the US ambassador that the Left party’s demand for the abolition of NATO Washington should not be alarmed, as this would require the approval of the United States or the United Kingdom.
The only realistic scenario is that successive individual member states, or even, coordinated, groups of countries of the alliance, would turn their backs on them and thus lose their importance. The logical consequence of this is that the federal government is called upon to leave Germany. According to Article 13 of the North Atlantic Treaty, “each party may withdraw from the treaty, one year after it has notified the government of the United States of America of the termination.”
However, many of the left and the peace movement are struggling with the demand “Germany out of NATO” or want to restrict itself to the post-dissolution for reasons of principle.
A German exit alone would not fundamentally change NATO’s war policy, some argue, but Berlin would lose any influence on it.
However, the possibilities of influence are greatly overestimated. The Alliance is not a democratic Club. Their policies are determined by the action of their most powerful member states, especially of course by the United States, for which NATO has been a decisive means from the outset to bring the European imperialist powers to a common course dominated by Washington. If there is no unity within NATO-this is more the rule-then the US, as we have seen, simply operate with an alliance of willing parties, but can fall back on the complete infrastructure created within the framework of NATO and the co-operation in maneuvers.
Both in the second war against Iraq in 2003 and in the raid on Libya, Germany was thus actively involved in the campaign despite political rejection. The US military bases in Germany, as we know, ran a large part of the supply of supplies to the Middle East and communication, and German soldiers released US-American for their use against Iraq by taking on security duties. The airstrikes on Libyan cities 8 years later were largely controlled in Ramstein and Stuttgart.
Due to their central importance, a removal of their bases and infrastructure in Germany would significantly limit the military capabilities of the US in Europe, Western Asia and Africa for a long time. A withdrawal and the logically related termination of NATO troop status and the Treaty on the deployment of foreign forces, which is also easily possible with a notice period of two years, could thus certainly reduce the scope of military intervention in these regions.
Many reject the idea of “getting out of NATO” because it would aim at a national single entry and could attract support from right-wing, nationalist circles. In fact, however, the demand does not only refer to the withdrawal of Germany, but also to the number of countries as many as possible and is, of course, to be pushed forward in the alliance with movements of other member states. In many countries, such as Portugal or Greece, the mood against NATO is much more pronounced than here and even in Britain with Jeremy Corbyn became a long-time Sharp NATO critic Labour chairman.
There are, of course, capital fractions in Germany, which aim for an independent German major power role and could therefore advocate an exit from NATO. However, getting out of NATO was never an isolated demand, but always associated with the pursuit of disarmament and restriction of foreign policy to peaceful means. Because of the commitment against the NATO must, of course, with the demand for far-reaching disarmament of the German armed forces together, at least to a structural non-attack capability of the German armed forces, one would have to worry about any applause from the wrong side.
The fear of the aggressiveness of an independent German great power, which is no longer involved in an alliance by other powerful states, is also often led against an exit into the field. The idea, however, that German imperialism would be absorbed by membership of the Western aggression alliance under the leadership of the United States of America, seems to be far off. As the development since the connection of the former GDR, shows, and NATO is the indispensable framework for the development of the re-United Germany is for German imperialism to the “normal” military great power. It was the NATO war against Yugoslavia, in which it was able to give up its previous restraint and for the first time after 1945 actively participate in a war again and the war in Afghanistan enabled the German armed forces to first practical combat experiences. Outside NATO, the Bundeswehr would still have had little to do with blue helmet operations within the framework of UN missions.
The ruling circles are trying to develop a second pillar through the development of independent EU military structures. However, the possibility of using military means to enforce one’s own interests would be limited for the foreseeable future, after being expelled from the US-dominated camp. Not only in Washington, but also in the capitals of the other Western European powers, German politics would be extremely suspicious.
Above all, an exit would not be isolated from the other political developments in the country. If the left and peace-moving forces will once again be so strong to put it on the agenda, they will certainly have the strength to push back German militarism, to enforce disarmament steps and to limit the Bundeswehr’s ability to intervene. And, of course, in addition to the withdrawal from NATO, it would also be on the Agenda to withdraw from the EU’s military structures.
The faction of THE LEFT has tabled in June of 2016, a request in the Bundestag, “to replace NATO with a collective System for peace and security in Europe, including Russia”. As a first step on this path, it calls for “the withdrawal from the military command structures of NATO,” and the termination of the NATO status of Forces agreement and an agreement with the United States, Britain and France on the withdrawal of its troops from Germany. By limiting itself to the withdrawal of military Integration, the left-wing group would not simply leave NATO up to itself, but would enable Berlin to continue to act on NATO’s decisions. It also sounds more realistic, since there are precedents for such a move:in 1966 Charles de Gaulle had declared such an exit, Greece followed in 1974 and Spain in 1982, which led to some turbulence in the alliance, but did not lead to any break of these states with the United States and the other states of the alliance. All three, however, continued to support, politically, the course set by the United States and subsequently fully joined (Greece in 1980, Spain in 1999 and France in 2009). This already shows the limited nature of such a measure. In addition, the idea that a militarily exiled Germany could have a moderate impact on NATO’s war policy seems rather naive.
As a first step towards a complete withdrawal, combined with the termination of the agreements, which allows foreign troops to use military bases on German territory, a withdrawal from the military structures would of course be an enormous success. In this sense, the initiative of the left-wing group is to be welcomed. However, the peace movement should remain in the consistent and easier-to-mediate “out of NATO”.