Q: What is the result of the Symposium in Florence?
Michel Chossudovsky: The event was a great success, with the participation of speakers from the United States, Europe and Russia. We presented the history of NATO. We identified and carefully documented its crimes against humanity. And at the end of the Symposium, we presented the “Declaration of Florence,” a way of exiting the war system.
Q: In your introduction, you affirmed that the Atlantic Alliance is not a true alliance…
Michel Chossudovsky: On the contrary, under the appearance of a multinational military alliance, it is the Pentagon which dominates the decision-making mechanisms of NATO. The USA controls the command structures of NATO, which are incorporated with those of the United States. The Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR) is always a US General nominated by Washington. The Secretary General, currently Jens Stoltenberg, is essentially a bureaucrat who handles public relations. He has no decision-making role.
Q: Another theme you raised was that of the US military bases in Italy and other European countries, including in the East, despite the fact that the Warsaw Pact has not existed since 1991, and despite the promise made to Gorbachev that no extension of NATO towards the East would ever occur. What is the purpose of these bases?
Michel Chossudovsky: NATO’s tacit objective – an important theme in our debate in Florence – is to implement, under a different denomination, the de facto “military occupation” of Western Europe. The United States not only continue to “occupy” the ex-members of the Second World War “Axis countries” (Italy, Germany), but have used the badge of NATO to set up US military bases in all of Western Europe, and, thereafter, in Eastern Europe in the wake of the Cold War, and in the Balkans in the wake of the NATO war against Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro).
Q: What has changed in terms of the possible use of nuclear weapons?
Michel Chossudovsky: Immediately after the Cold War, a new nuclear doctrine was formulated, focused on the preventive use of nuclear weapons, in other words, on a nuclear first strike as a means of self-defence. Within the framework of USA-NATO interventions, presented as peace-keeping measures, a new generation of “low power” and “non-usable” nuclear weapons was created, described as “inoffensive for civilians”. US political leaders consider them to be “bombs for pacification.” The Cold War agreements, which established certain safety measures, have now been abandoned. The concept of “Mutually Assured Destruction,” relative to the use of nuclear weapons, has been replaced by the doctrine of preventive nuclear war.
Q: NATO was “obsolete” at the beginning of the Trump presidency, but now it has been rebooted by the White House. What relation is there between the arms race and the economic crisis?
Michel Chossudovsky: War and globalisation go hand in hand. Militarisation relies on the imposition of macro-economic restructuration in the target countries. It imposes military spending in order to support the war economy to the detriment of civil economy. It leads to economic destabilisation and the loss of the power of national institutions. An example – recently President Trump proposed huge budget cuts in the health and teaching sectors, and in social infrastructures, although he has asked for a massive increase in the budget of the Pentagon. At the beginning of his administration, President Trump confirmed the increase of expenditure in the military nuclear programme, launched by Obama, from 1,000 to 1,200 billions of dollars, claiming that this would serve to make the world safer. All over the European Union, the increase in military spending, coupled with austerity measures, is leading to the demise of what used to be called “the Welfare State.” Now, under US pressure, NATO is engaged in increasing military spending, and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declares that this is the correct decision to “guarantee the safety of our population.” The military interventions are coupled with concomitant acts of economic sabotage and financial manipulation. The final objective is the conquest of both human and material resources and of political institutions. The acts of war support a process of total economic conquest. The hegemonic project of the United States is to transform countries and international sovereign institutions into territories which are open for their penetration. One of their instruments is the imposition of heavy penalties on debt-ridden countries. The imposition of lethal macro-economic reforms serves to impoverish vast sectors of the world population.
Q: What is now, and what will become the role of the medias?
Michel Chossudovsky: Without the disinformation broadcast, in general, by almost all the medias, the military programme of the USA-NATO would collapse like a house of cards. The imminent dangers of a new war with the most modern weapons and the atomic peril are not the sort of news that makes the headlines. War is presented as an act of pacification. War criminals are depicted as pacifiers. War becomes peace. Reality is reversed. When lies become truth, there is no going back.