Involvement of Asia Pacific countries in NATO

2022 Rim of the Pacific War Exercises | Yi Nicholls

NATO, the aggressive alliance ostensibly based in the North Atlantic that is led by the U.S. has been trumpeting about the participation of several countries from the Asia Pacific in its upcoming summit in Madrid. At a June 15 press conference prior to the NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated:

“For the first time in our history we will invite our Asia Pacific partners, the Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Australia, Japan and also the President of south Korea will participate in the NATO Summit, which is a strong demonstration of our close partnership with these like-minded countries in the Asia Pacific.”

The participation of these countries raises a lot of concerns for all those concerned with NATO’s ongoing expansion and the threat this poses to international peace.

At the Shangri-la Dialogue Security Summit in Singapore on June 11, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, speaking about U.S. aims in the region, claimed that “[W]e do not seek a new Cold War, an Asian NATO, or a region split into hostile blocs.” What then is the U.S. seeking?

Given which Asia Pacific countries are taking part in the NATO summit, their relations with NATO and the conduct of the U.S. in the Asia Pacific, especially with respect to China and Korea, shed some light on the matter.

Despite the desire of the Japanese people for Japan to be a peaceful country, as embodied in Article 9 of its constitution that prohibits operation of its armed forces outside of Japan, and the continued opposition to the U.S. military bases in that country, Japan has been developing relations with NATO since the early 1990s. The ruling circles in Japan have been pushing the limits of Article 9 and seeking its revocation.

The NATO website notes:

“Since 2014, under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, Japan has been participating in the Interoperability Platform, which brings Allies together with selected partners that are active contributors to NATO’s operations.

“Japan is particularly interested in training and developing interoperability in the area of maritime security. Its Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force training squadron has, for example, trained with NATO ships off the coast of Spain and in the Baltic Sea. Japan has designated a liaison officer to NATO’s Maritime Command.”[1]

In April, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party set out a plan to increase its military spending to two per cent of GDP, in line with NATO’s dictate to its member countries.

As concerns Australia, that country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that “Australia is an Enhanced Opportunities Partner of NATO, under which we work together on interoperability, take part in some NATO military training and exercise programs, and share views on issues of mutual interest.”

NATO itself says that “NATO and Australia have been engaged in dialogue and cooperation since 2005. Australia is one of a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, often referred to as ‘partners across the globe,’” also noting that “Australia made significant contributions to NATO-led efforts in Afghanistan as one of the top non-NATO troop contributors and is active in NATO Mission Iraq as an operational partner.”

It goes on to say that “Since 2014 under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, Australia participates in the Interoperability Platform that brings Allies together with 24 partners that are active contributors to NATO’s operations. Australia is also one of six countries which have enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies (known as ‘Enhanced Opportunities Partners’) in recognition of their particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives.”[2]

The Sydney Morning Herald on June 14 reported, “Australia will be asked to back a transformation of the NATO alliance to toughen defences against Russia and confront strategic competition with China at a summit later this month that will expand the 30-member alliance in response to the invasion of Ukraine.”

For the 2022-23 financial year, Australia’s military spending increased by 7.4 per cent, reaching 2.11 per cent of GDP.

NATO says that it and New Zealand “have been engaged in dialogue and cooperation since 2001. New Zealand is one of a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, often referred to as ‘partners across the globe.’” It also notes that “Since 2014 under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative, New Zealand participates in the Interoperability Platform, which brings Allies together with selected partners that are active contributors to NATO’s operations.”

New Zealand also contributed to the U.S.-led NATO occupation of Afghanistan.[3] New Zealand’s military spending for 2022-2023 increased by four per cent, about 1.5 per cent of GDP.

Regarding NATO’s relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK), NATO says that they “have been engaged in dialogue and cooperation since 2005.” The NATO narrative places all the blame for the no war/no peace situation on the Korean peninsula on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to deny the fact that the U.S. refuses to sign a verifiable peace treaty to end the Korean War in which it waged the most criminal war against the Korean nation, keeping it divided ever since, violating all the terms of the armistice agreement to station nuclear weapons in south Korea and to remove its troops and bases.

While the Korean Peninsula is way beyond the scope of the North Atlantic, NATO says that “The Allies fully support the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. At the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels, they welcomed the recent meetings and declarations between the leaders of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and between the leaders of the United States and the DPRK, as a contribution towards reaching the final fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK in a peaceful manner.”

NATO becomes another dangerous mouthpiece to promote the nuclear option against the Korean people.

“Allies have repeatedly expressed their strong condemnation of the DPRK’s provocative rhetoric and actions, which pose a serious threat to regional and international peace, security and stability. The Republic of Korea has been participating regularly at NATO’s Annual Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction, the last one of which was held in September 2021,” NATO writes.

The ROK has taken part in NATO’s illegal occupation of Afghanistan from 2010-2013. NATO says the ROK is “interested in improving mutual understanding and interoperability through exchanges of civilian and military personnel, participation in education, joint training and exercises, and cooperation in the field of standardization and logistics.”[4] The ROK’s military spending will increase by 3.4 per cent in 2022-23 over the previous year. In 2020, military spending made up 2.6 per cent of GDP.

Besides using the Madrid NATO Summit to line up ever more countries behind its aim to isolate and crush Russia, it is clear that it is also lining them up to step up its provocations against China, to goad it to respond in a manner the U.S. thinks it can use to its advantage.

Towards this aim, this year the U.S. has continued its pattern of naval brinksmanship in the Asia Pacific that it established in 2021, with ongoing monthly transits of its warships through the Strait of Taiwan as a provocation toward China and meddling in China-Taiwan relations. In May, the U.S. Navy stated that the USS Port Royal “transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State.”

It is pitting a self-serving definition of what constitutes territorial waters to declare it is the defender of freedom to navigate in what it calls open waters. It underscores the need for the peoples to define these matters for themselves so that the dangerous situation cannot be used against them.

“Port Royal’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” the U.S. Navy declared.

The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement that its forces had monitored the ship throughout and “warned” it. “The United States frequently stages such dramas and provokes trouble, sending wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces, and deliberately intensifying tensions across the Taiwan Strait,” the PLA added.

“Theatre troops maintain high alert at all times, resolutely counteract all threats and provocations, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Notes

1. “Relations with Japan,” nato.int, last updated May 22, 2022. .

2. “Relations with Australia, nato.int, last updated August 21, 2021 .

3. “Relations with New Zealand,” nato.int, last updated May 23, 2022. .

4. “Relations with the Republic of Korea,” nato.int, last updated May 22, 2022 .

TML Daily, posted June 22, 2022.

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