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“Belgium would better turn its back on NATO”
Protest in front of US embassy, Brussels (Photo: LDB)

“Belgium would better turn its back on NATO”

Through NATO, our country is in constant danger of becoming involved in American war politics, according to various peace organizations. “We cannot tolerate US President Donald Trump constantly undermining the international legal order.”

Seventeen years after the invasion of Iraq, the world seemed to be heading for another disastrous war in the unstable Middle East. For the time being, a further escalation of the conflict between the US and Iran seems averted, but a small spark may be enough to escalate it. The American sanctions regime is being further strengthened, and threatening language is heard over and over again.

The US plays with fire. The extrajudicial execution of Qasem Soleimani with drone rockets, whatever his crimes, is not only a provocative act of war, but also a violation of international law. We cannot tolerate that US President Donald Trump is constantly undermining the international legal order. We cannot accept that Belgium and the other member states of the European Union do not clearly condemn this approach.

Calls for peace are systematically criticized. “If you are opposed to the war, you support the criminal Iranian regime,” it says here and there. It is a binary arrangement that is reminiscent of the discussions leading up to the war against Iraq in 2003. Even then the accusation was that the peace movement with its anti-war position made dictator Saddam Hussein an anti-imperialist hero. Nonsense of course. Many peace organizations condemned Saddam Hussein’s repression against his people and also did so when his troops attacked Iran, which happened with US support. They accused the American and European armaments of the Baghdad dictatorship, including products for the production of chemical weapons.

The ruins of the Anglo-American Gulf War

At the time, the peace movement warned of the devastating consequences of the war in Iraq and, unfortunately, was right. As was the case for the military interventions in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. It is necessary to recall that the Islamic State, the Iraqi refugee flow and the influence of Iran in the region are the result of the destabilizing and devastating Anglo-American Gulf War that has claimed hundreds of thousands of victims.

History now threatens to repeat itself, but in media and politics we record voices that seem to have forgotten that. The consequences of a new war will undoubtedly be catastrophic. And in the first place for the Iranian and Iraqi population who have already been severely tested in a region that has been heavily destabilized by geo-strategic interests.

Those who applaud the extrajudicial execution of a senior Iranian general, or who engage in complicity, must realize that the military confrontation policy can only strengthen the authoritarian forces in both camps. In Iraq, a young generation – not least in the Shiite south of Iraq – has been taking to the streets for weeks. She defied hard repression to defend against corruption, occupation, for work and, yes, against Iranian and American influence and dominance in her country. The execution of Qasem Soleimani and the war rhetoric that goes with it is destroying that movement. This also applies to the progressive forces in Iran that can now be accused of unpatriotic behavior.

The US, which regards our governments as an ally and is the dominant power within NATO, has a major responsibility for destabilizing the region. Washington put an end to the political process by withdrawing from a well-functioning nuclear agreement with Iran in May 2018 and proclaiming sanctions that do not affect the regime, but the population. The European Union did not agree, but still refuses to go unambiguously against it and to come up with an alternative and credible plan for Iran. By acting in such a manner, the European Union contributes to the dismantling of the international system. Through NATO we risk constantly getting involved in American war policy and so it is better that our country turns its back on the Alliance.

Belgium must take responsibility

As a peace movement, we want to consistently stand up for the international rule of law, no matter how weak it may be today, and fight against growing militarism, authoritarianism, imperialism and unilateralism. As a member of the UN Security Council, Belgium (which now holds the presidency) must take its responsibility and do everything in its power to stop the war logic in which the world threatens to end up. The UN Charter and international law cannot turn into a piece of paper. The European Union must distance itself from the White House war policy and encourage both camps to take a seat at the negotiating table.

There is no other option. War will inevitably further destabilize the Middle East and the consequences will manifest itself worldwide. That is why we say: stop! Not in our name!

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