On the eve of the NATO summit in Madrid there will be a counter-summit attended by supporters of a different approach to peace. In an interview with Público, a participant in the event explained why she considers the alliance at least a controversial organization.

Danilo Albin

The summit has a counter-summit. As opposed to those who solve problems with military force, there are supporters of dialogue. The big business of war versus pacifism. And it is on the side of the latter that Ainhoa Ruiz, a researcher at the Centro Delàs de Estudios por la Paz, is on the side. Ruiz is taking part in an event taking place Friday and Saturday this week in Madrid, the opposite of the upcoming meeting of NATO leaders to be held in the same city.

Público: – What does this North Atlantic Alliance summit mean?

Ainhoa Ruiz: On the one hand, the very place where the summit is taking place already means something. The host country shows its commitment to NATO and supports its decisions, right or wrong. In addition, the country, in this case Spain, is strengthening itself within the alliance. The deployment of the police and the costs of the summit are quite extensive. In this way Spain strengthens its position in the alliance. It wants to play a significant role in the alliance.

– What is the value of the counter summit?

– We have to keep in mind that NATO is a controversial organization, to say the least, because it violated international humanitarian law and the UN Charter, among other things, when it bombed Yugoslavia and destabilized countries like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. So there are many reasons for a summit for peace, for other ways of building security. We need to start looking at other approaches, and they are all about peace.

– Will the counter-summit discuss the alternatives that pacifism offers in the current situation?

– We must not forget that what is happening in Ukraine is related to the behavior of NATO and its members: the creation of tensions, the desire to expand eastward… <…> This reinforces our main message: we do not need this way of building security, because it makes more wars. In the case of Ukraine, it is naive to ignore NATO’s role in creating tensions between countries. Everything the alliance proposes is about more tension.

 We are talking about a weapons system that at its most advanced stage is beyond human control. We have already seen the U.S. conduct indiscriminate drone attacks on Pakistan. A soldier who remotely controls such weapons cannot see what is going on, and the situation is further dehumanized. A country that chooses to wage war with such weapons will have no deaths.

– This same week, the Secretary of State for Commerce presented data to Congress on arms exports in 2021. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were again among the recipients, striking in Yemen…

– We already know that there is a network that has as much power as the lobby. The military industry spends millions of euros in Brussels to ensure a permanent presence. It acts as a lobby. For her, profit is more important than lives. Private companies have connections with politicians that we NGOs do not have.

– NATO wants members to increase their defense budgets. Is that the right way to solve the current problems?

– It’s just amazing that we have a defense ministry and so many tools for war, yet so few mechanisms for peace. Peace could be achieved by, among other things, committing not to join NATO. This organization creates tensions and leaves behind a scorched earth in whichever country it comes to. Why isn’t there an organization instead of NATO that would do the opposite, do diplomacy? There are very few resources being invested in the world right now.

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