During the weekend conference on NATO and Russia in the Baltic Area organised by the No to War, No to NATO campaign, Reiner Brown, co-President of the International Peace Bureau participated in a panel meeting on the subject of Common Security gave a talk based on the following text which Pressenza publishes with permission of the author.

“Basic Principles of Common Security Politics”

Reiner Braun, IPB Co-President

I dedicate this piece to Egon Bahr who passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 93, and whose life’s work – just as Willy Brandt’s, Olof Palme’s, Bruno Kreisky’s and Michael Gorbachev’s – is inextricably linked to the politics of common security.

The politics of “common security” starts from the premise that the security of a state is unthinkable without the security of other states, and that this security is mutually dependent on each other.

Thus, this comprehensive politics is diametrically opposed to politics of exclusion, such as NATO’s which excludes and marginalizes, and to politics of confrontation and sanctions, such as against Russia.

Common security is not directed against anybody, but includes everybody (both regionally and internationally) in the processes and solutions. Therefore, the politics of common security is always politics without, and alternative to, defence alliances, because they are exclusive and lock out certain countries – or worse – are overtly directed against them.

The politics of common security is a “revolutionary break” with the traditional concept of security as power and deterrence. It is politics based on, and in favour of, fostering international law.

The principles of common security constitute a renunciation of any form of intervention, be it external (military, political) or internal (regime change). Cooperation and dialogue are the basis of relationships.

An explicit renunciation of force is an indispensable part of the politics of common security – this means any type of military solution of conflicts as well as the threat thereof.

NATO must therefore be consigned to the rubbish heap of history.

This kind of politics also acknowledges that not all problems between partners can be solved quickly and directly. Historically, the reunification of Germany was left aside until the time was right, just as currently, the different perceptions of events surrounding Crimea need to be left aside.

In a world where Common security exists, economic assistance from abroad is important and permissible, and needs

  1. Full transparency
  2. Overlapping interests, i.e. consent based on partnership
  3. Deepening cooperation

The necessary structures for common security and experience do exist in the form of the UN, the CSCE and the OSCE but the politics of common security, which emerged and developed during the Cold War, require further development in light of the 21st century’s globalized world with new centres of power.

The challenges to such further development of common security are

  1. A multipolar yet hegemonic world
  2. The relationship between the right to self-determination of the people and the politics of common security
  3. Disarmament as an individual, indispensable element of politics of common security

All of the above is the opposite of Western politics since 1991 (and not just since 2001), of which the reality is this:

  • NATO’s expansion towards the East was never comprehensive but always marginalizing, directed against and encircling “the Others”, in this case Russia (and after the NATO summit in Wales, also China). It was in violation of agreements and has created conflict over Ukraine.
  • A “Missile defence shield” is being established.
  • The “Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe” has not been not ratified.
  • The West continues to upgrade its military. An in this context we can dismiss the myth of an unarmed Germany: SIPRI figures from 2004 to 2012 show an increase of 3.8%, moving Germany from 9th to 7th.
  • International politics does not work without Cooperation: Iran, Middle East, nuclear disarmament.
  • In the Ukraine everything that could have been done was done badly and was driven by self-interest!!

What is necessary is a politics of détente from the bottom-up.

Building on the Helsinki Accords we must bear in mind that the politics of common security in the 21st century is only possible with civil society involvement. The lesson is clear: without common security, there is no peace, without disarmament there is no real détente, without the peace movement there is no end to confrontation – and the NATO dinosaur belongs to the rubbish heap of history.