Manu Pineda (Málaga, 1965) is an IU MEP and head of International for the PCE, organizations involved in the alternative summit to that of NATO that is being held this week in Madrid. United Left, an organization born in 1986 from the mobilizations against the Atlantic Alliance, continues to defend the end of a military entity that emerged in the Cold War and that now faces a political and military rearmament four months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"We who are people of peace", says the IU MEP, "Izquierda Unida was born even in the heat of the table against NATO, and we have always considered that NATO is a war machine, a machine of death that has not had never made sense, much less after the fall of the Soviet bloc. It makes no sense that there is an organization that what it does is mount wars in the world and defend the interests of large international corporations and the United States".
NATO, however, seems to be experiencing a moment of political and military rearmament.
We have always opted for a world based on peace, respect, sovereignty, respect for human rights. And NATO is the opposite of that. At the time the Madrid summit was convened, we began to work both nationally and internationally to organize an alternative summit, a summit for peace, for life and for the rights of peoples. And to oppose, of course, the militarist escalation and the expansion of NATO that this summit is going to entail. It will not be just another meeting, but a reformulation of NATO, removing the corset of an organization for the North Atlantic, so that countries like Colombia, like Israel and other countries that have never stood out for their respect for human rights.
Not so long ago, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, spoke of a brain-dead organization with existential doubts. But in the aftermath of the Ukraine war it seems to have regained strength, with Finland and Sweden asking for membership and increasing military spending.
I believe that Putin has given NATO a great gift. This was a scenario not only desired, but even forced by NATO. Macron diagnosed NATO as brain dead around the time of Trump's presidency. And now they have managed to fulfill the prophecy they had been making about the invasion of Ukraine. Sadly, it has generated the resurrection of NATO, the strengthening of NATO.
We have the example of Finland and Sweden. But also that the governments of the NATO member states, for example, the government of Pedro Sánchez, have already decided to increase the military budget to 2%, to a level that seems outrageous in a country that is not at war .
We are not at war, but with our taxes we are sending troops: we have missions in 17 countries, in six of them imposed by NATO. When military spending is 2%, it will be four times what is spent on education, for example. Where is this increase in military spending going to come from? It will be subtracted from social items, which are the ones that we really believe guarantee the security of Spanish citizens.
The best way to be safe is not to spend too much on the military, but not to be a nuisance to your neighbors. If we are bothering Russia all day, bothering Algeria, then it is normal that we have to invest in military spending to defend ourselves. We seek other types of relations with the peoples, friendly and fraternal political and diplomatic relations, if possible.
In addition to NATO rearming, there is talk of a European defense strategy, with more military spending, in addition to the weapons being sent to Ukraine through the Instrument of Peace.
We are not talking about gaining autonomy, but about being stronger as a complement to NATO, because the United States and NATO are not expeditious enough. We insist that a military structure is not necessary. The European Union does not have to be betting on being a warlike, militaristic element. The European Union, in our opinion, is riding the diametrically opposite path to the correct one. We have a clear example now with the war in Ukraine, where instead of playing a bridging role, a peacemaker, committed to dialogue, to negotiation, what the EU is doing is following the United States' policy, demanding millions of euros for weapons and to send and send weapons with the aim of prolonging the war.
The objective that the European Union is demonstrating is not even to seek peace, but to stagnate Russia in a bogged down war, in a war, if possible, as long as possible to defend the interests not of European citizens, but of the United States. United States, which is the one that has decided that Russia and China are its systemic enemies.
We are not betting on a military instrument of the European Union, for more military spending. We are committed to activating and strengthening diplomatic channels, political channels for conflict resolution. But there is the role that the European Union is playing with the United States when it comes to defending their interests instead of ours, imposing sanctions on Russia like the ones they are imposing, which are not affecting Putin in the least and that are affecting our citizens.
They are betting on policies that are not the ones that we need, that are very good for the weapons, energy, and primary sectors of the United States, but that are sinking our people. We have a European Union that is working in the opposite direction of defending the quality of life of the most popular layers of our population.
In the European Parliament, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, has once accused him of wanting peace at any price. Is it so? Do they want a peace at any price with the fragmentation of Ukraine, with Russia keeping a part?
We want peace. There is no peace at any price. Peace is the goal. The European Union has mechanisms, it has springs, it has means to be able to play a role that facilitates peace. I think that everyone here knows that this war is not going to be won by any people. We are already seeing how the Ukrainian people are suffering from this war, and so are the Russians, based on sanctions and interference. I defend a peace that helps the Ukrainian and Russian peoples. In the end, peace will be the result of negotiation, but on the ground in the purely military sphere, neither Zelensky, nor the European Union, nor the United States will win this war.
Putin, who had a very complicated internal situation and is president thanks to a fraud, takes advantage of the fact that when you have a war and an external enemy, the country becomes cohesive. In the political sphere, internally, the war is going to be won by Putin; and in the military everything points to that too. What we do not know is whether in six months or six years, and the longer it is, the more they will suffer, not only the Ukrainian and Russian people, but all of us.
And in the political realm, NATO is winning it, while NATO was previously considered brain dead, right now there is a resurgence. Right now countries that have always been neutral are lining up to join NATO because the idea has been installed that only NATO can protect you from a military action by Putin who is going to go around eating countries like Hitler did. It is the scenario we have.
We understand that instead of adding fuel to the fire so that this goes on forever, the European Union should be playing the role of negotiator, forcing the parties to sit down, to seek agreements, to an agreement that probably supposes loss of territorial unity to Ukraine. But there are towns like those in Donbas that have been systematically bombed by the Ukrainian army since 2014, being attacked by Ukrainian Nazi gangs and that do not have much sympathy for the Ukrainian government.
They have chosen, like Crimea at the time, to stop being Ukrainians. We will have to see if that is the solution, but the solution cannot be adding fuel to the fire, giving Ukraine more weapons, which are being delivered to gangs without any type of institutional control. We already have experiences like this in Syria, for example, when the United States and its entourage, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, were arming the jihadists to bring down Bashar Al Assad.
In the end, it is jihadists who are using their weapons. When the ceasefire is reached, who is going to disarm these gangs? And I am afraid that unfortunately they will end up carrying out attacks on our land, and we may find ourselves in situations like those of 11-M in Madrid. When you feed fascist gangs like they are feeding in the Ukraine, it turns out that you are arming battalions that are not hiding there, because they claim Stepan Bandera as a national hero, who was a Nazi responsible for the murder of thousands of people. Mr. Borrell should also be thinking about what is going to happen the day after the agreement is signed.
IU was born from the mobilizations of the movement against NATO and yet, now the NATO summit is being organized in Madrid, with IU in government. How do you experience this contradiction of being a party that was born against NATO and belonging to the government that organizes a NATO summit?
In a very uncomfortable situation for us. In the government agreement with the PSOE, we are not given capacity in the field of Defense, nor that of Foreign Affairs, nor, of course, Interior or Economy. These are decisions made by the socialist part of the government and to which we oppose, but obviously it is considering not doing what they are asking from the right wing from here to the Ukrainian Defense Minister: we are not going to leave the government for this reason We are going to oppose it clearly, because it is the backbone for us, and we are going to continue defending peace policies and respectful relations based on mutual benefit with the peoples.
But it is true that it creates a tremendously uncomfortable situation for us. It is not only the summit, because the summit arrives and it will pass. We have several milestones, such as the approval of some budgets in which military spending is increased and that is going to generate tensions. We have a tremendously complicated scenario ahead of us, but I believe that we are going to continue to act consistently, not being co-responsible for the decisions made by others and to which we oppose in all areas where it is not possible. We oppose within the Government, in the Congress of Deputies and in the street and promoting the alternative summit to that of war and death.