This week thousands of people in Wales and throughout Britain and Ireland are taking part in opposition to the warmongering North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit in Wales at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. On Saturday, August 30, there was a mass demonstration and rally in Newport. This was followed by two counter-summits, and will culminate with a march on Celtic Manor on Thursday and a protest outside the Cardiff Castle “banquet of death” of the world’s ruling elite the same evening. Among other actions, protesters also opened a peace camp opposed to the summit at Newport’s Tredegar Park.
On August 30, several thousand people from the local area and from many areas of Britain gathered in Newport. At the civic centre, over 1,000 people headed by the banner No NewWars – No To Nato took part in a militant demonstration around the streets of Newport finishing with a rally occupying the famous Westgate Hotel Square. This square was where the Chartists staged an uprising in 1939 against the refusal of Parliament to grant the people the right to a vote. Today, the modern oppressors have erected a ring of steel around Newport’s Celtic Manor, Cardiff Castle and Cardiff Bay to “secure” NATO warships. All this in a £55 million operation with 10,000 police to protect themselves whilst they plot to establish infrastructures to enhance NATO’s aggressive capability in the Baltic, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
Active participants representing the anti-war movement throughout Britain, Ireland, Europe, Russia, Ukraine and the US took part in the demonstration and rally and addressed the counter summits.
Rally in Newport
At the rally in the centre of Newport, the opening speaker was Bethan Jenkins, Plaid AM for South Wales West, and the youngest member of the Welsh Assembly. She said, “What free and competent people ever arose to embrace NATO? NATO is no solution to the vandalism that NATO has already inflicted.” She said that “under NATO the logic of security is dominion. Protection can only be exhorted at the price of domination. It would appear that the place amongst the first league of nations is not earned by compassion and collective feats, nor through the elimination of poverty, suffering and inequality, but rather we must pay so our leaders can wear the necklace of destruction around their necks.” Bethan Jenkins concluded: “NATO is a self-fulfilling prophesy of war. NATO is the homeless they will not house and the medicines they will not provide. NATO is 22 girls lying dead in a ditch in Kandahar. NATO is the misery that they will pass on to our families, the misery they will never know. The tab from which the butcher’s bill is met!”
Ali Ahmed, deputy lord mayor of Cardiff Council, also gave a speech saying, “We all know what is happening in Iraq, Gaza, Palestine, Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan. Who created all this? It’s us, it’s America!”
Another speaker, Boris Kagarlitsky a Russian anti-war activist, pointed out, “From Iraq to Ukraine, NATO only causes pain.” He said that the new President of Ukraine is coming to Newport to discuss closer co-operation between NATO and Ukraine, “to develop their military effort which is about fighting his own people, his own population in the south east of his own country”. He said that they are asking for more money and the money will not go into education, into housing, into health care. “On the contrary, they have already announced they will stop supporting their own industry and jobs but the money will only go into killing people in their own territory.” He said here in the West that is something that has to be stopped by stoppingNATO. He concluded that “the people in south eastern Ukraine are not resisting for Russia, or because many of them consider themselves Russians, but they are resisting because they want to decide by themselves how to live and they want to fight for their rights, their welfare and their future”.
Betty Hunter, Honorary President of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said that NATO was the northern arms traders supplying arms to everyone including Saudi Arabia and Israel. She said that Israel has the fourth most powerful military in the world because the US gives them $3 billion a year which they use to hold the Palestinian people hostage. She said, “We have just been witnessing the slaughter in Gaza, more than 2,000 murdered, tens of thousands injured, hundreds of thousands made homeless and there is supposed to be a truce today.” But she said she didnot want anyone to be under any illusions. “The purpose of the Israeli state was to destroy the Palestinian people and expel them from their land and they have been doing this for 66 years.” And she said, “The same world leaders that are meeting in Newport do nothing while they watch this slaughter and they agree with Israel’s continuing expansionist colonial policy in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.” She concluded by saying that “it is us the people who can change history against NATO and against Israel”.
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, said that “the NATO summit in Newport is not a summit for peace. It is a summit for war.” She said that “they are going to increase the enlargement of NATO to the East with all the threats that that brings to further war in the Ukraine”. She said that the US was already bombing in Iraq, a situation the Anglo-US powers created in their illegal war killing hundreds of thousands of people. “We don’t want war in Ukraine, or anywhere.” She said that one purpose of the NATO summit was to pressurise countries to spend more on war at the expense of public services and the well-being of the people and she concluded by asking people to remember the constant lies which the Anglo-US NATO powers use as a so-called justification for war. “Every day they say it is the Russian threat, or the ISIS threat, or it is the Hamas threat, or it is somebody’s threat. No! It is the big powers and NATO threat! They are the people we have to oppose!”
Around 150 people took part in the counter-summits, easily matching the number of leaders taking part in the NATO summit. These were held on Sunday August 31 at Cardiff County Hall and then the second conference took place on Monday September 1 at the Newport Dolman Theatre. These alternative conferences condemned NATO as the greatest threat to world peace and had the aim of building the anti-war movement against NATO, war and militarisation and for planning future joint actions across Europe. For example, in a session on “Ukraine and the new cold war”, John Rees representing the Stop the War Coalition said that what the government and their media outlets are trying to remove from the picture was the entire post-war expansion of NATO to the east. They were trying to focus on eliminating any memory of NATO’s massive crimes over recent years and over the post-war times. He said that on the foundation of NATO in 1949 the first President of NATO, Lord Ismay, was the one who put the purpose, definition and function of that military alliance very clearly. Rees quoted Lord Ismay as saying that “the purpose of NATO was to keep the Russians out the Americans in and the Germans down”. The conferences exposed that today the US, along with its big power allies, are the biggest spenders on, and suppliers of armaments and weapons of mass destruction, which together dwarf any other industrialised state including Russia and China. Thus the conferences highlighted that it was the US and its big power allies along with their criminal military alliance of NATO that is behind the mayhem and destruction and war in every part of the globe, the cause of the most dangerous world situation to date.
Pro-War Stand of David Cameron
It is in this context that Prime Minister David Cameron, in a letter to leaders of NATO countries, outlined the priorities for the summit, including aggression against Russia, all of which he mendaciously couched in terms of “collective defence”. In fact, it is an aggressive plan to contain and attack Russia if the Alliance sees fit. All of it is warmongering to justify putting the NATO countries more and more on a war footing. It must not pass!
“In 2014, the world is more unpredictable than ever and we meet at another pivotal moment in the history of the alliance. In Afghanistan, our combat mission is coming to an end. To the East, Russia has ripped up the rulebook with its illegal annexation of Crimea and aggressive destabilisation of Ukraine. To the South, an arc of instability spreads from North Africa and the Sahel, to Syria, Iraq and the wider Middle East. So we must use the summit to agree how NATO should adapt to respond to and deter such threats; and to ensure the continued collective defence of all its members. We should have 5 goals.
“First, 6 months into the Russia-Ukraine crisis we must agree on long-term measures to strengthen our ability to respond quickly to any threat, to reassure those allies who fear for their own country’s security and to deter any Russian aggression. All NATO allies have already contributed to the alliance’s response to this crisis and we should agree how we can sustain a robust presence in Eastern Europe, consistent with the NATO Russia Founding Act, to make clear to Russia that neither NATO nor its members will be intimidated. We should agree specific actions including: a new exercise schedule adapted to the new security environment; the necessary infrastructure; pre-positioning of equipment and supplies; and an enhanced NATO Response Force. This should be part of a broader action plan that enables us to respond more quickly to any threat against any member of the alliance, including when we have little warning.
“We must also review our long term relationship with Russia. While NATO has only ever sought to be a partner to Russia, not a threat, it is clear that Russia views NATO as an adversary. We must accept that the co-operation of recent years is not currently possible because of Russia’s own illegal actions in NATO’s neighbourhood and revisit the principles that guide our relationship with Russia.
“Second, as the ISAF mission in Afghanistan draws to an end, we must consider how to support the Afghan government in the years ahead, ensuring they maintain the progress we have made together and stop the country from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists. Weshould review plans for NATO’s new mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces from the start of next year. And we should discuss the future financial sustainment of the Afghan troops as we work towards the long-term goal of Afghanistan being able to sustain its own forces.
“Third, we must agree how NATO will address the risks and challenges from an unstable world of failed states, regional conflicts, terrorism and cyber-attacks. We must ensure that NATO has the capabilities it needs to respond to changing threats. That requires investment. The UK is already one of 4 members of the alliance to meet the target of spending 2% of our GDP on defence and I would urge other allies to make the strongest possible commitment to increase their defence spending, and to devote at least one fifth of it to equipment and research. As our economies start to recover, reversing the decline in defence spending and investing in our defence capabilities would strengthen alliance cohesion and signal that NATO means business.
“While we invest in our forces at home, we should also do more to provide practical support to other countries that need to strengthen their own security. […] In Wales, I would like us to agree on new defence capacity building missions to other parts of the world, for example Georgia or the Middle East.
“Fourth, as the world’s broadest security network with partnerships with over 40 countries and organisations on 5 continents, we should demonstrate a clear commitment to working with others who share our values and to maintaining an international rules-based order that promotes freedom, democracy and the rule of law. I support the proposed interoperability initiative with 24 of our partners to sustain these skills and relationships and I would like our defence ministers to meet with a smaller group to discuss enhanced opportunities for working together.
“Fifth, and finally, we should recognise the sacrifices made by our armed forces. In the UK, we have enshrined an Armed Forces Covenant in law to ensure that our armed forces get the respect and support they deserve. […] a ‘North Atlantic Armed Forces Charter,’ signed by us all, would underline our commitment to treating our armed forces and their families fairly and providing them with the necessary support and care when they retire or are wounded or killed. […]”