Report of Public Meetings on NATO @70
No to NATO - 70 years of war and aggression!
Chris Ninehan Vice Chair Stop the War Coalition speaking at the meeting
On Thursday April 4 2019, on the 70th anniversary of the Founding of NATO a public meeting was held in Newcastle. The Chair Pam Wortley opened the meeting by saying that on the 70th anniversary of NATO, Newcastle Stop the War thought that it was a time to assess this nuclear armed military alliance that came into being claiming to ensure peace with military superiority. She introduced three speakers, Syed Ullah Newcastle Stop the War, Charlotte Austin Young Labour and Chris Nineham, Vice Chair Stop the War Coalition.
The first speaker Syed Ullah, who himself is from Afghanistan, spoke about the destructive role of NATO in Afghanistan and he said that for 40 years we are still talking about war in Afghanistan and in the last three years alone 45,000 Afghans and Afghan army have been killed in the recent NATO occupation of his country and he said that NATO continues to occupy and use Afghanistan to try out their weapons such as the US dropping its “mother of all bombs”. He said that just a few days ago a politician who spoke against war was brutally killed and the US has transferred ISIS forces from Syria into Afghanistan near to the border with Russia. He highlighted that NATO was using Afghanistan to confront Russia and China and concluded and hoped that a new government with an anti-war leader such as Jeremy Corbyn in the UK would stop this role of the UK and NATO in Afghanistan.
Charlotte Austin said that Young Labour passed a motion in favour of withdrawing from NATO at its last policy conference and that there is significant support for this. Speaking about confronting NATO head on, she pointed out that in a student debate she had to oppose the claim that because Ernest Bevin of the post war Labour government, who was one of the founders of NATO “was a working class hero” this was why we should support NATO! She pointed out the problem that the Labour Party had been a supporter of NATO from the Korean war to Afghanistan and to Syria nowadays. She said Trump had posed the possibility of withdrawing from NATO but then now he is suggesting that Brazil can join! This was a dangerous future if NATO continues to have a such a position in the world and what is the point of having a Labour government if these are the sort of people we are going to be allying with. She spoke about the discussion on defence diversification projects to replace the heavy reliance on military production in Britain and the stand being taken within the Labour Party to oppose NATO especially by the Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Chris Nineham then spoke continuing the discussion on the danger of leaving foreign policy aside that it is something that very much needs challenging. He said that NATO was basically set up by the British in 1949 as a vehicle for western power projection and in the words of a British General, Hastings Lionel "Pug" Ismay; “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” He said there was a break in NATO's role at the end of the cold war but with the attack on Yugoslavia in which NATO dropped more bombs than the number that were dropped in World War II it has now reached a very dangerous situation and NATO is extremely de-stabilising and it is increasingly a mechanism for a more aggressive US and western foreign policy. Talking about and calling for the forthcoming programme of demonstrations to co-inside with the government's NATO celebration in December and Trumps visit. He said this must be used as part of an educative process to get people to understand that NATO is part of the problem, that it is a toxic network that is designed to promote and defend this policy that is causing so much damage around the world.
Following the speeches there were many contribution and questions discussed on the role of NATO the anti-war movements role to end Britain's involvement in NATO by bringing about an anti-war government in Britain.
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Newcastle demonstration against the invasion of Afghanistan, October 2001
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