By Tony Simpson in Wales:
Proud Welsh history of resistance to Nato
Friday 5th September 2014
As war drums roll protesters continue a long tradition of opposing the US-led bloc, says Tony Simpson
Anti-Nato protesters from CND Cymru and other organisations assembled in Newport yesterday for the Nato summit at Celtic Manor Hotel. They marched from the town centre to the event and were met by a police cordon, part of one of the biggest security operations seen in Wales.
Some 10,000 police are guarding the military bigwigs to ensure they can plan their next offensive operation unhindered by democratic protests. Where next for Nato’s warplanes — will it be Ukraine? Syria? Iraq?
Ironically Nato’s war planners will play golf within sight of one of their biggest cold war bases, the former Caerwent US arms dump which once stored 80,000 tons of war munitions, including Patriot missiles.
As I wrote in the Star (March 23 1969), Caerwent also marked the biggest cock-up in Nato history during the Vietnam War.
France’s President Charles de Gaulle kicked the US and their bases out of France in 1966.
The fact that Labour had opposed Panzer training bases in Pembrokeshire and was supposedly against the Vietnam War didn’t prevent Dennis Healey generously renting the US Army Area Support Group the 1,500-acre munitions site near Newport. They stayed for 25 years.
Few will know where these weapons of mass destruction eventually ended up and how many they killed in the name of democracy.
Many of the 400 arms stores at Caerwent are now deserted but their last mission was supplying Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm against Iraq, now once again in a perilous position after Blair and Bush’s illegal intervention.
In 1969 I helped CND organise a major anti-Nato demonstration when we marched from Newport to the gates of the US war equipment stored at Caerwent.
We assembled only days before the 20th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, which included a provision for members to withdraw from the alliance. Some of us even hoped that after France’s rebuff, Nato was in terminal decline.
Shaken but not stirred, the Nato hawks were soon in “business-as-usual” mode.
The Thatcher–Reagan era brought Cruise missiles and Polaris submarines in an attempt to ratchet up the cold war and bankrupt the Soviet Union in a new arms race.
Almost half a century later and despite the demise of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, Nato is still fighting the cold war by ratcheting up tension and signing up states in eastern Europe – even Israel is now a “major non-Nato ally.”
Nato supremo Anders Fogh Rasmussen wants defence budgets among European members to be increased while summer Nato manoeuvres are taking place in the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine, which is taking military action to the borders of Russia. Many see Nato as a means of US expansionism which is continuing under Obama.
CND Cymru, which is organising the demonstrations, points out that less than a decade after the Soviet Union collapsed, “Nato adopted a new strategic concept advocating offensive action anywhere in Europe and Asia.”
This including bombing Serbia in 1999 and invading Afghanistan, which after years of occupation remains unstable. CND also says Nato “flouts the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by deploying nuclear weapons in European countries like Germany, Italy and Belgium.
CND Cymru points out that Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons are actually assigned to Nato command.
Protesting against Nato intervention and against Trident as a “tool of Nato” has been a major theme of the demonstrations.
Counter summits were held at Cardiff County Hall on August 31 and again at Newport Millenium Centre on September 1 and 2.
Yesterday peace protesters marched from Newport civic centre to a No to Nato rally in Westgate Square and heard Bruce Kent and other speakers address the crowd before marching from the cenotaph at Clarence Place to Celtic Manor.
Despite the millions the government has spent on policing to keep the protests from interrupting the Nato gathering, they failed to silence us.
European leaders lecture people constantly about the supposed need to cut spending in response to the economic crisis sparked by the private banking industry. But no such thrift is demanded of the Nato military alliance, which will fritter much-needed funds on creating a rapid response force based in eastern Europe: here.