Protests begin at NATO Summit

Thousands of anti-war marchers descended on Newport, Wales, on Aug. 30 for the beginning of a week of protests against the NATO Summit scheduled there for Sept. 4 and 5. Organizers have said they expect 20,000 people in the Welsh city by Sept. 4.

NATO leaders are purposely holding their talks away from a major population center like London to avoid even larger demonstrations.

Some 60 heads of government and another 90 ministers from NATO countries, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama, will be in Newport on Sept. 4-5. A big point on their agenda is the attempt by the major imperialist countries, especially the United States, to impose sanctions on Russia and move as many as 4,000 rapid intervention troops, with weapons, into countries on or near Russia’s borders.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that, aside from the official agenda, Washington will be forming a coalition to wage an assault on the “Islamic State” — which really means to wage war on Iraq and Syria. Kerry wrote in the Aug. 29 New York Times: “On the sidelines of the NATO summit meeting in Wales, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and I will meet with our counterparts from our European allies. The goal is to enlist the broadest possible assistance” to attack ISIS.

The organizers of the demonstration say that the NATO leaders are gathering “to plan a war on the world.” “No new wars, No to NATO” read one of their big banners. (Voice of Russia, Aug. 30) Demonstrators also expressed support for the embattled Palestinians in Gaza and protested the NATO countries’ support for the Israeli attack.

British Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke at the Aug. 30 rally, told Voice of Russia on Aug. 30 that instead of disappearing at the end of the Cold War: “NATO has instead steadily expanded, firstly by bringing in a number of central European countries, such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But also extending into former Soviet republics such as Georgia. And by its involvement both in the Balkans War and — more crucially — in the Afghanistan War, it’s given itself a global role. The 2010 Lisbon Summit made NATO into a global force.”

The Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and others from Britain hosted the demonstrations and counter summits set during the week. From the U.S., the United National Antiwar Coalition and Code Pink, among others, have representatives at the week’s activities.

CND leader Kate Hudson says that in recent years NATO “has shown itself for what it is: an interventionist, expansionist, military club which favors threats over diplomacy. … Through its insatiable expansion into eastern Europe, capitalizing on the vacuum left following the collapse of the USSR, NATO has contributed to heightening tensions around Russia and Ukraine, and risks provoking a new Cold War.”