Thousands March Saying “NO to NATO” and “Make Peace Great Again”

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Around 15,000 activists from around Europe and North America marched through the streets of Brussels on May 24, 2017 in opposition to the meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the presence of U.S. President Donald Trump. 

By Ann Wright, June 19, 2017.

NATO war exercises on the Russian border and NATO participation in U.S. wars of choice in the Middle East and North Africa have increased the dangers to our security, not lessened them.

Trump’s appearance at the NATO summit in his first trip outside the United States generated many themes for the march. Greenpeace used a variation of Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” for its massive banners: “Make Peace Great Again” and another banner hanging from a crane near the NATO headquarters with the motto “#RESIST.”

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Trump’s misogynist statements compelled the Pink Pussy Hats to return to the streets of Brussels with two large groups of women and men challenging his rebuke to women. Peace groups from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Belgium challenged the NATO war machine

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Photo by Ann Wright

125 persons were arrested for blocking a highway leading to the NATO ministerial meeting.

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After calling NATO “obsolete” during his presidential campaign, Trump faced the other 27 nations in NATO by saying that “NATO is no longer obsolete” and “You owe us a lot of money.”  The media has widely reported that the NATO meeting schedule was dramatically shortened to accommodate Trump’s short attention span.  Presentations by country representatives were mandated to four minutes or less.

Only five of 28 members (US, UK, Poland, Estonia and Greece) have 2 percent of their national budgets dedicated to military expenditures and Trump railed at member countries for not budgeting more.  The overall spending on defense by NATO countries will be more than $921 billion http://money.cnn.com/ 2017/05/25/news/nato-funding-e xplained-trump/ while $1.4 billion goes to NATO to funds some NATO operations, training and research and the NATO strategic command center.

Trump’s proposed increase of 5,000 U.S. military into Afghanistan will increase by one-third the NATO presence in Afghanistan and he is urging other NATO countries to increase their presence.  Currently, there are 13,000 NATO forces including 8,500 U.S. in Afghanistan.

NATO war preparations through extensive exercises and meetings have generated a predictable response from the Russians who view the large number of military actions as offensive and aggressive.  In the month of May 2017, NATO conducted the following exercises and events:

•       Canadian Air Cover exercise for Iceland
•       Artic Challenge Exercise (ACE 17)
•       Spring Storm Exercise in Estonia w/9000 military participating
•       NATO’S Baltic Air Policing-new countries Spain & Poland-1st alert
•       Exercise Steadfast Cobalt communications in Lithuania
•       NATO AWACS scheduling conference
•       Exercise Mare Aperto in Italy
•       NATO Maritime Group One visits Estonia
•       Germany Increases NATO Deployable Control Unit in Baltics
•       Exercise Dynamic Mercy in Baltic Sea
•       NATO Ballistic Defense Exercise Steadfast Armour
•       Locked Shields, NATO wide cyber attack exercise held in Estonia

The Counter-Summit “Stop NATO 2017” https://www. stopnato2017.org/en/ conference-0 in Brussels on May 25 featured discussions by experts from around Europe and the United States http://www.no-to-nato. org/wp-content/uploads/2017/ 05/Programm-Counter-Summit-Bru ssels-2017-web-1.pdf:

–Wars of NATO;
–NATO and Russia
–U.S. nuclear arms in Europe and how to disarm them-strategies and campaigns
–2% military investment norm: analysis and strategy of different countries
–NATO, militarization in the Mediterranean and the refugee crisis
–Global NATO;
–NATO military spending and the Arms Industry-a political economy of the new Cold War;
–the UN Treaty to ban nuclear arms;
–NATO and the “war on terror”
–NATO Enlargement
–EU-NATO relations
–NATO, economic interests, arms industry, arms trade
–Women in NATO
–Military interventions and the peace movement
–Media and war

The week of activities in Brussels included a peace camp https://stopnato2017.org/ nl/peace-camp with about 50 young participants.

The next major international gathering will be in Hamburg, Germany for the G-20 meetings July 5-8, 2017.  The Summit for Global Solidarity will be  July 5-6, a day of civil demonstrations on  July 7 and a mass demonstration on  July 8.

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2017 in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq.  She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”

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