An example was the well-attended action on May 18 of the National Nurses Union who called a mass march for full health care for all. This was followed by the main march, which was led by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Expressing the anti-imperialist sentiment of the American people, contingents in the main march opposed U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines and elsewhere. Many also opposed the attacks on social programs in the United States raising this in the context of U.S. imperialism's destruction of other countries.
In a moving ceremony at the end of the march the
veterans got up one by
one on stage to throw their Global War Against Terrorism and other
they had been given by the U.S. military in the direction of the
expressed the true sentiments of the American people as they denounced
NATO and U.S. imperialism for their war crimes around the world. Many
apologized for the crimes the U.S. has committed, especially
the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and expressed their pride in joining
(Photos: Chicago ANSWER, Indymedia)
Preparations Made for Unified NATO Forces 2020
An anti-war demonstration took place May 19 across from the U.S. consulate in Toronto. The action was held to protest the NATO summit in Chicago that weekend, to call for the immediate withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan and to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from
their homeland by Zionist fascist terror with the full support of Anglo-American imperialism.
The NATO Summit in Chicago May 20-21 carried forward its agenda to put in place new arrangements which will expand and consolidate NATO as a military and political force capable of carrying out swift acts of aggression anywhere in the world. While NATO is under the command and leadership of the United States and serves to secure its domination over primarily Europe, Africa and Asia in its contention with the European big powers and the Europe of the Monopolies, it is also used by the European big powers to try to keep the United States' striving for domination in check as well as to be at the table to share the spoils of war.
The example of NATO's attack on Libya and the eventual regime change which took place were held high at the Summit to illustrate the kind of cooperation NATO members are building with other "strategic partners" towards a more unified NATO military in the future, labelled NATO 2020. This clearly shows the danger NATO poses in the present and future and the necessity to step up the work to get Canada out of NATO, dismantle NATO and establish anti-war governments.
On the agenda for the Summit was to set out a coordinated plan to try and continue the occupation of Afghanistan through direct military force until 2014, and through control of the Afghan Security Forces after 2014. Also on the agenda was the coordination of the integration of NATO militaries under the guise of "sharing the costs" of war and aggression. Finally, the Summit pushed the involvement of more non-NATO partner nations in its arrangements.
NATO leaders agreed that the NATO mission in Afghanistan would continue to 2014 in the current form -- a counterinsurgency war carried out by a force of 98,000 U.S. troops and other troops -- like Canada's -- under U.S./NATO command, and would then shift to an "Afghan-led" mission post-2014. In this arrangement NATO member states would "train, advise and assist the Afghan forces." The fact that this was the aim of the current mission which has already failed to materialize is ignored. Nonetheless, it once again shows that the end of NATO's current mission is not an end to the war against those who resist foreign domination in Afghanistan but on the contrary to eliminate the resistance, which the Afghan people have always shown is a lost cause from the get go.
What NATO is reinforcing is an operation in which U.S., Canadian and other NATO militaries direct Afghan forces or use military technology such as controlling unmanned drones to carry out targeted assassinations from thousands of miles away to eliminate the resistance. This is how they claim it is no longer a "combat mission." As in the past, when NATO troops come under attack while commanding Afghan troops, claims will without doubt be made that the crimes NATO soldiers committed are acts of self-defence.
Reports indicate that newly elected French President François Holland re-affirmed his position to withdraw 2,000 of the 3,300 troops France has posted in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission. He did not however rule out French troops playing a "non-combat role" which has become a euphemism for combat training of Afghan forces.
Indicating what is being prepared for the new phase of the war in Afghanistan, a report issued just prior to the Chicago summit by the Center for National Policy, formerly chaired by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, calls for keeping 30,000 troops in Afghanistan indefinitely -- three quarters of them U.S. forces under "special operations command." The report calls for them to be backed by "fire and air support." Working "in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency," they will continue the "direct action campaign" against insurgents in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. This force would maintain control of three strategic bases -- Kandahar Air Field, Camp Bastion/Leatherneck in Helmand Province and Bagram Air Field.
It is in this context that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reaffirmed Canada's commitment to carry on its current mission in Afghanistan until 2014, at which time Canada's military mission there will supposedly end. "Canada will honour its commitment and complete its current training mission but our country will not have any military mission in Afghanistan after March 2014," the Prime Minister stated.
He then announced that Canada will help to finance the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF). It is of note that Harper did not say that Canada would provide money to the puppet government of Afghanistan; rather that it would directly finance the ANSF.
According to Wikipedia the ANSF includes: Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, Afghan Ministry of the Interior, Afghan Border Police, Afghan National Civil Order Police, Afghan Air Force and the National Directorate of Security (NDS). According to Harper this funding to the entire security apparatus of Afghanistan is to ensure "future stability of a secure and democratic Afghanistan."
Canada will contribute $330 million over three years (2015-2017) to the ANSF. To ensure that Canadians know how their money is being spent to repress the people of Afghanistan, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office points out: "Canada will insist on strict accountability measures for this fund."
Indicating that changes to Canada's mission are being put in place, three days after the Chicago Summit the commander of Canada's contribution to the current NATO training mission in Afghanistan was changed. A Department of National Defence statement informed that Major-General Michael Day was being replaced by Major-General Jim Ferron. No reason was given for the change; General Day was simply thanked for his service.
Summit Pushes "Smart Defence"
Another main task NATO gave itself for the Summit was to work out new arrangements to integrate the militaries of its members. The overarching aim of "Smart Defence" is to establish "NATO Forces 2020: modern, tightly connected forces equipped, trained, exercised and commanded so that they can operate together and with partners in any environment."
In the name of "Smart Defence" -- sharing expenses and technology and in turn integrating the militaries of member states -- the Summit agreed to push forward various multinational arrangements which would pool NATO member states' resources in purchasing new military technology.
No doubt this refers to arrangements like the joint financing of F-35 fighter jets in which NATO allies had to pay for the development of the aircraft to be eligible for "cheaper rates" when it came time to purchase. These cheaper rates have turned out to be a complete fraud as governments like Canada's have been caught misrepresenting the real costs and have had to backtrack on their commitments.
One of the most dangerous of these multinational arrangements was announced at the Summit by NATO's Secretary General: NATO has now established an "interim ballistic missile defence capability as an initial step to establish NATO's missile defence system." This step towards militarizing Europe under NATO reveals precisely the war preparations that NATO is putting in place, which the peoples of the world oppose. Russian officials have already made statements indicating that they view such developments as hostile and a grave threat to peace and security in the world.
In addition to the missile system, NATO also announced that it was deploying a "highly sophisticated Alliance Ground Surveillance system."
Integration of New Members
In terms of integrating new members into NATO, of note was the emphasis on trying to integrate countries of the Balkans, as well as to maintain a strong military presence there 13 years after NATO's invasion of Yugoslavia. At the Summit it was announced that NATO has extended its "air policing mission" in the Baltic states and is moving steadily towards integrating Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Macedonia into the Alliance.
1. Major-General Jim Ferron is one of a number of Canadian Generals who have been fully integrated into the U.S. military. From 2009-2011 he served with the United States Central Command in Tampa, Florida. There he held the position of Deputy Director Strategy, Plans and Policy, and participated in Operations Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Iraqi Freedom, and Unified Protector (Libya). He will now serve under U.S. Command in the NATO training mission.
From the North Atlantic to the South Pacific Encompassing Australia and New Zealand
On June 4 NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key signed a partnership agreement at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
As the Western military bloc reported, the Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme conferred on the South Pacific nation "formalised ties between the two sides after almost two decades of increased cooperation."
After meeting with Prime Minister Key, Rasmussen said, "Partnerships are essential to NATO's success and we want to be even more closely connected with countries that are willing to contribute to global security where we all have a stake."
The increasing use of the word global by the U.S.-dominated military alliance -- New Zealand was recently announced to be a member of its newest partnership category, partners across the globe -- leaves no room for doubt regarding the emergence of NATO as a self-designated international military force, history's first, and its intention to assume so-called out-of-area missions much farther from the territory of its member states than previous military campaigns and operations in the Balkans, South Asia, North Africa and the Indian Ocean.
New Zealand has supplied troops for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan since 2003. Speaking on the June 4th accord, the NATO chief affirmed, "This arrangement is a move to capitalise on this engagement, and formalise the current, more substantive relationship that exists between NATO and New Zealand."
He also claimed: "We may be far away geographically, but we are linked by common values and commitment. NATO looks forward to building on this important partnership in the years to come."
Rasmussen mentioned that areas of joint cooperation, in addition to the ongoing war in Afghanistan, will include cyber-defence, disaster relief, crisis management and joint education and training. That is, NATO training the New Zealand Defence Force.
The common values alluded to comprise much more than the parliamentary system of government, which exists most everywhere in the world, and instead are a veiled reference to the fact that NATO is what it has always been: A military alliance of the former colonial powers in Europe and Britain's past outposts in North America -- the U.S. and Canada -- now to be complemented by those in the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia.
On the same day that he met with New Zealand's Key, the NATO secretary general announced that he was paying his first visit to nearby Australia, in the words of an earlier report from the Sydney Morning Herald, to sign "a high level political declaration" to consolidate military ties with that nation.
Prime Minister Key and his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard attended the NATO summit in Chicago last month and were among 13 "partner countries from across the globe" (NATO's term) that the heads of state and government of the alliance's 28 member states met with there, the others being Austria, Finland, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. Japan has been mentioned as the next focus of NATO's attention after Australia and New Zealand.
In regard to New Zealand's new Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme, the NATO website reported that the bloc "has similar partnership programmes with Switzerland and Sweden among others." Mongolia was granted what NATO at the time called an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme in March.
Rasmussen's visit to Australia will be the latest, and most pronounced, step in the solidification of military ties between NATO and Canberra that began with Rasmussen's predecessor, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, paying the first-ever visit by a NATO chief to the country in 2005. Rasmussen's trip will also follow President Barack Obama's visit to Australia last November during which he announced the deployment of 2,500 U.S. Marines to the north of the nation, as NATO's new partnership with New Zealand follows the recent renewal of military relations between that country and the U.S. after a 25-year hiatus.
This January Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister and at the time foreign minister, visited NATO Headquarters to accredit his country's first ambassador to NATO, Dr. Brendan Nelson. On January 20 Rudd's website announced that "Dr Nelson's appointment as Ambassador represents a deepening of Australia's engagement with NATO."
Australia has provided NATO with troops for campaigns in the Balkans and in Afghanistan, where with 1,550 soldiers it is the largest non-NATO force contributor, and participates in NATO's Operation Ocean Shield naval mission off the coast of Somalia.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is indeed what it has frequently been characterized as being: the military arm of the policy of the West versus the rest, with West defined as consisting of "common values and commitment," however "far away geographically" its 28 members and over 40 partners may be.
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