I’m sure you’ve seen the press. Thanks to the organizational energies of Peace Action’s Field Director, Judith LeBlanc, Chicago Area Peace Action and American Friends Service Committee, coverage of the largely peaceful protests around the NATO summit was not about black-masked demonstrators and police riots but rather about the obsolescence and costs of the NATO war machine.
Through op eds, letters to the editor and several editorial board meetings throughout the week of the Counter-Summit, opposition to the war in Afghanistan was the real story. Check out my letter in The New York Times.
After working with coalition partners for months as part of the “Network for a NATO-Free Future,” Peace Action pulled off a buzzing beehive of a Counter-Summit in a church building on Chicago’s North Side on May 18th & 19th in anticipation of the NATO summit hosted by Barack Obama. More than 320 registrants signed up for the Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice, two days of wall-to-wall plenaries and break-out sessions with the likes of Phyllis Bennis, Medea Benjamin, Tom Hayden, John Nichols, Kathy Kelley and Vijay Prashad.
It was truly an international event with activists from England, Canada, Germany, France, Mexico, Nepal, Greece, and Australia in attendance.
For its part, the NATO summit itself was dominated by the universally unpopular war in Afghanistan. Acting as if it were all part of their plan, NATO leaders announced Monday that by mid-2013, “all parts of Afghanistan will have begun transition and the Afghan forces will be in the lead for security nation-wide.” With Australia and France the next countries planning an early exit, this strategic refinement was a rather anti-climatic, foregone conclusion.
Of course, that’s hardly good enough. Clinging to it's ‘never say die’ (unless you personally are doing the dying) policy, NATO leaders are committed to bankrolling Afghanistan’s security forces until 2024. The US plans also include leaving tens of thousands of troops in harm’s way.
Growing opposition to the war and occupation of Afghanistan can force future ‘strategic refinements.’ That’s why Peace Action will continue its campaign to end this war. The next big date is the announced drawdown of troops in September. Thank you for helping me keep the heat on the President and Congress to end this war!
Budget Battles Continue
In a few weeks the Senate takes up the National Defense Authorization Act. Last week the House approved its $642.5 billion version of the bill, a full $8 billion above what Congress agreed to last August as part of the budget deal. Despite the Republicans blocking key votes on Afghanistan and nuclear weapons, we had a victory in clear language that there is NO authorization for war with Iran and another victory reducing troops in Europe. Now it's the Senate's turn. Call both your Senators and tell them to support amendments to cut Pentagon spending, bring our troops home and prevent war with Iran. The number is 202-224-3121 or to email them go to www.senate.gov
Humbly for Peace,
PS: To see pictures from the actions in Chicago, go to http://natocountersummit.shutterfly.com/