by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The NATO summit meeting later this month, in Chicago, will be the place “where new Obama administration restrictions on civil liberties will be put into full effect.” Nevertheless, it is necessary to protest NATO’s role as “the armed wing for European and American elites who control the destiny not only of the capitalist nations they represent but of people around the world.” NATO is a club for killers.
Freedom Rider: Protesting NATO
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“It is vital that peaceful protests be successfully carried out against NATO and against its activities around the world.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a cold war relic with no positive use in the 21st century. Its original intent, or so it was claimed, was to protect western nations from a supposedly threatening Soviet block. The Soviet Union collapsed, and now some of the old Soviet bloc states are NATO members themselves. Why does this organization still exist?
The explanation is simple, but not very pretty. NATO is the armed wing for European and American elites who control the destiny not only of the capitalist nations they represent but of people around the world. It is NATO which continues to occupy Afghanistan, and send drones which kill civilians. It is NATO which over threw the Muammar Gaddafi government in Libya and killed an unknown number of civilians in the name of protecting them.
When the United Nations sought to investigate whether NATO committed any crimes against the Libyan civilian population, NATO said quite simply that it hadn’t, and that no one should even suggest otherwise. “We would accordingly request that, in the event the commission elects to include a discussion of NATO actions in Libya, its report clearly states that NATO did not deliberately target civilians and did not commit war crimes in Libya.”
“It is NATO which over threw the Muammar Gaddafi government in Libya and killed an unknown number of civilians in the name of protecting them.”
This same NATO, which despite its claims to the contrary, did target civilians in Libya, will soon celebrate its violent triumphs in the city of Chicago. It was meant to be a celebration with its economic and political arm, the G-8, but the possibility of mass protests against the G-8 caused Barack Obama to move the festivities to secluded Camp David, where the pesky masses won’t be allowed to disrupt the party.
Fortunately, activists are not fooled by the sleight of hand of a smaller celebration and are organizing mass protests. NATO’s presence in Chicago must not be seen as acceptance of its activities by the American people. It is vital that peaceful protests be successfully carried out against NATO and against its activities around the world.
NATO’s criminality did not begin with Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Its hands have been very dirty in recent history in many different places. In 1999 NATO used the ruse of humanitarianism to kill human beings and destroy the infrastructure of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavs victimized by these acts weren’t silent about them, and in the absence of action anywhere else in the world, convened their own war crimes tribunal against NATO heads of state and military personnel.
Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and others were sentenced in absentia to twenty years imprisonment. They were convicted of violating the Geneva Conventions, and the U.N. Charter. In the words of the Yugoslav court, NATO leaders were guilty of the following, “…inciting an aggressive war, war crimes against the civilian population, use of banned combat means, attempted murder of the Yugoslav president, as well as with the violation of the country's territorial integrity".
“The possibility of mass protests against the G-8 caused Barack Obama to move the festivities to secluded Camp David, where the pesky masses won’t be allowed to disrupt the party.”
NATO’s trail is a long and bloody one, and the phony festivities are creating risks to the people of Chicago too. They will not only face disruptions and inconvenience as they attempt to go about their daily lives, but their city will also be the place where new Obama administration restrictions on civil liberties will be put into full effect.
The Nobel Peace Prize winning constitutional law professor has decreed, with bipartisan support, that American citizens can be seized and held without charge if they are even suspected of anything the government labels as terrorist activity. Constitutional protections of due process are now a thing of the past.
In addition, the mere proximity of secret service personnel at even peaceful protests can result in arrests and federal felony charges carrying a sentence of up to ten years in prison. This Trespass Bill, as it is called, can be used to charge protestors who are in proximity of the Secret Service – whether knowingly, or unknowingly. Of course, there will be plenty of Secret Service staff on hand in Chicago, and anyone who takes the righteous action of protesting may put themselves in great legal jeopardy.
The NATO meeting is obviously seen as a political plus for the president in his home town in an election year. It should be seen as nothing of the sort, and the activists who attempt to tell the world about NATO’s crimes are doing their country and the world a great service.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.