“As the war in Ukraine grinds on, the risks of escalation increase.”
By Chris Nineham, Stop the War Coalition
We are continually told NATO is a defensive alliance. Believing this requires extraordinary amnesia about relatively recent history.
It means suppressing the memory of the alliance’s war on Serbia in 1999, its out of area operations in the catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Libya and its role in the Iraq War. These are after all, not obscure events, even by the standards of our Eurocentric media. They dominated the headlines at the time and led to huge popular protests – in the case of Iraq, perhaps the biggest protests on any issue in history.
And it also involves delusion about the situation in Eastern Europe.
Stop the War opposed the Russian invasion and continues to call for Russian troops to leave Ukraine. All the same, we come under attack for saying that NATO’s massive expansion since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been one of the causes of the current conflict. Keir Starmer forbids Labour MPs to make the same point, on threat of having the whip removed.
Oddly, no such brickbats are directed at the string of US foreign policy leaders including Madeline Albright, Henry Kissinger, Robert Gates and George Kennan who have warned of exactly the same thing and pointed out that discussion of Ukraine joining NATO in particular, was a red line.
Amongst them is also the current head of the CIA William J. Burns. Speaking as US ambassador to Moscow in 2008 2008 he said, “I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.”
It is not just the build up to war that requires much more serious scrutiny than we are getting from media commentators and politicians. NATO’s response to Putin’s invasion also needs to be viewed critically.
This has been unremittingly warlike. NATO countries have flooded Ukraine with weapons, piled unprecedented sanctions on Russia. The alliance has mobilised more troops in Europe than at any time since the end of the Cold War and welcomed new countries into the fold.
The US and the UK have played a particularly despicable role in actually discouraging and boycotting peace negotiations. As I pointed in a longer analysis, Boris Johnson’s headline message to Zelensky on his May visit to Kyiv was, ‘no negotiations are possible’.
For all these reasons and many more, Stop the War has called protests this Saturday with CND and as a part of an International Day of Action against the war in Ukraine, against the Russian invasion and also against the role of NATO.
The action is timed to coincide with protests and conferences in Spain against the NATO summit to be held in Madrid next week.
The protest in London will run from 2pm to 3.30pm on Saturday, it takes place outside the Ministry of Defence and Downing Street, and will be addressed by a range of experts and activists including Mohammed Asif from the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, Kate Hudson from CND, Andrew Murray and Lindsey German from Stop the War and Alex Gordon, President of the RMT.
We are also pleased that protest singer Sean Taylor will be heading back from his appearance at Glastonbury to perform.
As the war in Ukraine grinds on, the risks of escalation increase. Join us and take a stand against this madness.
- Full details of Stop the War’s London protest and all national actions in the day of emergency can be found here.
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