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Unite against Nato expansion and war

This article is over 15 years, 8 months old
With conflict spreading across the globe, April’s protest in Strasbourg will be a key focus for the anti-war movement, writes Chris Nineham
Issue 2127

The European anti-war movement is calling for mass protests at next year’s Nato summit in Strasbourg, France, including an international demonstration and a counter-summit.

This is a key opportunity for the anti-war movement.

The reason is simple.

Nato has become the main vehicle for the imperial strategy of the US and its allies. And the timing is perfect – the mood for change that swept Barack Obama to office coincides with deep problems for the US’s imperial project.

Nato’s actions are destabilising much of Europe and Asia.

Nato controls the 47,000-strong “International Security Assistance Force” that fronts the disastrous occupation of Afghanistan.

Rather than accepting defeat in the face of growing opposition, Nato leaders are now contemplating a military “surge” in Afghanistan and more cross-border attacks in Pakistan.

The US’s two most senior military figures, General David Petraeus and Admiral Michael Mullen, are currently reviewing their Afghanistan strategy and planning on how to deal with “safe havens for terrorists” in Pakistan.


There have been 17 bloody incursions into Pakistan since the beginning of September. Western powers have given the Pakistani government a choice – crack down on the so-called “tribal areas” on the Afghan border or Nato may take the situation into its own hands.

The assumption is that the resistance in Afghanistan is growing because of these “terrorist bases” in Pakistan.

In fact the opposite is the case – the growing instability in Pakistan is a direct consequence of the brutal Nato occupation of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Nato’s plans for eastward expansion in Europe risks confrontation with Russia.

The day after Obama’s election, Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev announced he would move nuclear warheads to Kaliningrad on the border with Poland, and point them west.

He said this was to “neutralise” the so called “missile defence shield” that the US has been throwing up around Russia.

But it is also a sign of Russia’s defiance in the face of its war with Georgia in the summer and attempts by Nato to integrate Georgia and Ukraine into its orbit.

Though the US is still the most powerful country in the world, economic crisis and the fact that its armies are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan make challenges to US power more likely.

US military chiefs recently repeated calls for Nato countries to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Obama himself has said he wants to see more concerted action. But tensions are emerging in the Nato coalition.

Britain’s most senior soldier warned this week that Britain should not redeploy its troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

General Jock Stirrup told the BBC, “The British armed forces are stretched. It’s crucial we reduce the operational tempo for our armed forces.

“It cannot be just a one-for-one transfer from Iraq to Afghanistan.’’

The statement from the chief of defence staff is a signal to the US that Britain is not prepared to endlessly ramp up the number of troops.

We cannot be complacent, however, as the US is likely to use the Nato summit to pressure countries to contribute more troops.


The Strasbourg protests give us a chance to push for the changes that millions are looking for.

They can be a launchpad for a global campaign against the occupation of Afghanistan.

They can also force the warmongers onto the defensive.

Anyone who remembers Genoa in 2001 will know that huge international protests can have an electrifying effect on activists round the world.

Chris Nineham is an officer of the Stop the War Coalition. He writes here in a personal capacity

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