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Forum Post: Why Protest NATO?

Posted 8 years ago on May 19, 2012, 4:52 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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Why Protest NATO?

Saturday, 19 May 2012 00:00 By Sam Jewler, Truthout | Op-Ed

Obama said on May 1, "the international community will express support" for a plan to keep soldiers in Afghanistan until 2024, the latest and most extreme in an almost yearly ritual of deadline retreat. The "international community"? Not so fast, President Obama. The polls say something much different.

The 2011 Pew Global Attitudes Project found that majorities or pluralities in 17 out of 22 countries surveyed want US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops drawn down from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Of the seven countries surveyed that are in NATO, majorities in six, including the United States, want out.

The German Marshall Fund of the United States found last year that only 37 percent of Americans now think it should be the role of this country to establish democracy abroad, down from 52 percent in 2005. Similar to the Pew survey, it also found that a plurality or majority in six of the seven countries sending the most troops to Afghanistan would prefer to have them all withdrawn.

Not surprisingly, Pew found that support for the war is especially low in Muslim countries, from 6 percent in Turkey to 11 percent in Egypt. What's telling though, is that it seems to be more a referendum on foreign intervention than on al-Qaeda itself. Favorability toward al-Qaeda among Muslims in the Arab world seems to have bottomed out, from a low of 2 percent in Turkey to a high of 21 percent in Egypt. The favorability of both al-Qaeda and NATO powers has hit rock-bottom in the Muslim world.

What people of the Muslim world object to, then, might be a coalition of Western powers bombarding a country like Afghanistan, whose military is outspent by the United States by about 900 to 1 - and the threat that their country might be next. They might also object to the very idea that bombs might deliver anything humanitarian, or that Westerners have something to teach Afghans in their own country. By 2000, for example, according to UN Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa, the Taliban had, "all but eliminated opium poppy cultivation across the Afghan territory under its control." Now, the UN estimates that Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world's opium, keeping some 15 million people addicted worldwide and killing 100,000 annually. Most of the opium money goes to drug lords, warlords and corrupt government officials, instead of to the impoverished farmers who produce it.

"The United States and NATO eight years ago occupied my country under the banner of women's rights and democracy," said Malalai Joya to journalist Chris Hedges in 2009. Joya was expelled from the Afghan parliament for denouncing its corruption. "But they have only pushed us from the frying pan into the fire. They put into power men who are photocopies of the Taliban."

In many ways, Afghanistan is worse off under NATO's Groundhog Day-like reign of terror than it was before. For more than five years now, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been pleading for an end to airstrikes, the searching of homes and civilian casualties. "The Afghan people understand that mistakes are made," he said in October 2007, "But five years on, six years on, definitely, very clearly, they cannot comprehend as to why there is still a need for air power." Since the time he made that statement, civilian death tolls have risen each consecutive year, for a total of almost 12,000 since 2007.

Civilian deaths have become a hallmark of NATO interventions, in which forces rely on so-called precise aerial campaigns so as not to risk their own soldiers' lives. Even in the Balkans, NATO's first and signature so-called "humanitarian war," it's estimated that there were thousands of civilian deaths and that tens of billions of dollars worth of damage was done.

"If ancient examples are any good," wrote Maria Todorova of NATO in "Imagining the Balkans," "perhaps the most evocative is the behavior of the deities in the Trojan war who followed their own game when tipping the scales without, however, ever pretending they were doing it for the sake of humankind. But they were deities, after all."

This article may not be republished without permission from Truthout.



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[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 8 years ago

3 Men Charged with Terror Conspiracy Ahead of NATO


CHICAGO (AP) — Three men arrested earlier this week when police raided a Chicago apartment were being held Saturday on terrorism conspiracy charges, accused of trying to make Molotov cocktails ahead of the NATO summit.

Their attorney, Sarah Gelsomino, said the men are "absolutely in shock and have no idea where these charges are coming from."

They were scheduled to be in court later Saturday for a bond hearing on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support for terrorism. Six others arrested Wednesday in the South Side raid were released Friday without being charged. Among the items seized by federal authorities was beer-making equipment, Gelsomino said.

Chicago police Lt. Kenneth Stoppa declined to elaborate on the case beyond confirming the charges against the three who were still in custody.

Police identified the men being held as Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24. A police spokesman gave Betterly's hometown as Oakland Park, Mass., but no such town exists. There is an Oakland Park, Fla., that is near Fort Lauderdale. The three came to Chicago in late April to take part in May Day protests, said activist Bill Vassilakis, who said he let them stay in his apartment. He said Betterly was an industrial electrician and had volunteered to help wire service at The Plant, a former meatpacking facility that has been turned into a food incubator with the city's backing.

Vassilakis said he thought the charges were unwarranted. "All I can say about that is, if you knew Brent, you would find that to be the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard. He was the most stand-up guy that was staying with me. He and the other guys had done nothing but volunteer their time and energy," he said."

Authorities in Oakland Park, Fla., said Betterly and two other young men walked into a public high school last fall after a night of tequila drinking and took a swim in the pool, according to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

They stole fire extinguishers from three school buses, discharged one and smashed a cafeteria window with another. The vandalism caused about $2,000 in damage, the newspaper said. Betterly was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief.

Security has been high throughout the city in preparation for the summit, where delegations from about 60 countries will discuss the war in Afghanistan and European missile defense.

Elsewhere, Chicago was mostly quiet. Downtown streets were largely empty, though that is not unusual for a weekend. Security guards stood watch outside many downtown buildings. In places, the guards almost outnumbered pedestrians.

Outside the Chicago Board of Trade, a frequent target of Occupy protesters, a lone protester wore a sign about wasteful military spending.

Closer to the summit site, commuter rail service was halted for a short time so police could investigate a suspicious package on a train running beneath the convention center where diplomats will be meeting. Investigators determined there was no threat.

Among the pre-NATO protests planned for Saturday was a march on the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The bigger show will be on Sunday, the start of the two-day NATO summit, when thousands of protesters are expected to march 2½ miles from a band shell on Lake Michigan to the McCormick Place convention center, where delegates will be meeting.

On Friday, police on bicycles and foot tailed activists through the streets but ignored taunts and went out of their way to make as few arrests as possible. Protesters made a lot of noise and tried to evade police, but otherwise were relatively uneventful.

In all, police said there was a single arrest on a charge of aggravated battery of a police officer. Another man was briefly taken into custody, but he was released a short time later after being questioned by police, a department spokesman said.

Michael Olstewski, a recent music school graduate who came to Chicago from Atlanta, was one of hundreds of protesters who took to the streets Friday for a spontaneous march. He said he would not rule out provoking police to arrest him later "if I feel it's strategic and a powerful statement."

Associated Press writers Ryan Foley, Jason Keyser, Jim Suhr and Jeffrey McMurray contributed to this report.

[-] 1 points by toukarin (488) 8 years ago

"Obama said on May 1, "the international community will express support" for a plan to keep soldiers in Afghanistan until 2024, the latest and most extreme in an almost yearly ritual of deadline retreat. The "international community"? Not so fast, President Obama. The polls say something much different."

The troops are not going to be left in Afghanistan to protect Afghans are they? They just want Bagram, Kandahar and Shindand. Rest of the country can go to pot for all they care. except for the route through Pakistan... they probably want that back...

[-] 1 points by TrevorMnemonic (5827) 8 years ago

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not a benevolent organization. NATO is not about the North Atlantic and it's not about our collective defense.

NATO is a cost-sharing organization that finances aggressive military action. By hiding behind the claim that the organization provides for 'common defense,' NATO allows us to wage wars of choice under the guise of international peacekeeping. - Congressman Dennis Kucinich

NATO killed more people in Sirte and Tripoli than Gaddafi did in Misrata.

Bombs and sanctions are counterproductive when it hurts innocent civilians more than their tyrant leader. The rebels contained small groups of Al Qaeda members and Hezbollah terrorists. A NATO commander even admitted it to the Armed Services Committee.

NATO commander admits that "flickers" of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists among the Libyan rebels. This should officially classify them as "associated forces" under the NDAA of 2012. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtGe6zk52Cw

The NATO commander tries to play this off like it's nothing like the Bush administration tried to play off the massive number of civilian casualties in Iraq. Like the Obama administration tries to play off the civilian casualties in the drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

So it's no surprise to see video likes this pop up from the "rebels" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?

Does anyone remember when the government supported the Mujahideen and the Afghan Arabs in the Afghanistan...? Remember how terrible that turned out? It's the exact same thing that happened in Libya. Our government with NATO supported them only because they were an opposition to Gaddafi, not necessarily the good guys.

Why didn't they go after North Korea for their threats and their killing of people? Why didn't they go after China for their actions in Tibet.

It's all a power grab for oil. Iran is the prize in the center. Which is why Congress is preparing for war with Iran in 2013 in HR 4310 and Obama himself along with Romney have said a military option is not off their table for their 2012 presidency.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 8 years ago

Occupy Movement Wins Spate of Legal Battles, but Faces New Challenges Ahead as "NATO 3" Face Terrorism Charges

Saturday, 19 May 2012 10:16 By JA Myerson, Truthout | Report

Much of the recent news on the legal front has provided the Occupy movement with bursts of momentum. The first victory was the acquittal of Alexander Arbuckle, an NYU student arrested in January (ironically while completing a photojournalism project aimed at exploring the NYPD’s side of an Occupy Wall Street protest). Charged with disorderly conduct for standing in the middle of the street and blocking traffic, Arbuckle was vindicated by considerable photographic and video evidence showing that it was police, not protesters, blocking traffic. The protesters, including Arbuckle, are shown to have remained on the sidewalk.

Two days later, a similar ruling came down in favor of OWS protester Jessica Hall, who was arrested on November 17th at the intersection of William and Pine streets– the same day and location of my arrest. Like Arbuckle, Hall was accused of obstructing traffic, and like Arbuckle, Hall’s case was made for her by video documentation, including the NYPD’s own, showing that traffic was blocked by the police. “The police arrested people willy-nilly without any determination that they had actually committed the offenses that they were charged with,” one of Hall’s attorneys, Marty Stolar, told The Village Voice’s Nick Pinto. “That's what tends to criminalize protest activity.”

At the same time, Obama-appointed judge Katherine Forrest handed down what may be a landmark decision finding two controversial indefinite detention sections of the National Defense Authorization Act facially unconstitutional and serving injunctions against President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and others’ enforcement of the provisions. The decision surprised not only me, who watched some of the testimony in the courtroom, but also legal observers as keen as Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, who called the decision a “sweeping victory for the plaintiffs.”

“People have acknowledged that Occupy changed the conversation, said Andy Stepanian, a publicist handing press relations for the plaintiffs, “but now they’re actually changing law.” Stepanian called the grassroots protest organized through Occupy Wall Street working groups critical to the outcome of the trial, brought by, among others, OWS supporter Chris Hedges, Occupy London organizer Kai Wargalla and Alexa O’Brien of OWS-ally U.S. Day of Rage. Full disclosure: Truthout is mentioned in the judge’s decision for having uncovered documents admitted in the trial.

As encouraging as these developments are, an episode unfolding here in Chicago at the anti-NATO protests severely mitigates the momentum they provide. Three activists – Bryan Church, Jarred Chase, Brent Betterly – have been charged with “possession of incendiary or explosive device, conspiracy to commit terrorism & providing material support for terrorism,” which seems to mean “beer-making equipment”. The “NATO 3” were among nine activist abducted by police in a nighttime raid and disappeared for a number of hours. “We've called police officials at every level trying to find out where they were being held. We were denied any information at all about any people being arrested, let alone a raid happening last night. So essentially these people were disappeared for more than 12 hours until we could finally locate them,” said National Lawyers Guild spokesman Kris Hermes. Lawyers from the NLG met with the arrestees and reported that they were “low spirits, confused about why they were arrested and shackled at both their hands and feet at the meeting.”

The three activists charged with terrorism-related crimes had previously posted a video of Chicago Police intimidating and threatening them with physical violence while they searched the protesters’ vehicle. The Occupy Chicago Twitter feed commented, “Police are retaliating by charging these men with serious terrorism charges because they posted the video and it spread.” The activists’ NLG attorney Sarah Glesomino declared “Charging these people who are here to peacefully protest against NATO for terrorism when in reality the police have been terrorizing activists in Chicago is completely outrageous.” Jeff Smith, an Occupy Wall Street protester, told Truthout, “I fully expect them to put an OWS person in jail to try and scare people,” but added that this looked to him like “a bullshit charge.” Be that as it may, American laws regarding terrorism cases have grown to endow the government with considerable advantages in the decade since 9/11, posing a dark specter for Occupy Wall Street activists. Political prisoners, from anarchists in the late 19th Century to communists during the Red Scare to Black Panthers to a host of other dissident movements, are a staple of American history. Will we see Occupy’s first political prisoners in the coming weeks and months?

This article may not be republished without permission from Truthout.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 8 years ago

The NATO Raids and Arrests: This Is What Jail Solidarity Looks Like

Saturday, 19 May 2012 14:55 By Yana Kunichoff, Truthout | Report

Hours before their fellow arrestees were pinned with terrorism charges, and only a few hours after they were released from solitary confinement, some of the activist arrested in a Wednesday evening raid on a Chicago home were happy to be eating something that wasn't the baloney sandwichs offered in lock-up.

Daniel Murphy, Robert LaMorte, Daniel Annussek and Vic, who asked that she only be referred to by her first name, are sitting on the ground against the brick wall of a jail on Chicago's Westside. Both Daniels and Vic were released early Friday morning - LaMorte walked out of his holding cell later that day.

"Damn, they smell so bad. Give me some f-ing baloney," said Murphy, from New York City, holding up a chips and a container of hummus. Murphy has black hair, nearly shoulder-length, that he compulsively sweeps back with his hand, and grins continually. Vic, sitting next to him, wears a vest with a patch saying: "2012 Candidate: Nobody" and a black bandana with red cherries on it. The group is friendly, but a little apprehensive: anyone that approaches them with a camera or a notepad is asked who they are documenting for.

Robert LaMorte is skinny, blond and wears a camouflage jacket, with a German flag arm band. He says that unlike the other activists who were picked up by the Chicago Police Department when they raided a home in the Bridgeport neighborhood, he was going to the convenience story when police arrested him.

Other Occupiers milled, sitting on the ground in small groups at the jail. Only blocks away were scores of foreclosed homes, and the flood lights from news cameras parked across the street trained on the rag-tag groups gathering to support the three activists still detained gave the place an unearthly glow for 10 at night. Altogether, nine people were arrested in the raid and let out in groups of 2 and 3. On Saturday, three activists - Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly - being called the "NATO 3," are being charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism, and possession of an explosive incendiary device.

But the atmosphere on Friday evening, before the charges were announced, was one of palpable relief. The group discussed the raid on Wednesday evening with some disbelief. "They kicked in the door with gun drawn, over 2 dozen of them," said Vic.

Murphy laughed, remembering that they were getting ready for bed when the raid happened: "Don't you dare cuddle up together, we'll get your ass in jail."

Then the activists say they were moved into the organized crime division of a jail, and soon after into solitary confinement, where they say they spent 18 hours.

"The moment we got there, we were put into solitary. We were yelling to each other, trying to keep morale up," said Vic, who says she was shackled to a bench by both a hand and a leg. "I was like a f-ing ape in their, jumping up and down."

She also says they endured taunts from the officers - "calling us junkies, calling us terrorists" - and that even using the bathroom was humiliating as the door was held open by a female officer, but there were male officers just down the hall as well.

Annussek, who has been following the ping-pong of the conversation silently, said he "had to go to the bathroom in shackles. I felt like I was in Gitmo."

A press release from the National Lawyer's Guild said that when they met with the detained activists, "they were in low spirits, confused about why they were arrested and shackled at both their hands and feet at the meeting. No charges have been filed against them almost 24 hours after their arrest and an Illinois States Attorney at the station refused to meet with the NLG lawyers." All 6 of the activists were released without charge.

"I didn't know what time of day it was," said Vic of her imprisonment. "That's what solitary confinement is for, it's torture." Then, LaMorte said that Friday evening: "they just opened the door and said - are you staying or leaving?"

And just like that, he was out in the balmy night air, on the other side of the wall. But still inside were the NATO 3, whose story was developing.

This article may not be republished without permission from Truthout.