Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, July 08, 2016

Report From Anti-NATO Confab in Warsaw

By Dave Webb

Today in Warsaw, Poland was the first day of the No to War, No to NATO conference and demonstration to protest the NATO Summit being held here and suggest alternatives to militarism. I am here as a Global Network representative on the organising committee. Warsaw is a beautiful city which has been restored after being totally destroyed by Nazi troops during the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944. A post-war five-year reconstruction campaign by Warsaw citizens restored the churches, palaces and market-place of the Old Town. I walked through there with Pascal, Amela and Juliana - three great friends who are part of the impressive team from Berlin helping to organise the conference.

There was a large police presence in the city and key roads were closed all day in order that the delegates to the NATO Summit could speed along them in their fast chauffeur driven cars without being delayed by the presence of people. 

In Poland people are generally favourable to NATO as they believe (or have been told) that it will keep Russia away, and so we weren’t sure how many people might turn up. In the end it was a great success – around 150 people came with representatives from 15 countries.

The conference was opened by Reiner Braun and the first session invited a number of people to speak on “Why we are against Militarism”.   Speakers included myself and activists from the US, Belgium, France, Germany and Eastern Europe. It was only two days after the release of the Chilcot Report on the Iraq War in the UK and its damning indictment of Tony Blair and the British government – it was mentioned a number of times! Many alternatives to NATO were outlined and NATO’s aggressive and expansionist policies were widely condemned.

In the afternoon there were a series of workshops and I spoke at one on nuclear weapons, missile defence and space weapons. Other speakers were Jan Majicek from the Czech Republic who spoke on the development of missile defence in Eastern Europe and Lucas Wirl from Germany who spoke about the recent demonstration at the huge US military base at Ramstein in Germany – the HQ of US Air Forces Europe. On a rainy day in May around 5,000 people joined that demonstration and surrounded the base to protest its role in drone operations and HQ for US/NATO missile defence systems in Europe. Also in our workshop we had Ann Wright, former US Army Colonel and diplomat who resigned in protest at the Iraq War. She told us of her experiences in the Pacific region – on Jeju Island and Okinawa in particular. There were also a number of activists from Belgium who told us of the situation there regarding the US nuclear weapons they host for NATO.

I also told people about the GN’s work on the militarisation of space and of our up and coming meeting in India [November 18-20].

Then in the evening the closing session was a public meeting that featured a recorded message from Barbara Lee – the only person in the US Congress to vote against the Afghanistan War. Ann Wright joined the panel that included speakers from Poland, Russia, Spain and Germany. You can see details and pictures of today’s events are on the facebook page -

Tomorrow we have the march and demonstration and the final session of our conference is on Sunday morning.

All the best

~ Dave Webb is the board convener of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.  He lives in Leeds, England and chairs the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament


Blogger Jeffrey Hotchkiss said...

Question Barbara Lee being only member of Congress to vote against Iraq War; I believe there were a few senators also - including Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd who mounted a valiant filibuster; Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders as well.

Did you mean maybe "only member of the House"?

I can't remember exactly; I do remember emailing and calling my two senators from Maine at the time, both of whom shamefully went along with the Bush warmaking.

7/8/16, 11:48 PM  
Blogger Bruce K. Gagnon said...

Actually it was the Afghanistan war that Rep. Lee was the only one to oppose in Congress. I made the change to Dave's report. Thx for the tip.

7/9/16, 6:32 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey Hotchkiss said...

Oh, thanks, I couldn't remember if Bush had sought authorization before the first combat action in October 2001. But yes, she stood out back then, good courage there.

7/9/16, 7:33 AM  

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