Against growing public opposition in the US (new poll today from Quinnipiac University – 50% against, 44% in favor of continuing the war in Afghanistan), President Obama is in Lisbon, Portugal for the NATO Security Summit.
The news from the summit is pretty much all bad, as NATO continues to desperately seek to justify its existence. US/NATO forces intend to stay in Afghanistan for at least four more years, Obama said “missile defense” will cover all NATO members, and NATO will keep its (well really they are US) nuclear weapons (see the BBC News report).
Of course, Obama and his partners in war and militaristic folly will not have the last word on these disastrous policies.
The good news is the protests of our European peace movement colleagues, in Lisbon and in London, the former organized by sister peace groups from around Europe, the latter by our good friends Stop the War Coalition and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The Afghanistan-Pakistan war, missile defense, and nukes are even more unpopular in most NATO countries than here, and that will be evident in the streets today and tomorrow. Our good friend Joseph Gerson from American Friends Service Committee is in Lisbon, and reports “at least 151 nonviolent peace activists have been prevented from entering Portugal for a conference and nonviolent demonstraton against NATO, including its war in Afghanistan.”
There will be a fair amount of news and analysis coming from Lisbon which we’ll share in the next few days. Here is an excerpt from a statement about the NATO nuclear weapons issue put out by our colleagues at the Arms Control Association and British-American Security Information Council:
|(London/Berlin/Washington, D.C.) U.S. and European nuclear arms control and security experts criticized NATO’s new “Strategic Concept” as a conservative, backward-looking policy, a missed opportunity to reduce the number and role of the 200 forward-deployed U.S. tactical nuclear bombs and engage Russia in a dialogue on removing all tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.
“In an astonishing demonstration of weakness, NATO Heads of State have failed to tackle the Cold War legacy of the deployment of U.S. nuclear gravity bombs in Europe, threatening the credibility of NATO members’ claims to be interested in non-proliferation and global disarmament,” said Paul Ingram, executive director of the British American Security Information Council in London.
Under NATO’s long-standing “nuclear-sharing” arrangements some 150-200 forward-deployed U.S. tactical nuclear bombs are based in five European NATO countries-Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Originally deployed in the 1950s to counter a possible Soviet land invasion, U.S. military officials acknowledge that tactical nuclear weapons no longer serve any practical military or deterrence function not already addressed by other U.S. military assets including U.S. conventional forces and the United States’ 1,900 strategic nuclear weapons.
“The Strategic Concept fails to acknowledge that tactical nuclear bombs are not ‘credible’ weapons and are irrelevant for the defense of the alliance,” said Daryl G. Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association in Washington.