Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 49 Number 6, April 13, 2019 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

70th Anniversary of Formation of NATO

Stand of the People's Forces in Britain against NATO and for Peace

Demonstration aganist Trump in London, July 13th 2018

NATO was formed by the Anglo-US powers in 1949 under the post-war Labour government of Clement Attlee. The Attlee government immediately joined the US war to occupy Korea in June 1950. This was a very serious blow to the working class and people's aspirations striving against war and for their rights. The aim of NATO to break the alliance and friendship with the Soviet Union and unleash a new wave of wars was also the main deterrence to the working class and peoples to secure democracies that favoured them in their own countries. It was in these circumstances that the working class and people of Britain took up the work of the world peoples' movement to build the peace and oppose war.

Alongside efforts by the Soviet Government, communists from various countries took the lead in developing the Peace Movement. In the summer of 1948 a successful Conference of Intellectuals for Peace was held in Wroclaw, Poland. This was followed by an even larger Conference in Paris in April 1949, with a parallel Conference in Prague for those excluded by the French Government. These Conferences led directly to the foundation of the World Peace Council. The attitude of Attlee's Labour Government to these developments was made clear by a ban on Labour Party members associating with the WPC, on pain of expulsion.

A call for a Second World Peace Congress was enthusiastically taken up, and plans were made to hold the Congress in Sheffield in November 1950. At first the Labour government, despite pressure from the most reactionary forces, indicated it would not obstruct the Congress, citing "our ancient freedoms". In the event, however, in the few days before the Congress was to be held, every delegate of the slightest significance was denied a visa, or turned back at the port of entry where a visa was not necessary, but not before the security services had obtained every contact in Britain they could find. The Labour government meanwhile levelled a continual stream of invective against the Peace Congress, calling it "bogus" and "an instrument of the Politbureau". This calumny was levelled against the President of the World Peace Congress, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Professor of Nuclear Science at the Sorbonne, a communist, who had worked with Marie Curie and had married her daughter, with whom they were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for their work on radioactivity, a hero of the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation of Paris, whom President de Gaulle had appointed High Commissioner for Nuclear Science, in which capacity he oversaw the construction of the first nuclear reactor in France. Ilya Ehrenberg and Dimitri Shostakovich were also among those refused entry. The main Congress did not go ahead in Sheffield, but was moved and held successfully in Warsaw.

Demonstration against NATO, April 4 2019

British delegates also took part in the Third World Peace Congress was held in Vienna in December 1952. It was again an enormous meeting, with 1,859 delegates from 85 countries. Its programme at this time was to fight to ban nuclear weapons; to slash the various nation's war budgets; against the rearming of West Germany and Japan; for the development of East-West trade; against biological and chemical warfare; for military disarmament; for the national independence of the various countries against US domination; for the development of the UN as a genuine peace organisation instead of a US war alliance; and to end the Korean and Indo-China wars.

In July 1955 a Peace Manifesto was launched under the names of Albert Einstein and British philosopher Bertrand Russell, which came to be known as the "Russell-Einstein Manifesto"[1] and April 1958 saw the start of the annual mass Aldermaston March to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment to oppose Britain's nuclear weapons placed in the service of NATO.

In September 1981, the Welsh group "Women for Life on Earth" arrived on Greenham Common, Berkshire.[2] They marched from Cardiff with the intention of challenging, by debate, the decision to site 96 US Cruise nuclear missiles on the base. On arrival they delivered a letter to the Base Commander which among other things stated, "We fear for the future of all our children and for the future of the living world which is the basis of all life." When their request for a debate was ignored they set up a Peace Camp just outside the fence surrounding RAF Greenham Common Airbase. They took the authorities by surprise and set the tone for a most audacious and lengthy protest that lasted 19 years. Their protest and under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and USSR, the missiles were eventually flown back to the USA along with the USAF personnel in 1991/92.

In 1982, Margaret Thatcher's government used its NATO allies' particularly the US' to pursue its colonial interests in launching its war against Argentina over the disputed Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Demonstrations took place in London and other major cities demanding Britain's military withdrawal and for a negotiated settlement. This war cost hundreds of British and Argentinian lives.

The Lakenheath Action Group demonstration in 2013 at USAF Lakenheath in Suffolk against the 30 US nuclear weapons deployed at the base. At the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review in 2000, the nuclear weapons states, including the US and Britain, made an "unequivocal undertaking ... to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals". The disarmament has neither begun nor has a timetable been set.

In May 1999, thousands of people demonstrated in London and other cities against the Blair government over Britain's involvement in NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. At the time even the media was forced to admit that what it refers to as "public opinion" in Britain is firmly opposed to the bombing of a sovereign country and that this opposition is mounting and the The Times bluntly stated that "the war of public opinion is being lost". Although not known at the time, more than 100,000 people were killed as a result of the NATO action and destruction of the heavy bombing has not been overcome to this day. On May 8, 15,000 demonstrated in London and on May 11 there were protests opposite the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to express outrage at NATO's terrorist bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. The demonstrators demanded: Hands off China! Disband NATO! End the bombings now!

In 2001, thousands took to the streets in demonstrations in London and other cities to oppose the Blair government's involvement in the NATO countries' invasion and NATO's occupation of Afghanistan, which still continues to this date 17 years on. At that time thousands of people stepped up their efforts to put an end to this Anglo-US state terrorism, aggression and war against Afghanistan and its people. This upsurge in the anti-war movement led to the formation of people coalitions such as the Stop the War Coalition and led to the millions that demonstrated against the Anglo-US invasion and occupation of Iraq two years later in 2003. A war which followed the previous Anglo-US Gulf war against Iraq in 1990 followed by 13 years of the Anglo-US criminal bombing of Iraq and sanctions including medical sanctions against against the country.

In 2011, David Cameron's government used the excuse of the "Arab Spring" land led on the NATO bombing of Libya alongside the French government. Again thousands took to the streets to demonstrate to block the NATO warmongers, let the people decide and demand hands off the Middle East and North Africa. NATO's criminal bombardment of Libya carried out for six months, included thousands of military strikes, and resulted in great destruction and the deaths of thousands of men, women and children whilst the people in Britain demonstrated their opposition demanding that the British government and its NATO allies get out of Libya and that only the Libyan people can decide their future. Britain and its NATO allies had openly intervened in a civil war, which they assisted in instigating in breech of international law and the UN Charter. Death and destruction were brought to the Libyan Jamahiriya, a country that was formerly an important independent voice in the world, particularly in Africa, with its own system of direct democracy and an economy in which the country's massive mineral wealth was used not only for the benefit of its citizens but also for the benefit of others throughout the African continent.

2014 opposition to NATO summit in Wales

The US and Britain and their NATO allies then immediately made plans to interfere as they had done in Libya in Syria again on the side of the "rebels". However, the stand of the people to oppose Britain's involvement in the destruction of Syria and support for the millions of refugees created by this war has been a major factor in hamstringing NATO's ambition to destroy Syria as it had destroyed Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, especially when the Prime Minister David Cameron lost the vote in Parliament in August 2013 to get support for air strikes and put troops on the ground in Syria.

In 2014 thousands of people in Wales and throughout Britain and Ireland took part in opposition to the NATO summit in Wales at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. On Saturday, August 30, there was a mass demonstration and rally in Newport. This was followed by two counter-summits, and culminated with a march on Celtic Manor a protest outside the Cardiff Castle "banquet of death" of the world's ruling elite the same evening. Among other actions, protesters also opened a peace camp opposed to the summit at Newport's Tredegar Park.

Around 150 people took part in the counter-summits, easily matching the number of leaders taking part in the NATO summit. These were held on Sunday August 31 at Cardiff County Hall and then the second conference took place on Monday September 1 at the Newport Dolman Theatre. These alternative conferences condemned NATO as the greatest threat to world peace and had the aim of building the anti-war movement against NATO, war and militarisation and for planning future joint actions across Europe. For example, in a session on "Ukraine and the new cold war", John Rees representing the Stop the War Coalition said that what the government and their media outlets are trying to remove from the picture was the entire post-war expansion of NATO to the east. They were trying to focus on eliminating any memory of NATO's massive crimes over recent years and over the post-war times. He said that on the foundation of NATO in 1949 the first President of NATO, Lord Ismay, was the one who put the purpose, definition and function of that military alliance very clearly. Rees quoted Lord Ismay as saying that "the purpose of NATO was to keep the Russians out the Americans in and the Germans down".

The conferences exposed that today the US, along with its big power allies, are the biggest spenders on, and suppliers of armaments and weapons of mass destruction, which together dwarf any other industrialised state including Russia and China. Thus the conferences highlighted that it was the US and its big power allies along with their criminal military alliance of NATO that is behind the mayhem and destruction and war in every part of the globe, the cause of the most dangerous world situation to date.



[2] For further details on Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp see


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