Hundreds Attend London Meeting to Demand Freedom for Julian Assange

Global Research, December 02, 2019
World Socialist Web Site 30 November 2019

Hundreds packed the St Pancras New Church in Euston Thursday night for a meeting demanding freedom for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.

The largest meeting held in London to date reflects growing opposition to plans by the US government to extradite and imprison Assange for exposing war crimes, illegal mass surveillance and state corruption.

Headlined “Free the Truth,” speakers included UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, former UK ambassador Craig Murray and veteran investigative journalist John Pilger.

An accompanying art exhibition featured paintings, drawings and sculpture, while the meeting opened with a piano recital of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”—a favourite of Assange. The meeting was organised by academics Deepa Driver and Iain Munro, with the support of the Julian Assange Defence Committee.

Rap artist Lowkey began by quoting the words of jailed Chartist leader Ernest Jones:

“Because I tried to extend your liberties, mine were curtailed. Because I tried to rear the temple of freedom for you all, I was thrown into the cell of a felon’s jail… Because I tried to give voice to truth, I was condemned to silence.”

These words, Lowkey explained, were taken from an article by Karl Marx written in 1852 for the New York Herald Tribune. Marx was then a political refugee in London.

“Julian Assange is not being punished for anything he has done wrong. He is being punished for everything he has done right,” Lowkey said to applause. The brutal treatment of Assange was a “slow motion crucifixion… what they are trying to crucify is the truth.”

Condemning the mainstream media’s vilification of Assange, Lowkey said its journalists were just “stenographers.”

“Those who have joined in this demonization of Julian Assange are like turkeys voting for Christmas. How much profit did you generate off of Julian’s three million cables that WikiLeaks revealed?… Today Julian Assange, tomorrow you.”

Fidel Narvaez(image on the right), former Ecuadorian counsel at the Ecuadorian Embassy, said that Assange was “along with Chelsea Manning, the most important political prisoner in the world today.”

The allegations against Assange in Sweden had never been credible and the investigation had been “opened and shut more times than a fridge door.” Assange was being “denied the chance to adequately prepare his defence against the fiercest persecution of a journalist so far this century, which is a powerful reason to demand due process for Julian Assange.”

Narvaez said, “Julian’s case is also a precedent for the institution of political asylum, because he, along with Edward Snowden, was the most important political asylee in the world.” His treatment was an attack on a small country, Ecuador, by some of the most powerful nations in the world.

“Ecuador had every sovereign right to determine whether Julian Assange was being politically persecuted in 2012. In order to protect him from the odious persecution of a Grand Jury…that can open a secret investigation against you and indict you on secret charges that will only be revealed once you are arrested. That is what happened to Julian Assange this April.”

“This Grand Jury wants to sentence a journalist to 175 years in prison for publishing truthful information about war crimes,” he said. For years the world’s media had attacked the warnings made by Assange about the existence of a Grand Jury “as paranoia…an excuse to hide from Swedish justice.”

The United Nations had ruled that Assange was being subject to arbitrary detention and the UK should free him and provide compensation. Lenin Moreno’s government had “committed the crime of delivering a political refugee to those who persecuted him.” This had broken the “sacred principle of asylum.”

Lisa Longstaff (image on the left) from Women Against Rape addressed the meeting.

“The pursuit of Julian Assange is not about rape. It’s the US government weaponising and distorting rape in order to punish him for the WikiLeaks exposés of war crimes, rape and torture.”

“In 2010 and 2012, we pointed to the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange was being pursued. It’s unlike any other rape investigation we’ve seen anywhere… In his case the judicial process was corrupted from the beginning.”

“Evidence emerged that the UK ordered Sweden not to drop the case sooner,” Longstaff explained, “so it’s clearly politically motivated.”

Longstaff said,

“Rape and sexual allegations have been used to pursue a political agenda from the start, intent on actually hiding rape, hiding torture and hiding murder committed by the state. They are the rapists, they are the racists, they are the murderers.”

Professor Nils Melzer(image on the right) was given a prolonged standing ovation. He explained that his mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture was to report to states when their actions contravened international law. He had assumed that signatories to international law would “act in good faith.”

“In my investigation I found that this isn’t about the law…because if it was about the law, then Julian Assange would not be sitting in extradition detention, accused of espionage for having exposed serious misconduct on the part of states, including war crimes.”

Assange, he explained, would not have been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for a bail violation for seeking and receiving political asylum, or had his asylum terminated and his citizenship withdrawn by Ecuador without explanation, or been portrayed as a suspected rapist by Sweden for more than nine years with no charges ever brought.

He would have been granted the right to prepare his defence and would not be detained in a high security prison, “under oppressive conditions of isolation and surveillance” and facing extradition for a political offence in contravention of UK law, “to a country where he will be exposed to a politicised trial, with secret evidence, behind closed doors, facing draconian punishments that is unlawful under US law and the First Amendment and sentencing to a supermax prison for the rest of his life.”

Assange’s persecution, he stressed, “is about setting an example, about scaring other journalists away, of instilling fear, preventing others from following the example of Julian Assange and of WikiLeaks, and to show to the world what happens when you expose the misconduct of the power of a state.”

During his May 9 visit with Assange at Belmarsh Prison, he had “found typical evidence of someone who has been exposed to a prolonged period of psychological torture,” Melzer explained. “Psychological torture is not ‘torture lite.’ Psychological torture aims to wreck and destroy the person’s personality and identity…to make them break.”

“We were able during our medical examination to confirm that this ill treatment had already had neurological consequences. If that is not stopped, it can end up having irreversible consequences on the cardiovascular system and the neurological system. This is extremely serious… Today I am extremely concerned for his life.”

Melzer had written to the UK, Sweden, the US and Ecuador to present his conclusions and ask them to take urgent measures to alleviate the pressure on Julian Assange and protect his human rights. All refused to do so:

“If they no longer engage with the institutions that they have created to report their compliance with human rights, then I only see a very dark future for us and our human rights and for the rights of our children.”

Clinical psychologist Lissa Johnson(image on the left) spoke on behalf of more than 60 medical doctors who have issued an open letter calling for Assange’s urgent transfer from Belmarsh Prison to a tertiary care hospital:

“If the UK government fails to heed their advice there will be very serious consequences, including that Julian Assange may die in prison.”

Johnson cited the findings of medical experts led by Nils Melzer who examined Assange inside Belmarsh on May 9:

“Julian does show signs typical for someone exposed for a prolonged time to psychological torture… the doctors know that is very serious physically for Julian’s life and survival.”

Pointing to the public’s response to worldwide media coverage of the doctors’ open letter, she observed,

“There’s a lot more public support for Julian than the media’s censorship and antagonism toward him suggests.”

“While institutions are failing us, while authorities are failing us, while the courts are failing us, here’s a group of people who took a matter of weeks to get this letter together. I think that’s where the pressure and the change is going to come.”

Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray(image on the right), began his remarks by pointing to the meeting’s magnificent venue. At the rear of the church were monuments erected to honour those families—the Burnleys of Barbados, the Beale family of Canton, the Page family of Bombay—who gave funds to build the church and who were doubtless involved in the slavery and opium trade.

“This building is like the British Establishment itself—on the surface it is beautiful, solid and harmonious, but inside it is rotten and corrupt to the core,” he said.

“We are seeing illegality in the treatment of Julian Assange. The abuses of process by the British justice system throughout the last decade have been absolutely astonishing,” Murray recounted. “There is no legality, there is no justice.”

“It is not only that he is the victim of torture. It’s not only that his life is at stake. It is not only that we need to save him from this dreadful injustice. We also want to save him because the world needs Julian Assange as a symbol of resistance!”

Historian, author and journalistMark Curtis(image on the left) told the audience, “Julian has support all over the world.” He suggested actions that people could take to fight for Assange’s freedom, beginning with information available on the defend.wikileaks.org website. “Obviously there’s no point in relying on the establishment media, not unless you want to brainwash yourself.”

Curtis attacked the “propaganda tropes” employed by the media against Assange—that he is a “rapist,” a “Russian asset,” a “supporter of Trump”—singling out the Guardian’s November 2018 fabrication that Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort had met Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.

He called for mass pressure on human rights organisations to actively defend Assange, pointing to Amnesty International’s refusal to designate Assange a “prisoner of conscience.” He called on MPs to follow the lead of former Labour MP Chris Williamson who has campaigned publicly in Assange’s defence.

The audience gave a loud ovation for the twice-suspended Labour MP, who was present, and who quit the party this month after it refused to endorse him as candidate for Derby North. Curtis explained that just four MPs had signed an early day motion moved by Williamson in defence of Assange. (Neither Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn nor Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott signed that motion).

“These are the people who are meant to represent us and hold the executive to account. I know I’m confusing the UK with a democracy… In our system, which we clearly see in this case, the law has been stitched-up, the media is a platform for the elite and the political class is an appendage of the executive. That’s why we, as ordinary people, need to take action on these issues.”

He urged the audience to become involved in grassroots organisations such as the Julian Assange Defence Committee and to take part in events being organised in the weeks ahead, “culminating in a global day of protest in February when the extradition hearing will be held.”

The final speaker, Australian journalist John Pilger, told the audience he had visited Assange in Belmarsh Prison earlier that day. He described his visit with Julian and the draconian security regime inside the prison for visitors and inmates. A transcript of Pilger’s report is posted separately.

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NATO’s Militarization of Scandinavia: Time to Ring the Alarm Bells

NATO’s Militarization of Scandinavia: Time to Ring the Alarm Bells

Much has been said about NATO reinforcements in the Baltic States and Poland perceived in Moscow as provocative actions undermining security in Europe, while very little has been said about gradual but steady militarization of Scandinavia. The theme does not hit headlines and it is not in focus of public discourse but one step is taken after another to turn the region into a springboard for staging offensive actions against Russia.

Ørland in southern Norway is being expanded to become Norway’s main air force base hosting US-made F-35 Lightnings – the stealth aircraft to become the backbone of Norwegian air power. Norway has purchased 56 of such aircraft. F-35 is an offensive, not defensive, weapon. The nuclear capable platforms can strike deep into Russia’s territory.

Providing training to Norwegian pilots operating the planes carrying nuclear weapons, such as B61-12 glider warheads, constitutes a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968. Article I of the NPT prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons from NWS (nuclear weapons states) to other states: «Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices». Article II requires NNWS (non-nuclear weapons states) not to receive nuclear weapons: «Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transfer or whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices». How can Russia be sure that these aircraft don’t carry nuclear weapons when there is no agreement of any kind in place to verify compliance with the NPT?

Ørland is located near Værnes – the base that hosts 330 US Marines. In May, the base hosted the biennial NATO military exercise «Arctic Challenge Exercise 2017» to involve over 100 planes from 12 nations. It was the first time a US strategic bomber (B-52H) took part in the training event.

The choice of the base was carefully calculated to keep the planes away from the reach of Russian Iskander missiles (500 kilometres) but no location in Norway is beyond the operational range of Kalibr ship-based sea-to-shore missiles and aircraft armed with long-range air-to-surface missiles.

In June, Norway’s government announced that the decision was taken to extend the rotational US Marine Corps force stationed at Værnes through 2018. The move contradicts the tried-and-true Norwegian policy of not deploying foreign military bases in the country in times of peace.

Also in June, the United States, United Kingdom and Norway agreed in principle to create a trilateral coalition built around the P-8 maritime aircraft to include joint operations in the North Atlantic near the Russian Northern Fleet bases.

Norway is to contribute into NATO ballistic missile defense (BMD) system by integrating its Globus II/III radar in the Vardøya Island located near the Russian border just a few kilometers from the home base of strategic submarines and 5 Aegis-equipped Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates. The radar construction is underway. The Vardøya radar can distinguish real warheads from dummies. Another radar located in Svalbard (the Arctic) can also be used by US military for missile defense purposes.

The country’s ground forces are stationed in Lithuania as part of a NATO multinational force under German command.

Sweden, a close NATO ally, has been upgrading its military with a sharp hike in spending. Last December, the Swedish government told municipal authorities to prepare civil defense infrastructure and procedures for a possible war. The move was prompted by the country’s return to the Cold War-era ‘Total Defense Strategy’. In September, 2016, 150 troops were put on permanent service on the island of Gotland to «defend it from Russia». Sweden maintained a permanent military garrison on Gotland for hundreds of years until 2005.The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has ordered a review of 350 civilian bunkers on the island. The shelters are designed to protect people against the shock wave and radiation from a nuclear detonation, as well as chemical and biological weapons.

In March, Stockholm announced plans to reintroduce compulsory military service abandoned in 2010. The conscription will come into force on January 1, 2018.

Sweden said in June it wishes to join a British-led «Joint Expeditionary Force», making Swedish participation in a general European war all but inevitable.

This month, the Swedish military announced plans to conduct its largest joint military exercise with NATO in 20 years. Called Aurora 17, the training event is scheduled for September. The drills will take place across the entire country but focusing on the Mälardalen Valley, the areas around cities of Stockholm and Gothenberg and on the strategic island of Gotland. More than 19,000 Swedish troops will take part along with 1,435 soldiers from the US, 270 from Finland, 120 from France and between 40-60 each from Denmark, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia.

In June, Russian President Putin warned «If Sweden joins NATO this will affect our relations in a negative way because we will consider that the infrastructure of the military bloc now approaches us from the Swedish side».

All these facts and events summed together demonstrate that militarization of Scandinavia is progressing by leaps and bounds to undermine the security in Europe. No hue and cry is raised in the Russian media but the developments are closely watched by Moscow. Visiting Finland on July 27, President Putin said Russia was «keeping an eye on certain intensification in the movement of military aircraft, ships and troops. In order for us to avoid negative consequences, situations that no one wants, we need to maintain dialogue». He also stressed readiness for dialogue with neutral countries that border the Baltic Sea like Finland which is not part of the NATO military alliance.

The facts listed above show the situation is grave enough to top the agenda of the NATO-Russia Council. But it’s not the case as yet. Last year, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current President of Germany who was Foreign Minister at the time, slammed NATO for «saber-rattling and war cries» and provocative military activities in the proximity of Russia’s borders. He called for an arms control deal between the West and Russia. Fifteen other members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) joined Steinmeier’s initiative: France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

Actually, the initiative to relaunch the negotiation process does not belong to Germany. Russia’s proposal to discuss a new European security treaty was rejected by the West. The draft document was published in 2009. In March 2015, Russia expressed its readiness for negotiations concerning a new agreement regarding the control of conventional weapons in Europe.

Moscow has never rejected the idea of launching talks to address the problem. It does not reject it now. The NATO-Russia Council could make a contribution into launching discussions on the matter. It has not done so as yet. Actually, nothing is done to ease the tensions in Europe and the Scandinavian Peninsula in particular. Meanwhile, the situation is aggravating misunderstandings and whipping up tensions

 

Swedish Medical Association: White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos

Local Editor

Swedish Doctors for Human Rights [swedhr.org] analyzed videos, the rescue after an alleged attack by Syrian government forces. The doctors found that the videos were counterfeit, where even Arabic stage directions were overheard, and that the alleged “Rescue” in actuality is a murder.

 

Swedish Medical Association: White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos


On first analysis, it looked as though the doctors working on the child assumed he was already dead.

However, after broader investigation, our team ascertained that the boy was unconscious from an overdose of opiates. The video shows the child receiving injections in his chest, perhaps in the area of the heart and was eventually killed while a clearly fake adrenaline injection was administered.

This was a murder.

The doctors determined in its analysis:

• The video should be life-saving measures after a chemical attack with chlorine gas [now claimed to be Sarin-not possible], including injection of adrenaline via syringe with a long needle into the heart of an infant. In no way were treatments correctly given for any potential chemical agent.

• The handling and treatment of the child was done in a manner that was careless, dangerous and likely to cause serious harm.

• Most telling is the fake repeated shots of adrenalin, supposedly into the heart. The medical personnel, and I think we can safely call them actors at this point, failed to push the plunger on the needle. Thus, the contents of the syringe were never injected as is clearly visible in the video itself.

• The visible diagnosis by a team of actual medical experts, based on what is observed in the video, indicates that the child was suffering from an injection of opiates and was likely dying of an overdose. There is no evidence of any other agent, chemical or otherwise.

• None of the children in the videos showed any sign of being a victim of a chemical attack. From an earlier video by the White Helmets:

• It was clear that the faked injection with the long needle administered through the stitches murdered the child in the video. This was a purposeful killing staged to appear as medical treatment.

• Behind the fake translation of the videos, the actual Arabic included stage directions for positioning the child for the video, not for medical treatment.

This was followed by more macabre discoveries in the videos not seen initially in the article White Helmets Movie: Updated Evidence from Swedish Doctors Confirm Fake Life Saving Practices Injure Children.

The collective findings of the Swedish doctors [swedhr] with regard to the propaganda and fakery by al-Qaeda in Syria: (Al Nusra) are in line with the findings of leading German and International Scientists for Syria War.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

08-04-2017 | 12:02

Related Articles

60 Percent of Swedes View US as a Major Threat to World Peace

[ Ed. note – In a post I put up on Monday I wrote, “The US government’s unquenchable thirst for overturning other governments is the greatest threat to world peace today.” Apparently 60 percent of the people of Sweden agree with me. Below is a news story on a recent poll conducted in Sweden; the video above supplies an analysis on the conflict in Syria, but also mentions the poll. ]

RT

The number of Swedes who believe the US is one of the major threats to world peace and security has jumped to 60 percent, an annual poll has shown, with officials noting a 6 percentage points jump since last year.

The biggest changes in the way the Swedes see the world’s civil preparedness, security policy and defense have occurred in their attitude towards the United States, the recent poll carried out by the Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) suggests.

The MSB poll was conducted from December 9-14, after Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential elections in November.

“That is a significant change,” MSB general director Helena Lindberg said of the jump from 54 percent in 2015 to 60 percent in 2016, according to Swedish daily Sydsvenska.

Swedes generally (73 percent) express great concern and fear over the current situation in the world, as well as their future. However, nine out of 10 Swedes confirm that Sweden is still “a good country to live in.”

At the same time, 58 percent of people believe that Sweden is likely to see a terrorist attack in the next five years, a slight uptick of 1 percentage point higher than in 2015.

Despite that, the proportion of those who believe that Sweden in five years will be a better country to live in increased from 2015’s 13 percent to 18 percent, while the proportion of those who think that living conditions will be worse decreased from 54 percent to 42 percent.

A political threat from another country seems likely to occur by 47 percent of Swedes, while propaganda or false information spread by foreign states looks probable to 44 percent.

Swedes’ negative perception of Russia has relaxed a bit, with 77 percent calling Russia a threat to the world peace – 5 percentage points less than last year.

More than half of the people who took part in the poll welcomed Sweden’s participation in the EU’s foreign and security policy work, saying it promotes peace and security inside the country. Among the factors affecting peace and security negatively, 55 percent named the influx of asylum-seekers.

More than 1,000 people aged between 18 to 74 took part in the survey.

Sweden’s Housing Minister to Leave after Comments on ’Israel’

Local Editor

Sweden’s housing minister, Mehmet Kaplan, resigned Monday partly over comments he made seven years ago comparing “Israel’s” treatment of Palestinians to the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany, increasing pressure on an already unpopular government.

Sweden's Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan

The center-left coalition of the Social Democrats and Greens has been strained by an asylum crisis that has forced the government to reverse decades of generous refugee policies and is lagging the center-right opposition bloc in opinion polls.

“Mehmet Kaplan’s overall assessment of the situation is that he will not be able to act as a minister and I share that assessment,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of the Social Democrats told a news conference.

At the weekend, daily Svenska Dagbladet reported comments made by Kaplan in 2009, before he became a minister, when he said “”Israelis” treat Palestinians in a way that is very like that in which Jews were treated during Germany in the 1930s”.

Relations between Sweden and the “Israeli” entity hit rock bottom in 2014 when the Social Democrat-Green government recognized the Palestinian state.

Kaplan, who was born in Turkey, has also come under criticism for attending a dinner attended by a representative of an ultra-nationalist Turkish organization.

Kaplan told reporters he rejected “all forms of extremism whether they are nationalistic, religious or in any other form”.

His ministerial responsibilities will be shared out until the appointment of a new housing minister.

Both the Social Democrats and Greens have seen their support decline since the 2014 election, in large part due to the refugee crisis.

A Sifo poll commissioned by daily Svenska Dagbladet Saturday showed support for the Social Democrats at 27 percent and for the Greens at 6 percent, down from 31 percent and 7 percent respectively in the 2014 election.

The coalition is also at loggerheads over plans to sell state-owned utility Vattenfall’s German lignite coal operations.

The Green Party is a long-time opponent of coal power and wants the business shut down.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

19-04-2016 | 13:50

Spot the difference. Jewish attempts to create racial tensions between Muslims & Christians

Swedish child beaten by muslim immigrant for having blue eyes.

http://www.jewsnews.co.il/…/swedishchildbeaten-by-muslim-immigrant-for-h

22 Jan 2015Unbelievable: The 12-year-old boy in the Swedish city of Helsingborg was instructed of Arab immigrants so because he has blue eyes:

1

Unbelievable: The 12-year-old boy in the Swedish city of Helsingborg was instructed of Arab immigrants so because he has blue eyes:

Girl, 4, attacked by Rottweiler – BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/7337494.stm

  • Sophie Willis
    Sophie Willis was attacked by Kaizer the dog in her home

 

8 Apr 2008A four-year-old girl needed 20 stitches to her face after she was savaged by her father’s new dog. Sophie Willis was attacked by the Rottweiler,

Europe’s foreign policy being determined by the USA controlled NATO wild card

NATO and the Bananazation of Western Europe

By Joan Roelofs | CounterPunch | February 19, 2016

shutterstock_344966537

The wars of NATO are well-publicized but NATO as an institution remains in the shadows. Does NATO aspire to be a world government? Why did Western European countries join and why have they remained part of the alliance? It is not an egalitarian organization. The United States dominates every aspect of it. Are these supposedly social democratic countries really democracies, or are they banana republics? The traditional banana republic has democratic institutions, but is controlled by military and financial elites which are vassals of the United States.

Why NATO was formed is controversial. The official US justification was fear of an invasion by the Soviet Union to promote communism in Western Europe. There was never any evidence that this might happen, but then anything is possible.

There is evidence that other motives were more important. One was to facilitate the re-arming of Germany by embedding it in a larger military grouping. Western European countries were wary of an independent German military establishment. Another was the desire of pro-capitalist elites to prevent domestic socialist or communist electoral or revolutionary victories. This was much more of a threat than a Soviet invasion.

The founding treaty clearly states:

The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

The operative part is Article 5:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Members are not required to respond with military force; they can decide how far they want to go.

NATO, formed in 1949, now has twenty-eight full members: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

However, NATO is a vast empire with an expanding group of full members, plus networks, partnerships, associates, and guests. The Partnership for Peace includes: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Montenegro, Malta, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. These nations choose from a “menu” how far they want to go with NATO. Options include joint missions, combating terrorism, crisis response in the NATO Reaction Force (NRF), controlling mines and small arms, disaster rescue, war games, and scientific cooperation.

PfP members aspiring to full membership must have: weapons interoperability (e.g., Eastern Europe countries had to get rid of Russian and old Warsaw Pact arms in favor of Western ones), increase military spending to 2% of the GDP, purgepolitically unreliable” personnel from military, defense and security posts, train abroad in NATO military academies, host military exercises, and instruct the officer corps in English for joint overseas operations.

Other NATO associates are the Mediterranean Dialogue countries: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia; and the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates. Also, there are cooperating members: Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, Pakistan, Republic of Korea. New Zealand, Mongolia. Informally cooperating are Colombia, Honduras, and El Salvador.

NATO’s aggressive “out of area” operations, have been multilateral, with willing participation of NATO members. The official military operations have been in Bosnia (1992-1994), Serbia and Kosovo (1999-present), Afghanistan (2001-present), counter piracy off Somalia coast (2008-present), Libya (2011), Turkey defense (2012-present).

NATO created a global army; the war in Afghanistan was fought by the largest military coalition in history. Finnish and Swedish troops (not full members) have died there; their countries are considering joining NATO. The defeated countries of World War II, which had constitutional provisions and laws against offensive military activity, including sending troops abroad, were also there. Italy and Germany sent troops and Japan provided support services.

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said last December:

NATO is playing a key role in the fight against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) . . . All NATO allies are part of the coalition, the anti-ISIL coalition, and I think it’s of great importance for the coalition that both NATO allies but also many NATO partners are part of the coalition and they can take advantage of the interoperability that we have developed, our ability to work together which we have developed over many years through NATO military operations but also through NATO exercises. So the backbone of the forces in the coalition is provided by NATO and NATO partners.

NATO downplays its military nature and claims that it is simply the “premier organization of democratic nations.” This claim was part of the inducement for Eastern European countries to join. The new idea of both the US military and NATO is that security is no longer a territorial issue­–everything is relevant to it. Any policy of any nation anywhere in the world, concerning economics, human rights, the environment, secession movements, etc., may be a cause of terrorism or create an external threat that needs to be thwarted in advance, by NATO.

NATO is closely connected to military, political, scientific, and corporate elites. Europe now has a huge military-industrial complex. BAE Systems, the largest military firm, is British owned, and has factories in New Hampshire, US, and many other places. The major Italian arms manufacturer, Finmeccanica, and French, Thales, are heavily government supported. EADS is a conglomerate headquartered in the Netherlands, with main subsidiaries in France, Germany and Spain. The Netherlands has recently announced a purchase of 37 F-35 fighter planes; some part of it is made there. Sweden also has a significant very high tech military industry.

The European Union is closely enmeshed with NATO. During its formative period, the original nations sent NATO ambassadors to Paris, its early headquarters. They developed a pro-NATO view which often differed from their governments. Currently, the EU executive and NATO both have headquarters in Brussels.

When information came out about the secret “Gladio” armies, about the thousands of nuclear weapons formerly and some still in Europe, nuclear waste dumps, and testing and use of DU weapons, it became clear that crucial NATO activities are unknown not only to the ordinary citizen, but also to parliamentary representatives and even prime ministers if they are not part of the inner circle. Denmark’s constitution and laws ban nuclear weapons, but they were in Greenland. The complicity of 14 European governments (East and West) in recent renditions of “suspects” was also a surprise to citizens of the greatest democracies. Sweden, not a member (but now a partner), has been secretly aiding NATO since the beginning.

NATO is building a massive new headquarters suitable for a global empire. Among its diverse activities are grants for many types of science research. Ukraine is now a major grantee in its science program, where a multinational capacity for disaster response is being developed. The multinational telemedicine system can be used for both civilian and military applications.

Another project studies images and perceptions of NATO among the five Global Partners in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. “The project will conduct comprehensive comparative research of elite perceptions and media images of NATO as a global security actor to identify, measure, and raise global awareness, as well as extend knowledge of NATO in the region.”

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to a Turkish NATO funded researcher, Aziz Sancar, who studied the mechanism of DNA repair. Now that everything affects security, NATO sponsors research in women’s reproductive choices, sustainable development, leather tanning effluent toxicity, landscape architecture, and stained glass preservation. Many projects are conducted jointly by teams including NATO member and PfP nationals, facilitating the mentoring of initiates.

Economic, political, educational, and social activities give NATO a friendly face. Internships at its Brussels headquarters are offered to students of political science, international relations, security studies, economics, engineering, human resources, information technology, library science, aeronautics, and journalism. It gives grants to environmental and other organizations just like a philanthropic foundation. On the other hand, citizens who protest the “out of area” aggressions are often branded as extremists or simply ignored.

NATO training includes massive war games, in which all members and many partners participate. For example, in 2013, “Steadfast Jazz,” a live-fire exercise, included partners Ukraine, Finland, and Sweden.

A network of training institutions exists in Europe, and NATO members are also trained in US military colleges and our great universities. The Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany provides combat training, and links European forces with US National Guard units. The Marshall Center for Security Studies, also in Germany, features university-type military training, and like many of the war colleges, educates civilian leaders and potential leaders as well as military personnel.

Military training throughout the world is an important part of the US empire. The US Department of Defense/State Department joint report to Congress for 2014 states that 52,600 people from 155 nations were trained—but this does not include NATO members, Australia, Japan, or New Zealand, because they are not required for the report. All arms sales are accompanied by training.

The relationships acquired through training, conferences, seminars, and joint exercises are a source of considerable power, as these experiences help younger people to move up the ladder to civilian and military leadership in their countries.

Bases are also a source of influence. At one time there were more than 800 in Europe; now it is estimated that there are about 350. Originally, there were hundreds in Germany. Everywhere bases generate economic activity and also enable surveillance and influence, as explained in the fine study by Catherine Lutz, The Bases of Empire.

Why did Western European nations join and now remain in NATO?

There was the idea promoted that the Soviet Union was poised to invade Western Europe. Its dissemination was aided by close links among the CIA, FBI, and foreign intelligence agencies. The foreign press was complicit, and in addition, the CIA and private foundations created new publications, such as Encounter in London, and others in France, Italy, Germany and elsewhere. Conferences, such as those of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, were held to lure European intellectuals away from socialist and pacifist ideologies.

Christian Democratic parties—bulwarks against communism and prime advocates of the “Atlantic alliance”—suddenly sprang up in many countries. They had been small entities before World War II; now they became governing parties, with an especially strong hold in Italy. The massive CIA funding to defeat the Italian Communist Party is well documented; there is evidence that similar activities were in place elsewhere in Europe. The NATO countries in turn financed Christian Democratic parties throughout Latin America.

Occupied Italy and Germany eventually joined NATO; they were already under the influence. In addition, some in those countries regarded membership as a sign of their conversion and redemption: they were with the “democratic” West. Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey were fascist countries, so militarism and anti-communism were natural for them.

But why the social democratic countries?

There was fear that Germany might develop an independent military, so embedding any future German army in a US led coalition was reassuring. Besides, the economic costs of each country creating its own high tech military seemed daunting. The UN Charter, which outlawed war, did not forbid national armies or regional alliances. In addition, the officials in the defense ministries of otherwise progressive countries tended to be conservative and believers in armed preparedness. The NATO alliance appeared especially useful in controlling socialist and communist parties within their countries. Those parties generally opposed NATO so had to be countered on that ground alone.

Ongoing support for NATO had the help of the Bilderberg group. This conspiratorial elite first met in the Netherlands in 1954, and consists of the power elite and potential leaders of North America and Western Europe. The group was especially concerned with the threat of socialism or communism from whatever source and was strongly oriented toward the Atlantic alliance. No formal resolutions are made or policies adopted. It is assumed that the members will apply the sense of the meeting in their exalted positions.

Public opinion in war-torn and impoverished Europe was influenced by Marshall Plan aid, which warmed up attitudes toward the US. A spinoff of the loan program was the repayment in local currency. These funds enabled the US to covertly or sometimes overtly subsidize center and right-wing citizen organizations, political parties, and unions

One example is the Labour Party of Britain, which was a double threat. Clause 4 of its constitution called for nationalization of major industries, and its mainstream supported the post-war Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and opposed NATO. Secretly, the CIA lavishly funded and promoted a small conservative group in the party, organized around the Socialist Commentary journal. This group believed the Atlantic alliance was needed to forestall a Soviet invasion, and also held that given the “welfare state,” nationalization was no longer required. Those of this persuasion gradually moved into the party leadership.

Sweden, a neutral country and still not a full NATO member, nevertheless covertly collaborated with the US during World War II. It established a resistance army, to combat a possible Nazi invasion. This was a model for the secret “fall-back” armies which NATO later created throughout Western Europe, including in neutral Sweden and Switzerland.

Known as the “Gladio” project, the name of the Italian branch, they were presumably to offer resistance to a Soviet invasion. However, later government investigations, in Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland, found them complicit in domestic terrorism, political manipulations, and neo-Nazi activities. The existence of these armies was not known to the public, journalists, or most European politicians until after 1990.

Sweden cooperated with NATO all along, even though policies enacted during the administration of Prime Minister Olaf Palme forbade any war planning with NATO. The Swedish Security Service, military and intelligence agencies collaborated with the US, and their strong connections in the public broadcasting system gave them great influence over public opinion. Furthermore, the very important Swedish defense industry is intertwined with US military technology, and contrary to public policy, was sending weapons to the US for use in its war against Iraq. In 2009, war games “Loyal Arrow” were conducted by 10 countries in Northern Sweden, as a preliminary move to extend US and NATO military presence into Arctic regions—and confronting Russia in that area.

Norway would have preferred a Scandinavian alliance, but when this didn’t happen, it joined NATO, and this influenced Denmark and Iceland to follow. The (conservative) Icelandic Foreign Minister had been part of secret talks with the US regarding landing rights and hoped that a NATO installation would dampen the strong communist and socialist movements. Pressure was put on the reluctant public by suggesting that the Soviet fishing fleet near Iceland was really a military force that would occupy Iceland along with a “fifth column” of Icelandic socialists.

Denmark was reluctant to join NATO, but was persuaded. However, the public and even most political leaders were unaware of the plans for nuclear installations in Greenland that were part of secret agreements. These were illegal and unconstitutional in Denmark.

The French and Dutch joined, although there was much dissent. Under the leadership of DeGaulle, France opted out of the central command in 1966 and removed foreign occupation of military bases. However, it had its own nuclear armed military, and secret agreements to fight with NATO if trouble came. In 2009, France agreed to resume full membership.

The Dutch have been particularly unhappy about nuclear weapons, which are still present in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Turkey. Belgium was particularly hard hit economically by postwar developments, so the location of NATO headquarters in Brussels helped to cement attachment.

With the transformation and dissolution of the Soviet Union, many thought NATO was obsolete. However, the attacks of 9-11 created more enthusiasm. This was dampened by the invasion of Iraq (not an official NATO action) and Afghanistan, which invoked Article 5 on shaky grounds. Nevertheless, 50 nations participated in the Afghan attack, including, as mentioned previously, neutral Sweden and demilitarized Japan. More recent terrorism has revived support for NATO in Europe; France has drawn much closer.

Some believe that NATO’s activities and its very existence conflict with the spirit of the UN, while others maintain that NATO is an essential operating arm of UN collective security, with knowhow and extensive high-tech weaponry.

In the classical “banana republic,” the United States controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. Only now, there is resistance in the lands where bananas grow, while “social democratic,” “neutral,” and reputedly “pacifist” countries of Western Europe are slipping into bananazation. Ordinary citizens have strong anti-war feelings and continue protesting, yet the military, political, and corporate elites of Europe have increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex.

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