• NATO Summit convenes in Chicago amid protests
• 66% of Americans now say ‘bring troops home’
By Mark Anderson
CHICAGO—Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) are preparing to converge here in Chicago on May 20 to protest North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) complicity in the lingering, deadly conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Group leaders are vowing “to ceremoniously return [their] medals to NATO generals” during the first-ever NATO summit held here.
“We were awarded these medals for serving in the ‘Global War on Terror,’ a war based on lies and failed policies,” the group added in a news bulletin. “This endless war has killed hundreds of thousands, stripped the humanity of all involved and drained our communities of trillions of dollars, diverting funds from schools, clinics, libraries and other public goods.”
Various human rights and anti-war organizations are also flocking to Chicago by the thousands. This is expected to bring them into direct conflict with city officials, who plan to close numerous local Metra train lines and streets in order to accommodate the well-heeled world leaders and NATO brass coming to town.
The IVAW calls on NATO to “immediately end the occupation of Afghanistan. . . . We wish to begin a process of justice and reconciliation with the people of Afghanistan and other affected nations, fellow service members, veterans and the American people.”
The NATO summit comes at a time when more and more people are voicing opposition to the decade-long Afghan war. A recent poll in the U.S. by Associated Press found that 66% of Americans believe it’s time to bring the troops home. In early May, the two leading dailies in Washington, D.C.—the liberal Washington Post and the conservative Washington Times—carried articles noting how once-supportive Afghan civilians, soldiers and police are increasingly defying U.S. occupiers and openly calling for the U.S. to get out of their country.
IVAW added: “The recent news that the G-8 summit, originally set to take place in Chicago . . . has been moved to Camp David shows that the world’s large economies fear the mass mobilization and collective organizing of the people of Chicago. NATO should also be advised that the world’s military superpowers, responsible for unjust wars, occupations, and militarism, are also not welcome in our hometown.”
Despite the fact that the G-8 and NATO summits “will now be held apart from each other, we know these two summits, and the interests they represent, are linked,” said IVAW. “War, austerity, poverty and economic exploitation by the 1% go hand in hand.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Listen to Mark’s weekly radio show and email him at email@example.com.