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      First International Conference Against U.S./NATO
      Military Bases – Dublin, Ireland

      By Alison Bodine

      The New Era of War & Occupation

      In 2017, 2.9 million people became refugees – this is only one of the devastating reminders that the world today is characterized by wars and occupations led by the United States government and their allies. Over 68 million people have been displaced due to the killings, chaos and sheer destruction imposed by the U.S. war machine. From Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen, to continuous intervention in Africa and Latin America, and threats and sanctions against North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, there is no corner of the globe that the United States and their allies have left out of their deadly targets.

      This is the new era of war and occupation, which began in 2001, with the U.S./NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) invasion of Afghanistan and continues through today as a continuous onslaught against poor, working and oppressed people both at home and abroad. Three U.S. Presidents have overseen this bloodshed brought down on people around the world: George W, Bush, Barack Obama and now, Donald Trump.

      After over 17 years of occupation by the US/NATO, 2018 is already the deadliest year for civilians in Afghanistan. In Iraq, over 1 million people have been killed since the 2003 U.S./U.K. invasion. In Libya, which was subjected to a non-stop U.S./NATO bombing campaign, the country is not only in chaos, human slavery has once again reared its ugly head. For more than six years, the people of Syria have been fighting against U.S. intervention, and imperialist support for so-called rebels that have attempted to tear the country, and the social fabric of Syria apart. Over half of the population of Syria has been displaced, either within or outside of the country. The people of Yemen are being murdered and starved by continuous bombing and a blockade carried out by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition – making Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

      The new era of war and occupation has also brought with it increasing attacks on the human, democratic and civil rights of people living in the United States. With the “Patriot Act” and its many subsequent manifestations, people in the U.S. are subject to violations of their basic rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Police and the military are increasingly unleashed against poor, working and oppressed people who are fighting for their human rights and dignity. Racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia are being promoted by the U.S. government to divide people - not only within the U.S., but also to convince people in the U.S. that people they are killing in the Middle East and Africa are not their brothers and sisters, but their enemies. The so-called “War on Terror” has cost the U.S. more than $2.9 trillion (Stimson Study Group On Counterterrorism Spending 2002-2017), which could have been spent on providing people in the U.S. with housing, healthcare and education.

      U.S./NATO Military Bases Facilitate Death & Destruction

      How are the U.S. government and their allies able to carve such a devastating path throughout the globe? To start with, the U.S. military admits to having 4,800 defence sites in 160 countries around the world (U.S. Department of Defense). By various estimates, this amounts to between 800-1,000 military bases which are spread out over all seven continents.

      There are 450,000 U.S. soldiers deployed to these bases, spread out over a globe that the U.S. has divided into six different sectors. Each sector has a command centre that controls their operations: SOUTHCOM (Latin America), AFRICOM (Africa), INDPACOM (India, East Asia and Pacific), CENTCOM (Central and West Asia, the Middle East), EUCOM (Europe), NORTHCOM (North America).

      The NATO military alliance is also aggressively strengthening its presence in coordination with U.S. imperialist expansion. NATO has 29 member-states, with formal agreements with another 42 countries through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), and Global Partners initiatives.

      NATO and U.S. military bases combined form a strategic network of deadly military might that wages wars, occupations and provocations across the globe. The alignment of these bases and operations clearly demonstrates the countries that are of most concern to the U.S. government and their designs for global hegemony – take a look at the maps of bases that surround Iran, Russia, China and Korea.

      The First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Military Bases

      In response to the deepening of the capitalist financial and market crisis, the U.S. government and their imperial allies see no solution other than to gain control of new resources and people to exploit around the world. For this exploitation to be possible, the U.S.-led war machine must first pave the way.

      The new era of war and occupation continues to spread its tentacles, and with this expansion also comes the increasing resistance of people around the world to U.S./NATO wars, occupations and provocations. People from Afghanistan and Palestine to Venezuela, Iran and Korea continue to resist. Working, poor and oppressed people in imperialist countries have an increasing responsibility to fight against wars both at home and abroad. Politically and dynamically fighting against capitalist class at home is indeed the continuation of fighting against imperialist wars abroad.

      It is with this perspective that nearly 300 people from 35 countries gathered in Dublin, Ireland for the First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Military Bases from November 16-18, 2018. It was organized by the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, based in the United States, and the Peace and Neutrality Alliance in Ireland (PANA).

      The three days of the conference featured many prominent International antiwar activists and organizations, who shared their analysis, as well as their experiences in organizing against U.S./NATO military bases. This included plenary sessions focusing on: Militarism, Nuclear Weapons, and Military Bases; Environmental and Health Impact of Military Bases; Central and South America/Guantanamo; Asia Pacific / Pivot to Asia / Okinawa (Japan); The Middle East: US/NATO Plan; Europe/NATO Expansion; and Africa/Africom.

      Among other important presentations and discussions, the continuation of U.S. occupation of Guantanamo, Cuba was highlighted. Within the so-called “War on Terror”, the U.S. military has used Guantanamo Base as a torture prison. For almost 120 years, the U.S. has illegally occupied Guantanamo – and Cuba has been fighting for its return since the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959.

      U.S. and imperialist threats against Venezuela were also raised at the Conference, where it was established that the United States government has targeted the democratically elected government for “regime change.” U.S. threats have been heightened by the presence of the U.S. Southern Command, military exercises, and the recent inclusion of Colombia as a Global Partner of NATO.

      Vancouver’s Peace Coalition MAWO in Dublin

      Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) was the only antiwar organization from Canada that attended the First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Military Bases. Two members of the Executive Committee, MAWO Chair Alison Bodine and Azza Rojbi participated in the Conference and the important work of building a global campaign against U.S./NATO military bases.

      As a member of NATO and a close ally of the United States, the government of Canada is complicit in the new era of war and occupation. Their hands are also covered in the blood of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Ukraine and all countries where imperialism has carried out its deadly exploits.

      At the Conference, MAWO also joined with other organizations, in the beginning, to plan for a strong mobilization in response to the April 4, 2019 meeting of NATO that will be taking place in Washington, DC. As NATO meets marking its 70th anniversary, they will be faced with protests and other actions calling the organization out for what it is: a weapon of war and occupation unleashed against poor, working and oppressed people around the world.

      For more about the ongoing work of MAWO and to get involved, visit www.mawovancouver.org

      Build a Stronger and More United Movement Against U.S./NATO Military Bases!

      Dr. Aleida Guevara, a Cuban pediatrician and daughter of legendary revolutionary Che Guevara, opened the First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Military Bases with the important message:

      “We do not do enough in these types of gatherings, these are the first steps, but these are not enough. This action has to be multiplied; the information has to be spread to thousands and thousands of people, all together, we will be strong enough.

      We must all find this strength together. We need it. We need to have information. We need to have unity. In order to have unity, we need to have mutual respect among all of us. We need to have common goals. We have to leave behind the small differences between this or that organization and have common goals for our fight. That is the way we have to work.”

      It is with this perspective that peace-loving people around the world must work to build a stronger and more united global movement against U.S./NATO military bases. With thousands of military bases around the globe, the military cooperation of the U.S. and NATO knows no borders, and poor, working and oppressed people must also work to build a united movement across borders that can close all U.S./NATO military bases and stop the deadly imperialist war machine in its tracks.

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

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