Protesters against the NATO summit will put forward a different vision for society.
FIFTY HEADS of state are on their way to Chicago for the May 20-21 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The world’s most powerful military alliance will meet behind barricades and swarms of riot police and National Guard troops to discuss their strategies for continuing and extending the West’s military domination of the world.
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters will march in dissent–though menaced by riot police, sound cannons and other obstacles designed to hamper their First Amendment right to free speech and assembly. For months, the city of Chicago has stoked fears of “a special breed of protester” hell-bent on mayhem and violence. News reports have been filled with warnings that “regular people” who work in downtown office buildings should avoid business attire so that they don’t become targets of protesters’ anger.
But the reality is that the “regular people” of all types are the ones who will be marching. Among the many groups planning to join the permitted mass march on May 20 are teachers, transit workers, students, nurses, religious leaders, Occupy activists, community groups, immigrant rights groups and environmentalists.
The people in Chicago this coming weekend who really ought to be feared are the NATO leaders themselves–especially if your origins are in the Middle East. Among them are war criminals responsible for civilian deaths, torture and the use of chemical weapons, such as white phosphorous in Afghanistan. Unlike the protesters, the war-makers who will gather at the summit have at their disposal the most lethal and sophisticated means of destruction on earth–and they aren’t afraid to use them.
NATO leaders will congratulate themselves on their commitment to “peace” and “security,” but the truth is that they are preparing for new and aggressive campaigns to dominate whole regions of the world. They will herald the end of NATO’s decade-long war in Afghanistan, even as they sign agreements to allow the U.S. and other NATO countries to keep tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan for a dozen more years.
NATO insists such measures are necessary to ensure “our security.” But they never talk about how their idea of security rests on people dying under drone assaults, massacres and bombing runs. Or how the massive burden of military spending requires deep cuts in social services that imperil the lives of countless people in NATO countries like the U.S. and around the world.
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THE U.S. national security apparatus is mobilizing astonishing numbers of police for the NATO summit–and creating an atmosphere of fear meant to permeate the city of Chicago.
“Police officers from Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; will assist the Chicago Police Department in handling thousands of protesters expected to descend on Chicago for this weekend’s NATO summit,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
More than 500 National Guard troops will be activated alongside 3,100 Chicago police assigned to NATO security and 700 Illinois state troopers. The total number of armed personnel in Chicago this weekend could top 5,000.
The cost of the summit is officially estimated at $55 million, but the actual costs of hosting such summits usually exceed the projections. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has attempted to mute criticism of the outlandish expense of hosting the summit by insisting that it won’t cost taxpayers because city officials are appealing to “corporate citizens” to cover the costs through donations.