Minneapolis, MN – On January 16, about 40 people heard from local organizers who travelled to Ireland for the First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Foreign Military Bases, which took place November 16-18, 2018. Nearly 300 participants from over 35 countries attended the conference, calling for the closure of the nearly 1000 U.S./NATO military bases throughout the world.
The official communiqué adopted by participants at the conference stated: “NATO states’ military bases are the military expression of imperialist intervention in the lives of sovereign countries on behalf of the dominant, financial, political, and military interests, for the control of energy resources, transport roads, markets and spheres of influence, in clear violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.”
The all-woman Minnesota delegation to the conference included Sarah Martin, Carol Walker, and Sue Ann Martinson, all of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), as well as Rhea Smykalski of the Anti-War Committee.
Special attention was called to the Guantanamo Bay U.S. base in Cuba; U.S. bases in Okinawa, Japan and in South Korea; the U.S. base at Ramstein, Germany; bases in Serbia; old and new U.S./NATO bases in Greece and Cyprus; the establishment of the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) with its military bases in Africa; the numerous NATO bases in Italy and Scandinavia; the Shannon airport in Ireland, which is used as a military base by U.S. and NATO; and the newly established bases by the United States, France and their allies on and around Syrian soil.
“The selection of Dublin and Liberty Hall for the conference was historically important and inspiring,” reported Sarah Martin of WAMM. “In their heroic liberation struggle against the English, the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin was pivotal. At that time, from Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the resistance, James Connolly issued a proclamation calling for the overthrow of the British occupation and an Ireland based on democracy, equality and neutrality.”
“However, the Irish government has betrayed this principle of neutrality,” Martin continued. “Beginning in 2003, Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland became a forward base for the war on Iraq as a transit point for soldiers and weapons. To this day, hundreds of U.S. soldiers pass through the airport every day – 6000 in 2017. Thanks to Wikileaks, the full extent of this shameful betrayal is known, including the use of the airport in renditions.”
Carol Walker of WAMM characterized the spread of U.S./NATO bases across the world as a continuation of U.S. policies since its westward expansion in the 19th century. “Ninety military bases, or forts, were used by the U.S. government to pursue domination and conquest of indigenous people,” she said. “So, we are on stolen land, as is all of the United States. And all these forts were very much ‘abroad’ at the time.”
Other attendees of the Dublin conference included Dr. Aleide Guevara, member of the Cuban National Assembly and daughter of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara; Aengus Ó Snodaigh, member of the Irish legislature and Sinn Féin defense spokesperson; Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize recipient; and Ajamu Baraka of the Black Alliance for Peace and 2016 Green Party candidate for vice president of the United States. The conference declared its support for the global mass mobilizations against NATO’s 70th anniversary summit set to take place on April 4 in Washington, D.C.
Sarah Martin of WAMM concluded: “No country, no peoples, no government, can claim to be able to make decisions totally in the interest of their people, with foreign troops on their soil representing interests antagonistic to those of their peoples.”
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