by Joe Lombardo, from UNACPeace.org, November 26. 2018
Many UNAC leaders and members participated in the First International Conference against US/NATO Military Bases, which was held on November 16-18 at Liberty Hall in Dublin, Ireland and attended by more than 300 activists from 35 countries. Around 60 people registered from the US.
The conference was organized by the Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases of which UNAC is a founding member. The campaign has been endorsed by over 700 organization internationally.
Liberty Hall in Dublin, where the conference was held, has an important history in Ireland. It was the location of the headquarters of the Irish Citizens Army, During the Easter rebellion, when the Irish fought against British Imperialism for their freedom. The British bombed Liberty Hall, which is in downtown Dublin. During the First World War, Liberty Hall raised a banner that read, “We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser, But Ireland.” Today it is owned by the main transport union and contains pictures and plaques of Irish revolutionary leaders like James Connolly, who also lived and organized workers in the US prior to the Easter rebellion. So, Liberty Hall was a fitting place for our conference.
A press communique adopted by the conference stated that people attended from all continents and included speakers from Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, United States, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Poland, United Kingdom, Ireland, Czech Republic, Israel, Palestine, Kenya, D.R. Congo, Japan, South Africa, Canada and Australia. Some delegates were unable to get visas to enter Ireland including people from Palestine and the Philippines.
Many participants were deeply involved in struggles in their own countries against US foreign military bases which bring death, destruction and health and environmental hazards in violation of their country’s sovereignty. Cuban leaders, including Dr. Aleida Guevara, daughter of Che Guevara, spoke about the violation of their country’sovereignty by the continued presence of the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, which is generally considered the first US foreign military base. Others described the huge protests against the building of yet another US base on Okinawa. These protests have included mass arrests and civil resistance, which has succeeded in stopping construction at times. AFRICOM, the US Africa command, which has greatly increased US military presence on the continent to help rob the African people of important resources, including those that are needed in the manufacture of electronics was another important theme of the conference. Wars in the Congo alone, inspired by imperialist intervention have been responsible for over 6 million deaths.
The US today is the main imperialist power in the world and responsible for around 1,000 foreign bases in about 172 countries. This is around 20 times the number of foreign military bases as all other countries in the world combined. The countries with the second and third highest number of foreign bases are Britain and France, 2 of the US’s NATO allies.
Besides the essential work of starting the building of an international movement against US/NATO foreign military bases this conference brought together antiwar leaders from around the world. It is only through an international movement that the antiwar movement can succeed, and this was probably the biggest such international antiwar meeting that has ever happened.
The conference supported 2 important events that can move our movement forward:
- We will support the global mass mobilizations being planned around NATO’s 70th anniversary Summit, which will take place in Washington DC on April 4, 2019. These actions will include a mass protest on the weekend before the summit, March 30, and other conferences and meeting leading up to April 4. It is especially important that this NATO meeting will take place on the anniversary of the murder on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. one year after his famous speech at Riverside Church at which he came out against the Vietnam War.
- We also expressed support for the Cuban people’s decades-long efforts to take back their territory at Guantanamo Bay and for their Sixth International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, which will take place on May 4-6, in Guantanamo, Cuba.
Rallies were also organized by conference participants in downtown Dublin and at Shannon airport which has been used by the US military for decades as a stopover for military aircraft including CIA rendition planes.
Videos of the conference can be found here: http://nousnatobases.org/.
Our host in Ireland, who did a great job organizing this historic event, was the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) of Ireland.
Other reports on the International Conference Against US/NATO Bases:
- Press Release: Press Communique of the First International Conference Against US NATO Foreign Military Bases
- Kevin and Margaret’s Report: Our Empire is Failing, Time to Change Course
- Black Alliance for Peace Report: Black Internationalist Demand Closure of Hundreds of US Military Bases
- Report On Militarism: The International Conference Against US/NATO Bases
Joe Lombardo is a Co-Coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and Delegate to the Troy Area Labor Council. A lifelong antiwar and social justice activist, he is a former staff person for the Vietnam-era National Peace Action Coalition and member of Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace