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IT’S TIME to “close down Nato and invest in peace, in jobs and in hope,” Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told marchers who rallied against the military alliance’s summit in Newport at the weekend.
He told thousands of people in the Welsh city’s historic Westgate Square that the cold-war era organisation should have “shut up shop, given up and gone away” when the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact dissolved in 1991.
Mr Corbyn pointed out that Nato has never been a defensive organisation, as it was set up six years before the Warsaw Pact.
And he derided the “spatchcock of a history” being fed to people in Britain about Nato, arguing that the 28-state alliance constantly reinvents itself to manufacture “new reasons for going to war.”
Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins said she took no pride in this week’s siting of the Nato summit in south Wales, calling it the “armed wing of the neoliberal economic consensus.”
She took issue with Welsh suggestions that economic benefits would flow to Wales because of the summit, citing “the massive disruption it will cause as well as its cost.”
Many local companies have already complained about the effect on their businesses, especially in central Cardiff where steel and concrete obstructions, together with closed roads, are playing havoc with normal life and confusing visitors.
Cardiff Council Deputy Lord Mayor Ali Ahmed told the rally: “We all know what is happening in Iraq, Gaza, Palestine, Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan. Who created all this? It’s us and America.”
While Mr Ahmed was not officially representing the council, it has associated itself with an alternative summit taking place this week.
Irish Senator David Cullinane of Sinn Fein said that Ireland was officially Nato-free, but, to the shame of successive Dublin governments, Shannon airport had been used as a staging post for US military forces flying to Afghanistan and Iraq, despite opposition from the majority of Irish people.
Nato had “no strategies to deal with hunger, poverty and injustice and as long as we have occupation and imperialism there will be resistance,” he declared.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament vice-president Bruce Kent said Nato was “stupid” to come to Wales.
“Wales has a long history of non-violence and peacemaking,” he said.
That spirit was evident from the welcome given by Newport residents to the 3,000 marchers.
Thumbs up, clenched fists and peace signs were offered to welcome the protesters for peace.
Some minority communities had clearly been intimidated from marching by the militarisation of policing, with steel fencing, concrete blocks, police at every roundabout and crossroad and constant helicopter surveillance.
Newport will hold an alternative summit today and tomorrow at Pill Mill in the city’s most economically deprived parish, Pillgwenlly.
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