Friday, August 29, 2008

Tony Benn joins peace activists to protest NATO expansion
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Stop the War Coalition

Tony Benn, Lindsey German and Chris Nineham were joined by Brian Eno, David Gentleman and kate Hudson as they handed in a letter of protest to Downing Street condemning the expansion of NATO which has led to the war in Georgia.

The letter, reprinted below, highlighted the double standards of a government which invades countries across the world then accuses others of doing the same.

When Stop the War Coalition marched against the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, we said that the world would become a more dangerous place as other countries sought to use war to achieve political ends. There is a direct causal relationship between the Iraq war and the Georgian War, not least Georgia's 2,000 troops who learned their trade in Iraq.

If NATO expansion is allowed to continue unhindered, this will be seen not as an isolated incident but the beginning of a new cold war.


Dear Prime Minister,

We write to express our deep concern at the policy of the British government toward the recent war in Georgia.

Government policy must recognise that the military action of the Georgian government against South Ossetia was the trigger for Russian military action.

In addition, the government should grasp that the encouragement given to Georgia by the US and Britain to become part of NATO was seen by Georgia as a direct encouragement in its conflict with Russia. NATO's eastward expansion to include most of the countries in Russia's former sphere of influence was bound to lead to just such a conflict.

We are also concerned that the government's slavish repetition of the statements being made by the US government, even down to the repetition of exact phrases, risks re-running the errors that the Blair government made during the Iraq war.

Those making government statements seem unaware that echoing George Bush's denunciation of Russia for having "invaded a sovereign neighbouring state" can only further diminish the standing of those making them when they are widely seen as responsible for two such invasions - those of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The government needs to break decisively with the US-led aggressive expansion of NATO around Russia's borders. The end of the Cold War should have been an opportunity to inaugurate a peaceful era in international relations. But the US determination to exercise global hegemony through a series of military adventures, the expansion of NATO, the adoption of first strike and pre-emptive strike policies and the spread of US bases through the former Soviet central Asian republics has all but destroyed this prospect.

It should be the policy of the British government to revive this vision of peace. The first step is to break with the war-drive of the US state.

Yours sincerely

Tony Benn
Brian Eno
David Gentleman
Andrew Murray (STWC)
Kate Hudson(CND)
Lindsey German (STWC)
Billy Hayes (CWU)

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