Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on May 27, 2012


NATO heads of state met in Chicago last week for the largest NATO summit in the organization’s 63 year history. At the top of the agenda was the NATO war in Afghanistan.   

Many groups opposed to NATO also gathered in Chicago for the Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice. They organized educational events, acts of non-violent civil disobedience and public protest, and a peace march from Madison Wisconsin to Chicago.

NATO represents itself as a purveyor of peace and stability. Nothing could be further from the truth. NATO is an aggressive military alliance which perpetrates violence across the entire globe in order to secure economic and strategic advantages for the United States and other NATO countries.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is a military alliance that today consists of 28 member states. It was established in 1949 on the initiative of the United States to contain the Soviet Union and ensure worldwide military and economic domination by the US-led capitalist west. Canada was one of the original 12 member states, along with the US and 10 western European countries.

At the time of NATO’s founding, the US had sole possession of nuclear weaponry and had dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Within months, the Soviet Union had the bomb, and the Cold War followed.  

In 1954, the Soviet Union, in an attempt to halt the escalating arms race in Europe, offered to join NATO. The offer was rejected. It was only after this rejection by NATO that, in 1955, the Soviet Union initiated the establishment of the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance subscribed to by eight Eastern Europe socialist states.

The 1990s saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact. But the dissolution of NATO did not follow.

Instead, at its 1999 Washington summit, NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept, reserving for itself the right to interfere in the internal affairs of any country. Since 1999, NATO has waged war on three continents: Southeast Europe (Yugoslavia), South Asia (Afghanistan), and North Africa (Libya). None of these countries is near the north Atlantic area. 


In June 1999, without the backing of the United Nations, NATO initiated an illegal bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, raining bombs down on that tiny country for 78 days. More than 500 of the bombs were carried by Canadian planes. The result was the destruction of road and rail networks, schools, petroleum facilities, and cultural monuments. As depleted uranium was used in the bombs, water ways and vast expanses of land were polluted, essentially forever.


In 2001, the US, assisted by Britain and Canada, invaded Afghanistan. The invasion violated international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. In 2003, NATO, at the request of the US, took over the military effort in Afghanistan. This war is now in its 11th year.  

At the Chicago summit, NATO leaders endorsed a partial withdrawal of troops by 2014, leaving behind about 16,000 US troops for training and special operations. Prime Minister Harper stated all Canadian forces would depart by 2014. He also pledged $110 million a year to pay for the training of Afghan forces.

Last year, 3,021 Afghan civilians died as a result of the war, a record high. Over 15,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001. 


On March 19 2011, a US-led coalition of western forces, including Canadian, began to bombard Libya with cruise missiles and air attacks. The declared goal of the bombardment was to enforce a UN Security Council resolution requiring the protection of civilians from government security forces.

Less than two weeks into the mission, it was handed over to NATO. Over the 7 months of the war, Canadian planes conducted 10% of NATO air strike missions.

According to Human Rights Watch, “NATO air strikes killed at least 72 civilians,” including 20 women and 24 children. Though it is obliged under international law to do so, NATO has refused to acknowledge these casualties or to investigate them.

Mere weeks after the death of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird travelled to Libya in the company of Canadian business leaders. The goal of this mission was to secure Canadian economic interests in Libya.

Earlier this month it was revealed that the Libyan mission cost Canada $350 million– 7-times what Defence Minister Peter Mackay said it would cost.


1.   An attack on one NATO member nation is considered an attack on all members.

2.   NATO has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of any country.

3.   NATO has the right to use nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis.


Each of these policies is at odds with the principles on which the United Nations was founded, including the principle of the establishment of international security collectively and exclusively through the UN, as well as the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states.  NATO’s position on nuclear weapons also counters the efforts made by the UN to bring about nuclear disarmament.

One of NATO’s main functions today is to allow the US, along with its allies, to circumvent the principles on which the United Nations was founded and to undermine its role as an international force for peace. 


  • NATO has armed forces in all six inhabited continents.
  • NATO has at its disposal two million troops.
  • NATO member states account for over 70% of world arms spending.
  • NATO insists on its right to employ nuclear weapons on a first strike basis.


NATO impacts Canadians directly and indirectly. Paying for NATO deprives Canadians of tax dollars required for public education, health care, child care, pensions, and affordable housing. Indirectly, it imposes a requirement to support the NATO doctrine of military intervention abroad that is bound to embroil Canada and its youth in even more costly and terrible wars.


Individual Canadians do not have a vote in NATO. But we do have a vote in Canada. Let your Member of Parliament know

We want Canada out of NATO now!


We want Canadian troops out of Afghanistan now!

Ray Boughen, Palliser: or 790-4646

Tom Lukiwski, Regina-Lumsden: or 790-4747

Ralph Goodale, Wascana: or 585-2202

Andrew Scheer, Regina Qu’Appelle: or 790-4727


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