NATO COMING TO CHICAGO

Chicago will host the NATO Summit May 20-21, 2012, just days after the G8 summit scheduled for May 18-19 to be held at Camp David in Maryland.  It will be the first time NATO and G8 summits have ever been held jointly in the US, and the first time since 1977 that the two summits have been held in the same country.  This is a huge world event which has consequences and ramifications both locally and globally.

Who are G8 and NATO?
The G8, or Group of 8, is an elite global agenda-setting forum comprised of the top economies of the world:  United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and Russia.  These countries represent 15% of the world’s population and yet control 65% of the world’s economy. Centuries of slavery, wars, exploitation, racism, colonialism, repression of workers and other methods used to control resources and accumulate money have created the current global economic power imbalance.

The combined economic, military, and diplomatic power of these eight countries exerts tremendous influence on institutions of global governance.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the world’s most powerful military alliance.  Comprised of 28 countries, 6 of which are also part of G8, the military spending of NATO members amounts to 70% of the world’s “defense” spending.  G8 countries alone pay for 75% of NATO’s total operating budget.  G8 countries depend on military might to enforce their agenda, and often uses NATO to legitimize and carry out military action.

Why is AFSC concerned about NATO/G8 and their planned summits?

The G8 agenda and the impact of NATO military force have adversely impacted 99% of the global population and directly benefited the 1% of corporate and political elite.  The following policies are some examples of this impact:

Globalization
Many of the policies that the G8 pursues promote corporate globalization.  Essentially this means that workers around the world are pitted against each other to provide cheap labor under G8 policies and restrictions, while corporations are free to travel the world in search of the cheapest labor and the least regulations possible.  The role of NATO, as witnessed in today’s world, is one of enforcing these neo-liberal economics in strategic places throughout the world to benefit US and other NATO countries' corporate elite. Military intervention is followed by corporations from NATO and G8 countries securing contracts for oil, water, agribusiness, and the rebuilding of infrastructure, and extending the reach of globalization.  Thomas Friedman, New York Times journalist and proponent of globalization describes the relationship between NATO and G8 well:  “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist.  McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the US Air Force F-15.”  

Austerity
G8 countries have for many years favored “austerity” as a means to deal with high debt, unemployment or economic crises. This means that even though the economic crisis might have been created by lack of regulations and corporate misdeeds, the 99% must take the brunt of the corrective measures.  It means making sure that the government stops spending money on things like social services or job creation and focuses all of its resources on paying off debt.

Militarism
In 2007, the combined military spending of G8 countries was US $850 billion, or 72% of the world’s total military expenditures.  Seven of the G8 countries are the top nations for military expenditure in the world, and G8 countries control almost all of the world’s nuclear weapons.  G8 countries also account for around 85% of the global arms trade.

The impact of NATO military force has been felt in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Libya, with tens of thousands of civilians killed either directly by NATO troops or indirectly due to displacement, starvation, and lack of proper health care.  In Afghanistan, the NATO killing of civilians through air attacks and night raids, the practice of inhumane and indefinite detention, and disrespect of culture (e.g. the recent burning of the Qur'on by US soldiers) has fueled Taliban recruitment. The numbers have skyrocketed nearly 4 fold from 7,000 members in 2004 to approximately 20,000 currently, as anger and resentment builds in the Afghan population.

For more information about the summits, how to get involved, and AFSC events please contact Molly McQueen at (312)427-2533 or  mmqueen@afsc.org or visit http://afsc.org/story/nato-comes-chicago-get-involved for a lits of events and activities.

Read more about Chicago events and activities here.