Anti-NATO meeting in Berlin, October 2009

Three women from the three networks involved in the Strasbourg events, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Women in Black (WiB) and WLOE, met again in Berlin during an international meeting to plan future action.

Cynthia Cockburn made a 5-minute presentation by on behalf of women’s networks to the Saturday afternoon plenary at the No-to-NATO activists’ conference in Berlin, 16-18 October 2009.
Download her 2 page statement here.

Cynthia Cockburn addresses international meeting.
Photo: wloe

Excerpts from what she told the approximately 60 people present:
..."Some of you may wonder why women want to organize as women. Why women’s actions and women’s workshops? Isn’t this being negative and divisive? Absolutely it is not!  We aren’t taking away from the movement, we are adding something that needs to be added.

"Feminists share other groups’ critique of NATO: it is a war-making machinery, it should have been disbanded long ago. NATO’s enlargement and the war in Afghanistan are completely wrong and must end. We also share the mainstream peace movement’s analysis of war. Yes, neoliberal global capitalism is a cause of war. Yes, racist nationalism is a cause of war.

"But – we add a dimension to this analysis. Totally intertwined with the power structures of capitalism and nationalism is a third controlling structure – entrenched, pervasive and international. It is patriarchy, the dominance of masculine values in society. It encourages hierarchy and combativeness. It despises care and conciliation. And in popular cultures it encourages violence in boys and men. To end militarism we have to address the violence of capitalism, of nationalism, and of patriarchy. It doesn’t make sense to separate them..."

Workshop on feminist anti-militarism
A group of women met on Sunday, October 18. Ursula Gelis presented a summary of the discussion to the plenary. An excerpt:

"Our specific aim in connection with No-to-NATO is to make NATO and the militarization of Europe more visible to women and their effects on women better understood. Many of the groups in our networks are already active on issues connected to NATO - for instance against the war in Afghanistan, nuclear weapons sites, and against military bases. Now we want to create communication and coordination between and among us so as to link these local perceptions and local actions within a broader perspective that addresses NATO as a military structure"...
Download her one page statement here.

Ursula Gelis and Dr. Henry Stahl (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) demonstrated at the US base at Büchel, in the German Eifel, summer 2008. It is assumed that some 20 US nuclear weapons are stored there.


From Women in Black London

Women in Black London question war in Afghanistan

In September 2009, as the 8th anniversary of the start of the war on Afghanistan approached, activists from the English Women in Black group in London, wrote letters to three 'decision-makers' about their opposition to and concerns about the war in Afghanistan. We offer them here, in downloadable pdf format, with a short excerpt from each letter:

Letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

..."We would very much appreciate your help therefore in clarifying the justification for the partnership with NATO that the United Nations has signed up to under your leadership, and for the activation of that partnership in a deadly eight-year war in Afghanistan, so that we can be in a better position to inform our members and those of the public that engage with Women in Black in the course of our weekly vigils.."

Letter to NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen

..."From a reading of the NATO website, we understand the following facts. Soon after the attack of 11 September 2001 on targets in the USA by unknown assailants, the USA, partnered by the UK, launched Operation Enduring Freedom, an attack on the territory of Afghanistan, with the aim of finding and destroying the command of al-Qaeda, a group suspected of the attack.

"The United Nations Security Council subsequently authorized the despatch of an International Security Assistance Force to Afghanistan, with the role of assisting the Afghan government in establishing a secure and stable environment around the capital city, Kabul. Yet we understand, from the NATO website, that ISAF is not a UN force as such, but a ‘coalition of the willing…which has a peace-enforcement mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter’..."

Letter to UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband

..."The key questions we would welcome your help with are:

  • What is the UK Government hoping to achieve by military intervention in Afghanistan – what are the criteria for success for the engagement?
  • How long is the British operation in Afghanistan intended to last?
  • Are all British troops in Afghanistan part of the UN mandated NATO force?..."

Torino, Italy: “No NATO” Meeting

Italian Women in Black met in Torino, May 31 / June 1, 2009

Report on the meeting attended by Donne in Nero (Women in Black) from the cities of Alba, Napoli, Padova, Torino, Udine and Verona
Read the report in pdf format (3 pages)

"We titled our meeting “No NATO”, but we actually used NATO and the Strasbourg events of 3-5 April 2009 as a prompt to stimulate a wider-ranging discussion on related themes...

"We felt that the content and the feminist perspective of this document (the feminist case against NATO in 4 points - ed.) are very important - but that they need to be deepened. It seems to us that it set out in an orderly way what we already knew. Now we need to detail the links between different points, and clarify the general framework of which they are part…

"Being present in Strasbourg was important: we got to know women and networks who brought different stories, some of them not known to us in Italy previously. We were confirmed in our idea that is very useful to think and discuss things among women, and then to propose our analysis for a debate. And even if 50 women from 6 countries are not after all so very many – nonetheless we can at least begin a process of a collective reasoning from a feminist perspective…

"Our women’s movement now is fragmented, relations are not close. The feminist generation has disappeared, and the new generation seems uninterested in thinking only as and among women. And, maybe with good reason, the young women don’t like to learn lessons from their mothers. So we need a lot of time and effort to restart our common work, and even more to make the relations lasting…

"It is difficult to talk about NATO and militarization. We need a simple language to explain that these are not distant questions, that they really concern all of us. We need to deepen our knowledge, share perspectives and experiences - because often we’re invited to participate and speak on these themes in various situations…

"We think interventions for peace education in schools at the different levels of education are valuable. It is worth cultivating what relations we can with local educational institutions, aiming to create, together with responsive teachers, a process rather than a single event…

"At a European level, we are interested, if possible, to continue the thinking process with other women (WiB, but not only WiB).

"How can we continue our work? Our goal as WiB is: to get away from a perspective grounded in arms and war…"