INTERVIEW from: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/16/as_nato_meets_in_chicago_activists
BERNARDINE DOHRN:We’re deeply involved because NATO is a global secret cabal. It is the military arm of the global 1 percent. And really, I think NATO has become background to how we hear the news: "NATO forces, NATO bombings." And when you try to find out what NATO is, you realize that it is the largest global military alliance in human history and that its key elements are that it is about permanent war, it is about dirty war, it is about nuclear war, and it is about hot wars—really four of them right now. So we don’t really know what it is. They are secretive. And when I first went to look at a NATO website to see what it was, a dove floats across the screen on the first page of the official NATO website. By the end of the NATO website, it’s helicopters, fighter planes and drones. So, we, I think, are not made safer by NATO. It is secretive. And it is opposed to peace and to our future.
So, a wide array of Chicagoans have come together in a coalition, meeting really for nine months, to stand up and ask for peace, to really say, "We don’t need NATO. We need an end to the war in Afghanistan. We need a complete end to the war in Iraq. We need to rethink what just happened in Libya and what’s going on every day in Pakistan." So there’s an array of events happening, beginning with a National Nurses Association rally, a permitted rally on Friday. I think the support of unions and workers, the support of African-American activists in the city and Latino and immigrant groups, a wide array of women’s and activist groups and Occupy and students, and, in a way, most importantly, the Iraqi and Afghan vets against the war, who will be leading the big demonstration on Sunday when NATO opens its meeting here.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Bernadine Dohrn, what are the activists who are gathering in Chicago—what are they calling for NATO to do? How do they want the organization to become more accountable?
BERNARDINE DOHRN: Well, we think that NATO should be meeting, you know, in an underground bunker or on a remote island. The idea that NATO has been invited to Chicago to have the kind of war games that have been going on here for the last six months and now accelerated this week, so that we have restricted zones, and we have the shutdown of universities and colleges, the shutdown of businesses, the closings of the major museums here, it is being treated as really a practice military zone.
And we actually feel very strongly—I think the way Americans feel—that we want an end to these wars. These wars are hated by the American people. They don’t make us safer in any way. In fact, they jeopardize our safety. Bombing foreign countries, occupying other countries in the world does not make us safer. Killing civilians without any accountability makes people angry.
And so, our resources, this enormous amount of money and resources, and suddenly we don’t have money here for mental—community mental health clinics. We don’t have money for public libraries or for schools. We don’t have money for public transportation. But somehow we have the millions of dollars necessary, or the mayor accessed the money, to hold this event right here in the city of Chicago. So we want peace and not this wars—permanent wars abroad and military war games and national security state at home.
BILL AYERS: Yeah, we would like to see an end to NATO. And we would like to see—in every country, every member country of NATO, there’s a popular movement to ask its government to leave NATO. We want NATO disbanded. NATO is an instrument of war. And after 9/11, it transformed itself. I mean, its name is historical, you know, anomaly, but it’s the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But after 9/11, the Bush administration invoked Article 5, and it became the instrument of permanent war, pre-emptive war, and it really has no place in a free and peaceful and democratic world.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, then, Bill Ayers, let me get your comment on Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of NATO, on why NATO continued to exist after the end of the Cold War. He recently wrote, quote, "NATO needed no external reasons to exist. Yet history would provide them soon enough.
"In Bosnia and Kosovo, NATO intervened to stop massive human-rights violations. In Libya, we enforced a [United Nations] Security Council resolution to protect civilians. And in Afghanistan, we are denying a safe haven to extremists."
Again, those are the comments of the head of NATO; those are the comments of Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Bill Ayers, your response?
BILL AYERS: Yeah, I mean, the problem with all of those is that they’re rationales, and they’re self-affirming. They don’t have any transparency in the sense that people or governments can intervene and say, "No, this is wrong. We don’t want to be a part of that." In fact, I mean, Bernardine began by talking about these kind of four aspects: permanent war, dirty war, nuclear war/nuclear preparation, and then hot wars. What NATO does is it allows every government deniability. So the United States and every other country in NATO violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but they do it by saying, "It’s not us who are violating it, it’s NATO is doing it. It’s not U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe, it’s NATO bombs in Europe." Well, that’s just completely false. Afghanistan is a case in point: 90,000 American troops; the next largest force is Great Britain, 9,000. And that coalition is unraveling. The headlines in all the local papers are about the attempt of NATO to hold together through this summit. The election in France of the Socialist party gives new urgency to the fact that NATO is unraveling at the top. People are not in favor of these wars anywhere in the world. And in the United States, there’s only something like 27 percent of Americans support these wars, and yet the wars go on—a real crisis for democracy, a crisis for the peace movement.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back—
BERNARDINE DOHRN: I want to emphasize its secrecy, because this is a meeting that is not open—
AMY GOODMAN: Bernardine, we’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. We are joined by Bill Ayers, retired education professor at University of Illinois at Chicago, and Bernardine Dohrn, clinical professor at Northwestern Law School. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back with them in a moment, and we’ll also be speaking with a soldier who served in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003 who will be returning his medals at the NATO protests this weekend. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guests in Chicago, who are preparing for mass NATO protests this weekend ahead of the largest-ever NATO summit—it’s happening in Chicago starting on Sunday—our guests are Bill Ayers, retired education professor at University of Illinois, Chicago, author of many books, including Teaching Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom, as well as Fugitive Days: A Memoir — we are also joined by Bernardine Dohrn, clinical professor at Northwestern Law school, founded Northwestern’s Children and Family Justice Center. They are two veteran activists, well known for their activism in the 1960s, from SDS to the Weather Underground, deeply involved in the NATO protests this weekend.
Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch accused NATO of failing to properly investigate at least 72 civilian deaths in its bombing of Libya last year. In a new report, Human Rights Watch said seven out of the eight NATO bombing sites were found to lack clear military targets. Fred Abrahams authored the report.
FRED ABRAHAMS: We have questions that NATO has not yet answered, and we’re calling for prompt, credible and thorough investigations to understand why these 72 civilians died. And until now, NATO has taken a position of denial. They refuse to acknowledge that civilians died. They refuse to give information about how they died. And they refuse to investigate. And it’s this lack of transparency that’s deeply troubling. And I think it will lead to unnecessary civilian deaths in the future, if NATO refuses to look at what went wrong and make corrections.
AMY GOODMAN: As part of its investigation, Human Rights Watch interviewed survivors of the August 2011 bombing that killed 30 civilians east of the capital Tripoli.
ALI HAMID GAFEZ: [translated] Why did they bomb me? The NATO forces came to fight in order to protect civilians. Because Libya is under satellite surveillance, it’s right in front of them. They can see everything. So we wonder, how is it possible that they could have bombed us? How could they bomb us?