At a major protest today in Washington, groups such as the Fellowship for Reconciliation, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Global Resource Action, the Green Party and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation are calling for NATO to eliminate nuclear weapons from its arsenal. But so far, with its eyes on Kosovo, NATO plans no radical changes in nuclear doctrine. [includes rush transcript]
- Gordon Clark, Executive Director of Peace Action, and one of main organizers of today’s protests against militarism and NATO.
- Julianne Smith, Senior Analyst at British American Security Information, an organization that researches foreign policy.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: While NATO bombs continue to drop on Yugoslavia, yesterday smashing the studios of Serb television and killing and injuring a number of people, dozens of leaders from NATO countries and other supportive nations have descended on Washington to mark the Western Alliance’s fiftieth anniversary.
And peace activists from around the world have also arrived in the nation’s capital to protest against the continued air raids and to call for an end to nuclear weapons. With the arrival of forty-four heads of state, including leaders of nineteen NATO countries and twenty-five other nations, Washington, DC has turned into a huge high-security area, as the Secret Service, the FBI, all federal enforcement agencies working with the Special Operations division of the Washington Metropolitan Police, have taken over the city’s downtown for the next three days. A major protest planned today in Washington of peace groups calling for NATO to eliminate nuclear weapons from its arsenal.
AMY GOODMAN: We go now to people who are going to be protesting in Washington, DC. Despite what CNN and other news organizations say, that there is no peace movement today or protest, there are thousands expected around the world protesting the bombing on this fiftieth anniversary of NATO.
We’re joined right now in our Washington studio at Pacifica station WPFW by Gordon Clark, executive director of Peace Action.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Gordon.
GORDON CLARK: Thanks, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us very briefly what it is that you’re going to be calling for today?
GORDON CLARK: Well, it’s going to be two things, Amy. Originally, this protest, which was planned many months ago, is one demanding that NATO denuclearize its forces and, in the new strategic concept that they were supposed to be adopting, to drop the idea that nuclear weapons are, as they call it, the "supreme guarantee" of the security of NATO nations. And obviously, with no Soviet Union anymore, with no Warsaw Pact, with no enemy to defend against with nuclear weapons, it is time — it’s not only time to get rid of nuclear weapons around the world, but it’s certainly time for NATO to start with that process.
Now, however, since that was originally planned, of course, we now have the crisis in Kosovo, so we can certainly expect that the protest will take a very large tone of simply demand that NATO stop the bombing in Yugoslavia and that NATO get out of Yugoslavia and allow the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to come back in.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Julianne Smith, senior analyst at British American Security Information, which is an organization that researches foreign policy. What can you add to the reasons for why you’re protesting today, Julianne?
JULIANNE SMITH: Well, last night, Jamie Shea said NATO has nothing to be ashamed of and a lot to be proud of. I think that pretty much sums up what we’re trying to go head-to-head with. We don’t feel NATO has much to celebrate. It may have done its job as a defensive alliance during the past fifty years, but it certainly has no role interfering in the sovereign states’ actions within Yugoslavia, as we’re witnessing right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Julianne Smith and Gordon Clark in our studios in Washington, DC. Julianne, what does it look like in Washington for NATO’s fiftieth anniversary today?
JULIANNE SMITH: Well, despite the fact that NATO is currently conducting an air campaign in Yugoslavia, we still feel like the mood is relatively upbeat. I was surprised. Last night I was at a party for all the media. NATO did its best to try and persuade everyone that there was a lot to celebrate and be proud of, as I mentioned. There is certainly a somber mood that has cast over the summit, in general, but I think, overall, NATO is going to try to make a strong push to try and talk about the things that it’s achieved in the past ten years, since the end of the Cold War, and certainly what its plans are for, say, the next fifty years.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Gordon Clark, as we wrap up, I know you’re both headed out to the protest. Can you sum up for us, number one, if you’ve been called by any of the corporate media to be interviewed, and two, what it is that you would say if you were?
GORDON CLARK: Yeah, well, it’s a good question, Amy. And strangely enough, while the media doesn’t hesitate to report that there is no protest on this, the media has also essentially declined to call Peace Action and a number of other groups around the country, both national and local, who are actively conducting the protests. So it’s confusing as to whether, in fact, there’s not enough protest or just a refusal to cover that protest.
And certainly — and we’ve gotten a few calls in recently, but the main point here is that NATO has taken in Yugoslavia the absolute worst choice, that war is always the choice that inflames the worst elements in a society; that kills the most people, as this war is right now; it destroys the most; you know, that the results of this bombing campaign already, in the words of Kenneth Bacon, who’s the Pentagon spokesperson, you know, this war, this bombing campaign, has not stopped one single act of brutality on the ground in Kosovo. In fact, far from that, it has actually predicated the massive ethnic cleansing and the ethnically targeted — campaign of ethnically targeted violence from the Yugoslav army.
That is the result of this bombing campaign, and right now it is creating an utterly disastrous situation in Yugoslavia, with hundreds of thousands of refugees, for which no one is prepared. We are creating a nation of Serbians who will justifiably hate the US and NATO for what they’re doing to their country for decades to come, and we’re undermining any of the democratic opposition, the nonviolent resistors, who have been both in Serbia and in Kosovo for these many years and, of course, have gone completely unsupported by the US government or NATO. So, war is the wrong choice by a lot, and it’s creating a disastrous situation, which is going to take years, if not decades, to resolve in the Balkans.
AMY GOODMAN: Gordon Clark and Julianne Smith, your contact numbers or websites if people want to get in touch with your groups? Julianne Smith, British American Security Information.
JULIANNE SMITH: Our website is www.basicint.org.
GORDON CLARK: And at Peace Action, if people want to join with us in our twenty-seven state affiliates and a hundred local chapters around the country who are protesting this war, you can contact our website at www.peace-action.org, or for those of you who still use old-fashioned instruments like phones, you can give us a call at 1-800-228-1228. It’s so old-fashioned, I almost forgot the number. That’s 1-800-228-1228.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us, as you scoot out to the protests. Gordon Clark of Peace Action. Julianne Smith with the British American Security Information group. Thank you.