On the morning of Friday, July 25th, supporters of Stop NATO Cymru took action in London and Cardiff, locking themselves to the front doors of missile developer MBDA, occupying the HQ of arms company Airbus Group and closing the Armed Forces Careers Centre in Cardiff by occupying the roof. This was part of an ongoing anti-militarist campaign in the run up to September’s NATO Summit in Newport, targeting all institutions which perpetuate violence on a global scale.
MBDA is jointly owned by arms companies Airbus Group (37.5%), BAE Systems (37.5%) and Finmecanica (25%), companies guilty of providing arms used by Israel to bombard communities, demolish hospitals and murder innocent children in schools. Palestinian solidarity activists stood with us against these monsters, with Israel having used British bombs on playing children, family homes, schools, independent journalists, rescue vehicles and hospitals in the last week alone.
In solidarity with Stop NATO Cymru, anti-miltarist activists from Stop the Arms Fair entered the lobby and picketed the entrance to the London HQ of Airbus Group (aka EADS). Airbus Group is a major profiteer of war. They manufacture jets, drones (including some with nuclear warheads) and surveillance technology. They are the second largest arms producer in Europe, with investments in authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kazakhstan. Airbus has recently announced new contracts worth £50mil, and have urged the arms industry to take ‘full economic advantage’ of the NATO Summit. The summit is an opportunity for them to showcase their killing machines and blood-stained business through NATO procurement. Stop NATO Cymru opposes the NATO war machine, arms production and the murder of anyone for corporate profit.
Earlier this month the British Army launched a recruitment drive entitled ‘More Than Meets the Eye’, aiming to dispel myths surrounding life in the forces, boost their falling recruitment figures and secure the flow of “a new stream of young blood” as head of recruiting, Major General Chris Tickell, so aptly put it.
They are right about one thing, there is more to life in the army than meets our eyes – more to what the media, charities and the state show of the idealised soldier. Waves of forced redundancies are leaving thousands unemployed, many of them young people, promised adventure and reward at the recruiting office before being spat into the jobcentre, often injured, with thousands wounded over the last decade.
Even those who keep their job are constantly exploited y the state. The fact is that every individual within the armed forces – from the musician to the infantryman – is part of an effort to further the state’s expansionist agenda. In Afghanistan, war for oil saw the deaths of almost 4,000 coalition troops and an estimated 20,000 Afghan civilians killed to bring NATO’s version of democracy to the Afghan people. Now we see conflict flaring in Ukraine, with British companies having armed the Russian dictatorship, America throwing its weight behind a neo-Nazi backed government and the people of Ukraine and the world suffering the consequences.
We took action to show that we will not stand by and watch ordinary people suffer in the wars of the wealthy. We are anti-militarist, opposed to states, their armies and the world that creates them. When NATO brings its circus to Newport in September, we will make our feelings known.
NATO is the militarist juggernaut that encourages military spending in times of austerity, stokes the flames of conflict in places like Ukraine and represents the armed wing of capitalist exploitation. In spite of the power behind NATO – and all militarist institutions in a world of government by violence – we will keep up our fight on the streets, doing all that we can to bring change, until every gun is cold, every bomb is dead and every cage is empty.