Interview with Rick Rozoff, manager of the Stop NATO website and Global Research Correspondent. He will be debating NATO officials in Chicago on May 17th in a first-ever event where those opposed to NATO are allowed to voice their concerns.
I heard that on the 17th of May you are planning to debate former NATO officials and current NATO officials. This is first debate of this type in history I believe. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about that?
Thank you for asking, John. As scheduled, on Thursday evening at 6 o’clock in downtown Chicago at what’s called the Pritzker Military Library – it’s probably an apt site for a discussion of NATO – as of last heard, two spokespeople advocating the NATO position, and those are R. Nicholas Burns, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the State Department, and current NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary for Political and Security Affairs James Appathurai, are going to be presenting the NATO position.
I’ve been asked to be one of two what are identified in the Chicago media as protesters who are going to be speaking against NATO. Initially Andy Thayer, who is a leader in the Coalition Against NATO G8 War and Poverty Agenda, CANG8, for short, was to be the other speaker from the anti-NATO position. I now hear that a representative from either Iraq or Afghanistan war veterans, is going to be speaking instead of Andy Thayer, so it will be the two of us.
Can you tell me a little bit of the format?
It’s my understanding each of the four of us is going to give a presentation and then there will be questions fielded from the audience. It’s going to be a very select group, there are only going to be 100 people permitted into the library in addition to media.
Who was behind the planning of this event?
It’s sponsored by a local Chicago think tank. Though, it’s my understanding, John, that somehow, I don’t know who contacted whom, the prime mover in permitting a discussion that has both sides being heard emanated from the White House.
You mentioned before we started something about two OSCE parliamentarians. Are they going to be in attendance?
I heard from another leader in CANG8 that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) announced that they were going to send two, perhaps three, European parliamentarians as part of a delegation to monitor the protests and the city of Chicago’s response to them, which would mark only the second time that an OSCE delegation has been sent to the United States – the only previous time was during the 2008 presidential election – and if in fact that’s the truth and that materializes, that may in part have led to the White House having to make a concession to allow some form of public debate on the issue, because to be frank with you, there has been none up until now. When the decision was made between the White House and mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel last year there was no debate, there was no discussion in the City Council of Chicago and the neighborhoods that are going to be affected pretty adversely, as no community leaders and so forth were consulted, it was dealt with as a fait accompli.
How did you become involved in this? Were you chosen?
Andy Thayer of CANG8 invited me to join him, initially, as we thought, now it looks like it may be, again, an Iraq or Afghanistan war veteran and myself presenting the anti-NATO position.
Can you tell our listeners a little bit of what NATO is doing to promote their position in the U.S. and why and where all that money is coming from? So they’ve made a huge PR campaign in the Chicago area, I believe.
There is a host committee for the NATO summit, which is headed up by former political officials, but there is corporate sponsorship that is – as a matter of fact if one goes to the website for the NATO Chicago summit, they’ll have the corporate logos of major Fortune 500-type companies that have raised an estimated $37 billion (Mr. Rozoff apologized and asked that billion be corrected to million. Robles) in corporate monies for the summit in addition to what the federal and the city governments are going to spend. The argument that many people make, including myself, that NATO is essentially the international armed wing of the 1% could not be made any more effectively or vividly than visiting the website for the Chicago Summit and looking at the corporate logos that stand behind the NATO meeting on May 20 and 21.
Recently somebody, NATO spokesman I think, said that NATO was the war machine for the one percent.
I believe that comment emanates from Ivo Daalder, who is the U.S. ambassador to NATO currently, and he is somebody who incidentally six years ago co-authored an article that was published in the Washington Post [Foreign Affairs] and also on the website of the Brookings Institution where Daalder is on leave as a senior fellow, but the title of that article is “Global NATO”. So, we are talking about somebody who in fact envisions, and keep in mind he is the envoy for the most powerful member of the military bloc, the United States, and is somebody who for several years has been touting in exactly those words the concept of an international, worldwide NATO that can intervene at will any place it chooses. Any organization that has waged war in three continents since 1999 as NATO has, in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya, is certainly a war machine.
What can you tell our listeners about G8 Summit being moved to Camp David and what’s the relation between that and the NATO Summit happening in Chicago?
The two were to have occured not simultaneously but back to back. The G8 Summit was to have occurred on the 18th and 19th of this month and the NATO Summit on the 20th and 21st. And when the news first broke in spring of last year that Chicago would host them both, the announcement was made simultaneously. It was, if you will, a package deal. Then several weeks ago the White House rather abruptly and without any explanation – the accounts in Chicago are that the mayor himself, Emanual, wasn’t even aware of the fact that it was being pulled until he heard it on the news.
I can tell you my personal supposition, which is this: that in the interim between the time it was announced that both the G8 and the NATO summits were to be held in the United States and the announcement by the White House they were relocating the G8 summit to Camp David in Maryland, the Occupy movement sprang into existence in September of last year and I would assume that the White House was afraid that the demonstrations against both summits would be large enough to create a political embarrassment, both for the city of Chicago and for the country, certainly for the administration, and thought that by relocating the G8 summit they could take attention away from the NATO demonstration. I believe that it’s backfired. Instead there will be a large public demonstration on the 20th. I am hoping that it will be the largest counter-NATO demonstration ever held against the backdrop of a summit. If you recall in Lisbon, Portugal in November 2010, I’ve heard estimates from 10-30 thousand protesters. It would be my sincerest wish that the people of Chicago and adjoining states could turn out a force larger than that.
Larger than 30,000 people?
That would be ideal. Larger that 10,000 would be great.
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