by Henry Lowendorf

International Conference: Yes to Peace – No to NATO
Lisbon, 2010 November 19
Presentation from the United States Peace Council
Henry Lowendorf

Introduction. The U.S. Peace Council thanks the Portuguese Council for Peace and
Cooperation for today’s opportunity to participate in the major actions for peace it has
organized this week.

The U.S. Peace Council joins the call of the World Peace Council for the immediate
abolition of NATO.

A triumphant United States created NATO in 1949 in order to advance the threat and
spread the expense of its expanding empire. The U.S. directs NATO on behalf of the
financial institutions, the weapons manufacturers, petroleum giants and other
transnational corporations. With NATO’s expansion eastward to absorb more member
countries U.S. imperialism hopes to more ably dominate the globe. This week in Lisbon
the U.S., in a much weakened position economically and politically, urgently seeks
NATO member states to take up the burden of imperialism that it can no longer afford.
A major step forward will be the popular demand to dismantle NATO altogether.
Military extensions of imperialism. The U.S. drew NATO countries into the wars on
Afghanistan and Iraq, and Yugoslavia before that. The militarists are prepared to occupy
Afghanistan and Iraq indefinitely. The people pay with hundreds of thousands dead,
millions wounded, millions forced to flee home, increased civil violence and despoiled
environments. These bloody wars of occupation are waged to control petroleum reserves
and pipeline routes in the oil-rich Middle East and the Caspian Sea region. They are
fought to extend the ring of military bases around Russia and to close in on China. The
thousand U.S. military bases on every continent threaten the national sovereignty of host
and neighboring countries. That the people of many NATO member countries have
forced their governments into recalling military forces from Afghanistan and Iraq is a
welcome step. This step forces the superpower to use its own diminishing resources to
fund its imperial dreams. Let us make sure that this step is not reversed. The U.S. Peace
Council joins the global majority by demanding that the occupations of Iraq and
Afghanistan end now, that all foreign troops and mercenaries be sent home now.
NATO’s agreement to target Iran with economic sanctions and threats of nuclear attack is
part of the undisguised plot to plant additional subservient governments, steal Iran’s
petroleum and install more military bases. Supporting the global network to close all
foreign military bases and shutting down NATO are key elements in fighting
imperialism. We insist that military threats against any country end now.
A major piece of the Pentagon scheme for first-strike capability and what it calls “full
spectrum dominance” is to place weapons in space. Already space satellites are being
used to direct drone attacks against targets in South Asia.

The so-called “missile defense” is part of this first-strike scheme. NATO countries that
agree to install such “missile defense” systems become parties to the Pentagon’s first
strike aggressions over which they will have no determination. They will become parties
to a new arms race that will absorb their resources and youth. They will be advancing
imperialist exploitation to their own and others’ detriment. We call on the people of
Europe and everywhere to forthrightly reject “missile defense.”

In 2009 President Obama announced that the U.S. would lead the effort to abolish nuclear
weapons. But then he dramatically increased the budget for nuclear weapons factories.
Building more nuclear weapons violates the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. Testing
nuclear-ready InterContinental Ballistic Missiles violates the NPT. The U.S. nuclear deal
with India violates the NPT. We must shout, “End these violations!” To obtain favors and
to support the vast armaments industry, the Obama administration is circling the globe
selling advanced weaponry, thus inflaming the prospects for war. Weapons sales, made in
America, are number one in the world. We join vast humanity in demanding that the U.S.
immediately remove its nuclear weapons from other countries and that the nuclearweapons
states agree on a convention to promptly and totally abolish all nuclear
weapons. We call on an end to the arms trade.


Imperialism has scattered millions of victims over the planet. Among them are the people
of the United States of America. The U.S. empire is threatened by Latin America’s
independent development and its resistance to continued imperial penetration. A
militarist, profit-hungry few are driving the U.S. economy into a deeper ditch even as it is
apparent that other, fast growing economies are quickly recovering from the current
“global” economic crisis or have avoided it altogether. As a result, the financial and
corporate elites are more and more leveling their gun sights on the U.S. population.
Economic crisis. The economic crisis was catalyzed by overwhelming debt, personal,
corporate and national1. One-tenth percent of the U.S. population is bulging with wealth,
while 31 million workers are unemployed or underemployed. Two thirds of the
unemployed receive no compensation2. 42 million people, one in 7 households, receive
food subsidies3. Nearly 60 million people lacked health care coverage for all or part of a
year or more4. When fully implemented, the modest health care legislation signed into
law by President Obama last spring would eventually provide coverage to about half
those currently excluded. Yet many Congressional winners of the recent midterm election
vow to bury health care and additionally intend to slash pensions and medical care for the
elderly and very poor that the people’s struggles created over the last 75 years. In place of
this safety net they propose more tax cuts for millionaires.

Infrastructure crisis.

Imperialism has parasitized the infrastructure of the United States.
Dams, bridges, roads, railroads, water and schools are crumbling and desperately need
repair or replacement5. The United States is the most profligate abuser of energy in the
world. Conservation of energy and conversion of generating sources away from burning
petroleum to environmentally sustainable models is painfully needed but is barred by the
transnational fossil-fuel industries. Millions of jobs are waiting to be done. In order to fill
those jobs, however, the people must starve the war machine and tax the rich.

Going forward.

The existing peace organizations alone are not currently strong enough
to turn the U.S. and its NATO allies toward peace. It is critical that we work in unity with
one another, with broad alliances of labor, human rights, and environmental
organizations to create the kind of political pressure needed for essential change. In that
alliance is the possibility of finally terminating imperialism and reversing course toward a
peaceful world.

We salute the Portuguese Peace Council for its work in creating such alliances and in
organizing the events of this weekend. We are inspired by your enlightened example.

La luta continua!


1 In order to accelerate their accumulation of wealth, corporations for the last 40 years have taken huge
profits from improved productivity. They have not raised real wages and workers are required to increase
family working hours and amass debt. Government starting with President Ronald Reagan reduced taxes on the rich in favor of borrowing from them, dramatically expanding government debt. The U.S. has become a debtor nation.
2 Art Perlo et al. “Program for Jobs in a green, productive, people before profits, economy for the
21st century.” 31 million workers is 20% of the workforce. The unemployment figures hide even
higher rates for Black and Latino workers, and still higher figures for youth.
3 The
population using food stamps has increased 50% in the last 3 years.
4 Nearly 60 million people
lacked health care coverage part of the year and half of that number lack coverage for a year or more.
Fifteen million of these have serious chronic ailments, asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes.