That’s not happened before. After being invited to speak at the NATO counter summit I have now been dis-invited. A free evening is always welcome, and I already have the best platform in the country for my views. But the peevish intolerance of the dis-inviters is bad for the peace movement.
Dozens of times I have spoken at meetings of the groups organising the summit – especially CND and the Stop the War Coalition. My invite was based on my persistent opposition to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. My plan was to re-emphasize the avoidance of any triumphalism at the end of the Afghan War. The ludicrous posturing of anarchists and latter-day born again Marxists was off-putting, but what the hell? I’ve shared platforms with worse. I shall not miss the tedium of staring at the ceiling while the anarchists emote. It's a shame the organisers did not stick to a good idea. Instead of yelling slogans in street, an intelligent debate could present coherent views.
The ‘No to NATO’ slogan is foolish. NATO has had 65 years of life that generally has served the world well. It was a bulwark against Stalinist communism in 1949. It has been a refuge and shield for the Baltic States and other former Russian satellites nations after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. These countries are under a new threat from Putin after Chechnya, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Eastern Ukraine. He has terrorized opposition in Russia and murdered some of his own people. Putin now has an expansionist agenda that threatens small nations, some, like Estonia, smaller than Wales.
There is no bulwark to protect the independence of these nations except NATO. Newport will welcome President Obama. As child I recall the welcome the GIs had in the bleak days of early 1940s when German bombs were raining down on the area where I lived in Cardiff. Obama is President of a country that has sacrificed more than any other nation its sons and daughters for the freedom of other lands. Yes, they have also behaved badly elsewhere, but a sense of proportion would be welcome.
The organizers of this event have dodged debate by withdrawing my invitation. Instead or reaching out to win public opinion they retreat to hide under the comfort blanket of their own prejudices.
This is a poor way to run a campaign.