Essex University students say no to NATO

March 13, 2014

Essex University have invited Ulrich Pilster from NATO to talk about careers in the nuclear armed, Afghanistan-invading, Western business interests-defending organisation responsible for tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Afghanistan and three million refugees who have fled.

Students are demanding that the university withdraw the invite. It is irresponsible for a university which prides itself on its human rights work to give a platform to NATO and encourage their students to pursue a career with such a militaristic organisation.

Established in 1949 as a Western counter-power to the Soviet Union, the organisation commits members to treat an attack on one as an attack on all. This was used to justify the disastrous NATO invasion of Afghanistan, which has cost the lives of tens of thousands of civilians. Since member states aren’t often under attack, NATO has further justified its existence through “humanitarian intervention”. In 2011, this meant ‘intervening’ in Libya, including backing rebels that delivered collective punishment to whole villages for supposedly “supporting the Gaddafi regime”. Commentators pointed to Libya’s significant oil reserves as a deciding factor in defining this ‘humanitarian’ crisis as in need of intervention over others in less oil-rich areas.

NATO member states account for 70% of the world’s $1.75 trillion a year military spending. It is estimated that since 2006, the cost of the Afghanistan War to the UK alone amounts to at least £15m per day. A military alliance will only propagate military solutions: it will not look at what is really needed for human security. It will not decide to shift military spending to end austerity, relieve poverty, improve health, or tackle climate change.

Even the cost to the UK of hosting the NATO summit in Newport, Wales this September will be significant. Security bills for previous summits have been over £60 million, and the Chief Constable of Gwent has already said that 200 of the 300 police support units in the whole of the UK will be deployed. This allocation of resources is particularly galling in Newport, where £34 million of cuts to local services are planned by 2017.

A student from Essex comments:

We do not believe that a responsible University should be hosting such an event to promote an essentially obsolete and purely Military Organization, that’s only purpose is to justify destructive wars, that are orchestrated for the benefit of western elites, against the wishes of the population of its member states. We demand that the University cancels the event and that it no longer pursues ties with militaristic organizations. The University of Essex supposedly prides itself upon its prestigious human rights centre. The invitations of BAE [Systems] last year and the invitation of a NATO career path meeting directly contradict this.

The talk will be held at 2pm in the Government Common Room on the 15th March.

Please sign the petition to boot NATO off campus.

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