The 99% vs. War & Injustice
As the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) prepares to hold its meetings in Chicago, IL this weekend, people part of a new global peace and justice movement are converging on the Windy City to analyze, strategize and take action as a movement that connects the dots between the growing desperation of people in the US and around the world for economic and social justice and the need to end war and curb militarization in order to meet the needs of the global 99%.
This weekend, May 18-19, along with a flurry of activities organized by progressives including among others the National Nurses United conference, a major rally at Daley Square for a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ (aka a financial speculations tax), and an Iraq Veterans Against the War March for Justice and Reconciliation -organizations around the US and the world have joined together in the Network for a NATO-Free Future to sponsor a Counter-Summit for Peace & Economic Justice held at the Peoples Church on Chicago’s North-side.
Facilitated by Judith LeBlanc of Peace Action and Kimber Heinz of the War Resisters League, the opening panel of the Counter Summit, titled: “Laying the Foundations: NATO, Economic Globalization, & Economic Justice” outlined the vision, values and purpose of the conference and the road ahead. The panelists included author and professor Vijay Prashad of Trinity College; Tobias Pfluger of the Tubingen Militarization Information Association (IMI) & party of the European Left; Sarita Gupta of Jobs with Justice; and William McNary of Citizen Action/Illinois & the Emergency Network to Save Cook County Health Services. Together the panelists and facilitators sharply analyzed the current political, economic and military conditions in the US and globally identifying challenge and opportunities to help frame the Summit and the struggle for democracy, peace and justice moving forward.
Sarita Gupta articulated features of the fight-back working people have been waging from Wisconsin to Occupy Wall Street, to the strike by 45,000 workers at Verizon amidst an economic and jobs crisis, to the 99% Spring & 99% Power where major corporations (including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Verizon, Walmart and Sallie Mae) are being targeted by tens of thousands of people (who have been telling their stories, cohering an analysis of what’s wrong with our economy and democracy, and learning about non-violent direct action) around their shareholder meetings. Sarita also advocated for more “offensive strategies” as progressives defend against mounting attacks by the corporate agenda that seeks to escalate war and militarism as well as tax cuts for the wealthy while pushing for austerity – i.e. the cutting of essential services, jobs, and wages of the 99%. She lifted up the example of the Caring Across Generations as one such offensive strategy to create 2 million jobs and develop a workforce in a fair and sustainable way to meet a national need of caring for our aging and disabled people.
Sarita pointed to a realization coming out of 99% Power that suggests the 99% needs to pivot toward targeting key individual people within the 1% who are connected to multiple major corporations and banks that serve as vehicles to secure wealth and undermine democracy and thus controlling the livelihoods of millions of people (as workers, tenants, home owners, students, tax payers, etc.) world-wide as a way to unite our movements around unifying targets and strategies to rebuild the US democracy, economic and social justice.
It’s clear the world cannot afford war and heightened militarism, or the continued concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few. William McNary pointed to the amount of money the US has spent in Afganistan alone and outlined a myriad of human and societal needs that could be met if billions of dollars were not being spent on this and other senseless wars. This panel reminded us all that: Peace is not the absence of war…it’s the presence of justice! For more information visit www.natofreefuture.org.org