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Nato at Strasbourg- 60 years of international State Terrorism

category international | summit mobilisations | news report author Tuesday April 07, 2009 12:15author by Paula Geraghtyauthor email mspgeraghty at yahoo dot ie Report this post to the editors

World Leaders shut down Strasbourg and invalidated international treaties, locally negotiated agreements just for a photoshoot of global leaders on the 60 'BirthDeath' of Nato. More Police were deployed on the streets of Strasbourg than is being promised to Afghanistan.
Flags were all over Strasburg
Flags were all over Strasburg

'The German and French governments’ fear of their own citizens was obvious. It’s the only explanation for the massive obstruction for the people living in this region, the police brutality, the many chicanes, the partial closing of the borders and the invalidation of the Schengen treaty. Basic democratic rights were trampled on. Violence comes from the powerful and ruling. We want the end of the militarization of the interior. We are defending Democracy.'

Other personal accounts of people's experience are available on

An International congress was organised to offer an analysis of NATO politics and strategy as well as the discussion of alternatives to NATO. This was to serve the peace movement to prepare long term actions. Delegates came from the Irish Anti War Movement, the Campaign Against the EU Constitution and a number of individuals. Michael Youltan spoke about the Lisbon Treaty and raised the growing concerns about the deepening links between Nato and the EU and there was a lot of discussion around how this has happened and the lack of democracy and accountability in this process. Seamas Rhatiggan from the Labour Party spoke on the Sunday afternoon on behalf of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance. A Sinn fein member also addressed the audience.

The counter summit's events focusing on Nato, were over shadowed by the demonstration.
People were horrified by the violence that they encountered. There were over 20,000 police and National guards deployed in Strasbourg. Public transport was shut down. Businesses were forcibly closed by the police from bicycle rentals to camping sites so no one could use them. Schengen was dropped- this is an agreement which allows free movement through Europe. Civil liberties can be dropped with no notice disenfranchising EU citizens. Nato forces were intent on making sure that no demonstration happened. This quite clearly indicates that Nato has no interest in the democratic process and the images beeamed out all over the world show that there is resistance to Nato in the EU.

German protestors were refused entry into France at Kehl Bridge- a symbol of European unity, not by protestors but by the State. There were no Police attacks on this side of the border and hence no response. On the French side, the police were determined to smash any form of protest and to tear gas indiscriminately, divide and trap evryone up. Their tactics were to punish anyone who went out to defend peace by demonstrating.

The Strasburg Prefecture broke the agreement with organisers that demonstrators could get to the starting point and demonstrate. they blocked the road and teargassed everyone. Blac Bloc were well organised, brave and alongside the determination of all at the bridge went through. that was when i saw a crate of Garlic , where the bulbs were ironically used as ammunition. It was quite clear the police had tons of Shock Bombs- very loud cannisters which explode at your feet and can potentially damage your hearing, CS cannisters and little projectiles which would go up into the air, explode into several parts and rain down yellow clouds of smoke.

There were very few arrests. And unlike Genoa where Carlos Giuliani was shot dead by a young Caribinieri, no major injuries- indicating that there was a policy that this counter Nato summit would not create Martyrs. I saw no baton charges but people were scared by the amount of teargas, and quite frankly, I had not experienced this level of CS gas before.

The part of Strasbourg where the protest happened was a poor run down part. The Hotel Ibis was burnt down as was the only Pharmacie while a petrol Station some bus shelters and bizzarely the Post Office were smashed up. As John Rees from the Stop the War Coalition in the UK said at the meeting of the Assemblies at the anti-nato summit the following day, the Hotel Ibis is hardly a symbol of global imperialism and people who use buses are those who can't afford cars, why bother attacking these, and this was a general sentiment.

A medical student who was doing first aid from the camp where the blac bloc was based came to the conference and tried to but a context on events. He described how the police kept trying to attck the camp even before the demonstration and how a surgeon based on camp had to remove shrapnel from peopl's legs from new weapons that had been used on some people that had not been witnessed before. It is clear that there are many debates happening within blac bloc with regard to strategy and tactics and how to relate to those that the demonstrate with, namely everyone else. Demonstrations are based on solidarity and some participants at the conference, quite vociferously, expressed condemnation of the blac bloc, mostly those who hadn't experienced tear gas before.

It was quite clear that the French State would do evrything it could to marginalise and neuter the demonstration against the 60th anniversary of Nato, but they did it with incredible force and brutality, without baton charging and shooting people so as to minamise the creation of future support and sympathy as what happened in Genoa in July 2001.

The question of increasing militarisation in the EU through the Lisbon treaty and nato have not gone away, they are very much at the heart of last weekend in Strasburg. but they don't want you to know about it or hear about it so you can do nothing about Nato. Just look at an image of a smashed bus stop and get angry with some kids just so you can't see their weapons of mass distraction and destruction.

Images (c)

More pictures here:










author by Paula Geraghtypublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors



This is what Nato democracy looks like
This is what Nato democracy looks like


The police indiscrimately attacked evryone with teargas. this french peace movement with some elderly people were gassed and had an angry exchange with the Riot police.
The police indiscrimately attacked evryone with teargas. this french peace movement with some elderly people were gassed and had an angry exchange with the Riot police.

author by Tim Houriganpublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 13:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'd be very interested to see any footage from around there.
An American lady told me that she thought she had seen an incendiary device launched (rather than thrown) into a building by someone she thought was a cop, but I couldn't see much other than smoke from where I was standing.

The whole place felt like it was under armed occupation for the weekend, with Riot Cops standing along picturesque canals, and vans full of them at bridges and junctions.

author by BillyNoMatespublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 14:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The whole place felt like it was under armed occupation for the weekend"

What to you expect the govement and police to do? let these people run a-muck?

Why don't they try to use the strength of their arguments to get elected and change goverment policy?

author by redjadepublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 14:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sadly very few disagree nor care about NATO in Hungary. And most HUngarians are happy to be in if it means protection from a resurgent Russia.


Anti-NATO Protest at Blaha Lujza Tér - Budapest

blogishness here:

Mostly elderly Communists and a handful of Humanists
Mostly elderly Communists and a handful of Humanists

author by Magyarpublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 15:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Sadly very few disagree nor care about NATO in Hungary.
And most Hungarians are happy to be in if it means protection from a resurgent Russia."

You mean HAPPILY very few disagree.
We Hungarians remember 1956 all too well,when we pleaded with NATO in vain to help us:

author by Coilínpublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 18:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

redjade wrote:
"And most HUngarians are happy to be in if it means protection from a resurgent Russia."

Would you please translate the following few simple questions into Hungarian and post them here and on suitable Hungarian sites?

Is NATO the solution to a "resurgent Russia", or the CAUSE of it?
Did NATO solve the war between Russia and Georgia, or did it PROVOKE it?
Is NATO the solution to fears of Iran constructing nuclear weapons, or the prime and perpetual SOURCE of such fears?
Is NATO the bringer of stability and security to Afghanistan and Pakistan, or of INSTABILITY and INSECURITY?

author by redjadepublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 19:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Magyar is correct in what he wrote - NATO was not much use for Hungary when the Soviets invaded to overthrow their new revolution. But then also, most of the Euro-Left at the time was useless too, including the current president of Italy who cheered on the Soviet troops as they ripped through Budapest killing thousands.

The 1956 Revolution showed that the super powers could and would do anything they wanted because no one wanted nuclear war.

Coilín, I do not disagree with any of what you wrote - but most Hungarians do not see it this way. Anything that may prevent Russia's resurgence is a good thing. I think a typical Pole would tell you the same. Just look at their histories. And as you point out, the irony is that Bush's (and now possibly Obama's) 'Missile Defense' is spurring on a new resurgent Russia.

But you do recognise that Russia is resurging,right? and that NATO is not the only problem in Europe.

It is up to the rest of us who seek peaceful solutions to create a movement to prevent these predicable wars from happening. Simply bashing NATO and ignoring the very real RealPolitik/Geo-Politics of Central/Eastern Europe only makes one's own political causes seem irrelevant to millions of europeans on this side of Planet EU.

author by counterpunch readerpublication date Tue Apr 07, 2009 21:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

NATO creates threats wherever it goes. That is its business. Whether in Afghanistan or in Strasbourg, the foreign military presence provokes violent rebellion, especially from young men who feel challenged. Their violent rebellion is cited to justify an increase in repressive violence. And so it goes…

This cycle of violence was played out last Saturday, April 4, in Strasbourg, where thousands of police and a small number of Black Block street fighters stole the show from what should have been the launching of a new European mass movement against NATO war policy. The peace demonstration was squashed and disintegrated by armed police as black-hooded youths threw stones and set fires.

Related Link:
author by redjadepublication date Wed Apr 08, 2009 00:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This debate is 10 years old now (since Seattle) it is amazing that it continues still today....

''Black Block fighters should think about the devastating effect they have on other forms of public protest. Along with police, they are driving peaceful protesters off the streets.

Black Block fighters should reflect on how readily they are exploited by their enemy. For one thing, whether they want to admit it or not, they are almost certainly infiltrated by police agents.''

• more at

author by Magyarpublication date Wed Apr 08, 2009 08:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Simple Answers Coilin.:

Is NATO the solution to a "resurgent Russia", or the CAUSE of it?....................................NOT THE CAUSE.

Did NATO solve the war between Russia and Georgia, or did it PROVOKE it?................NOT PROVOKED..

Is NATO the solution to fears of Iran constructing nuclear weapons, or the prime and perpetual SOURCE of such fears?.............................................................................................POSSIBLY SOLUTION but NOT SOURCE.

Is NATO the bringer of stability and security to Afghanistan and Pakistan, or of INSTABILITY and INSECURITY?

........................Never heard of the Taliban & Al-Quaeda????

Afghanistan is a UN MANDATE.
There are Irish troops there:

NATO doesn't cause the bad weather either by the way.

author by pucapublication date Thu Apr 09, 2009 02:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

rejade wrote

"This debate is 10 years old now (since Seattle) it is amazing that it continues still today...".

This is an unbelievably poor article. She obviously hasn't read anything before putting pen to paper. Late on in the piece she suggests that as the cops and the BB have made street demonstrations uncomfortable we should find alternatives to demonstrating.

author by Me Feinpublication date Thu Apr 09, 2009 08:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Is NATO the bringer of stability and security to Afghanistan and Pakistan, or of INSTABILITY and INSECURITY? "
This is what the UN (not NATO) is trying to do in Afghanistan:

(Taken from the Irish government document referenced by Magyar.)


"Considerable progress politically has been made in Afghanistan. A democratic constitution, a representative National Parliament and a legitimate elected Government are all now in place. The National Assembly and Provincial Council elections which were successfully held last September, concluded the implementation of the Bonn Agreement of 2001 on arrangements for the re-establishment of permanent Government institutions in Afghanistan. The opening session of the new Parliament was held on 19th December 2005. In a particularly welcome development, women now hold more than a quarter of the seats in the National Assembly.

The illicit narcotics industry remains a major challenge however to the long-term security, development and effective Governance of Afghanistan. Afghanistan produces approx. 90% of the global opium supply.

"I am pleased to have secured Cabinet approval today for Ireland's continuing deployment in Kosovo and Afghanistan." "

The fight is still very much in progress.Not won yet..

Led by the United States,as usual.

author by Singh.publication date Thu Apr 09, 2009 08:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The high mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been lawless and unstable,not for centuries,but for thousands of years before NATO or the UN were invented.

Many an army has dashed itself to pieces on the infamous "Khyber Pass":


"George Molesworth, a member of the British force of 1919, summarised: "Every stone in the Khyber has been soaked in blood." Rudyard Kipling called it "a sword cut through the mountains."

author by redjadepublication date Thu Apr 09, 2009 13:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Please inform us of the successes of the 'Black Bloc' since Seattle. I'm sure there is a long list somewhere you can point to.

author by pg tips monkeypublication date Thu Apr 09, 2009 18:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well considering the quote in question is taken from counterpunch with it's heavy (to say the least) north american bias and influence from north american political culture and it's associated pacifist baggage (see Peter Gelderloos' book How Non-Violence Protects the State, which is quite obviously aimed at the north american milieu from which he is based, as most of this stuff isn't really an issue in Europe where there is a much longer tradition of street fighting and political violence), let's first begin by pointing out that the black bloc doesn't originate in Seattle 1999, let alone radical politics as some might think. Nor is the black bloc usually 20-50 people on a 500 person march as is quite often the case in North America.

Quote taken from elsewhere;
"The black bloc did not originate among anarchists and is not a tactic exclusive to anarchists--indeed anarchists are the parvenus here. It became notable in the mid-80s in Italy and among the German autonomen (extraparliamentary opposition), an ad hoc formation of left radicals, autonomous Marxists, anarchists, anti-imperialists, and anti-fascists. It began as a purely defensive tactic, to protect demonstrators from police and neofascist attacks, and to assure the anonymity of those in the black bloc (its effectiveness as a way to keep people from being prosecuted led to the outlawing of masking up at demos in Germany). 10-15% of the total number of protesters were often organized in a black bloc; at a demo of 100,000 or 200,000 people (not all that unusual in Germany or Italy in the late-80s/early 90s) that means a pretty large black bloc. Often at the end of a demo (and as a result of police attacks), banks, gas stations, foreign embassies, real estate offices, and supermarkets would be targeted for window-breaking. The reason that it has become associated with attack is that people in the black bloc are not pacifists--and you know how the mainstream media and bourgeois morality are about active defense by proles...

The transplanting of this tactic to North America has led to the usual mistranslations: seemingly random window smashing (besides Starbuck's and McDonald's and Niketown); much smaller numbers drawing unwanted police attention (10% of 1000 makes for an easily identifiable and isolatable clique); the arrogance and bravado of anarchist exclusivity (and a double arrogance of the particular type of anarchism those anarchists espouse); the fetishizing of this tactic as sufficient in itself. I am not opposed to property destruction or fighting back against the cops or fashos, and there are plenty of times when a black bloc (or white bloc or pink bloc or clown bloc etc) is a great idea and good practice. But just because a tactic works once or twice doesn't mean that it will work five or ten times equally well. The cops learn from their mistakes--shouldn't we?"

For the most part all the counterpunch article shows is the authors own ideological bias and own experiences informed from north america. There is also a level of dishonesty in portraying the black bloc in Strasbourg as only a small part of the demonstrators where as numbers elsewhere have placed it in the thousands, making it in fact probably one of the largest if not the largest block of the entire protests (along with the divide of one large black block on the German side of the river and another on the French side being prevented from meeting up). The same goes with the riots in Rostock at the G8 where the black bloc where most definately the largest block on the demo.

All this said, it doesn't really matter, the black bloc doesn't exist, as we all know it's only a tactic. So when you say "Please inform us of the successes of the 'Black Bloc' since Seattle." what do you mean? When was the last time a black bloc won a street battle with the police? How do we judge these things? For that matter, when was the last time the police "won" a street battle with a black bloc?

Or should we be asking when was the last time protestors willing to contest space and defend themselves from police attacks as part of a confrontational approach involed in a long campaign or struggle coupled with associated other actions, forms of protests and activities been successful?
How about the campaign in Copenhagen around Ungdomshuset or even what's currently taking place in Greece as well as during it's more heigtened period last December? How about numerous other struggles, especially those that do become large enough to pose a threat to the staus quo? The problem here however is these later examples are concrete, based around peoples communities, their needs and their everyday experiences, not some summit and where one is taking part in spectacular protest and ultimately petitioning the leaders (cause let's face it it's been a while since a summit has been prevented or "shut down"), whether it's through puppets and flags or slingshots and cobblestones. So it doesn't matter either way.

I also like the naievity that somehow this was the beginning of a new European mass movement against NATO, please! One summit or protest does not a movement make. As it goes and as pointed out in the article, there was very little coverage of the protests regardless of tactics involved (though I do like how the term 'casseur' is used in a negative way in much the same way as the french right wing media who originated the term, luckily much of this was overcome by the social movements in France,"Nous sommes tous des casseurs!", it's a shame that the same level of sloidarity and political awareness isn't on display here, I wonder if this term would apply to those "casseurs" of your own over in Ireland and down in Shannon) and it was mainly coverage of the leaders themselves, michelle obama, how NATO is necessary to protect us from terrorism and how al-qaeda are capable of and going to attack europe at some future unspecified time and place, but booooo be afraid, you neeeeddd us. Furthermore, at the G20 protests over here in London, where exactly where those black clad street fighters when the police waded into the climate camp beating people with batons and cracking skulls?! The police don't need an excuse to criminalise dissent or beat up protestors. As it goes, the level of violence and property destruction in London was nothing compared to strasbourg but will we see how much of justified violence against "bad" protestors and how little police tactics such as FIT teams, kettling, etc. get discussed in the media as the whole death of Ian Tomlinson comes to a head.

author by Bunsenpublication date Thu Apr 09, 2009 20:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't think anyone is denying the right to defence against attacks by the cops.
I've seen attacks by cops on peaceful protestors in the UK and in Ireland.
But as PG Tips touched upon, there is a big difference between clashes with the cops over concrete events like attempted evictions, or people directly trying to prevent a big bloody gas pipe going through their community, and people who simply want to march around waving banners.

There does seem to be a big mismatch in the use of force (direct action) to either prevent or assert a right to march and appeal to public or government opinion (indirect action).
Seeing as they turned up in full riot gear, obviously the cops trained for, expected (and possibly caused) a violent outcome in Strasbourg. I've seen it happen elsewhere, but I wasn't an eye witness to what happened in Strasbourg, so I can't say for sure what happened.
Doing exactly what they've prepared for is hardly going to be an effective tactic, now is it?

Reading the account above of the speaker urging the crowd to advance, without any regard for what was around the corner is another example of lack of joined up thinking.
If you don't control the territory, don't walk into it blind.
If I was in the position of going out a gate like that, (assuming it was the only way out) I'd want to know what was outside, and whether or not I should look around for something to wield as a weapon or a shield for my defense.

As for "Casseurs", some of them deserve solidarity, some don't.
I've no problem with those people who bust up warplanes. I've no problem with those who sabotage unjust corporate projects. People who bust up bus shelters during a march don't. It achieves nothing tactically, an puts glass in the path of other marchers. These guys may not necessarily be part of a black bloc, of course. They may just be hot heads, or football hooligans who came along for the spectacle. Either way, they're not much bloody use to anyone, and they shouldn't be ignored either.

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