NATO Cardiff: is this what democracy looks like?

I’m off to Cardiff this evening, and hope at some point over the weekend to take some pictures of the monstrous barrier described in this post by Keith Flett that has been put up all around town. One of the most important points about this month-long fiasco is that there was no consultation whatsoever with the people of Cardiff before the decision was taken to waste such a vast amount of money. No doubt that’s because if there had been a consultation the response would have been overwhelmingly negative. Who will be held to account? My guess is “nobody”…

Kmflett's Blog

Nato Cardiff: is this what democracy looks like?
I live in North London and central Cardiff something that seems to surprise some of my social media followers but is explained by the nature of my job as a union officer and the fact that my partner happens to live in Cardiff…

Next week on 4/5th September there is a Nato Summit meeting, not in Cardiff but at the Celtic Manor hotel outside Newport on the M4.

I’m no fan of Nato. It contains the word ‘treaty’ in its name and history suggests that treaties are an excellent way of starting wars. In addition it appears to be run largely by people who have more than a passing similarity to Dr Strangelove. Of course its opponents are mostly unlovely as well.

Anyway if you are going to have a Nato summit and lots of, at the least, self styled statesmen [&…

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10 Responses to “NATO Cardiff: is this what democracy looks like?”

  1. I assumed that next weekend’s banquet is going to be such a top-of-the-range knees-up (including free bar), that the fence was to keep the delgates from trashing the town on a post-summit big night out in Cardiff’s top night clubs. If it wasn’t for the chance of an epic tax payer funded piss-up, our glorious leaders would surely just be using Skype or Facetime.

    • telescoper Says:

      I wouldn’t have minded so much if they had invited me! I’m sure they knew I’d be in Cardiff. I put it on Twitter so the CIA would have known immediately!

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    I’ve no idea what NATO has been up to since 1990 but, quite simply, I believe that but for this organisation Western Europe would have been invaded by the Soviets during the Cold War. Indeed that is now established fact following plentiful leaks and defections. So I’m very grateful to NATO for having lived my life in freedom. Better red than dead was a false dichotomy, for the peoples of Western Europe were neither at the time, and anybody said that we must inevitably blink first was proven wrong.

    • telescoper Says:

      The value or otherwise of NATO is a separate argument. My point is that it was an absurd decision to site such a high profile event in such a vulnerable location. My view is that the Ring of Steel about Bute Park and Cardiff Castle increases the risk to the ordinary people of Cardiff. The likeliest response of any potential terrorist will be to attack soft targets outside the security cordon (eg shopping centres, railway stations etc). The NATO bigwigs are probably safe, but the rest of the population are being put in danger, entirely needlessly. Far better to have held the whole meeting at Celtic Manor, a remote location with a well-defined and thus more easily defensible perimeter.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Makes sense. But I was responding to the comment about NATO’s purpose in your repost, that ran: “I’m no fan of Nato. It contains the word ‘treaty’ in its name…”

    • I agree pretty much. Helmut Schmidt (who lost the confidence of his party when he was in favour of stationing Pershing missiles in Germany) said that Mikhail Gorbachev later told him that the stationing of the Pershings was a major factor moving him to introduce glasnost and perestroika, which is somewhat ironic since many on the left painted Gorbachev as the man of peace and NATO as war mongerers.

      On the other hand, farther away from the North Atlantic, such as in Turkey (which has neither anything North nor Atlantic anywhere near), NATO does tend to turn a blind eye to questionable policies of the government because Turkey is considered an important ally so the end justifies the means.

      Also, note that there are several countries in Western Europe which were not NATO members then, and some are still not NATO members. They weren’t invaded by the Soviets during the Cold War.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        But did the countries you have in mind have a border with the communist bloc?

        When all is said and done in Ukraine, it is not a NATO member and although the usual military exercises on the eastern borders of relevant NATO countries should be done to demonstrate resolve to Putin, we cannot and should not intervene militarily in Ukraine if he is willing to raise the stakes that high. It is great that Ukraine looked to Western Europe but it is not as if it has had a long tradition of democracy and rule of law, while Russia gets its name from an ancient State called Kievan Rus – and Kiev is capital of Ukraine. Sanctions should be applied that really hurt Putin, though – financially speaking, he needs the West a lot more than vice-versa.

      • Finland, yes, with the Soviet Union. Austria, yes, with Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Yugoslavia (communist but not part of the “communist bloc” per se, as Tito had broken with Stalin early on), yes, with Romania and Bulgaria and Hungary. The others, no.

        It appears to me that the Ukraine (quite a large country) is rather divided, with a significant pro-Russia population and a significant pro-EU population.

        I’m not sure about your last sentence. The biggest mutual dependence is probably gas, but would lack of gas income hurt Putin more than lack of gas would hurt his customers?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I recall seeing the percentages of the Russian and EU economies that trade each way accounts for, which is why I know that we can hurt them a lot more than vice-versa. As for Russian gas, it is far from being the only gas input to Germany, although it is a large component. I have just spent a few minutes trying to find the exact figures in a (paper) file I have, but failed. But it is not the case that Putin can turn all of Germany’s energy off tomorrow if he chooses – and let’s remember how much that action would hurt his pocket.

        We discussed briefly here the other day that the Secretary-General of NATO said he had evidence that Putin was funding the anti-fracking movement. Here is the quote: Russia, “as part of its sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engages actively with so-called non-governmental organisations, environmental organisations working against shale gas – obviously to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas”. For both political and financial reasons; here’s the URL:

        http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/field/field_document/20140619RasmussenQ%26A.pdf (p10)

      • Thanks for the link. Of course, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend; in other words, the fact that Putin wants to discourage fracking for his own benefit shouldn’t lead one, out of dislike for Putin, to ignore real dangers of fracking.

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