Sunday November 11 was the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, a terrible conflict in which millions died – including 35,000 Irishmen, from North and South.
Nonetheless, even those horrors pale in comparison to the horrors that will be unleashed if thermonuclear war breaks out.
The ever-present danger of such a war is why anti-war organisations like the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) exist and are so badly needed.
PANA is currently preparing to host the first international conference against US/NATO military bases on November 16, 17, 18 at Liberty Hall, Dublin.
The conference will host a large number of speakers and seeks to unite anti-war activists across the world on the issue of the global network of US/NATO military bases, a network that supports illegal wars and which includes a de facto US military base at Shannon Airport in Co Clare, through which nearly three million US troops have passed since 2003.
It was in light of PANA’s links to like-minded groups throughout Europe and the world that we were selected to host the conference in Dublin.
These connections have been forged in the 22 years since 1996 when PANA was established to advocate for Irish neutrality and an independent Irish foreign policy.
We are strongly critical of the militarisation of the EU and successfully campaigned for the rejection of the Nice and Lisbon Treaties in referendums in 2001 and 2008 (unfortunately, both referendums were subsequently re-run).
PANA also led the historic demonstration in Dublin in 2003 opposing the Iraq War, when 100,000 people marched.
In 2017, eight years after the re-run of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, PANA was proven right in our prediction that the treaty would pave the way for further Irish integration into EU military structures, when the Government brought Ireland into the EU’s military framework (known as PESCO) – a stepping stone to an EU army.
PANA strongly opposes Irish participation in PESCO (as did 42 of the Dail’s 158 members).
In addition to our campaigning activities, PANA organizes conferences on issues related to our objectives. In May this year, we held a conference marking twenty years since the 1998- 99 Kosovo war, which culminated in NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia.
The war was supposedly to protect ethnic Albanians in Kosovo from Yugoslav forces even though in reality the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army was the aggressor.
NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, which was in breach of international law, took place following an ultimatum that Yugoslavia allow NATO to occupy its entire territory (which no sovereign state could accept), proving that the real objective was regime change.
The lies and media manipulation to justify this war set the stage for the subsequent disastrous Western interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
PANA seeks to win support for the anti-war message across political and religious boundaries and we have recently established a branch in Northern Ireland.
We do not take a position on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and, while our objectives may seem more obviously in line with nationalists/republicans, we are keen to identify points in common with unionist parties, including the DUP, whose MPs voted in the House of Commons against war with Syria in the landmark vote in August 2013.
One figure in Northern Ireland PANA has a particularly close relationship with is Mairead Maguire, who of course won a Nobel Prize for work in cross-community reconciliation. We are pleased to have Mairead as a speaker at the forthcoming Conference, which is more relevant now than ever.
• Roger Cole, chairman, Peace and Neutrality Alliance