The Celtic Manor, Newport, will host the 2014 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Summit on September 4-5.
Much of the media coverage about the conference so far has focused on a debate about the benefits and disruptions to Wales, with the Welsh and UK Governments emphasising the Summit as an opportunity for Wales while others criticise the cost and disruption.
In a statement on the Welsh Government website, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “The NATO Summit in Newport will be the largest international event ever staged in Wales. Wales will be featured in the word’s media for several days which will give it global exposure that it has rarely had before.”
But those who question the benefits to Wales cite missed opportunities when the Ryder Cup was hosted by Celtic Manor. And a quick search for ‘Nato’ on Twitter shows the frustrations of many commuters and businesses with lane and road closures already causing delays 2 weeks before the Summit.
However, the emphasis on the disruptions perhaps misses the wider debate about the role of NATO itself.
NATO was formed in 1949 with the signing of the Washington Treaty, and is a security alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe. NATO's fundamental goal is to safeguard the Allies' freedom and security by political and military means.
NATO has long been a focus of opposition among peace movements in Europe. CND is using the Newport NATO summit to highlight opposition to alliance, holding protests called ‘Stop the War, No to War: No to NATO and No to NATO Newport.’
According to CND, “The UK spends around £3 billion per year maintaining the Trident nuclear weapon system – and its replacement will cost £100 billion over its lifetime.
“Money into war is money out of our communities. In the UK, 500,000 people had to resort to food banks last year. None of the cuts would be necessary if the sums Britain spends on its military and armaments were invested in social need instead of the war machine.”
On the other hand there are individuals who are in favour of NATO and continue to see it as the principal security instrument of the transatlantic community and expression of its common democratic values. They argue its mission is to prevent war or to intervene in war to make it end as quickly as possible.
In his blog, Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, said, “While I have been more critical than any other MP against NATO’s role in Afghanistan, I believe that NATO’s future role in Europe is vital.”
He argues NATO has had: “65 years of life that generally has served the world well... It was a bulwark against Stalinist communism in 1949. It has been a refuge and shield for the Baltic States and other former Russian satellites nations after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.”
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your opinions on Twitter @WCIA_Cymru and our Facebook page and look out for a NATO debate event in November at the Temple of Peace.