EVERYTHING SHOULD BE UNDER THE SUN...
NO New Nuclear Weapons... NO New Nuclear Targets... NO New Pretexts For Nuclear War... NO Nuclear Testing...
NO Star Wars... NO Weapons In Space...
NO All Types Of Weapons, War & War Culture...
We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?

ATRC Update:
War Starts, Action Needed More Than Ever

 


The Damn War Has Started,
But We Need to Keep Hope Alive

by Bill HARTUNG



From the "Anti-War Demonstration" in New York on March 22, 2003.
(Photo: Bircan ÜNVER)

(March 20, 2003) As promised, George W. Bush started his war in Iraq last night. He did so despite the fact that the majority of the world's people oppose it, despite the fact that his administration had their heads handed to them when they tried to get authorization for war in the UN Security Council, and despite the fact that many Americans are supporting the war under false pretenses.  As Eric Alterman has noted in presentations on his tour for his new book, What Liberal Media? roughly 44% of Americans think Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks and over half of Americans think Iraqi citizens were among the 9/11 hijackers.  There were no Iraqi hijackers, but there were 15 Saudi citizens - but other than wackos to the right of Richard Perle, no one among the American political elite is suggesting that we overthrow the House of Saud.

You can be forgiven if, like me, you were a bit depressed to hear that the war had started (haven't we been down this road before?).  But this is no time to go into a funk.  It's time to sustain and build the peace movement, and engage in a full-throated debate about the meaning of this war in Iraq.  Otherwise, as Michael Klare has noted in essays on Alternet.org, in The Nation, and elsewhere, this could be the first of many resource-driven wars for regime change.

At a panel discussion I attended earlier this week, Stanley Crouch, a syndicated columnist and cultural critic, suggested that a major problem facing the anti-war movement is that "the war might not last more than a few weeks."  Therefore, how can people expect to build the kind of opposition that was built during Vietnam, which dragged on for years and years?  Crouch's analogy is clever, but he misses the larger point.  To be effective, the anti-war movement cannot (and it will not) limit itself to being against the war with Iraq - it must be against the "war without end" doctrine of military first strikes, nuclear saber rattling, and aggressive unilateralism of which the war in Iraq is just the opening act.

The chances of stopping George W. Bush - a true believer in the cleansing powers of military force if there ever was one - from going to war with Iraq were always small.  But look what the global anti-war movement accomplished-- we forced the Bush administration to take the issue to the UN; we turned out millions of people in what are arguably  the largest coordinated anti-war demonstrations in history; we helped embolden swing states like Guinea, Cameroon, Mexico, Chile, Angola and Pakistan to resist U.S. bullying and bribery and refuse to endorse this "preventive" war against Iraq; we put the future of entire governments at risk (in Turkey, in the UK, and elsewhere) when they attempted to side with the United States against the will of their own people.

That doesn't sound to me like a peace movement that is "losing."  That sounds to me like a peace movement that may have lost the first skirmish, but is poised to win the larger struggle to put the doctrine of aggressive unilateralism back in the trash bin of history, where it belongs.

For the next few weeks, anti-war voices may be muted in the mainstream media as our loyal press corps covers the Iraq war as if it were a sporting event (or a presidential election for that matter), focusing solely on tactical issues and "who's winning," not on whether it was necessary to go to war to disarm Iraq in the first place.

As I noted in an op-ed that I published in New York Newsday last Friday, another option was available that would have allowed the Bush administration to save face and back off from the war.  As chief UN inspector Hans Blix had pointed out, even if Saddam Hussein had bent over backwards and turned cartwheels to cooperate in disarmament, it would have taken a minimum of two to three months to accomplish that. The Bush folks could have pressed a resolution for Iraq to disarm within three months or face "serious consequences."  The resolution could have included concrete benchmarks for disarmament to be achieved along the way - not the kind of phony benchmarks that the Blair government was promoting at the last minute, but practical, achievable ones that would have given a rhythm and focus to the disarmament process.  Three months later, we would either have had a disarmed Saddam Hussein, or a Bush administration with a much broader coalition for using force.

The Bush administration decided not to take this route because, for them, this war has never been about disarming Saddam Hussein.  It has been about projecting U.S. power into the Persian Gulf in a way that administration true believers think will BOTH enhance U.S. political, military, and economic interests AND create a safer, and ultimately more democratic, Middle East.  Why we should trust the crowd that can't even abide democracy in Florida to bring democracy to Baghdad, Riyadh, and Teheran is one of those great unanswered questions that you are not likely to hear on "The O'Reilly Factor," or CNN, or anywhere outside perhaps "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

So, what do we do now?  First and foremost, we don't give up.  We maintain all of the energy and creativity that has resulted in the mass mobilizations, the vigils, the mass faxes and phone calls to Congress, the growing civil disobedience against the war, the campus teach-ins, and the whole rich festival of democratic activity that has gotten us this far.  While "General Chung" and "General Woodruff" (my friend Lee's nicknames for CNN's Connie Chung and Judy Woodruff when they're in full-metal war-coverage mode) ooh and aah over the smart bombs while ignoring the dumb policies that made the dropping of the bombs come to pass, we are allowed to change the subject.  We can ask some of the questions that the media is afraid to bring front and center (not that they are NEVER asked, just that they don't get the time and attention they deserve).

Even if everything goes perfectly in Iraq from President Bush's point of view - a quick, "clean" war in which Saddam Hussein is deposed and disarmed - do we have any reason to believe that America or the world will be any safer the day after the war ends?  Will we be less vulnerable to terrorist attacks?  Will it be less likely that some tin-pot dictator will get hold of a nuclear arsenal?  Will the poverty, ignorance, and ideological fervor that are fueling war and terrorism be diminished?

My short answer to these questions is no, no, and no.  We're not going to build a safer world by pushing aggressive unilateralist policies at the expense of diplomatic, economic, and security cooperation.  We're not going to be in a better position to "roll up" Al Qaeda networks after a war with Iraq.  We're not going to be in a better position to recruit systematic allied cooperation to thwart the nuclear weapons programs of North Korea and Iraq.  We're not going to be in a position to revive the U.S. and global economies and replace the visions of strife and victimhood that pervade so much of our global polity with visions of hope and prosperity.

The next "regime change" that needs to happen after the one in Baghdad should not happen in Teheran or Pyongyang - it should happen in Washington.  It won't come through force of arms, it will come through what one recent documentary called "a force more powerful" - non-violent, democratic activism.

For those folks who want to say the peace movement has "lost," I say, get back to me in December 2004, or January 2005 (depending upon whether  we need another "recount" this time around).  I'm going to be busy for  the next twenty months trying to take my country back from the prophets of war.

- . -

 


New York City, March 22, 2003
(Photo: Bircan ÜNVER)


Resources for Hope and Action

by Frida BERRIGAN

1. The United Nations has pulled out of Iraq. Most U.S. journalists have left. The Human Shields are gone. But, did you know there are 26 international citizens and two journalists who are part of the Iraq Peace Team. They are nurses and writers, students and teachers, farmers and activists. They are from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland and South Korea. And they are not leaving. According to their statement, they will remain in Iraq in the event of an attack, with the intentions of:

Living among the Iraqi people during any aggression directed at them, including continued economic sanctions. Using our presence and non-violent actions to witness, understand and expose the situation of both the civilian population of Iraq and highlight the importance of facilities such as water purification plants that are critical to daily life. Reporting on our experiences in Iraq through this website, our support teams, and all who will listen.

So far, they are all still alive. Visit their website and read their statements and diary entries. I know six of them personally, and I worry about them constantly now that the bombs are dropping on Baghdad. But we should all know that they are there and that they are risking their lives to provide protection and solidarity to the Iraqi people.

Iraq Peace Team
http://iraqpeaceteam.org/


Iraq Peace Team member Bettejo Passalaqua wrote on the website that after the first bombs fell in Baghdad she and another team member went to the nearby hospital, "But even this silence was eclipsed by the scene I encountered when I walked into the hospital. The corridor was lined with empty beds (at least 20 beds on either side) awaiting war
casualties.

"I spoke with a nurse on the vacant ward and she said she had worked all night in the emergency room of a regular hospital. There were many elders brought in with heart problems, most of which were a response to the stress of the situation.

"Thank you all for all you are doing to stop the atrocity of this war before more lives are claimed. I don't know how many people died in today's bombing. But it is too late to save them. I don't know how many people have died in wars past. But I know it is too late to save them. I don't know how many people will die in the days coming from this war, but I know it isn't too late to save them."

2. Paul Chan, who was in Baghdad a few months ago with the Iraq Peace Team, took pictures of daily life in Iraq. He has posted them on the web as a way of introducing Americans to the people who are suppose to be our enemies. In New York City, the Baghdad Snapshot Action Crew are printing out the 39 photos and putting them up around the city with tape or wheatpaste. People are doing this throughout the world.  So far, the group has gotten emails from over 50 cities nationally and internationally that have participated-- Tokyo, Warsaw, Madrid, and the Yukon.

Print out the pictures at http://nationalphilistine.com, and get started. You should know putting a human face on Iraq has possible consequences. In NYC two people were arrested and charged with criminal misdemeanors for taping the posters to poles.

Get in touch with the Baghdad Snapshot Action Crew at newyork2baghdad@riseup.net


3. Creative Actions Around the Country

"People for Peace and Justice" are having a "Funeral for Democracy" at the Utah State Capital in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Participants will dress in black and mourn the death of the Constitution of the United States, the United Nations, International Law, democracy, civil liberties, social programs and war victims. They will also "wash the flag," saying, "our President has desecrated the flag and we will symbolically clean it by washing it in a respectful manner." http://www.utahpeace.org

Artists Against the War in NYC have come up with the idea of a "Stroller March" as a way of dramatizing that the war on Iraq will hit babies and children hardest. During the March 22 protest march, they will parade through the streets with empty children's strollers, as well as strollers with children in them.

The empty strollers will have posters attached that say, "Thou Shall Not Kill (Children)" and "Almost 50% of Iraq's population is under 15 years old." The same message will be pinned on to the clothing of children seated in the strollers, and a grand horizontal banner bearing the identical message will precede our strollers through the streets.

For information on joining the Stroller March in NYC and how to make your own in your own community, visit http://www.artistsnetwork.org/news9/news373.html

 

Resources for more information:

1. Electronic Iraq
http://electronicIraq.net/news/index.shtml

This brand new online news project was launched by veteran antiwar campaigners Voices in the Wilderness (founded 1996) and respected Middle East supplementary news publishers, the Electronic Intifada (founded 2001).

The Electronic Iraq online magazine offers News & Analysis, Opinion/Editorial, Iraq Diaries, International Law, Aid & Development, Fact Sheets, and Action & Activism. The Iraq Diaries section offers eyewitness reports from Iraq, and Electronic Iraq's intention is to publish diary accounts from on the ground during any hostilities.

2. To learn about anti-war activities in your town or city, visit http://www.unitedforpeace.org/

3. For what is happening around the world, read this article in today's Agence France Presse, "Anti-War Protests Sweep Globe Following Launch of Strikes in Iraq," March 20th, 2003. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0320-02.htm

4. Civil disobedience is no longer a completely marginalized activity. Last week the former head of the Pacific Stock Exchange and more than 50 other people were arrested after blocking an intersection in San Francisco's commercial and financial heart. Traffic was tied up for hours. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0315-01.htm

Nobel Prize winner Máiread Corrigan Maguire and 43 others (including yours truly) were arrested after blocking the steps of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations on St. Patrick's Day. We held loaves of bread and bombs and asked our representatives at the UN to make a choice. For photos of this action, visit

http://dianelent.com/noiraqwar/noiraqwar15.html I am the one getting arrested in the sixth picture down. Don't I look pleased?

To learn more about nonviolent civil disobedience, visit
http://www.peacepledge.org

5. CommonDreams.Org

This invaluable compendium of progressive news and views brings together articles from mainstream publications, self published commentaries, reports, analysis and activist press release. http://www.commondreams.org/

6. Our friend David Isenberg, an arms analyst at BASIC, wrote a great article called "Meanwhile, the Business of War Continues," for the Asia Times It begins:

"A few years ago, Deep Space Nine, a spin-off television series of Star Trek was popular. Among other things, it featured a race of beings called the Ferengi, who were ruthless profit-seekers. To that end they codified a list of principles known as the Rules of Acquisition. Rules 34 and 35 stated that war is good for business and that peace is good for business, respectively.

"These rules come to mind now that the United States has launched its long-anticipated invasion of Iraq, at the same time that the biennial International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) 2003, the Middle East's largest military show, is taking place in Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Ironically, the five-day event was due to end on Thursday, the day that the US began its attack on Iraq."

Read the rest at: http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EC21Ak05.html

 =====================
The Arms Trade Resource Center was established in 1993 to engage in public education and policy advocacy aimed at promoting restraint in the international arms trade.

www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms To sign up for our monthly email Updates, please contact Frida Berrigan.
E-mail: BerrigaF@newschool.edu

   
This issue is dedicated to the Peace Process of SRI LANKA & prominent Turkish author Yasar KEMAL

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