The Guardian January 22, 2003


People power can stop war

Half a million people demonstrated in Washington last weekend. Two 
hundred thousand in San Francisco. Placards read: "No Blood for Oil", 
"Regime change starts at Home", "Would Jesus Have Bombed Them?" One person 
said, "It's really important for us to show Europe and the rest of the 
world that we oppose this so they may have the courage to say 'no'".

The city councils of more than 36 American cities have declared their 
opposition to a pre-emptive strike against Iraq as the "Cities for Peace" 
movement sweeps the nation.

Peace activist, Ron Solomon who helped steer a resolution against the war 
through the Baltimore City Council said, "Here in Maryland, we have 800,000 
people who lack health insurance. The Bush administration can find billions 
for war on Iraq but our cities are in a deep fiscal crisis without funds 
for programs that help people."

This is the other America. This is the America for peace and sanity and 
against the warmongering of the Bush administration. "Today's 
demonstrations shattered the myth of consensus for war", said a 
spokesperson for the Partnership for Civil Justice, one of the thousands of 
organisations affiliated to ANSWER (the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism 
coalition) which coordinated the demonstrations.

The snowballing opposition to war in the US has been strengthened with the 
involvement of trade union organisations. Labor Against the War has been 
formed, made up of representatives of local unions, central labour councils 
and labour peace groupings as well as individual labour leaders from across 
the country.

The Secretary of a Teamsters local, Jerry Zero, informed delegates to the 
formative meeting of the new organisation the result of a recent poll taken 
among the membership of the Teamsters Union. "Half our members think George 
Bush is a liar and the other half don't think you can believe a word he 
says", said Jerry Zero.

A poll conducted by Time magazine asking "Why does the US want to 
attack Iraq?" showed a very high level of understanding by the American 
people. Eighty-four per cent of those polled believed its aim was to "Get 
Iraq's oil". Only 3.1 per cent said it was "To disarm Saddam" and only 4.7 
per cent thought it was "To make the world a safer place". There were 
12,607 responses to the poll.

Another poll conducted by the Miami Herald found that 68 per cent 
favour achieving US goals without going to war while only 34 per cent 
favour "quick military action".

The demonstrations in the US were part of internationally coordinated 
actions in cities in no less than 30 other countries.

Demonstrators for peace and against war marched in the cities of the 
Netherlands, in Ireland, India, Canada, and France where up to 20,000 
marched in Paris.

They took to the streets in Moscow, Hong Kong, in Turkey, Italy, Syria, 
Japan, Austria, Lebanon, Egypt, New Zealand and Pakistan.

Protestors in Cairo called on the Egyptian Government to prevent US and 
British warships from using the Suez Canal en route to a possible attack on 
Iraq.

In New Zealand the Green Party's Keith Locke told 500 demonstrators that 
"pressure from around the world can halt this war".

Putting their lives on the line, dozens of British volunteers and at least 
one Australian are travelling to Iraq to act as human shields protecting 
strategic sites.

The convoy is being organised by a former US marine, Kenneth Nichols, who 
served in the first Gulf War and won a combat medal but is now a vociferous 
opponent of another Gulf conflict. His experience of war left him 
disillusioned with American foreign policy.

Never before has such worldwide opposition to war swept the world in 
internationally coordinated actions.

Opposition to war swept the world in internationally coordinated actions.

Peace organisations throughout the world, including in Australia, are now 
gearing up for the next round of demonstrations to take place over the 
weekend of February 15-16.

Using threats and bribery, the US Government is attempting to force a 
decision endorsing war through the United Nations Security Council by the 
end of January. Its timetable for war is now reaching a critical point. But 
war is not justified. It is against the Charter of the UN, it would be a 
violation of international law and is immoral.

It is the human shield presented by the millions of ordinary people around 
the world that now stands in the way of the raging beast of warmongering US 
imperialism.

ACT FOR PEACE

In the event of war being launched by the US and its few allies, actions 
will take place in all capital cities on that day or the next.

A statement by the Australian Peace Committee, Friends of the Earth, 
Ozpeace and Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament (CICD) 
said, "Australian Government military action will take place without the 
consent, without the support of, and against the will of most Australians..

"The United Nations inspectors in Iraq have announced that they can find 
nothing. It is quite clear that the Bush administration has wanted to go to 
war with Iraq all along, whether or not they actually have weapons of mass 
destruction.

"There is no excuse for war with Iraq. The ALP must immediately take a 
strong and principled stand with no ifs or buts, against military action."

The vast majority of Australians oppose war as has been revealed by a 
number of public opinion polls.

The Howard Government must not involve Australia in any war on Iraq, a war 
that would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi 
men, women and children.

In a statement CPA President, Dr Hannah Middleton and General Secretary 
Peter Symon called for intense activity so that the February demonstrations 
in Australian cities and towns present a wall of opposition to the war 
plans of the US, British and Australian Governments.

"In addition to the main city-based peace organisations, local and 
community peace organisations need to be built. We call upon trade unions 
to throw their weight into the movement for peace now. Peace is union 
business.

"We call on the Australian Government to bring all Australian military, 
naval and airforce units home immediately.

"We demand that the Australian Government stop US forces from turning 
Australian territory into a bombing range for US aircraft.

"We protest the fact that the US is treating Australian ports as though 
they are part of its territory and Australia its colony.

"We demand that the use of Pine Gap as a spy centre and an integrated part 
of the US war machine be ended.

"The US and British leaders need war now. They must be stopped. You can 
help. Act Now! The people of the world demand peace", concluded the Party 
leaders' statement.

Back to index page