Alternatives to War/Act Locally

The following is an email message in it’s entirety. Some of this applies to people at large, some of this is direct action that is occurring in Vancouver. I encourage people everywhere to get involved in demanding alternatives to war. At the very least, that the upcoming military action, which appears inevitable, be VERY limited:

Thanks to Brishen for forwarding this on to me.

Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 09:20:21 -0700

To: “A16 PeaceKeep”:;

From: Connie Fogal In Vancouver BC the following are already organized.

1. Each evening 5:00 pm Witness for Peace Vancouver Art Gallery downtown

Georgia St side. Hope is to hold a vigil each day at 5:00 p.m.

2. Wednesday and Thursday September 19 and 20th on UBC campus and maybe Sunday. UBC students are organizing a Coalition Against War Teach-in

3. Saturday Sept 22 at SFU MobGlob holds Antiwar Teach-in 9:30AM to 6:00

PM Changed from IMF teach-in to Antiwar.

4. Saturday September 22, 1:30 p.m. March for Truth and Reconciliation

begins at First Baptist Church Burrard and Nelson (Indigenous peoples and

Chinese Christians in Action))

5. Saturday September 22, 2:00 p.m. Grandview Park Peace Caravan- displays

– changed from caravan concerned about sanctions against Iraq to antiwar

event- starts at Victoria BC and goes across Canada

6. Saturday September 22, 7:00 p.m. Heritage Hall,3102 Main Street (15th &

Main) antiwar event -food, music, videos, speakers A Social Evening$10 or

by donation. This a benefit evening for the Cross -Canada Caravan against

sanctions and war. There will be a short video on Iraq and a couple of

very brief presentations. This is time for like minded people to get

together and enjoy some music and lots of good vibes. Refreshments will be

available. Organized by the Campaign to End Sanction Against the People of Iraq.

7. Sunday September 23, 2:00 pm, Vancouver Art Gallery, Rally for Peace End the Arms Race

8. Monday September 24 9:30 AM at the Peace flame south end of Burrard

bridge.Caravan Send Off Come out in support of our media event.

Participate in escorting the caravan over the Burrard bridge in decorated

vehicles, or join with those waving goodbye from the side-walk of the

bridge. Svend Robinson will be speaking at the “send off” event. These

events are organized by the Campaign to End Sanction Against the People of

Iraq For more information: Linda 604 904-2412, Ghada 604 669-3026,

Lavina 604 942-2184

9.Saturday September 29, 11:00 AM Victory Square (Cambie and Hastings) Peace March MobGlob

The Need for Dissent

Radicalism is retreating, but it’s more necessary than ever before

By George Monbiot

If Osama bin Laden did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

For the past four years, his name has been invoked whenever a US

president has sought to increase the defence budget or wriggle out of

arms control treaties. He has been used to justify even President Bush’s

missile defence programme, though neither he nor his associates are

known to possess anything approaching ballistic missile technology. Now

he has become the personification of evil required to launch a crusade

for good; the face behind the faceless terror.

The closer you look, the weaker the case against bin Laden becomes.

While the terrorists who inflicted Tuesday’s dreadful wound in the world

may have been inspired by him, there is, as yet, no evidence that they

were instructed by him. Bin Laden’s presumed guilt rests on the

supposition that he is the sort of man who would have done it. But his

culpability is irrelevant: his usefulness to western governments lies in

his power to terrify. When billions of pounds of military spending are

at stake, rogue states and terrorist warlords become assets precisely

because they are liabilities.

By using bin Laden as an excuse for demanding new military spending,

weapons manufacturers in America and Britain have enhanced his iconic

status among the disgruntled. His influence, in other words, has been

nurtured by the very industry which claims to possess the means of

stamping him out. This is not the only way in which the new terrorism

crisis has been exacerbated by corporate power.

The lax airport security which enabled the hijackers to smuggle weapons

onto the planes was the result of corporate lobbying against the

stricter controls the government had proposed. Some reports suggest that

so many died in the south tower of the World Trade Centre partly because

some of the companies there instructed their employees to return to work

after the north tower had been hit.

Now Tuesday’s horror is being used by corporations to establish the

preconditions for an even deadlier brand of terror. This week, while the

world’s collective back is turned, Tony Blair intends to allow the mixed

oxide plant at Sellafield to start operating. The decision would have

been front page news at any other time. Now it’s likely to be all but

invisible. The plant’s operation, long demanded by the nuclear industry

and resisted by almost everyone else, will lead to a massive

proliferation of plutonium, and a near certainty that some of it will

find its way into the hands of terrorists. Like Ariel Sharon, in other

words, Blair is using the reeling world’s shock to pursue policies which

would be unacceptable at any other time.

For these reasons and many others, radical opposition has seldom been

more necessary. But it has seldom been more vulnerable. The right is

seizing the political space which has opened up where the twin towers of

the World Trade Centre once stood.

Civil liberties are suddenly negotiable. The US seems prepared to lift

its ban on extra-judicial executions carried out abroad by its own

agents. The CIA might be permitted to employ human rights abusers once

more, which will doubtless mean training and funding a whole new

generation of bin Ladens. The British government is considering the

introduction of identity cards. Radical dissenters in Britain have

already been identified as terrorists by the Terrorism Act 2000. Now

we’re likely to be treated as such.

One of the peculiar problems we radicals face is that the targets of

Tuesday’s terror represented more clearly than any others the powers we

have long opposed. For those of us who have campaigned against the

predatory behaviour of the financial sector and the defence industry,

the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon had come to symbolise all that

was rotten in the state of the world. So, though ours is a movement

built on peace, it has not been hard for our opponents to equate our

dissidence with terror.

The authoritarianism which has long been lurking in advanced capitalism

has started to surface. In the Guardian yesterday, William Shawcross —

Rupert Murdoch’s courteous biographer — articulated the new orthodoxy:

America is, he maintained, “a beacon of hope for the world’s poor and

dispossessed and for all those who believe in freedom of thought and

deed”. These believers would presumably include the families of the

Iraqis killed by the sanctions Britain and the US have imposed; the

peasants murdered by Bush’s proxy war in Colombia; and the tens of

millions living under despotic regimes in the Middle East, sustained and

sponsored by the United States.

William Shawcross concluded by suggesting that “we are all Americans

now”, a terrifying echo of Pinochet’s maxim that “we are all Chileans

now”: by which he meant that no cultural distinctions would be

tolerated, and no indigenous land rights recognised. Shawcross appeared

to suggest that those who question American power are now the enemies of

democracy. It’s a different way of formulating the warning voiced by

members of the Bush administration: “if you’re not with us, you’re

against us”.

The Daily Telegraph has set aside part of its leader column for a

directory of “useful idiots”, by which it means those who oppose major

military intervention. Doubtless I will find my name on the roll of

honour there tomorrow. So, perhaps, will the families of some of the

victims, who seem to be rather more capable of restraint and forgiveness

than the leader writers of the rightwing press. Mark Newton-Carter,

whose brother appears to have died in the terrorist outrage, told one of

the Sunday newspapers, “I think Bush should be caged at the moment. He

is a loose cannon. He is building up his forces getting ready for a

military strike. That is not the answer. Gandhi said: ‘An eye for an eye

makes the whole world blind’ and never a truer word was spoken.” But

when the right is on the rampage, victims as well as perpetrators are

trampled.

Mark Twain once observed that “there are some natures which never grow

large enough to speak out and say a bad act is a bad act, until they

have inquired into the politics or the nationality of the man who did

it.” The radical left is able to state categorically that Tuesday’s

terrorism was a dreadful act, irrespective of provenance. But the right

can’t bring itself to make the same statement about Israel’s new

invasions of Palestine, or the sanctions in Iraq, or the US-backed

terror in East Timor, or the carpet bombing of Cambodia. Its critical

faculties have long been suspended and now, it demands, we must suspend

ours too.

Retaining the ability to discriminate between good acts and bad acts

will become ever harder over the next few months, as new conflicts and

paradoxes challenge our preconceptions. It may be that a convincing case

against bin Laden is assembled, whereupon his forced extradition would,

I feel, be justified. But, unless we wish to help George Bush use

barbarism to defend the “civilisation” he claims to represent, we on the

left must distinguish between extradition and extermination.

Tuesday’s terror may have signalled the beginning of the end of

globalisation. The recession it has doubtless helped to precipitate,

coupled with a new and understandable fear among many Americans of

engagement with the outside world, could lead to a reactionary

protectionism in the United States, which is likely to provoke similar

responses on this side of the Atlantic. We will, in these circumstances,

have to be careful not to celebrate the demise of corporate

globalisation, if it merely gives way to something even worse.

The governments of Britain and America are using the disaster in New

York to reinforce the very policies which have helped to cause the

problem: building up the power of the defence industry, preparing to

launch campaigns of the kind which inevitably kill civilians, licensing

covert action. Corporations are securing new resources to invest in

instability. Racists are attacking Arabs and Muslims and blaming liberal

asylum policies for terrorism. As a result of the horror on Tuesday, the

right in all its forms is flourishing, and we are shrinking. But we must

not be cowed. Dissent is most necessary just when it is hardest to

voice.