In equal measures: hope and despair
This March marks the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the start of the long-term military and economic occupation.
Tens of thousands of civilians and more than 3,000 coalition soldiers have been killed; thousands more have been horrifically wounded. Over the past four years people have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their families and their minds. Iraqi society is in ruins and the occupiers' political stability is on a knife-edge as widespread domestic dissent continues - and perhaps even grows.
Sentiment and action
To some degree the anti-war movements in both Britain and the US have been instrumental in maintaining the level of domestic opposition to such aggressive foreign policy. However it is also the common sense of ordinary citizens - who do not want blood on their hands - which has swelled the ranks of dissenters to unprecedented levels. Of people who were for the invasion four years ago, very few remain so now.
Despite this, as part of the fictitious “war on terror”, we are told to expect to the “long war”. So where does that leave the anti-war movement? Well, we've said it once and we're going to it again: part of the problem is a credibility gap between sentiment and action, combined with a single-war-issue approach and top-down organising. It's not enough to express opinions. It is not enough to march around the world's capitals periodically. It is not enough to write the odd letter to your MP. And it's certainly not enough to wait for someone to tell us what to do. The revolution, after all, starts with you.
However disempowered we can feel, it's vital that what power we do have - our power to say no, to refuse to participate, to stand up to authority, to walk without fear, to be agents in our own destinies - is used, individually and collectively.
It's not always easy working together; there are different approaches and ideas, different strategies and tactics, different understandings and perceptions. However, while recognising these limitations, the only way anything ever changes is when enough people actively exercise their power in practical and effective ways, and attempt to become the change they want to see in the world.
Gong acceptance speech...
On a personal note, this is my last issue as editor of Peace News. For the past seven-plus years the paper has been a big part of my life and I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity and trust to work on such a vital project and with so many amazing people.
I'd like to thank everyone - board members, co-workers, contributors, readers, volunteers, donors, friends and family - who has supported the paper and also supported me during my stint here.
On that subject, people keep asking me what I will be doing next, so here goes: I will be spending more time making a racket with my guitars ... plus upping the anti [sic] and generally causing trouble over Trident replacement, and working with my Netuxo colleagues putting the world of computers to rights.
It's been a great journey. So thankyou all. Ippy