Take action against all war

IssueMarch 2005
Feature by PN staff

On 19 March tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets around the world to protest at the continuing military occupation of Iraq, and to call for coalition troops to be withdrawn.
National and local events are due to take place in Greece, Sweden, Iceland, Brazil, Australia, Senegal, Japan and South Africa. Here in Britain the largest event will be the march in central London, taking place under the banner “bring the troops home”, with similar demonstrations and events taking place in Scotland and Wales and, on a local level, across the country (see below).
    While Peace News encourages everyone who opposes the war on Iraq to take to the streets on 19 March, this paper argues for a deeper analysis of war itself, for a broader vision and, at the same time, more focused forms of practical action. Anti-war campaigners need to see the war on Iraq in context. The issue is not just “this” war, it is about all war - about stopping the war machine itself.

Broadening the vision

So what can be done about this war? In the short term the soldiers need to refuse to fight, the war taxes need to be withheld (see p7), and people need to be out on the streets, outside the military bases and recruiting centres, and the offices of the war profiteers, making our opposition visible and practical.
    In the US a fresh call for practical nonviolent resistance to the Iraq war has just been made by the Iraq Pledge of Resistance and United for Peace and Justice. Their campaign includes actions at recruiting stations, coordinated national disobedience and supporting conscientious objectors.
    In Britain we also need to take this kind of consistent nonviolent action and to make the links between this war and the broader issues of economic, political and social violence.
    In challenging the practical symptoms and underlying causes, long-term groups and networks as diverse as Women in Black, Voices in the Wilderness, Disarm
    DSEi, Justice Not Vengeance, Act Together, Earth First! and Rising Tide continue to take action which makes these links and which place this war, and other current wars, in their wider context. (See p12 for forthcoming events organised by some of these groups.).
    In the long term the underlying causes of militarism must also be challenged proactively. The antiwar movement has to develop alternative social, political and economic structures. This means casting-off oil dependency, challenging the patriarchy, and attempting to move back into some kind of harmony with the earth - all of which require a dramatic change in all our lives. But it is this broader struggle which should be the natural home of all those who oppose all war.

Refuse and resist

Few soldiers in Britain have stood up against this war, but each one needs our support (see PN2458, cover story).
    Peace News will continue to support those who refuse to fight - not just soldiers from Britain and the US, but everyone who refuses to bear arms.
    Bringing the troops home is fine, but what about practically encouraging and supporting those who wish to leave the war now? The consequences for soldiers for doing so can be severe and the anti-war movement must be prepared to support those who take up the challenge.
    On 15 February US conscientious objector Camilo Mejia was released from prison after serving a year-long prison sentence for refusing to return to Iraq after an eight-month tour of duty.
    A few days later he published a moving, personal text in which he said “Let us ... put down our weapons, and reassert ourselves as human beings by putting an end to war.”
    But perhaps the most important message from Camilo is this “To those who have called me a hero, I say that I don't believe in heroes, but I believe that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”
    See you on the streets on 19 March ... and 20, 21, 22 ...

La luta continua!


Topics: Iraq, War and peace