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Lift the Sanctions Now! Stop the Bombing Now!
Complete and Immediate Withdrawal of US Military Forces from the Persian Gulf Region!
Page last updated January 09, 2003
By Bob Witanek
If you agree, let me know!
The days of decision are upon us! It has been announced in no uncertain terms that unless there is some great miracle, the full scale invasion, takeover, overthrow, assassination and long term occupation of Iraq begins around the end of January. The talking heads and the newspapers have dubbed these days the "countdown to war."
It is quite clear to me that the timetable for the attack has little to do with opposition to the war, either that of anti-war forces here, those in other countries or diplomatic spoken opposition by other countries. (I do not believe that any country has offered any opposition in the form of concrete actions to oppose the U.S. plan and many of those who have voiced "concern" over the war plan have also agreed to provide various forms of military assistance to the effort.) Neither does the timetable have anything to do with the inspections or any alleged breach of 1441.
The timetable has everything to do with the amount of time it has taken the United States to line up arrangements with Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, Germany many other countries for basing, command posts, air usage, etc., etc.
The timetable has everything to do with the amount of time it has taken to amass a hundred of thousand troops to the region, to assemble the nuclear armed naval fleet (with no doubt some Trident submarines stealthily patrolling), the amount of time to move thousands of tons of heavy artillery into the region, the amount of time to prepare and deploy hundreds of planes to the region and at bases throughout the U.S., the amount of time to put hundreds of thousands of reserve troops on alert, the amount of time to begin the exposure of a half million U.S. troops to smallpox vaccines, the amount of time to bribe, coerce and threaten over 100 nations into supporting the "preemptive" aggression.
It is becoming more and more clear that there will likely be support or at least acquiescence from the gang of five permanent members of the Security Council and most of the non-permanent members. Blix is going along with the condemnation of the hijacked declaration and apparently as well, with the confrontational plan to remove Iraqi scientists that will likely provide more and more pretexts for the attack.
So the days of decision are upon us. The opposition to attacking Iraq has been built around the lowest common denominator demand of "Don't Invade Iraq."
This demand has said nothing about the genocidal sanctions against the Iraq that has killed, depending upon who you believe, from 1/2 million to nearly 2 million Iraqi people. The sanctions are indeed an act of war - an act of war that has taken the lives of a far greater number of people than those killed in the immediate attack of Gulf War I.
Many of us have been saying "stop the war before it starts" but the truth is that the war never ended from Gulf War I - it just took the form of economic strangulation. An anti-war movement worth it's salt has to clearly make the demand - "Lift the sanctions now!"
Also since Gulf War I, the U.S., the U.K, and sometimes Turkey have carried out aerial warfare, flying bombing missions over parts of Iraq on an almost weekly basis. The civilian casualty count, probably in the hundreds, from these attacks might not be as high as the sanctions toll. However, this too is ongoing warfare and our movement needs to take it head on with the demand - "Stop bombing Iraq now!"
Finally, as I mentioned, the U.S. build up in the region has been tremendous. To say "no invasion" without saying anything about the build up - even if the U.S. were to hold off - leaves us permanently at the brink of full scale war. Thus, our demand must be "Immediate and complete withdrawal of U.S. military forces from the Persian Gulf region."
Given the weakness of our position to this point, we are soon in jeopardy of losing substantial forces within our ranks. There are many who say "let the inspections work," "inspections, not war", "no rush to war," "work through the U.N.," "respect international law", "war only as a last resort," "force of law not law of force," etc. These positions are all conditional support for genocidal war because once the U.S. is able to line up the gang of five permanent members, these conditions are met and those taking these positions are in agreement with the war - unless they alter their positions.
If those have been your positions in recent months - please, please at this point, take stock of where you stand. Will you be with the forces against the war at the end of January in the very likely occasion that the inspection team and the gang of 5 along with a host of other security council countries are bribed and coerced into supporting the takeover? You need to figure this out now. We need you and we need you committed to a solid position against war, against violence, against genocide and against the theft of Arab land and Arab oil.
What Must We Do?
Do we want to stop the war? Do we believe we can? We need to believe that we can in order for our actions to be effective. That does not mean that we should have false confidence that we will - but that we have that ability - we need that belief. Otherwise we are going through motions. Otherwise we are standing witness.
If we believe that we can indeed stop the war - then we will realize that there is much more we need to be doing. It's not a matter of just going on record as having stood in opposition. It is a matter of all of us examining our actions, how much we are doing, what we are doing, what more we can be doing. All of us need to view ourselves as organizers, not just participants.
I believe we need to support the January 18 march on Washington. However, it could even be more important that we continue in the vein of the Eve of Christmas - Eve of War events. Each town that held an event, evaluate your capabilities of sustaining your efforts. Can you continue to do so on a weekly basis? It is important that people see us out, here us, read out literature, in all of our communities - not just where the big marches are.
We need to be out there on a weekly basis or maybe even a daily basis.
Those towns that have yet to start up community presences against the war - get something going. If you don't know how to do it - drop me a line. I will try to help you and try to find some people to help you. Check the resource page at http://NoWarNJ.org to see if there is anyone in your area who can help you.
Also, there are activists out there who see the war as a distraction from the 'real issues.' Be advised that this war is indeed a real issue and that during this war - it will be next to impossible to make any progress on any of the issues that you view as more important. That is indeed the case during war. The most effective way to fight for your issues is to join the forces fighting the war and get out there every day in this struggle. Educate us about your issues - let us figure out the ways to take it on as a multi-dimensional struggle.
Let's all reflect on our positions. Reflect on our actions. We all can be more effective and more active. We need to struggle to stop this war like we believe that we can!