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In the News
Last Updated: 03/26/2004
The world’s other superpower
Yotam ben Meir

The millions of the world's “other superpower”, as The New York Times described popular protest, that took to the streets worldwide on March 19 and 20 on the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, did not only ask for the abolition of this war, or any other. The protesters asked for a culture of peace, where not only that disputes are handled peacefully, but when resources are channeled to education, health care and work and not to waging wars and maintaining occupation.


The World Still Says ‘No’ To War

A call for action issued by a coalition network of peace activists and organizations from all around the world, was met with over than 600 protests worldwide.

People in more than 60 countries - from Japan to South Korea to Spain to Australia to South Africa - called for an end to the occupation, which they believe is only increasing violence and insecurity in Iraq (United for Peace and Justice press release).

"The streets of New York City were filled with people united in their opposition to the Bush program of war, conquest and empire. Members of the Arab and Muslim community marched shoulder to shoulder with military families and veterans demanding an end to the occupation of Iraq […] The demonstration linked the occupations of Iraq and Palestine," said Waleed Bader of the National Council of Arab Americans, who co-chaired the opening rally. "The people of the Middle East are fighting against occupation and they demand their right to self-determination." (A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition press release)

“It stunned the war-makers that the people of Spain, having experienced a horrific terrorist attack on civilians, could three days later resist the right-wing pressure applied by the pro-Bush Aznar government and turn that government out of office,” said Brian Becker, spokesperson for the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition.

“March 20 is a powerful manifestation of the people in the United States,” said Peta Lindsay of the ANSWER coalition. “Youth and students from across the U.S. are organizing to tell Bush that they will not fight his wars and we are demanding that the 2 billion dollars a week he is taking from us to spend on war and occupation in Iraq be spent instead for schools and jobs and to meet human needs.”

``It is time to bring our children home and declare this war was unnecessary,'' said the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a New York activist addressing a rally in Manhattan. Paolo Quadrardi, 42, a mechanic, said the Madrid train bombings that killed 202 people March 11 showed that ``war doesn't do anything but increase terrorism.''  In Montpelier, Vt., hundreds of silent protesters placed a pair of shoes on the Statehouse steps for each of the more than 560 U.S. soldiers killed in the war (The Guardian).

I support the troops, I just don't support the war," said one woman protester, whose son was killed in the recent conflict. "They are sitting ducks." (BBC)

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Middle Eastern capitals to denounce the war, although in Iraq itself there were no public demonstrations for or against the war.

Correspondents say the majority of Iraqis are pleased that former President Saddam Hussein has been ousted, but resent the occupation of their country and are impatient to have their own government (BBC). Thousands of Sunni and Shiite Muslims had come together to rally in Baghdad on Friday, one year after the beginning of the war (CNN). In Turkey, one of Iraq's neighbors, about 2,000 anti-American demonstrators protested the war in Ankara and Istanbul before dispersing peacefully amid tight security.

Jordan and Bahrain also witnessed small rallies, while in San'a, Yemen, where authorities had banned a demonstration, opposition parties and union members held a sit-in outside parliament and issued a statement condemning the government (CNN).

In San Francisco, Richard Penrose, 77, and his wife boarded an early bus from Sacramento to join the rally. ``I don't know if Bush is going to hear the message,'' Penrose said. “But we're hoping the people of the United States hear it. Because people should have their power back.” (The Guardian)

 

Bush defended U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq

Bush's remarks, delivered Saturday during his weekly radio address, echoed a longer speech he gave Friday.

"The liberation of Iraq was good for the Iraqi people, good for America and good for the world," the president said Saturday.

Since Bush declared the end of major combat operations May 1, 433 troops have been killed, 274 from hostile fire. (CNN)

The United Nations has finally confirmed it will play a role in Iraq's future political process.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he will send a team to the capital Baghdad to help with the formation of a new interim government.

The proposed transfer of power from the US-led coalition to Iraqi civilians is set for the end of June. (BBC)

 

The demonstrators’ reports

World Indymedia (independent media center for media activism and grassroots news source service) with the voices of the demonstrators: [1] [2] [3] [4]

 

Comments and Analysis

-- Many people keep turning out for the protest demonstrations, and that is good and needed.  But the so-called “peace movement” even in today's historic circumstances is still a marginal phenomena; Few in Washington pay much attention to the U.S. “peace movement” for they know it is unconvincingly lead, quite under control, and beyond that infiltrated in a variety of ways.  They also know that civil disobedience, the key possible weapon that could make a difference as was the case during the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements, has been specifically disavowed by those who today control the “peace movement”. Demonstrations “yes”,
leadership and smarts “no” for Palestinians “Disastrous”
.

 

-- The anniversary of the war on Iraq falls on 19-20 March 2004. But the weeks (and even months) before this date mark another anniversary that deserves to be remembered: namely, the intense efforts of British and American organizations familiar with Iraq in proposing detailed plans to the United States and United Kingdom leaderships to address the problems posed by the Saddam Hussein regime without military invasion. Was there an alternative? what can be done now? and what are the lessons of Iraq for conflict prevention and peace-building worldwide?

 

-- On February 20, 2003, Environmentalists Against War convened a press conference at the Sierra Club offices in San Francisco to announce the release of a declaration called “Ten Reasons Environmentalists Oppose an Attack on Iraq.”

 

-- Nearly as often, one hears of the United States as the great Samaritan: second to none at 'civilizing' half-breed races. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, the United States is the "the last best hope of mankind," no less. [Nevertheless, while] The United States commands the largest lead where it matters most - in military power. At $396.1 billion in fiscal year 2003, US military spending exceeds the combined military budget of the next twenty countries, [when] Judged in terms of school life expectancy (the number of years a child is expected to spend in the educational system), the US ranked fifteenth in the late 1990s. In mathematical literacy for fifteen year olds, it ranked eighteenth out of 27 countries. It's performance was only marginally better in scientific literacy, moving up to the fourteenth place in the same group of countries. World's Greatest Country - Do the Facts Lie?

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