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February 23, 2003

Ten bazillion massed dots, blots, and dabs against the war
Posted by Teresa at 05:10 PM *

The Hyperreal Media Archive, which normally archives media-related material about “the history of electronic music, rave culture and their related memes,” has compiled a photo archive from around the world of mass protests against the proposed war with Iraq. The cumulative effect is stunning.

Some of the protesters have turned out in wickedly cold weather, or in pouring rain, or in unlikely venues: Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Capetown, Johannesburg, Houston, Austin. They’ve turned out in areas that aren’t exactly hotbeds of habitual anti-Americanism: Taiwan, Dublin, Toronto, Ottawa, Glasgow, Prague. Wellington. Every major city in Australia, for pete’s sake. Antarctica, for pete’s sake twice over.

I don’t think I’ve ever before seen photos of a protest against American foreign policy in Thessaloniki. For that matter, I don’t think I’ve ever seen photos of one in Las Vegas.

Where I know the culture well enough to judge, the people I can see aren’t a bunch of non-registered non-voting protest junkies. Look at Raleigh, Detroit, Sacramento: sober middle-class and blue-collar citizens.

You know what else is weird? We’re seeing mass protests before the war has even started yet. That’s unprecedented.

The truly amazing photos are from countries that are supposedly our allies. You’ve got to figure there’s a disconnect between the citizens and their governments when the really mega demos were in nominally pro-war-on-Iraq countries. The Italian protests were massive. The march in London was the biggest in British history, which is saying something. And it’s estimated that between the various protests in Spain—Madrid, Barcelona, Andalusia—something like ten percent of the adult voting population took part in the protest marches. I would have said that’s impossible, but apparently it happened.

The United States is militarily the most powerful country on earth, but we’re not more powerful than the rest of the world put together. And as a far better man than George Bush once said, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

Comments on Ten bazillion massed dots, blots, and dabs against the war:
#1 ::: Berni Phillips Bratman ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2003, 07:08 PM:

Pre-war protests, yup.

The Pope has asked all Catholics to dedicate their Ash Wednesday fasting (March 5 this year) for peace.

Being at Potlatch, I went to Mass this morning at St. Boniface's in San Francisco. In their Sunday bulletin it says:
"In case of War:
Emergency Actions...the day the war breaks
out: gather to protest at 5pm Powell & Market,
San Francisco. The Saturday after: gather to
protest at 12noon UN Plaza, San Francisco (7th
& Market)."

I've never seen this in a church bulletin before! Since there had been panels on the concept of a just war and smart mobs at Potlatch, I found this very appropriate.

#2 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2003, 10:18 PM:

This may have something to do with a feeling that the only truly legitimate act George W. Bush can perform as president is to resign.

#3 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2003, 11:10 PM:

This is the only war that's ever really started before the war's been declared, either.

#4 ::: Paul Hoffman ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2003, 11:38 PM:

Let's hope that, after the first 10,000 die, that we get the same size rallies. And again at the next 10,000, and so on.

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 12:57 AM:

Very respectfully, Cassandra, and without going into a whole lot of detail, no it isn't.

#6 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 01:20 AM:

No, Paul. Let's hope that, after the first 10,000 dies, that we get 10 times the number of people at the rallies.

This is more than standing against an immoral miltary action. This is the last chance for the Republic. Those in power have made it *quite* clear that they don't care what you think or do, that they will merely do whatever they feel they need to do, period.

If we do not fight them in every way possible, they have won. If it gets to the point where no matter how odious thier actions are, it is accepted without comment, they have one, and our Republic is no more.

March. Write. Call. And, if it comes down to it, Fight. They will tell you that you have no permit to march. March anyway. They'll tell you that writing letters is useless. Write anyway. And, when they try and stop you, fight.

When your mayor says you can't march, march to City Hall. When you state says you can't call, swamp the phones. When the president says "you are either with us or against us," stand up and yell your dissent.

Don't give them an inch.

#7 ::: maureen speller ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 03:17 AM:

The thing that really moved me about last weekend was that feeling of continuity, the sense of this being a rolling demonstration going right round the world for 24 hours rather than being a series of individual actions. Twenty-plus million people with a single purpose. And I'm still tickled by the idea of peace demonstrations in Antarctica.

I'm not sure, though, that the picture of Hyde Park captures the full magnitude of what it was like in London that Saturday. The pictures of Piccadilly crammed with people are a lot closer to what was going on, and it was like that for five or six hours ... and the parallel side-streets were also full of people who couldn't take the crowds or the lack of progress on the main thoroughfare, or who were actually being directed through by the police, simply to relieve the pressure on the official route. I left London at 4 p.m. and people were still only just starting to march. And they were very ordinary people, most of them. Quiet, modest, non-confrontational people who don't, as a rule, get up and make a fuss. God knows how many people marched for the first time. The diversity of the crowd was incredible.

David Aaronovitch, who did not support the march, asked in The Guardian why the British-based Iraqis weren't marching, and then spent most of the week having his wrists slapped by the Iraqis who marched, the people who marched next to Iraqis, the people whose Iraqi neighbours marched.

You have to ask yourself, after this, and the big demonstration in Glasgow, and the hundreds of unreported small town-centre demonstrations, and a rough calculation that at least 2% of the mainland's population was on the move that day, how Blair can come out and say that it's great that we have the courage of our convictions, however misguided we all are, but that he's going to ignore us anyway, because he has God, morality, the US or whatever on his side. And those are all more important to him than the people he supposedly leads. He seems to be attempting the political equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and singing very loudly, and the only reason he can get away with it is because HM's Loyal Opposition is in such disarray right now (which would be a rich comedy show in its own right if it weren't such poor timing, quite frankly).

Which seems to suggest we're going to have to keep on marching, and marching, until he figures it out. Which is going to mean civil disobedience sooner or later, as I doubt they'll keep on giving grudging permission for marches (grass seed, anyone?). Probably sooner. I've never contemplated civil disobedience before ...

#8 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 09:35 AM:

At least Britons have the hope that public pressure will cause the Labour Party to replace Blair. We in the US have no such hope here.

#9 ::: marty ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 10:25 AM:

You all have seen this, right?

#10 ::: Paul Riddell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 11:22 AM:

It's okay, Graydon: Shrub will just use the speech he thought he might have to use for his 2000 concession: ", this sucks worse than anything has ever sucked before. Huh huh huh huh."

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 12:20 PM:

"We in the US have no such hope here."

I disagree.

I don't think the protests have a hope of stopping the war; the Mayberry Machiavellis want this thang like nothing else. To paraphrase Lily Tomlin, "We're Conservatives: we don't care, we don't have to." They're burning diplomatic bridges and ruining the economy to get it.

What I hope the protests will do is motivate people to vote these assholes out of office next year.

#12 ::: charlie b. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 12:57 PM:

just as a matter of fairness, since the idea that 10,000s will die is a fantasy with which people are powering up their self-righteousness, what should be the action of the peace protesters if casualties are very light, and 10,000s of Iraqis turn out on the streets to welcome the invaders. should some mass apology for dangerous wrong-headedness be arranged? or abdication from any involvement in politics on the basis of an excess of emotion over judgement? or simply stop pretending they can read the future?

#13 ::: Maureen Speller ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 01:11 PM:

Jon Meltzer observed:

"At least Britons have the hope that public pressure will cause the Labour Party to replace Blair."

We have that hope, but whether the alternatives to Tony Blaire are any better is not entirely clear at present. Take David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, for example: a man whose views on practically anything you care to mention (but let's start with asylum-seekers and ID cards) make Margaret Thatcher look like a shrinking violet of the most liberal tendencies. John Prescott? I don't think so. Jack Straw? Scary, very scary.

Gordon Brown is perceived by many to be a dull dog, but at least I don't think he would do anything strange and unusual without consultation, and he does seem to have some sort of grip on the finances. Even Robin Cook seems like a good bet, by comparison with some of the possibilities on offer, and I never thought I'd say that.

However, it's going to take a massive rebellion among Labour back-benchers to change anything ... whether that will come about if war breaks out, I don't know. I have a dreadful feeling the Labour back-benchers will decide to pull together for the good of the party and the country.I'm hoping they won't, in the same way I'm hoping the general populace won't lurch into 'we must support our boys' mode, but I'm already noticing the heart-warming newspaper reports about how our boys are being fed out there in the desert. Admittedly, this is supposed to counter suggestions that there isn't enough food to go round, but it's definitely more along the lines of 'see, they don't have to eat that nasty foreign stuff'. All very reassuring, and it does draw attention from the fact that they don't have the right boots and the tanks haven't arrived yet, and that we have a megalomaniac in charge of the country.

#14 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 01:31 PM:

Well, you know, Charlie, if you start a war, you had blessed well *better* be expecting people to die, because that's what people customarily *do* in wartime.

There's a wack of generals saying 'this is not a good idea'; one of their reasons is the probable long term body count.

There's the historical lesson that fighting in a built up area is nasty horrid bad stuff with a tendency to kill lots of people.

There's the observation that at least that many Iraquis died last time, *without* any attempt to take urban centres or hold territory, and the further observation that hating Saddam doesn't mean loving the US; it's quite possible to detest Saddam and hate the US at one and the same time, and the folks predicting glad greetings for the liberators are showing the sort of moral dualism blinkers that might prevent them from noticing this, or that they're dealing with a machismo culture in a way calculated to infuriate it.

That's bad enough; that they're apparently all members of a bizarre excuse fusion party that combines the various lies about why the Confederate defeat was the result of betrayals with the various lies about how the US defeat in Vietnam was military, rather than moral is absolutely terrifying, because this indicates that they're picking objectives based on no element of observable reality.

So, yeah, I figure expecting several tends of thousands of dead is pretty much the conservative position on this question.

Or were you sugguesting that if only Iraqis die in heaps, it's not worth protesting?

#15 ::: --k. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 07:30 PM:

charlie b:

It's a deal. If casualties are light; if 10,000 Iraqis turn out to thank us; if a democratic government grows from the 12-year ashes of Iraq and Baghdad to use its cultural and natural resources to redeem the mess that's been made of it for far too long--then yes. I will--myself, at least--apologies publicly and restrict myself insofar as I am able to navel-crawling paraliterary snarks. (I can't, you realize, speak for my fellow-travellers.)

Are you [kneejerking your apparent position from the tone and content of your post] prepared to similarly apologise publicly, and retire ditto from further freelance punditry, if:

  • the coming Turkish/Kurdish conflict escalates into ethnic cleansing, or its own nasty smoldering war;
  • if poverty, access to health care, and human rights are not demonstrably improved for those living in Iraq after, I dunno, what's fair, a year of American occupation;
  • if the cost of reconstruction precludes any actual improvements to the infrastructure people need in their everyday lives;
  • if (God forbid) we start finding it necessary to use Shock and Awe on Damascus, on Tehran, on Islamabad?

(Since either side will find it terribly easy to blame a high-profile terrorist attack on the other [we coddled them and hampered efforts against them; you enraged them and spread the very weapons they needed], and I don't relish the rhetorical ugliness that will ensue, we'll just take that one off the table.)

As a footnote, though: do the research; tens of thousands have already died. Whether you want to blame it on Saddam or not doesn't change the fact that, had we done things differently, they would be alive.

#16 ::: charlie b. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 10:29 PM:

Thanks for taking a (somewhat) provocative comment seriously.

as far as other wars (from that between the states to Vietnam) I haven't myself attempted to re-evaluate them, or to apply lessons from one or another of them to the present circumstances.

I have assumed in reading the arguments of those opposed to war (in any circumstances) that it is possible civilian casualties to which they are objecting. I simply do not think it is inevitable that there will be tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths as a direct or indirect result of US military action. If it is being suggested that any significant level of Iraqi combattant casualties is equally unacceptable, then we are not going to be able to talk to one another meaningfully.

The start of military action in Afghanistan was accompanied by continuing accusations that bin Laden was not responsible for September 11th, and endless reports that millions would die in resulting famines, that Pakistan (followed by the rest of the Muslim world) would rise up, and much more. It did not happen. Now the line has changed. Iraq, we are told, is not Afghanistan -- the advanced economy, the complex state bureaucracy on which people are dependent, etc. - that would buckle under war conditions creating untold misery. This is speculation, and I think it only convinces those who already want to be convinced by it.

I guess all kinds of complex political-emotional reactions are possible, but is it being suggested that there really exists widespread hatred and loathing of the US in Iraq among ordinary Iraqis, to the extent that the fall of Saddam would not be greeted positively?

If a war in Iraq resulted in large-scale civilian mortality, I would be the first to admit my error in having suported the current diplomatic posture of the US and UK governments. I would continue to believe that had people in the West devoted to demanding Saddam be overthrown the energy they have devoted to protesting against a possible war, he would not have been reinforced in his resistance and Arab states would have made sure he was removed without war. As for the other things about whiich I wa asked, I would have to know more about how further hypothetical conflicts began (e.g. Turk/Kurd). I hope Damascus and other terror centres would draw their own conclusions. I would hope that all kinds of material benefits would flow from ending Saddam's rule, but I would be happy if all that could be achieved to begin with was the institution of civil society: the rule of law; honest and independent administration of the police, courts, prisons; freedom of speech and association. Failure in those areas would certainly make me despair. Elections should follow only when civil society is secure, or else you are simply asking for disaster. I don't think it is the business of government to make pledges about poverty.

In general I don't think it is the business of the people to make military decisions, including basing support or opposition for foreign policy on a hypothetical assumption about the results of speculation about military tactics. We should form our ideas about policies and ask the generals to implement them without interference. I think the reason this mode of argument has arisen is essentially the commercial needs and intellectual arrogance of the media. What else will sell copies/airtime but constant hysteria -- and if there is no news, you make it up (that is, speculate). If we rid all news of speculation we would be in a much better place.

Can I be condemned to outer hell now please?

#17 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 12:51 AM:

>>I guess all kinds of complex political-emotional reactions are possible, but is it being suggested that there really exists widespread hatred and loathing of the US in Iraq among ordinary Iraqis, to the extent that the fall of Saddam would not be greeted positively?

Considering that the government controls most, if not all, of the media within Iraq, I would say that there is actually a very good chance that there is widespread loathing of the US among ordinary Iraqis. After all, we're the ones resposible for the embargo and thus their poverty, right? And everyone knows all Americans drive expensive cars and are selfish and rude and immoral.

#18 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 01:36 AM:

I don't think there's a hell for people who do not reason carefully. (Eg., 'hypothetical' Turkish/Kurdish conflict -- there's nothing hypothetical about it, it's involved tens of thousands of dead over the past decade.)

Firstly; US policy *has already* killed about half a million Iraquis over the past decade. The idea that more of them aren't going to die in a war is laughable. (By eighteenth century Western standards, the US has been at war with Iraq for the last twelve years. These are quite possibly the same standards that Iraq is now using.)

Secondly, you're shifting 'opposed to this war at this time' to 'war under any circumstances'; I am not anything like a pacifist.

I am opposed to *this* war because it is certain that it will be prosecuted incompetently by this American administration, and it is better that it not take place than that it be undertaken incompetently.

I am opposed to this war because it is widely and correctly percieved as an agressive war, an attack on a country which is incapable of harming the United States and which -- however much it is ruled by a genuinely wicked man -- is full of basically decent people who do not merit bombing. It's not the same situation as a war between industrial powers, where the destruction of infrastructure is a precondition of victory.

The resultant change in the place in the world of the United States is much for the worse, and permanent; no subsequent diplomacy, no subsequent excellence of conduct nor accomplishment of great things will ever repair it, that the United States undertook to conquer some distant nation out of a convience of domestic policy.

I am opposed to this war because I think it will make the people of Iraq worse off; the present American administration did not keep its promises to the people of New York nor in the matter of Afghanistan, and there is nothing in the news that comes from the width of the earth to make me think they have any care or concern for the folk of Iraq whatsoever.

I am opposed to this war because it will create chaos, and it is in chaos that chemical and biologial weapons become lost and scattered and available to the foes of peace and freedom.

I am opposed to this war because the current American administration can no more legitimately commit the American people to war than they can annoint the Pope; they have come to power by false means, and have no legitimate exercise of power available to them.

And, as a coda, if you would leave the conduct of wars to generals, what answer do you have for the generals who have publically said that to undertake this war is a terrible idea?

#19 ::: charlie b. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 04:16 AM:

Turkey is only one of the states that has persecuted and is persecuting the Kurds. I once had a lover who was an Iranian Kurd, and from him and my own reading I know that few peoples have had a more terrible history. However, it was suggested that a comment was needed on the relationship between US war plans and the possibilty that "the coming Turkish/Kurdish conflict escalates into ethnic cleansing, or its own nasty smoldering war", and that does seem hypothetical to me. If it is inevitable, then the US invasion is not a relevant factor.

By war "under any circumstances" I did mean "war against Iraq" - that is, opposed to war even if Saddam continues to refuse to meet even the most lenient interpretation of UN Resolutions.

I think that it is an example of un-careful reasoning to state that "US policy" has killed people. It simply turns the specific argument over the effect of the weapons of war into open-ended haggling over causation and choice. Such reasoning leaves everyone responsible for everything -- and apparently absolves Saddam Hussein of any blame for the deaths of Iraqis. Was "US policy" responsible for Stalin's death camps too?(I must say that I did not suggest that eighteenth century standards or definitions be used in this discussion, and I have about as much idea as you about whether such notions represent the current mode of reasoning in Iraq.)

I find the idea of opposition to the war "because it is certain that it will be prosecuted incompetently by this American administration" strange, because I don't know how anyone can be so certain. People were totally certain about all sorts of things that were going to happen in Afghanistan, and they didn't.

Former generals may express views about foreign policy, but serving ones are there to do their jobs, and their views about foreign policy and defence (if they do express them) are not relevant. It is their job to fight according to the objectives laid down for them.

As far as comments about the Iraqi people are concerned, they are entirely speculative as the first seven words of the sentence "there is actually a very good chance that there is widespread loathing of the US" demonstrates. The idea that people would prefer Saddam to the US because "everyone knows all Americans drive expensive cars and are selfish and rude and immoral" is rather silly, and not very complimentary to Iraqis. We do know that people in Afghanistan were overjoyed to be shot of the Taliban, and in Eastern Europe are very happy to thank the US for the part it played in ridding them of Communist dictatorship.

The only comments that really seem to me to go to the heart of the anti-war rationale are those about legitimacy. By this I assume what is meant is that George W Bush's election to the presidency was illegitimate, despite the formal procedural propriety. I had always assumed this was the reason people opposed the war, and I guess that is why they are getting nowhere. The mid-term Congressional elections showed that most US voters did not wish to revise the outcome of the 2000 presidential election; and the legitimacy of war-making depends on Congress as well as the administration, and that body, its election not compromised by the lack of exactness in the popular vote, has supported the President. In the UK, while the turn-out at the march in London was of thousands of ordinary people, the organisation of the march and of the "movement" is all Trotskyite (Socialist Alliance) and CND (pacifist) and I feel they hate Bush and Blair more than Saddam, and care only about fighting the US and destroying Israel. The official joint slogan of the London march was "No War on Iraq - Freedom for Palestine" -- why wasn't it "No War on Iraq -- Down with Saddam"?

Once again, thank you for discussing this matter with controlled feeling -- while I disagree with things people say here, I do not want to hurt or insult people, but rather to express the things I think to people other than those who would just agree with me, and therefore not test my ideas.

#20 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 06:46 AM:

I agree that the statement "'US policy' has killed people" is rhetorical hyperbole. However, the foreign policy as shown by the speeches and actions of the current administration has been fostering an atmosphere of antagonism, insecurity and mistrust. This atmosphere is far more conducive to secrecy, betrayal and violence than if we treated other human beings and nations with respect.

If the American invasion of Iraq results in further destabilization of the region, the likelihood of violence against persecuted minorities such as the Kurds is greatly increased. So yes, there is a potential cause and effect.

My statement about "Everyone knows that Americans [insert epithets]..." was not intended as a jab against the intelligence of the Iraqi people, but rather an illustration of the power of communication. If the only things you ever hear about Americans are negative, then you will have a negative perception of Americans. Couple this with the proposed use of Shock and Awe tactics, then yes, there's a very good chance we'll be seen as barbarian invaders rather than civilized rescuers.

I do not believe in sidestepping confrontation when it is the only way to prevent a greater catastrophe. After all, it is important to stand up for what you believe to be right. However, jumping straight into confrontation before making a genuine effort to resolve an issue via other means ends up removing whole menus of options from your choices.

Trust is a scary option, because it can easily lead to betrayal. I do not think it reasonable to be Pollyannish in today's world and think that everyone is sweetness and light. However, trust must be seen as a goal, something to be sought and earned through small steps.

Otherwise, there is no hope.

#21 ::: Tony Cullen ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 08:54 AM:

to charlie b.:

With respect, please explain to me how a demonstration of well over a million ordinary people in London is invalidated by the fact that some of the organisers of that demonstration happen to be on the political far-left? (And gosh, pacificists were also involved? In an anti-war demonstration? Who'd have thought it.)

And to correct another point, the official (single-headed) slogan of that march, at least in London, was: 'Don't Attack Iraq'.

I can't deny that there were some banners and placards being waved around that day that did mention Israel, but the marchers formed a *very* broad church who had joined together to protest the war. Some also chose to express support for the Palestinians. Most did not.

I apologise if the above sounds tetchy, but I, for one, am not a left-wing nut-job. And it's a really, really cheap shot to over-ride the concerns of millions by simply emphasising the flimsiest of links with political extremists.

#22 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 11:05 AM:

>I find the idea of opposition to the war >"because it is certain that it will be >prosecuted incompetently by this American >administration" strange, because I don't know >how anyone can be so certain.

Judge by deeds; every this administration has done has made the foreign policy situation of the United States worse.

It is simply impossible to believe that an administration that doesn't give a damn about its own people -- see mention of not keeping promises to New York -- will expend much effort on Iraq.

And, you know, saying 'serving generals ought to do what they're told' doesn't address what the retired generals are saying *about the prospects for the military conduct of such a war*; that's not a *political* opinion -- an assertion about proper policy -- it's a *professional* opinion about the difficulty of implementing some specific policy.

There is a difference; I don't necessarily care what the plumber thinks of the government, but I do care a whole lot when they tell me that re-laying the sewer pipe isn't as easy as I think in this particular case.

#23 ::: charlie b. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 11:19 AM:

MAB says: The Muslim Association of Britain in Association with Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al-Aqsa, CND and other anti-war groups organised a national demonstration in line with demonstrations that are occurring in major cities all over the world. The London demonstration entitled 'Don't Attack Iraq & Freedom for Palestine' took place on Saturday the 15th of February 2003. The Muslim Association of Britain congratulates the Muslim community, their friends in the Stop-the-War Coalition and CND, and all the British people on the success of the NO WAR ON IRAQ - FREEDOM FOR PALESTINE rally.

I might add that a lot of very inflammatory material has been taken off the MAB website in the last week.

The Trotskyite Socialist Alliance (SA) says: Many thanks to all the comrades who helped make up and distribute 1,200 Socialist Alliance placards and distribute 30,000 SA newsletters before and during the biggest political demo ever seen in Britain. Socialist Alliance members and supporters played a very important role in booking transport, building the demo and making it the outstanding success it was. In all of this activity we also need to be raising the issue of anti-war activists joining the Socialist Alliance and supporting our candidates in the forthcoming local elections... We will be producing more material in anticipation of war being launched, including more SA Stop the War placards including the demand to 'Defend Asylum Seekers', an issue which needs to be promoted vigorously within the anti-war movement. Already we have spent a huge amount of money promoting the anti-war message. As a result we are setting up an SA war fund to help us to continue to produce material.

If anyone has followed SA activity over the past year they will know how they have built up front organisations that do not look like SA branches, but which have SA members in them to direct them and steer most people generally, and some "picks" into the SA organisation.

I don't doubt for a moment that a body of determined extremists can mobilise 100,000s people if (as SA have) they work at it for a year or more, and they play on people's genuine fears and anxieties. What makes it worse is that march leaders like Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Bob Crowe (all pro-Trotskyite/Marxist Old Labour stalwarts) wouold be completely familiar with the methods being used and smiled on them.

#24 ::: charlie b. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 11:21 AM:

The Socialist Alliance quote should be linked to this page.

#25 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 12:12 PM:

I'm against this war for a lot of reasons, none of which have to do with the number of Iraqi citizens that will be killled.

I do not believe this war will make Americans, or anyone else, safer from terror. Indeed, it will probably have the opposite effect.

I do not wish to see my country contravening international law and becoming a real threat to peace.

We can't afford to spend either the political or economic capital this will require on something so futile.

I do not want to give this administration more pretexts to use in quashing the civil liberties of Americans.

I do not believe the Iraqis, the American people, or the world in general will, in any way benefit from this war. It will make things worse, not better, for all of us.


#26 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 01:04 PM:

I took great pleasure during the blizzard thinking of various Bush cabinet members snowed in. Certainly, they were still able to make war; but not go out for groceries or a beer. Make SNOW, not WAR!

#27 ::: Anna Moss ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 03:03 PM:

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I'm finding it all very reassuring. My daughter, who is not a general but only one of the troops, is certain the proposed strategy will kill far more people than any alternative possible.

Americans, that is.

She has been arguing with her friends who are in intelligence and know things they cannot say...and we are preparing to say goodbye.

#28 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2003, 07:28 PM:

First charlie b. said that it's not the business of the people to make military decisions. Then he said that the generals aren't supposed to make policy, they're supposed to follow instructions from the civilian government. "We the people" are the basis and moral justification of that civilian government. Policy does not spring from the brow of Zeus, it is made by human beings. One person who never saw combat (Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard didn't take him to Vietnam) is not magically better informed than either lots of people who did, or than all the people in whose name he is governing.

As one of those people, I want the US government to listen to people who might, possibly, know something about conditions in the Middle East, and about the risks of war.

#29 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2003, 09:51 AM:

Military action to enforce UN resolutions does not necessarily mean all-out war or invasion, and the actions of the US and NATO in the former Yugoslavia provide an obvious model for military operations short of an illegal regime change and occupation under arms and at lower risk to the military personnel of the US and its allies.

For example, if Iraq's government refuses to destroy Al Samoud II missiles which have been found to be in violation of the restrictions imposed by the UN, it's possible to destroy the factories and warehouses involved in their manufacture. If the US can positively identify sites where CBW agents are manufactured, stored, and distributed, those sites can be destroyed. Perhaps even presidential palaces and even barracks for which there's strong suspicion of use for prohibited ends can be destroyed.

I admit that I'm even less qualified by practical experience to know the workings of the military than George W., but clearly the UN and the nations of the world will tolerate this kind of armed force action against specific military targets better than invasion and regime change, and there will be less risk to the lives and welfare of members of the American military.

Careful selection of targets for truly stategic strikes against Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and the infrastructure required to develop and protect them could even serve the end of regime change by weakening the grip of the ruling party on the nation of Iraq and allowing internal forces to decide on a new government and deliver the current leadership to the international court and tribunal system for judgement on the war crimes associated with Saddam Hussein "using nerve gas on his own people."

#30 ::: Chip Hitchcock ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2003, 10:59 PM:

wrt Charlie B's disinclination to consider the likelihood of a war spilling over onto the Kurds: the Turks have been demanding the right to put a large Turkish military force into northern (Kurdish) Iraq as another part of the price of their cooperation. True, this may not erupt into open conflict; it may just allow for another round of mass repression, or even Turkish control of the oil fields currently feeding the Iraqi Kurds. Will Shrub pay this price? His father certainly didn't care about the Kurds....

And wrt Shrub's legitimacy: the propriety of the original choice is still arguable (a lawyer I know referred to the Supreme Court decision as the most result-oriented opinion he'd ever read). And it was not confirmed by "most" of the voters; last year's elections were the usual slight majority.

But (as others have suggested here) the worst effect of the whole process of getting into and making war has emphasized to the rest of the world that the U.S. sees no reason to cooperate with it -- which means that the U.S. will get no cooperation when it's needed. (See, for instance, the refusal of any of the neighbors of North Korea to help the U.S. set up multilateral talks; their position is essentially "This is your mess; you fix it.")

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