[R-G] Global protest delivers a resounding 'No'
pieinsky at igc.org
Sun Jan 19 06:52:40 MST 2003
Global protest delivers a resounding 'No'
Anti-war protests: Hundreds of thousands of people around the world stage
mass demonstrations against conflict with Iraq
By Jo Dillon, James Morrison and Andrew Buncombe
The Independent (UK)
19 January 2003
They united in protest. A builder in Bradford, a Glasgow nurse, a London
office worker and his opposite number in Tokyo, a Vietnam veteran in
Washington DC and a Russian bank clerk, a Pakistani schoolboy, a Cairo
shopworker, a Parisian housewife and a doctor in Damascus. They all came
together in a single act of defiance. Hundreds of thousands of people across
the world joined in a common aim, across cultural divides and language
barriers to say "No".
As around 100,000 troops from Britain and America made their way to the
Gulf, their numbers were dwarfed by the ranks of ordinary men and women who
took to the streets in cities around the world to condemn war on Iraq. And
the demonstrators' clear message to their leaders was echoed in a swelling
chorus of generals, defence experts, actors, musicians, writers and artists
speaking out against threatened military action.
Their call may not be heeded but it was loud enough to be heard.
In Washington, American citizens staged the biggest peace demonstration
since the days of the Vietnam war. "I'm a Vietnam veteran," said David
Mastrianni, 55, a software engineer from Southington, Connecticut, who had
travelled down with his wife, Nancy, determined to protect against "another
generation being sent off to war".
Mr Mastrianni was an easy-going man, not especially haunted by the time he
spent between 1968 and 1969 as a drafted army engineer at Long Binh, outside
of what was then Saigon. He was more haunted, he said, by the idea of
allowing a war to take place without making his protest. It was the first
time that either he or his wife had been to a peace demonstration. "Maybe we
have learnt our lessons, and we have learnt not to believe everything our
government tells us," said Mrs Mastrianni.
There were many protesters like the Mastriannis: peace-demo virgins who for
various reasons felt this was the time to join in, to listen to more than 50
speakers rally against military action and then to join the tens of
thousands on a march to the US Navy Yard in Washington and demand in vain to
inspect America's own weapons of mass destruction.
Never had their message been received by so many people "in the mainstream",
said organisers. "You are talking to the broader base now," said Susan
Riley, a nurse from Minneapolis.
Outside the Permanent Joint Headquarters of the British Armed Forces in
Northwood, north-west London, hundreds gathered to hear the veteran Labour
leftwinger Tony Benn warn of "massive" opposition across Britain to the
prospect of war: 2,000 were in Shannon, Ireland, 2,500 in Liverpool, 1,500
in Cardiff, 2,000 in Bradford, 250 in Glasgow ...
The protesters were in good company. Sir Michael Quinlan, former permanent
secretary at the Ministry of Defence, this weekend told The Independent on
Sunday that war was "disproportionate". Major-General Julian Thompson, a
senior Falklands veteran, admitted he was "not persuaded of the case for war
at the moment". "I also don't think that Saddam Hussein is necessarily the
right target," he added. And defence analyst Paul Beaver urged a "second
mandate" from the UN before war was contemplated.
There was outright opposition too from the actress Juliet Stevenson, who
insisted: "This is not our war, and not one we should have got involved in."
The screenwriter Alan Bleasdale said he was "horrified" at the prospect of
war, and Corin Redgrave, the actor, called for civil disobedience and
industrial action. Body Shop founder Anita Roddick said: "Shame on Bush and
Blair for threatening their illegal and immoral war."
Some in the arts world are determined to take further action. The actress
Julie Christie is urging performers to support a public declaration against
war. Her "No War Pledge", already signed by 40 prominent names and
organisations, including the actress Emma Thompson, the comedian Victoria
Wood and the film-maker Mike Leigh, is to be posted in a national newspaper
to coincide with the 27 January deadline for the presentation of the UN
weapons inspectors' report.
The pledge describes war on Iraq as "immoral and contrary to international
law", urges the British government to withhold support for it and calls on
"all who support peace and respect international law to take a similar
Voices against war: actors writers, warriors, citizens
Paul Beaver, defence analyst
I would like to see a second mandate from the United Nations. I don't want
Britain to squander its position within the Arab and Muslim world by
unilateral action with the US. Another reason against it is that this is a
campaign which, if the country is going to invest in it, will cost us around
Douglas Hurd, former foreign secretary
The overthrow of an Arab regime, however odious, by an Anglo-American
military force would seem different [from the 1991 war]. The greatest danger
might arise in the aftermath of a war in a region that would see itself
under the domination of the US, the protector of Israel.
Sir Michael Quinlan, former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence
If we are talking about war, I think it is disproportionate. It is an
enormous thing to start a war with all the direct effects and repercussions
in the region. I don't think Saddam, though very nasty internally, is danger
enough to be worth a war.
Alan Davies, actor
Inspectors found a dozen empty warheads under a pile of earth, but it's not
enough to convince me to send anyone to risk their life. I have my doubts
about war because of the issue of oil. The focus on Iraq has less to do with
the war against terrorism than a long-standing grudge held by the Republican
David Hare, playwright
An unsanctioned invasion of Iraq has no legitimacy. Its arbitrariness is an
encouragement to terrorists. I wish an end to dictatorship in Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, as well as in Iraq. Most of all I wish for a US
government which has the guts to imagine a policy for peace in the Middle
Tony Benn, former MP
You cannot take a nation to war unless it is united. There is massive
opposition in Britain: 58 per cent. Bush and Blair are planning to tear up
the UN Charter to make a war which would be a regressive war, to kill
people, which would be a war crime, and to do it in a way which would
endanger world peace.
Juliet Stevenson, actor
This is not our war, and not one we should have got involved in. It's a
complete mystery to me why we've allowed ourselves to get drawn in. I don't
have any sense of what it's really about. It's certainly not about what they
say it is. We've been hoodwinked and misled.
General Sir Michael Rose
As a commander, I would not want to lead my troops into battle unless I was
totally convinced of its just cause and that all necessary resources had
been made available. So far, this does not seem to be the case. And how will
a war against Iraq impact on the global war against terrorism?
Salman Rushdie, writer
There is a strong case for a "regime change" in Iraq. The complicating
factor is the US's approach which looks like bullying because, well, it is
bullying. If the US reserves the right to attack any country it doesn't like
the look of, then those who don't like the look of the US might return the
Field Marshal Lord Bramall, former chief of the Defence Staff
This is a potentially very dangerous situation in which this country might
be swept into a messy and long-lasting Middle East war. All I ask is that
this thing is looked at carefully. We are supposed to be taking a lead on
the moral issues of the world.
Corin Redgrave, actor
It's not only those of us in the arts who are opposed to this - it's the
church, the medical profession, people in public service. We are talking
about a criminal adventure that is going to tear the heart out of British
society. To make their views heard, people should be thinking about acts of
Alan Bleasdale, writer
I'm horrified by the prospect of war. It's the wrong war, at the wrong time,
and against the wrong people. I'm bewildered by the state of mankind. The
rise of fundamentalism, and not just Islamic but the kind we see in the West
as well, is the greatest threat to civilisation we've ever experienced.
Major-General Sir Patrick Cordingley, commander in the 1991 Gulf War
I am absolutely opposed to a war. We were absolutely determined [in 1991]
that the war was just, that there was a clear UN resolution and that was to
free Kuwait. The most important thing was that we were aware that the
British people were behind us.
Günter Grass, writer
Once again, the issue is oil. The web of pretence which usually conceals the
interests of the world's last remaining superpower and her chorus of allies
has been worn away to expose the true interests of power. They are revealed
in all their hubris as shameless, a danger to the public interest.
Major-General Julian Thompson, Falklands commander
I am not persuaded of the case for war. We have not had much evidence. My
concern is that the British people won't support the operation unless there
is more proof. I also don't think Saddam is necessarily the right target.
Anita Roddick, Body Shop
Shame on Bush and Blair for threatening their illegal and immoral war. The
UN Charter, which authorises war in "self-defence if an armed attack
occurs", is like so much dust in the wind against the oil-slicked,
aggressive greed of an arrogant superpower and its shameless British
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