The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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At the last National Co-ordination Meeting of anti-sanctions groups hosted in Manchester by Greater Manchester Coalition Against Sanctions and War on Iraq (GMCASWI), there was a somewhat heated disagreement about the terms of reference of the national meetings. This has led us in GMCASWI to look at different ways to link up with other anti-war groups, not necessarily excluding groups such as Human Relief Foundation who could participate, with observer status in the political sessions. The current situation in GMCASWI is that we have made contact with around ten groups around the country who wish to be involved in a National Co-ordinating Meeting which specifically campaigns against war on Iraq- seeing sanctions, including so-called 'military' sanctions, naval blockade, Western troops in the Gulf, air missions invading Iraqi air space, bombing as all part of the same indivisible process. The only question is do these meetings need to run in parallel to the current National Co-rdination Meetings (NCM) or can they somehow be combined. One way of doing this would be to continue the NCM but allowing at least part of the time to focus on campaigning against war- e.g. actions against the bombing and including in this some time for discussion about the poltical situation in Iraq and in the West. At the last NCM, the Chair from CASI blocked discussion of these issues as being outside the terms of reference of the group. However, there had been a lengthy discussion of UN Resolution 1284, the point being that it is impossible to discuss reactions to 1284 or any aspect of current Western policy without having at least implicit ideas on the above issues. For example, if one thought that some form of Western intervention was necessary in Iraq, some military presence in the area to impede some form of trading e.g. any components that may be deemed to be military then 1284 may seem to be a move in the right direction towards humanitarian relief whilst lamentably not going far enough. To us, from our logic stated above, it is very different: 1284 is an attempt to legitimise continuing intervention of an Imperialist kind, by offereing some minor concessions it hopes to deflect some building up of resistance towards the sanctions regime from other countries in the UN, the Middle East, France, China (and far more distantly the slight rumblings of dissidence within the US and UK)- it is, in short, a continuation of war on the people of Iraq. In essence, we cannot frame any events or discuss anything whilst maintaining a blanket ban on political discussion within the movement. It would of course be entirely fair to time limit the discussion to e.g. one hour of a four hour meeting or possibly less time- may be, the meeting could start with a round up of news/ events 20 minutes, leading on by logical extension into a half hour political analysis session, including debate on political issues, before passing on to more detailed co-ordination and planning of events, with another half hour built in towards the end for political discussion if needed. The group would need to function democratically- not necessarily in the sense of taking votes or deciding joint policy but in the sense of having equal access to the floor and taking majority decisions on the hour by hour running of the meeting. We feel CASI does some useful work such as running the e-mail discussion list and hosting conferences such as the one Doug Rokke came to or getting Denis Halliday over. If, however, CASI seeks to limit the terms of reference of the whole movement and impede joint work on an anti-war basis this would be damaging. We therefore wish CASI to continue to come to the NCM. In the long run, if we work together we get a broader movement but what no part or section has the right to do is compromise the work of another. We feel that enough consensus exists to have a national co-ordination on anti-war and anti-imperialist basis but welcome the participation of groups such as HRF or CASI which for reasons of charitable status or fundraising and whatever CASI's reasons are, cannot take on these positions- we do not wish to exclude them and we do not wish to allow their limited terms of reference to limit us. In solidarity, Jason of GMCASWI N.B. We have a discussion/ action plaqnning meeting Thursday 2nd March, Friends' Meeting House, MCR and a rally aginst the bombing and sanctions on Iraq, demanding TV coverage, outside the BBC, Oxford Rd, MCR, 12.30-2 Saturday 18th March, with hopefully Tony Benn speaking, before hopefully going on to Sheffield and will also be screening at some point in March or April Pilger's documentary going out on March 6th. Please come to any of these events if you can. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi