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.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

National Co-ordination of Anti-war Activity

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

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
Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]