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Re: National Co-ordination of Anti-war Activity

This will be my last posting (in response to Jason on this issue) to 
the whole list although I'll still reply directly to Jason.

> Surely, the broader the issue the more
> chance there is of onvolving more groups and individuals.

If that were true then why not broaden the issue to pro-democracy 
campaigners and anti-SH groups wishing to indict him for crimes 
against humanity? Why not broaden to anti-nuclear campaigners 
etc? In the end the more the merrier but not at the cost of having to 
spend time on individual groups' particular campaign themes.

> At the moment, many groups are not attending because they see a
> focus on sanctions that ignores bombing as unprincipled and illogical. 

That is a great shame and possibly shortsighted. Some groups 
may be unhappy because the issue of SH isn't being discussed or 
capitalism or middle east policy or arms to Iraq etc. An analogy 
could be that I receive an invite to a campaign meeting to lobby for 
a pedestrian crossing on a busy road where several children have 
been run over. I may feel that the real issues are to reduce car 
ownership, tax fuel more, increase public transport, ban out of town 
shopping centres, and provide free public transport to school for 
short distances (below 3 miles) etc. I would still attend the meeting.

>>   In terms of civilian casualties sanctions far outweigh the illegal 
>>  bombings.

I was referring to enforcement of the 'no-fly zones'.

> Operation Desert storm
> destroyed manufacturing industries, water sanitation, oil
> production, electricity facilities, hospitals, schools, roads,
> bridges, fertiliser plants etc. poisoning the environment with
> uranium dust for untold generations. It in this context of near
> apocalyptic destruction and subsequent leverage over Iraq that
> sanctions have their deadly effect.

I  fully agree with this but this war without sanctions afterwards 
would have produced far fewer casualties than sanctions without 
this war.

> However, you may say that bombing's in the past. Yet even now
> without constant military monitoring, naval and air blockade the
> sanctions against Iraq would be far more permeable. 

This is a pragmatic argument not a principled one:) In any event if 
we destroy the argument for sanctions then the blockade 

> even Amnesty doesn't fear condemning acts of war particulary when
> they happen in other countries

But they are very weak on sanctions. Some people think that 
sanctions are becoming much worse than many wars.  

>I don't understand your objection to the term Imperialist though- it's 
>a bit like saying we can support the Indian protest movements 
>around Gandhi etc but we mustn't use the term Empire or 
>Imperialist. However, if you wish to avoid the term, fine.   

Different in a historical context - we had an empire then. Nowadays, 
unfortunately, use of this word seems to raise people's hackles. It 
implies a belief in colonies and the extension of empire.

>The point is that at
> the moment we risk certain groups feeling excluded from
> participating fully in NCMs if they have a certain analysis:

If you are going to have groups excluding themselves then I 
suppose the bottom line is whether as an immediate aim we prefer 
to work against sanctions or work against the bombing in the 2 
zones. I pick sanctions.

> As for the extremely rare person who supports bombing
> but not sanctions I have no fear of alienating them;

*** I think that there are more people who would oppose these 
sanctions on Iraq than would oppose this bombing which is 
apparently limited to military targets (punishment attacks). ***

> we could end up appearing to support war against Iraq and, for that
> matter,  alienate far more people.

This is a danger to guard against. My desire for a campaign 
focussed just on sanctions also runs foul of those who would want 
us to attack SH. My response is the same: I am not going to 
campaign against the bombing or SH. This does not mean that I 
support the bombing or SH.  

>   (the bombings) we're not seen to initiate them and they serve to keep the 
>   media and the public's eyes off the ball (the genocidal sanctions)
> Interesting but implausible surely?

There was no suggestion that this effect was intended. The US 
State Department's (mis)information industry is focussed on saying 
how bad SH is and trying to defend the sanctions (which they are 
finding much harder to do). They find it easy to deflect criticism 
about the bombing (eg concrete bombs).

> The anti-sanctions movement is small compared to nearly a million
> people in anti-Desert Storm demo in 1990/91.

I was broadly pro-sanctions at the time (but not the US illegal naval 
blockade). I was anti Desert Storm.

> Why?  Well, there may be other reasons but the lack of media 
> attention now must count for a lot.  

That is the key issue for me - especially the TV and especially the 
BBC. I always felt that the BBC would be the last to have a hard 
hitting doumentary about the sanctions. Well done Pilger (and ITV).

> Actually, in my expereince it's easier to get people mobilised
> and active about bombing than sanctions

I agree. This is why the 'imperialists' have gone for sanctions in Iraq 
and elsewhere. However we are making progress on the sanctions 
issue and this is a great prize to win in order to save future lives.

> why don't we see constant TV coverage of the bombing and how Iraq's
> bringing it on itself etc.

Iraq is not a very open country and often the sites are militarily 
sensitive so we do not get pictures. The US are happy to portray it 
as routine 'self defence'.

> have you or anyone ever met a member of the public  who opposes sanctions
> whilst supporting bombing- we never have (yet) though occassionally
> the other way round, people who oppose bombing but think 
> sanctions should stay in place because of Saddam, or they're put in by the UN
> or  whatever. 

I am talking about trying to convert people. In order to win more 
supporters I tend to have to focus on economic sanctions (which 
SHOULD include dual use items). When I try and focus on the 'no fly 
zones' things get messier eg protection of the Kurds. True, the UN 
bit can be a problem. Have you tried 'converting' anybody who is 
right wing or agrees with the UK government position? Try 
experimenting with either the sanctions line or the war line.

Mark Parkinson

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