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Analysis: Gulf War Tenth Anniversary protests Critical Examination of Anti-Sanctions Movement Urgently needed From: Kitty Bryant Campaign to End the Sanctions Here in Philadelphia we were able to marshal little active support for our January 17 protest against The War on Iraq. Only about 20 people appeared at the protest. We displayed signs and a death puppet, distributed leaflets, talked to passers-by and the press, and recounted the murderous truths about the continuing Gulf War. We represented a range of groups, and we received several local endorsements, but the actual turn-out, in numbers, was alarmingly small, given that the US is still each month killing thousands of Iraqis in a war that Clinton and the State Department hushed up for eight years. What issue of today compares with Iraq? Iraq confronts us with a relentless war waged by the US against a defenseless population. The US government has so successfully hidden this war that during the presidential campaign, everyone agreed that the US is, fortunately, at peace in the world. Where has the US lied so blatantly? Where has the United Nations been more successfully perverted into an instrument of US self-interest? The hidden War on Iraq demands our attention. Along with Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, it is the most pressing issue of war we face today. The government's policy is to wildly exaggerate the threats posed by Iraq. We are expected to accept troop and weapons deployment throughout the Middle East as a requirement of "stability," because at all costs Saddam Hussein must be kept in his "box." The sinister threat of Iraq is trotted out time and again to justify the huge US military budget, including weapons research and the development of a missile defense shield. We're well-trained: when we imagine "weapons of mass destruction," we picture Iraqi terrorists, instead of the nuclear arsenal and the chemical/biological weapons in the storehouses of the US. Given the singular importance of Iraq, why did the 10th Anniversary of the Gulf War pass by with so little public protest? The furor created over the Bush/Gore election has been a major distraction to addressing the big issues, especially Iraq. J20 culminated in a vague protest that distracted attention away from the conduct of the 1991 Gulf War and the continuing war on Iraq. At the J20 Washington, DC protest, the War on Iraq was an ignored issue. The protest demands amounted to "Bush and Cheney go away." No one watching this protest would have learned that there is a hidden war by the US still being waged, after ten years and a cost of over a million people, against the people of Iraq. We failed, as a movement, on Jan 16-17. The disappointing turn-out (in numbers) must be accepted as evidence that, in the ten years since the Gulf War, the anti-sanctions movement has not created an educated, growing mass base equipped to challenge US aggression and misinformation. By mass base, I mean the inclusion of ordinary people who generally credit their government with doing the right thing. Ordinary people in the US don't know about the people of Iraq. We have failed to get out the message that the US is wrong and has lied about Iraq. Most US people have been brainwashed by the two big lies of the Clinton administration: (1) the bad effects of the sanctions on the people of Iraq are (and always will be) the responsibility of Saddam Hussein, and (2) the US is forced to keep its armed forces in an aggressive stance toward Iraq, deployed throughout the Middle East, because Saddam Hussein poses a threat to his neighbors and to the world. The two lies tend to collapse into one BIG lie: it's the good USA fighting a new Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and we just can't drop the ball (the world is counting on us). If we can't successfully counter this lie, we can't get ordinary people to listen to us. Since the Gulf War, and especially over the eight years of the Clinton administration, the US has begun to define itself as the single superpower poised for command on the stage of the world. The Republicans and the Democrats agree that the emerging US empire should dominate the world economically and militarily. No mainstream politician disputes that the US has a right to use its political and military power to control Middle East oil. All mainstream politicians agree that the US must maintain its lead vis-à-vis other nations in the power and precision of its weapons. Iraq is an ongoing experiment in US foreign relations that is proving that the US can flex its economic and military muscles, to the tune of over a million dead, and most of the people of the US will remain silent. Iraq is everywhere in the news, because the Middle East is threatening to explode. The Bush administration is challenged to respond to a situation in the Middle East that grows ever more complicated. The sabres rattle in support of war. And the US media dutifully regurgitates State Department lies about Iraq. I'm sorry to say that much of the "left" is choosing to downplay Iraq, in its desire to build a wider coalition of dissident groups. But the forces in opposition to the US war on Iraq are vocal and growing. Ramsey Clark is returning from an IAC fact-finding delegation to Iraq and will be in the US with new evidence of the War and its deadly consequences. Outside the US, the sanctions regime is under challenge by many countries who want to trade with Iraq. Debate over the war is alive in Britain, thanks to Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who have publicly confronted the lies of the British Foreign Ministry. We have powerful voices of the truth on our side. This is the time and this is the issue, against war and for the possibility of peace. We must make Iraq our number 1 priority because there is no more important stand to take than against this war. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk