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Re: [casi] Blair's speech -- keep the momentum going

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Glenn is right, the argument of the evil, dangerous saddam does seem to be
convincing people, esp. journalists. I too am energized after yesterday's
march in Amsterdam, but am worried about dealing with issue of Saddam. I
personally don't feel he is a threat to Europe, nor the neighbouring countries
in the ME, but try telling people that and they just don't want to listen.
Anyway, a year ago I was on the verge of throwing in the towel completely and
many of you on this list persuaded me to carry on - a belated thanks for the
support and understanding back then. And seeing yesterday's protests all over
the world, just goes to show that the seeds we have been sowing over the
years, do have an effect, so who knows, perhaps we can win this Saddam-bashing
excuse for going to war and prevent the war after all. Well done to the
French, Germans and Belgians, by the way.

 Article below is worth passing on to non-activists.

Salwa de Vree,

Leiden, The Netherlands.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Glenn Bassett" Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2003
22:14:19 -0000 To: "Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq" Subject: [casi]
Blair's speech -- keep the momentum going > I know everyone's knackered but...
> > I've spoken to a couple of non-activist people who were quite impressed
with > Blair's rhetoric on Saturday (getting rid of Saddam would be a
humanitarian > act etc). This is the argument he has resorted to and the one
that it seems > convinces most people: he's nasty, therefore get rid of him;
simple. > > That's the line I think we, as activists, need to be addressing
most > urgently. > > Blair seems to be trying to ignore the many complicated
consequences of war > (I think he knows he's lost those arguments now) and to
reduce the issue in > people's minds to a simple black and white choice: get
rid of Saddam or > leave him. In my view we should be responding quickly and
in numbers to this > argument by pointing out the assumptions in this line,
and all the points it > leaves unanswered. > > Letters, phone polls, email
polls, MPs surgeries stalls, vigils etc. > > Hundreds of thousands of people
are feeling energised from Saturday's > amazing events. Lets keep the momentum
going -- it would be a shame for the > spirit of the demo to disappear out of
sight again under the weight of > propaganda. > > Cheers > > Glenn. > > > >
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About War, Real Estate and the Anti-War Movement

Saturday, February 15 2003 @ 12:23 AM GMT

By Ramzy Baroud*
Today was a strange day. I found myself disagreeing with Chomsky, and in a
peculiarly, twisted way, appreciating Thomas Friedman.

New York Times famed columnist Friedman is an interesting journalist. He comes
out, often, as one who is simply presenting different scenarios in the US
effort to invade Iraq, without a shred of subjectivity, but in reality offers
no option other than war. It's a clever warmongering tactic.
Iraq could become another Vietnam, he tells us, only if we wish to make it
that way once we occupy it. Otherwise, he asserts, it could become a pillar of
democracy and economic achievement, the way we made Germany and Japan
following World War II. This was the core of the man's presentation on the
Oprah Show, which was dedicated to the subject of war on Iraq, on February 13.
What Friedman intentionally omitted from his talk was considering the moral
and legal right to invade and occupy another sovereign country in the first
place. Such disregard renders both of Friedman's options meaningless, even
Needless to say, despite my lack of respect for Friedman's arrogant depiction
of almost everyone else, except of the United States and his strong support of
the ruthless policies of the US and Israel governments, I am glad that he
spared us the time to rebut his potential argument that a war on Iraq is
motivated by any other reason than oil.
I am still wondering why the big fuss over Friedman. But my lack of respect
for the man's intellectual discourse was no reason for me not to appreciate
the fact that he is open in thinking of Iraq as an oil field. "We will own
Iraq", he kept on uttering, not only on the Oprah Show, but in other venues as
well. Friedman has no ethical problem with "owning" someone else's country as
cheap real estate, but his challenge is how can the United States consolidate
such ownership in a way that could make the difference between Vietnam
scenario on one hand, and Germany and Japan on the other.
With a related yet slightly different angle, Professor Noam Chomsky was
interviewed by the British Guardian, an interview published on February 04, on
the subject of the anti war movement. The leading American intellectual who is
considered one of the leading forces that shaped the present time opposition
of the United States governments' imperial foreign policies, surprised me a
bit stating: "There's never been a time that I can think of when there's been
such massive opposition to a war before it was even started."
Chomsky, like Friedman also resorted to the Vietnam comparison, again, with a
different twist. If you compare the opposition to the Iraq war "with the
Vietnam war, the current stage of the war with Iraq is approximately like that
of 1961 - that is, before the war actually was launched, as it was in 1962
with the US bombing of South Vietnam and driving millions of people into
concentration camps and chemical warfare and so on, but there was no protest.
In fact, so little protest that few people even remember."
On a personal level, the opposition to war across the world, despite the
prevailing fear that war is imminent is one of those reasons that gives me
urgently needed hope in a time that I often cannot help but despair. However,
with all due respect, the anti Iraq war movement, unlike the Vietnam War is
overdue, by at least 10 years.
The Iraq war has never completely ended to start once more. The 1991 US-led
allies war on Iraq continued, unabated using various forms of killing,
focusing mostly on depriving the Iraqis from food and medicine. The United
Nations' own studies testify to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis
as a result of the genocidal sanctions during the last decade. Meanwhile,
hundreds of air raids on Iraq have always satisfied the requirement of war
from a traditional warfare point of view.
The fact that the world is now opposed to the unleashing of a newer stage of
the US war on Iraq is a direct result of 10 years of devastating war. When
people from across the world march in opposition to war, they don't carry
abstract images of dying Iraqi children, but real photos of victims of the war
on Iraq that has never ended.
I worry that over crediting ourselves for the anti Iraq war movement, over 10
years after the war began, might compel some of us to rest with the assumption
that the war is yet to start. The only factor that is uniquely different
between this stage of the war in comparison to the earlier stages, is that the
coming stage involves the complete invasion of the country, the installing of
a puppet government and the killing of many more people, at a much faster
Needless to say, I am impressed and proud of the vigor of the anti war
movement, all over the world, but in the United States in particular. Despite
the fantastic "Showdown with Saddam" propaganda that assaults every American,
all day every day, and despite the vicious attempts by the US government, in
collaboration with the media, to instill fear in the heart of Americans to
ease the way toward a "preemptive war" against an unreal threat, there are
still millions of Americans who refuse to follow the US government's
oil-motivated logic.
There are still millions of Americans that care for a nation that resides
thousands of miles away; there are many Americans who see the tragedy of
September 11 as a reason for compassion and peace, not endless wars and
invasions; and thank God, there are still millions of Americans, who, unlike
Friedman, don't want to "own Iraq", and who would rather pay a few more
pennies to fuel their cars than to cut short the lives of almost an entire
generation of Iraqis.
Two days ago, in a television interview, in New York, I had the honor of
meeting a young man whose father was killed in the September 11 tragedy. The
man is now a leader in the anti war movement and proudly advocates peace in
response to the death of his father. The young man was a true inspiration,
although he never made it at the Oprah Show; after all, unlike Freidman, he
had nothing to do with the real estate business.
*Baroud is the editor-in-chief of and the editor of
"Searching Jenin: Eyewittness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion 2002"[1]



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