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Re: [casi] Anti-war tactics/strategy (formerly Blair's speech --keep the momentum going)

I don't think we are actually disagreeing on that much here. I still take
issue with your initial point that people marched on Saturday out of a
sense of fear rather than because they care about the Iraqis. I certainly
wasn't marching to save my own skin, since I don't believe it's in any
danger, and I suspect many people would find it insulting to have their
motives questioned in that way. Incidentally, I did march in 1991, for all
the good that it did. I agree that most of the marchers were probably not
long-term members of the peace movement (whether you define that as a
concrete organisation or not), and that most probably are making a
distinction between this war and war in general. But I don't think they are
doing so because they worry that someone will fly a plane into London's
tallest building if they don't. Things have changed since 1991, but not in
the way that you argue. In 1991 and in Yugoslavia, some justification,
however little you may agree with it, could be made for intervention, now
there is none, and it is blatantly clear to many people that there is none.

I agree terrorism should be combated by addressing why it exists in the
first place. But I still remain to be convinced that terrorism in its
current form is a threat. I'm not arguing with Chomsky and Kolko as to
numbers in training camps etc., I'm saying that terrorism to my mind is as
much of a threat as we choose to make it. We can succumb to propaganda,
refuse to get on planes and look suspiciously at our Arab and Muslim
neighbours, or we can realise that we're much more likely to die crossing
the road than in a terrorist attack, carry on as normal and resist having
our civil liberties stripped from us in the name of protection. I realise
that you are differentiating between recognising terrorism as a threat and
using that threat as a justification for war and restriction of civil
liberties. Nevertheless, in arguing with people about war on Iraq, I would
rather appeal to something other than the instinct for self preservation,
since I don't see it as a particularly solid basis for an opposition
movement. If we appeal to fear of terrorism, we risk losing support the
minute anything does happen.

Best wishes,


--On Tuesday, February 18, 2003 5:00 PM +0000 Dermot Moynihan
<> wrote:

> At 21:30 18/02/03, Julie wrote:
>> I'm not sure about this. I don't think those on the march on Saturday
>> were there because they are worried about terrorist attacks. There were
>> plenty of placards and chants pointing out that war, especially this
>> war, is terrorism by another name, and that it is futile to think that
>> terrorism can be combated by war.
> Most of the placards I could see were produced by the Socialist Worker or
> CND or the Stop the War Coalition. Also, with such a huge number of
> people how could anyone be aware of what was happening twenty yards away?
> If all these people are so sussed where were they in 1991? Or when we
> tried to stop the bombing of Yugoslavia? They have arrived because they
> suddenly have realised that the world has changed and that 9/11 has
> demonstrated that we are all vulnerable.
> There is nothing wrong with having a healthy sense of self-preservation.
> And I'll stand beside anyone, whatever their beliefs, (even politicians
> who supported bombing Yugoslavia and using depleted uranium), in order to
> stop this. I'll argue with them regarding the nuances later.
>> This seems to me to be the most straightforward reply to anyone who does
>> claim that Saddam etc must be eliminated because they pose a threat in
>> the  form of terrorist attacks - just point out that war has not worked
>> as an  answer to terrorism anywhere - not in Ireland,
>> Palestine, Spain (if you count dirty undercover work by the police as
>> military action) or anywhere else that I can think of. Correct me if I'm
>> wrong.
> I would regard *war* as being something between nation-states. Though I'm
> sure the distinction would be lost on all the victims. But I take your
> point - terrorism will not be defeated by further terrorism.
>> However, the bigger argument to me is that I don't believe there is a
>> terrorist threat,
> Quoting Kolko again: "Whether bin Laden is killed or not terrorism will
> continue. Al-Qaeda may emerge largely intact from this crisis; not only
> has the terrorists' credibility been enhanced, but they trained about
> twenty thousand men in Afghanistan alone over the past decade, and they
> are now in many countries. There are also many Islamic jihad groups that
> have no connection with al-Qaeda, and they too can be found everywhere."
> (Another Century of War?)
> "Terrorism will always exist because the political causes which give rise
> to it are integral to the way in which our world is organised." (ibid)
> These "political causes" are what we should be finding out about and
> demonstrating to people. Kolko and Chomsky are invaluable in that effort.
> Instead of asking is there a threat maybe we should be concentrating on
> *why* there's a threat.
>>  and I wonder how many other people really do believe
>> there is one? Perhaps in the US, which has so little history of such
>> attacks, it is easy to be afraid, but in Britain, after years of IRA
>> attacks, we should know better.
> I don't know the figures for how many have died from IRA attacks over
> here but I doubt if it would reach a couple of 100. Around 3000 people
> died on 9/11. The "war" in Ireland took about that many lives - from all
> sides - during the 30 odd years it lasted.
> The IRA never wanted to kill themselves though they were willing to die
> if they felt doing so could achieve their aims. But they made every
> attempt not to be killed. They certainly never *wanted* to die. Not even
> during the hunger strikes.
> Also, on many occasions they gave warnings before they placed their
> bombs. I'm sure it was a great comfort to their victims.
>> Terrorism may be a risk, but it hardly
>> warrants the kind of measures currently being employed.
>> I don't remember the government ever trying to whip up this level of
>> mass  hysteria about the
>> "Irish threat" (not to be interpreted as meaning that there ever was
>> one!). I am deeply suspicious: I feel that much of the current talk is
>> propaganda, and propaganda with racist overtones at that.
> Indeed. They're trying to make us scared so that we will allow them to do
> anything to protect us (bomb Iraq). But they've driven many into the
> anti-war camp. They're looking for the right balance. Hopefully they
> won't find it.
>> The government would love us
>> to believe that there are cells of fundamentalists poised to strike at
>> any moment. Glen Rangwala has made clear, however, just how much faith we
>> should put in British intelligence.
> I doubt if anybody in the peace movement ever put their faith in British
> Intelligence.
>> I would like to know how reliable Kolko's are.
> Kolko comes highly recommended by people such as, (just looking at the
> blurb on the back of his latest book), Noam Chomsky and Richard Falk. He
> is seen as a tremendous resource by many in the peace movement. He has
> been writing history books for many years, always highly critical of US
> policy.
> Maybe you also doubt Chomsky's reliability, but, in the hope that you
> don't, I'll just quote his comments on the book:
> "With its remarkable sweep and its depth of understanding...its lessons
> are both sobering and invaluable".
>> I think for the moment that a healthy scepticism may be the
>> best policy, though.
> Absolutely.
> To accept that there is a very real threat from al-Qaeda does not mean
> that one subscribes to the nonsense that bombing Iraq will eliminate that
> threat. Nor indeed that we should allow our civil liberties to be eroded
> in any so-called attempt to combat that threat.
> Incidentally, in my opinion, it is capitalism we should be fighting -
> otherwise we shall be fighting against one war after another. Imagine a
> monster with a body called *capitalism* that has numerous heads, some of
> which are named *war*. Chop off one head and another appears. Kill the
> body and it's gone. It ain't simple. But doing it the other way Sysiphus
> will have nothing on us.
> Kind regards
> Dermot
>> Best wishes,
>> Julie
>> --On Tuesday, February 18, 2003 12:32 PM +0000 Dermot Moynihan
>> <> wrote:
>>> At 21:25 17/02/03, Salwa de Vree wrote:
>>> <snip>
>>>> None of the arguments address the problem which
>>>> I am often confronted with when talking to people about the situation.
>>>> This problem is the question of terrorist attacks here in the West.
>>>> People here are afraid. There are very real fears of terrorist attacks
>>>> by 'Saddam, Bin Laden & Co.' Many people do, unfortunately, believe
>>>> that Saddam and the Al-Qaida 'network' pose a real threat to the West
>>>> and that they can and will strike 'again' and quite possibly use
>>>> biological and/or chemical weapons. Israelis and New Yorkers are out
>>>> buying gas masks, while here in Holland, the military has already been
>>>> called in to protect our dams, tunnels and other strategic posts.
>>>> Almost weekly there are news reports of Al-Qaida 'cells' operating in
>>>> Holland and I don't need to remind you of all the arrests being made
>>>> in Britain & the US.
>>> You raise a good point. I believe that most of the marchers at the
>>> weekend were not people who were there out of concern for Iraqis but
>>> because they are afraid for themselves and their children.  It is not a
>>> criticism but an observation. They are certainly not part of the peace
>>> movement - whether peace movement groups will grown in numbers as a
>>> result of this remains to be seen.
>>> Regarding your main point, Gabriel Kolko, a well respected historian, in
>>> his latest book (Another Century of War?, 2002) certainly believes that
>>> al-Qaeda is a very large threat. Assuming that he's correct, we are left
>>> with the question how will a massive attack on Iraq lessen that threat.
>>> As things stand, Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden are enemies. If there are
>>> chemical and/or biological weapons in Iraq Saddam is hardly going to
>>> give them to al-Qaeda with the likely possibility that they will be used
>>> against himself.
>>> If, however, the US and the UK attack Iraq, threatening Saddam with
>>> overthrow, if not worse, what has he got to lose at that stage by giving
>>> these weapons to al-Qaeda?
>>> The argument is surely one for allowing the inspectors to do their job.
>>> And we should be calling for their presence in many other countries as
>>> well.
>>>> I think the fear-mongering campaign is the real issue we
>>>> should address. People don't care what happens to the Iraqi people and
>>>> who is responsible for their suffering, they care about their own
>>>> security, and believe that Saddam and Al-Qaida (whether or not
>>>> connected) are a threat to the West and have to be eliminated.
>>> Incidentally, I believe that it's come as a surprise to those in power
>>> to see their "fear mongering" backfire on them. They hardly expected all
>>> these fearful people to make common cause with the anti-war movement.
>>> rgds
>>> Dermot
>>>> Regards,
>>>> Salwa de Vree,
>>>> Leiden, The Netherlands.

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