Peace needs disarmament


A recent specially convened session of Germany's Party of Democratic Socialism passed a resolution which stands as a comprehensive statement of the broad, consensual left position against this war.  The mainstream media may be talking as if the war is "over", but unless urgent steps are taken along the lines advocated in the PDS resolution, it will really only just be beginning.

Peace – Democracy – Disarmament

Resolution of the Extraordinary Session of the 8th PDS Congress in Berlin, 5 April, 2003

How contemptuous of human life a world power must be to give its war strategy the name "Shock and Awe". Supported by British troops, the war machine of the United States of America  is spreading fear and terror in Iraq, bringing death to the people. It is laying waste to large swathes of the country between the Tigris and the Euphrates. The number of dead and wounded on both sides is unforeseeable, the number of civilian victims is still unknown. We mourn for every single person killed, wounded or injured in war. We accuse the governments of the United States and Great Britain of allowing for the mass murder of civilians in order to  assert their economic and power politics interests in a war that violates international law.

Baghdad's  dictator, supported and heavily armed by the USA until the early nineties, is guilty of many crimes. His regime is discredited nationally and internationally. The implementation of a viable democratic alternative, however, is the business of the Iraqi people and its democratic forces. We are in solidarity with them. The Iraq conflict could have been resolved peaceably.  The weapons inspectors were working successfully.

This war is taking place against the expressed will of the majority of the states of the world, to say nothing of the will of the majority of the world population.

Never before has the US empire encountered such great, sweeping, popular resistance. This war, unleashed by the President as a part of his project for a new world order,  may be the last, if war is outlawed as a policy instrument all over the world. This is an opportunity that needs to be seized. It is what the PDS is fighting for.

The US and British war of aggression against the people of Iraq has brought the entire international community, society on the globe, the peoples and the political and social movements to a crossroads in history: the one road means military-backed imperial hegemony to implement a socially reactionary brand of globalisation. The other road means the strengthening and democratising of the United Nations, the implementation of its Charter's categorical prohibition of the use of force, disarmament, comprehensive multilateral cooperation, social and ecological orientation of the world economy for all peoples and undivided human rights policy. The one road is avowedly supposed to guarantee an "American century" and a century of the international corporations and banks. The other road should and must end thousands of years of war, confrontation and pillage. The 21st Century will not be the "American century". It must and will be the century of cooperation, of human rights, of the outlawing and banning of war and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

  We are convinced that a peaceful world is possible. The world-wide resistance to the Iraq war can open the door to a peaceful world. The PDS is a part of that resistance. It seeks co-operation with all those who have set out to make a try for peace or who are looking for peaceful alternatives. It is for that reason that it submits proposals for peace with justice and freedom through democracy and disarmament.

Today the US administration is claiming for itself the right to decide on war or peace. The United States is thus deliberately cutting itself off from the United Nations, the world organisation it helped to create and with whose help it was able to consolidate and expand its great power status.

How much damage the aggression has done to the UN is still an open question. While it its true that the United Nations failed to prevent the illegal war of aggression against Iraq, it did not allow itself to be made a belligerent party and did not authorise the war. That is a victory for the UN and for international law. It was made possible by the growing world-wide resistance of the peoples and the peace movement, and by the uncompromising stand of the majority of the states in the Security Council and in the General Assembly.

Peace is possible - stop the war now

We demand

·         an immediate halt to all fighting and the immediate withdrawal of the invading troops from Iraq and the region;

·         measures to be taken as soon as possible against the imminent humanitarian catastrophe and reparations on the part of the invading states;

·         reception of war refugees in Europe, including Germany; a freeze on deportations for all those affected;

·         no British-American mandated territory in Iraq. The UN, which did not authorise the war and has not let itself be made a party to it, must resume responsibility for peace and development in Iraq;

·         resumption of the activity of the UN weapons inspectors. Public figures will be asked to accompany them and publicise their work;

·         restoration of self-determination for the population of Iraq as a precondition for democratisation and social development. The embargo, which has been bringing hunger, poverty and death to the population for years, must be lifted with immediate effect. We support resolute steps in compliance with the UN resolutions towards a Near and Middle East free of ABC weapons as a part of a world free of such weapons;

·         no permits for further arms deliveries to the aggressor states and the repeal of permits already granted.

The crucial question is whether the Security Council, including such states as Germany, France, Russia and China, will now insist on the principles of international law including the prohibition of the use of force in international relations and whether the resistance of the peoples will continue. The USA must be diverted from its course and must accept the international legal order.


The PDS proposes:


·         the immediate convening of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the attack on Iraq and oblige the USA and Great Britain to withdraw their troops immediately from Iraq. That would be a powerful political demonstration. It would underscore the potency of current international law and prove that the UN is not going to let itself be relegated to the role of a mere agent of the USA in clearing away the debris the USA has left behind, as after the wars in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Of course the victims must be helped, but that in no way relieves the offenders of their responsibility. We support the call issued by five European parties of the left and the Iraqi Communist Party for an international conference under UN supervision for a democratic future order in Iraq.

·         the formation of an Organisation for Security and Co-operation in the Middle East (OSCME), the task of which would be to develop a common security concept for the whole region, to find solutions to the problems of achieving disarmament in the region, distributing water, using the oil resources, protecting human and minority rights, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict, the complex problems of the Kurdish population and their self-determination with the inclusion of all parties concerned, economic, social, cultural and democratic  development for all men and women in the region through co-operation among the states and with the rest of the world. The responsibility of the European Union for a peace process in the Middle and Near East has increased. The EU should substantially increase its ties with the countries and peoples of the region and strive for a close and equal partnership for development in the Mediterranean region.


Peace needs law and democracy

If the war is not ended immediately, many things will no longer be as they were. There is a danger of new wars; the relationship between the USA and Europe, the relationship between dominance and isolation of the US empire in international politics, international law, the role and influence of the United Nations are all affected. The explosive Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be foreseeably aggravated. An Iraq under US administration will be combated by the Islamic-Arab world. The escalation of violence in the Middle East, however, is a threat to peace far beyond the borders of the region. It deepens the rift between the citizens of Israel and the Arab population throughout the Middle East.

One reason why the Bush administration is waging war against Iraq is to humiliate the states of the world and to make the people feel helpless. They are to be shown the limits of protest and formative capacity,  tolerance and humanity. In this situation the PDS supports proposals for a United Nations World Assembly for Peace not just as a meeting of heads of state and government but as a unique world-wide forum of peace researchers, cultural workers and non-governmental organisations with the participation of Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

Whoever pursues an aggressive outward policy also dismantles democratic rights inwardly. In the "war on terror" the Bush administration is threatening civil rights in a way comparable to the McCarthy era. This trend has international implications. In this country a broad coalition from black to red/green is in the process of instituting the most comprehensive infringements of civil rights since the enactment of the Emergency Laws, with computer searches, electronic eavesdropping, surveillance of journalists, and curtailment of the rights of the Bundestag to monitor and decide on Bundeswehr missions abroad. Internal deployment of the Bundeswehr is under discussion. Even the prohibition of torture has become a matter of  debate in public discourse.

The PDS advocates:

·         reforming and democratising the United Nations so that it can meet the new challenges. It must be expanded into a system of collective, multilateral security corresponding to the principles of the United Nations Charter. Its political weight, its legal powers and its institutional capabilities must be enhanced globally and regionally. Harmony must be achieved between the basic concept of the United Nations Charter that force and the threat of force should be banished from international relationships, prevailing international law and the instruments for implementing it. This involves struggle against poverty, a stringent policy of crisis prevention and civil resolution of conflicts and radical disarmament, prohibition of the international traffic in arms and struggle against terrorism. Terrorism must be fought on the basis of international law, it must be deprived of its breeding-ground through democracy and social justice.;

·         implementing the principles of the United Nations Charter as a viable basis for civilised relationships between states. The programme of work of the United Nations and its subsidiary organisations includes: socially responsible management of globalisation; struggle against poverty and epidemics, education, protection of climate and species, access to clean water and reversal of present energy policies. This requires that the affluent countries make independent contributions to supporting the economically weaker ones;

·         rescinding all the limitations on civil rights and liberties in the name of the fight against terrorism. War refugees must be taken in. The Basic Law, its commitment to peace and its basic rights should be the real guideline for government action.

Peace needs justice

With power egoism draped in religion the Bush administration is waging war on Iraq to implement its concept of a "new world order". Concealed behind this is simply the desire to consolidate and ensure the hegemony of the USA in the world. It is a question of geo-strategic power interests at the intersection of three continents, the political restructuring of the Middle East, and new US military bases. It is a question of US access to the shrinking fossil fuel resources in Central Asia and the Middle East, of control over the distribution, output and prices of oil and not least of the strengthening of the dollar as the world's leading currency.

The distribution of the world's assets is not only unequal, the inequality is growing. The consequent inequality of opportunities und unequal possibilities of development are not only a source of increasing local wars, they are also the precondition for the increasing wealth of the big industrial nations, for rising profits for transnational corporations and banks, for cheap raw materials imports and for the opening up of new markets. It is an unequal relationship that gives one side the fruits and the other side the losses of globalisation. It is a fierce competition, being fought out with all available political and economic means and by means of war. It is being fought out for the most part at the expense of the South.

The PDS is convinced:

International relations in the fields of law, politics and economics must be realigned on the basis of equal rights in order to keep the world from slipping into barbarism. Market radicalisation must be stopped so that globally comprehensive social development can be achieved. The international trade and monetary policy institutions are in need of democratic control and must be oriented to the goals of social balance, solidarity and a sustainable world economy. Germany should lead the way.

The war against Iraq is starting a new spiral in the arms race. After a few years of falling arms budgets, world spending on defence has been increasing again since 1999. The USA has been making drastic increases in military spending, especially since 11 September 2001. After the Iraq war, various regimes will try to erect military barriers to hegemonic policy and military interventions. This will lead to new arms races and to attempts by a number of states to gain possession of weapons of mass destruction. Immense resources for resolving global problems will be lost.

As the PDS sees it, the alternative to hegemonic and for the most part military-based security for the few  lies in world-wide disarmament and joint security for all. Security cannot be achieved against one another but only with one another, co-operatively and by non-military means. This rules out military backdrops of intimidation that escalate conflicts and especially pre-emptive wars, and includes security between systems with different concepts of values, culture and society. "Disarmament wars" are a perversion of the idea of disarmament.

The PDS proposes:

·         starting new initiatives to finally implement the provisions of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons for substantial dismantling of the nuclear weapons potential of the nuclear powers, undertaking new disarmament initiatives in the field of small arms and holding regional security conferences to reduce military potentials in the Balkans, in the Middle East and in crisis regions of Africa and Central Asia. It is high time for the nuclear powers to fulfil the stipulations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for a tangible decrease in nuclear weapons potentials, and for the treaties on B and C weapons to be enhanced. It is precisely the destructive attitude of the USA that has to be overcome. The goal of the PDS continues to be the world-wide prohibition of arms exports and production. The Federal Republic must take the lead in this;

·         dissolving NATO and replacing it with an all-European non-military security system in which the OSCE plays an important role. The Bundeswehr should initially be reduced to a 100 000-strong army and steps should be taken to ensure that it cannot take part in wars violating international law or be misused for imperial policy and that it is not adapted to do so. A Federal Republic of Germany without an army remains the goal of the PDS.

The role of Germany and Europe: Old Europe – new policy

For the first time, the Federal government has denied the USA political, financial and moral support for a war, placing itself politically on the side of the opponents of the Iraq war. In the UN Security Council and in Europe, the Federal Government together with France and Russia has been a leader in the opposition to the war course taken by the USA, thus risking  profound ruptures within the European Union and NATO and with the USA. This line has been fiercely combated by the CDU, in opposition even to conservative politicians. The CDU leadership with Angela Merkel at its centre backs Bush unreservedly.

At the same time, the Federal government did not exhaust all its possibilities of preventing the war or at least making it harder to wage. It has allowed the US army to use German air space and US military bases to pursue the war and guaranteed their protection, provided personnel for the AWACS aircraft, stationed ABC units in Kuwait, and provided naval cover for the Horn of Africa and the Mediterranean. To that extent it has acted in the interests of the USA and is still doing so at this moment.

The PDS demands:

These support services for the US war of aggression must be terminated immediately. This is what the Basic Law and international treaties call for. It is what many people in our country want and are working towards.

There is one basic difference between the peace policy of the PDS and the foreign and security policy of the Federal government from which all the individual differences of opinion derive: the Federal government accepts war as a policy instrument, the PDS rules war out as a policy instrument.

Conservatives, Liberals and the Red-Green coalition are ready for world-wide intervention. It is the substance of the new NATO strategy and the Bundeswehr reform concept. This is shown by the German participation in the war against Yugoslavia and the Afghanistan war, in which Defence Minister Struck wants to  "defend German interests in the Hindu Kush". Influential circles in the CDU have openly gone over to positions of "goading into a war of aggression". The Bundeswehr troops deployed internationally and especially in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan must be withdrawn immediately.

The PDS rejects that policy line:

Germany must refuse to serve in a war and must become a conscientious objector as a state!

The governments of the European countries have been and are divided in their views of support for the US policy line. The peoples of the European countries have not been divided in their rejection of the war. The latter fact is encouraging for Europe's future course. Since the European governments that opposed the Iraq war – if only in response to considerable public pressure – did not come round in the end and stuck to their disapproving stance, transatlantic relations, the relationship between Germany and Europe and the USA, can now be re-shaped on a different footing. The PDS proposes to the democratic Left in Europe that a discussion take place on the content of a European foreign and security policy:

·         Re-shaping of the common European foreign policy is not feasible without emancipation from the imperial US strategies. For the PDS, however, European-US competition is not the alternative to US unilateralism. What is needed is a world of solidarity and equal rights, a multi-polar world in that sense. The opportunities for "old Europe" did not and still do not reside in the attempt to compete with the USA in the military field. The political strength of Europe could lie in its experience in the civil resolution of conflicts and peaceful integration processes. The PDS rejects the conclusions now being drawn by Germany, France and Belgium in building up or intensifying military co-operation, in turning the European Union into a military intervention force. Not the militarisation of the EU and imperial competition with the USA but a common foreign and security policy based on the concept of Europe as a civil power will lead to more security and to the reduction of Europe's military budgets and potential for aggression.

·         The commitment to peace, based on outlawing wars of aggression, is to be included in the European Constitution.

·         Europe needs a common foreign and security policy oriented towards a socially, politically and economically just world. It must be directed towards the implementation of high ecological standards and defend and advance democratic principles, human rights and international law. This applies to relations within Europe as well. Europe is more than the European Union and more than core Europe (Germany, France). Security as mutual security must apply also to relations with Russia and the other successor states of the Soviet Union as well as Turkey. As non-military alliances the OSCE and the European Council would provide a suitable umbrella for such relations. 

·         The countries neighbouring on Iraq should open their borders to refugees and provide them with refuge and care in co-operation with international bodies. The European Union and the German Federal government should be called upon to insist that Turkey and Iran guarantee protection and humanitarian aid for the inmates of the Iranian and Kurdish refugee camps in Iraq.

Peace is too important to be left to the governing politicians alone

A peace movement that spans the globe is emerging in the struggle to prevent war, a movement for a more human, more social and more just world. It has brought forth new forms of communication and protest. People from widely differing social strata and religions, scientists, artists, students, doctors, athletes and teachers, members of parliaments, cabinet ministers, clubs and associations, trade unions and churches are taking a stand against the war. The PDS wants to help ensure that a sustainable movement for peace emerges from the movement against the war. Such a movement requires staying power. It requires solidarity, respect, tolerance and openness.

The peace movement failed to prevent the war, but it did succeed in one thing: it deprived the US administration of its status as opinion leader and encouraged brave men and women in the United States and Great Britain in responding to President Bush: War – Not in our name!

In the movement of "globalisation critics" and in the newly developing world-wide alliance of opponents of the war, a critical alternative public is forming that no longer believes those who misuse the term "human rights" to legitimise and wage wars.  And: The critical alternative public is no longer dependent on the big media alone, it is opening up its own sources for obtaining and spreading information and analyses. It is networking and explaining. The PDS is a part of that movement.

The US-British alliance may win again militarily this time, but it is in the process of generating and reinforcing the resistance forces that will deprive it of the basis of its legitimacy by means of knowledge, criticism and morale. No weapons, no antiballistic missile defence system and no military budget, however inflated, can prevent this.

At the moment of its dramatic defeat, international law has gained new recognition and appreciation world-wide. It is the band that unites the critical world movement. Esteem for law and democracy in inter-state and international relations will shine forth within the states as well; of that we are certain.

On pain of human perdition, the 21st century must not remain a century of wars, violence and economic and ecological forays. Reason, law and justice, democracy and freedom comprise the necessary change that the PDS wants to help bring about. In Germany, in Europe and in the world. Humanity now has every possibility of permanently eliminating war, poverty and oppression. The one thing we need for that now is peace!