Weekly News Review

28th March, 2003



European Trade Unions condemn war

The ETUC Steering Committee met  just after we went to press last week  in Brussels and  approved the following statement:

The very moment the hostilities have started in Iraq, the ETUC reaffirms their opposition to this US, UK and Spanish led war which lacks international legitimacy.

The ETUC continues to believe that the legitimate goal of the international community to disarm the Saddam Hussein regime could have been achieved by peaceful means if the United Nations would have not been sidelined, the political process stopped and the inspectors prevented from completing their task.

The ETUC calls on its affiliated organisations to react to the outbreak of war by all means within their possibilities including work stoppages, strikes and demonstrations starting from tomorrow and continuing in the coming days as well as to join in other mass mobilisations to regain peace.

The ETUC deplores the divisions which have prevented the European Union to play a positive role for a peaceful outcome of the Iraq crisis and urges the European Council meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow to find the necessary convergence of views to ensure that the UN will be in charge of the reconstruction of post-war Iraq and in helping the Iraqi people to freely decide on the future of their country.

The ETUC urges the EU to make every possible effort to provide humanitarian support for refugees from Iraq and trade unions to contribute to relief funds for the war victims.

At the same time, convinced that a just solution of the Middle-East conflict is long overdue, the ETUC calls upon the European Council to give a strong commitment for the prompt implementation of the “road map” conducive to the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside a state of Israel living in security.

This is the real response to be given for a future of peace and democracy in the Middle-East.

The ETUC will continue to uphold the role of the United Nations for the promotion of peace, rule of law and human rights. The ETUC stands ready to take further actions.

Brussels, 20 March 2003

EU delegations' offices bugged in Brussels HQ

The BBC and other news agencies reported last week that a routine security inspection on 28 February in the Justus Lipsius building, headquarters of the Council of the European Union (which directly represents the 15 EU governments), found bugging devices in the phones of offices used by the national delegations of France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy and Austria.

Investigators from the affected countries were looking into the phone tapping, along with the EU's own security services.

Each EU government has what is known as permanent representation in Brussels, headed by the Permanent Representatives who sit on COREPER (Committee of permanent representatives). These officials are frequently involved in private talks with ministers and government officials from their own and other countries, so bugging of their offices would represent espionage at the very highest level.

Czech Communists pronounce against EU accession

A meeting of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia's Central Committee on 22nd March decided  to call on voters to participate in the referendum on Czech membership of the EU and recommended them to vote  "No" to accession in  2004. A spokesman for the party said that  "From the long-term and strategic point of view the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia regards European integration as an objective  process and it does not doubt the membership of Czech Republic, in the  long-term, into EU. But since, due to the negotiated conditions, the Czech Republic is not ready for European integration and does not know what form the EU will take  after its reform has been completed, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia cannot recommend citizens  to vote in favour of joining the EU in 2004 in the referendum."

Huge peace march in New York City

David McReynolds of War Resisters' International and the Socialist Party USA sent us this report.

The week didn't start that well. Two days before the first bombs fell, the civil disobedience actions began - I was one of over 40 arrested at the US Mission to the UN (and released early - I think the cops were needed for St. Patrick's Day duty). The day after the bombing began we all went to midtown to try and close Times Square. It got closed OK, but it was raining hard and bitter cold.



After an hour or so of marching around with soggy signs, and everyone's shoes sloshing in cold water, we broke up, while far off in San Francisco something like 1200 people were arrested in the largest CD of the week. (In Chicago my old friend Quinn Brisben, of the Socialist Party - our candidate for President a couple of races back - got arrested by the cops because they wouldn't accept his explanation that he needed his portable chair for demonstrations because his health wouldn't let him stand - Quinn, I should note, was in Baghdad only a few weeks ago, as one of many who wanted to establish human links with the "enemy").



Saturday, March 22, was the day when United for Peace and Justice had called for a mass legal march through the heart of Manhattan. How many would turn out? War had begun, Congress had voted almost unanimous support, the corporate controlled media was giving us "24 hour a day Rumsfeld", the puppet master who has Bush on a string. Would people turn out?



Our small group of folks from War Resisters League, along with folks from the Socialist Party, led by Greg Pason, the SP National Secretary, started out at 40th Street and joined what was a march that covered the street, from sidewalk to sidewalk, and could barely move because of the sheer numbers.






We were blessed by a sunny sweet day in spring, the weather Gods on our side, calling the city to march. But so many! Wave after wave of the official blue and white United for Peace and Justice posters and hundreds upon hundreds of hand made posters, furious and funny. One woman carried a poster saying "The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own" (in San Francisco a ten year old boy was carrying one that read "If Bush Is On Earth, Who Is Running Hell?"). There were outrageous costumes, funny hats. Every sect in town was there with their papers and leaflets - and God bless them all, every last rigidly correct little leftist sect. The veterans were there. The old folks were there, balanced by thousands upon thousands of students. Survivors of the sixties, battered by time, some bearded, some sagging a bit, were in the line of march. More than one poster said "This Is What Democracy Looks Like".



Ralph DiGia of the War Resisters League - who had gotten a remarkably good profile in that day's issue of the New York Times - marched with the WRL contingent, one of many in their 80's (Ralph is 88) who didn't stay home.



There were a few hecklers but more people who opened their windows and cheered us on. Block after block after block the river of humanity poured down from Times Square to Washington Square, a solid line of people covering every block for the whole distance, where it finally dissolved (there were a few inevitable arrests - you can't expect less when you have close to a quarter of a million people).



The meaning of this demonstration and the many others across the United States, make it clear that the public is not behind Bush. The pro-war demonstrations organized in NYC on Sunday rallied only a few hundred. This is not a popular war. The opposition has not been struck dumb by the "Shock and Awe" attacks - rather, those who oppose the war have been struck with shame by the horrific air attacks on Baghdad.



The hundreds of thousands who demonstrated weren't radicals - they ranged from Republicans to Socialists, from Quakers to Catholics to Jews, young, old, straight, queer, black, white - we were all there. This is, truly, what democracy looks like - and not the corporate media of Time/Warner and Fox News.



In the days and weeks ahead it is certain that there will be wide public support for efforts to bring peace immediately to Iraq, to focus on regime change here, to support the United Nations if the General Assembly can be convened.



Bush and those who write his speeches have not won. We have not lost. Now is a time when silence is treason against the future. Or, in the words of a button my old friend Maggie Phair had made up: "In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act . . . George Orwell".











Meanwhile, in San Francisco....



"Over 1,400 demonstrators were arrested on the streets of San Francisco yesterday, and protests condemning the U.S. military action in Iraq continue to rage across the city Friday. Thursday's protest was a turning point for San Francisco's anti-war demonstrators, who expressed far greater anger and

encountered heavier police resistance than any past anti-war protests in recent memory." Rest at


http://www.counterpunch.org/harrison03222003.html

...Oh, and Spectre was with the 80,000 or so in sunny Amsterdam. If you've time, please send us your reports of demos in your own towns or countries, or ones you happened to be on.

"Raid on Iraq TV may have broken Geneva Convention"

- International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Amnesty International

The head of the world's biggest journalists' organisation said a US bomb and missile attack on Iraqi television this morning was an attempt at censorship and may have breached the Geneva Conventions.

"I think there should be a clear international investigation into whether or not this bombing violates the Geneva Conventions," Mr Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), told reporters.

"We have every reason to believe this is an act of censorship against media that US politicians and military strategists don't like," he said.

A US official in Washington earlier said the raid had hit the main television station, a key telecommunications vault and Baghdad satellite communications, damaging the government's command and control capability.

Human rights group Amnesty International also on Wednesday condemned the attack on Iraqi television, saying it might constitute a war crime.

"The bombing of a television station simply because it is being used for the purposes of propaganda is unacceptable," Amnesty's Senior Director for International Law Claudio Cordone said in a statement.

"Attacking a civilian object and carrying out a disproportionate attack are war crimes," he added. White said US strikes would have targeted television earlier if it had been a military target.

"There is no question that this attack reflects the anger and frustration of political leaders in the United States over the showing of prisoners on television and the use of television to boost the morale of Saddam Hussein supporters," said White.

"This is the only credible explanation for this attack." He said the IFJ, which represents more than 500,000 journalists in 100 countries, believed there was no military justification for the raid, which recalled NATO's bombing of Radio Television Serbia during the Kosovo war three years ago. "Once again, we see military and political commanders from the democratic world targeting a television network simply because they don't like the message it gives out," he said.

Despite the attack, Iraqi television came on air at about 9 a.m. (0600 GMT), and state radio was also broadcasting normally. Iraq's 24-hour international satellite television channel ceased broadcasting during the raids but came back on air at about 0920 GMT with patriotic songs.

The IFJ said international law forbade attacks on television and radio stations unless they were used for military purposes, and there was no evidence this was the case in Iraq.

Nor did the IFJ believe television broadcasts could include coded messages to the Iraqi army. "The idea that Iraqi soldiers are sitting in the desert watching television to get their orders is absurd," White said.

Boycott of American goods over Iraq war gains pace.

"No more Coca-Cola or Budweiser, no Marlboro, no American whiskey or even American Express cards -- a growing number of restaurants in Germany are taking everything American off their menus to protest the Iraq war." Read more at http://www.utopia2000.org/


M ichael Moore's Open Letter to "President" Bush

"...how bad do you have to suck to lose a popularity contest with Saddam Hussein? The whole world is against you, Mr. Bush. Count your fellow Americans among them."  To read the rest go  to http://www.michaelmoore.com

Terror-forming



The war on Iraq is the opening salvo in a war to redesign the world to the needs of corporate America. Go to the rest of A. Sivanandan's article at http://www.irr.org.uk/2003/march/ak000008.html

Bush Playing Iraqi Roulette

"European and Arab leaders view the war in the context of international politics, whereas for Bush the war in Iraq is a domestic issue. But the war will serve its purpose only if it is brief

and victorious, what works when the enemy is infinitely weaker and capitulates without a fight to the death. But after abandoning the Iraqis during the first gulf war just before the overthrow of Saddam, and imposing a decade of senseless sanctions it could be difficult to find supporters in Baghdad." Read the rest of Boris Kagarlitsky's analysis at

http://www.tni.org/archives/kagarlitsky/roulette.htm




War Criminals, Not Heroes!



"Have US Soldiers Forgotten the Nuremberg Trials?" Find out the answer at
http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles2/Skog_Criminals-Not-Heroes.htm

And last time's war criminals...

Seven Iraqi families have filed a lawsuit in Belgium against ex-US president George Bush and three other US leaders for alleged crimes during the first Gulf War in 1991. Read about it at

http://metimes.com/2K3/issue2003-12/reg/bush_snr_faces.htm


Bush junta thwarted in another war for oil

Last week, the US Senate voted on an amendment - offered by Senator Barbara Boxer - to remove Arctic Refuge drilling from the Senate budget bill. This amendment passed 52-48, so permission to destroy the Arctic wilderness has once again been withheld. Congratúlations to our friends at Arctic Action and the North Alaska Environment Center.

WHAT NEXT?

...is the name of a Marxist discussion journal based in London. Issue 25 is now available online and can be reached via http://mysite.freeserve.com/whatnext. Contains Brian Green on the world economy,  Carolyne Culver on war against Iraq, Bob Pitt on the SWP and the anti-war campaign, Martin Sullivan on New Labour and public opinion, Martin Sullivan on how to fight Blairism, reviews and letters and much more.