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(en) Vermont Anti-Capitalists March Against More Than Just War

From arthur <arthur@riseup.net>
Date Sun, 27 Oct 2002 02:47:34 -0500 (EST)


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More than 30 anti-authoritarians and anarchists marched with
1100 kinda quiet, real nice, no monkey business, peace activists,
in Montpelier (Vermont's capital) Saturday, October 26.

We handed out flyers (text below), marched with a large banner
which read "Neither Militarism, Nor Capitalism. Reclaim
Freedom and Democracy".

Despite the rain, snow, cold, and american flags, we countered
the "peace is patriotic" and "can democracy survive militarism?"
with cheers, chants, and general vermont-type mayhem.

Freedom not Militarism

The call for peace in Iraq should mean more than the absence of a new 
U.S.
invasion. For more than a decade, the Iraqi people have suffered under 
two
oppressive regimes. Hussein's dictatorship has not only severely 
repressed
political dissent but also pursued a murderous policy toward the Kurds. 
Even
the recent amnesty for almost all prisoners, while freeing many who were
unjustly incarcerated, underscores Hussein's brutality: it confirms
the "disappearance" of numerous inmates and compels those newly 
released to
trade their prison cells for Iraqi military barracks. The United 
States, in
turn, has merely worsened the situation. The U.S. trade embargo and 
continuous
air strikes have limited access to food, health care, and clean water 
in Iraq.
As a result, more than five thousand people die every month.

Nor will increased military activity by the United States, either 
unilaterally
or in concert with its allies, improve the lot of the Iraqi populace or 
make
the world safer. While the Bush administration may be right in 
highlighting the
cruelty of the Iraqi government, its interest in a "regime change" 
cannot be
separated from economic and geopolitical motives.

Historically, the relationship of the United States to the Middle East 
has
revolved around oil production. U.S. foreign policy has sought to create
stability in oil markets, regardless of whether the United States has 
chosen to
support military dictatorships, fundamentalist regimes, or nations with 
long
records of human rights violations. Because Iraq holds the world's 
second-
largest oil reserves, or nearly 11 percent of the total supply, it is no
surprise that Bush and his advisers have set their sights on this 
country while
ignoring other repressive governments. But G.W.'s new "preemptive 
strategy"
moves beyond stabilizing the flow of resources; it now aspires to direct
control.

The Bush administration is candid about its wish to replace the tyranny 
of
Hussein with a U.S. military government. This would not only allow for
greater "energy security" but also unhindered access to a large, 
untapped
consumer market. Moreover, it gives the United States a solid foothold 
in a
region key to facilitating the further consolidation of wealth and 
power. This
latest military posturing is, as such, inseparable from capitalism, 
with its
insatiable grow-or-die dynamic. Establishing control over Iraq simply 
fuels the
expansion of the market economy on a global scale irrespective of its
consequences for humanity and the natural world.

Even an unabashed proponent of "free markets," New York Times columnist 
Thomas
Friedman, acknowledges the symbiotic relationship between military 
action and
capitalism: "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a 
hidden
fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas. . . . And 
the
hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies 
to
flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps." The
military's job in the twenty-first century is to control resources and 
markets,
to keep corporations safe and protect investments.

While the United States may potentially succeed in overthrowing Hussein 
and
putting its own military government into power, this leaves little hope 
for the
Iraqi people to experience any meaningful change. And relying on the 
market
economy for material provisioning in Iraq reproduces the same social 
inequities
that exist in countries such as our own.

Military intervention will also not ensure greater security both at 
home and
abroad from violence by terrorists or states. What amounts to a first 
strike by
the United States will potentially open up a Pandora's box of 
retaliatory
attacks globally. It also establishes the precedent of a preemptive war 
that
any government or group can use to justify future aggression. Weapons 
of mass
destruction should not be tolerated. But they need to be abolished 
everywhere,
not just in countries that fall outside of NATO.

The impending war against Iraq demands more than just a call for an 
undefined
notion of peace. Self-determination--the ability of a people to shape 
their
society, economy, and daily lives without external compulsion--must be a
priority both here and in the Middle East. It cannot occur under a 
repressive
regime, nor in a country striving toward limitless military expansion 
that will
likely result in decades of upheaval and suffering for millions of 
people.
Substantive peace involves neither capitalism, nor its bitter fruit 
militarism.
It means replacing want and fear with abundance and joy in a 
self-governed
society. We cannot allow the concepts of freedom and democracy to be 
reduced to
jingoistic slogans, hollowed out by their crass use in support of U.S. 
military
ambitions and empire building. Together, we can reclaim their meanings.


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