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(en) Direct Action at Shannon shows the way

From "Andrew" <andy@dojo.tao.ca>
Date Wed, 5 Feb 2003 12:39:49 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The coming war is a vast effort for the US and its lapdog Britain as the
hundreds of thousands of men and the tens of thousands of tons of equipment
they require are transported from bases in the US and Britain to the Gulf. 
Modern war requires an enormous supply chain to keep all those fuel guzzling
tanks and planes on the move.  The modern way of killing using enormous
quantities of bullets, bombs and explosives.  

In 'Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War'
General William G. Pagonis revealed that 7 million tons of supplies had to be
shipped to the battlefield then.  Winston Churchill said of war: "Victory is
the beautiful, bright-coloured flower. Transport is the stem without which it
never could have blossomed."

There is often a feeling among anti-war activists that there is little we can
do to directly impact on war.  The figures above suggest otherwise, for these
supplies move through airports and ports near us, or down road and rail
networks near the places we live.  The quantities of supplies needed to fight
this war are enormous, in 1991 for instance the 1450th transportation company
supplied 7.75 million gallons of fuel to the airforce and tanks attacking
Iraq[i].  We are not just talking tanks and infantry here, in WWII the US army
depended on over three times as many men to supply the information and
transport as were actually in combat[ii].

One airport these supplies are flowing through is the commercial airport at
Shannon in the south west of Ireland.  Every day and average of 5 or 6 US
military planes land here to refuel as they transport soldiers and supplies to
the Gulf.  Some of these planes, like the Hercules C130 are obviously
military, and can even be used to drop bombs.  Some others are of a civilian
type but are owned by the military and have a role in providing the essential
support services that allow war to be waged. Most however are commercial
airlines charted by the military to transport troops.

Over the last year Shannon airport has seen many protests by those who oppose
the war.  These protests have involved Direct Action, it the attempt to
directly effect the ability to wage war, on a number of occasions.  The
numbers involved in these actions have not been huge, perhaps a couple of
hundred in all.  But already they are having an impact on the war.  

On three occasions individuals or small groups of activists have succeeded in
reaching and damaging military planes.  One result of this has been that one
of the commercial airliners ferrying troops, World Airlines, have announced
that they are going to stop using Shannon, and are diverting their next 17
troop transports to Frankfurt airport [iii].  The activists have also
succeeded in grounding a US Navy plane, after it was attacked firstly with an
axe and days later by five more activists from the 'Catholic Worker'
organisation with hammers and axes.

Of course if this sort of action only took place at Shannon then, although it
has already caused headaches for those shipping supplies to the war, it would
not present an insoluble problem.  World Airlines have diverted to Frankfurt
for the moment.  But if these actions start to happen everywhere there is an
anti-war movement then the war machine is in trouble.  And there is mass
opposition to this war in every country in Europe and in the US itself.

Direct Actions are taking place in other countries already.  Britain has seen
well over a dozen with a particular focus on the naval port of Portsmouth
where Greenpeace is engaged in a sustained campaign to block the shipment of
war supplies.  But as in Ireland it is only a tiny minority of those involved
in the anti-war movements who are involved in such actions.

Shannon demonstrates that direct action gets the goods, that even a tiny
number of people tacking action can cause hiccups in the logistics chain. 
What is now needed is that the anti-war movements start to take themselves
seriously.  Up to now the political parties that are leading these movement
have rubbished direct actions such as the ones at Shannon as ineffective
'individual action'.  Now we have seen that these individual actions have had
more of a direct impact on the war then six hundred times this number
passively marching though our towns.

The slogan 'Stop the War' needs to be taken as more then a passive plea to our
rulers to stop supporting the war effort.  It needs to be seen as a call to
action - it is up to us to stop the war.  If 300,000 can be mobilised to march
through London then surely 50,000 can be mobilised to shut down Northwood
Military HQ also in the London area.  Or 20,000 to march on the bomber and
refuelling bases essential to the war that are scattered around Britain.

Marches have and will continue to have an essential role in building
opposition to the war and bringing new people into the movements.  But it is
now clear that we can do more, that we can take action against this war.  In
this war our rulers do not need us to fight as soldiers, they would like but
do not require our support for the war.  They do however need us to remain
passive, for if we turn our disgust at this war into action against it then
their war machine will grind to a halt.

Joe Black

More information on the protests at Shannon at
http://struggle.ws/wsm/shannon.html and www.indymedia.ie

More information on direct actions around the globe at

i  See http://www.millersgulfwar.org/utpage.html
ii http://search.eb.com/normandy/articles/logistic_background.html
iii http://www.indymedia.ie/cgi-bin/newswire.cgi?id=27145&start=20

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