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A Call for International Actions

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This was initiated by others - but I signed on - and I hope others will, as well.
                                                                            - Michael Albert

Ten years ago, millions of people around the world said “no” to war on February 15, 2003. Now, we say “yes” to peace; “yes” to demilitarizing, to having decent lives, including economic lives, determined by democratic principles. 

The invasion of Iraq still began after the 2003 protests, but the violence wreaked by Bush was more limited than the U.S. government inflicted on Vietnam a generation earlier. Our vigilance was part of the reason for that. Had we acted sooner, we might have been able to avert the disastrous invasion. The lesson is we need more global protest and solidarity, not less. Indeed, had we continued vigorously protesting, we might not have seen the years since 2003 show a lack of accountability for the war makers, even as conscientious whilstleblowers are prosecuted. 

This isn’t a reunion party. The same impulses that drove us to the streets in 2003 are still with us; the same war mindset prevails in world affairs. Politicians who backed the Iraq war dominate the U.S., UK and other foreign policy establishments. The dominant media’s demonization of Iran now is similar to what it did to Iraq. The U.S. escalated its war in Afghanistan and launched a series of smaller “dirty wars” in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere with illegal drone killings and now, with AFRICOM and other mechanisms, threatens perpetual war in Africa as well as the Mideast. The Obama administration’s “pivot East” threatens a Cold War or worse with China. 

The Arab uprisings displaced some dictators — most successfully when done peacefully by the people in spite of violence by the regimes, as in Tunisia and Egypt. But the oppressive regimes of the Gulf have not only escaped real scrutiny, they are actually molding much of the rest of the region in conjunction with the U.S. and other outside powers — even as the U.S. proclaims its support for “democracy.” Much of the wealth from the Gulf states flows to Western banks, as well as the dictators and their cliques, rather than to benefit the people of that region. The Palestinian people continue to suffer not only neo-liberal dominance, as much of the world does, but also the settler colonialism of Israeli forces. 

These issues are not unique to the Mideast — the U.S. has over 1000 bases around the world, some with explicitly colonial frameworks, as with “territories” like Puerto Rico. The U.S. and Russia have tens of thousands of nuclear warheads threatening life on earth. A fundamental transformation is needed. The United Nations has failed in its paramount duty to shield future generations from the scourge of war. 

We don’t just say “no” to war — we say “yes” to peace, we say yes to building economic and social systems that are not dominated by central banks and huge financial institutions. We don’t just say “no” to war — we demand an end to massive resources being squandered on the military while billions are made poorer and poorer as a few reap huge wealth totally disproportionate to any labor or ingenuity of their own. 

We don’t just say “no” to war — we reject an economic system that in the name of “economic competitiveness” pits workers against each other in regions and nations so they accept work for less and less pay in worse and worse conditions. From the seeds of antiwar that were planted ten years ago, we want a flowering of global democracy. So we can honestly say “We the People” without the hierarchies based on ethnicity, gender, class or nationality. 

The rise of the “occupy” movement, the Indignados, Idle No More movement and others has been critical, but we must set up more durable structures, to go beyond merely occupying to liberating and to being connected across national borders. The quest for profit and perpetual financial growth has enriched a tiny minority while causing hardships to the vast majority. The quest for perpetual financial growth and profit has ravaged the earth so that we today face unprecedented threats to the possibility of sustaining a livable habitat for future generations. The quest for profit and perpetual financial growth has corrupted virtually every system in the society, from government to housing to transportation to education to the legal system. The dominance of finance and the military must end; the targeting of the social safety net must end. We, the people, must not pay for a crisis we did not cause, and for wars that are fought in the name of our security — but which ensure perpetual global insecurity and hardship. 

Part of the needed building of durable structures that liberate is to globalize and coordinate protests. These could be done regularly, even monthly beginning March 15 and going onward.

Solidarity demands much greater communication between the people of the world, not elites planning for their continued dominance. The response to the decline of U.S. power is not a smarter use of power, or a balance of power with other elites with their own hierarchies. Instead, we issue “This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation” to establish meaningful solidarity with people worldwide.

Signers so far:

As’ad AbuKhalil, California State University, angryarab.net, author The Battle for Saudi Arabia

Junaid Ahmad, Lahore University of Management Sciences  

Christine Ahn, Korea Policy Institute 

Michael Albert, International Organization for a Participatory Society and ZCommunications

Noam Chomsky, MIT, author of Hegemony or Survival and Power Systems

Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

Bill Fletcher, former with TransAfrica and AFL-CIO, co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal and author of Solidarity Divided

Arun Gupta, co-founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal and The Indypendent

Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy

Preeti Kaur, International Organization for a Participatory Society in Spain and blogger at ZNet

Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Mairead Maguire, Peace People, recipient of Nobel Peace Prize 

David Marty, International Organization for a Participatory Society in Spain and co-author of Occupy Strategy

Maegan Ortiz, publisher of VivirLatino

Costas Panayotakis, New York City College of Technology (CUNY) and author of Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist inefficiency to Economic Democracy

John Pilger, films include “War on Democracy” and “The War You Don’t See”

Norman Solomon, author War Made Easy

David Swanson, RootsAction.org, author of War is a Lie

Deborah Toler, Africa specialist, formerly of Institute for Food and Development Policy and Oxfam America

(Organizations listed for identification purposes only.)

 

You can add your name to the statement at RootsAction.org.

 

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Discussion 10 Comments

  • John Vincent 15th Feb 2013

    Desmond Tutu, South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, responding to recent discussions on the use of drones and targeted assassinations at the Senate hearing of CIA director nominee John Brennan wrote the other day:

    “Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.

    “I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.”

    That alone provides ample justification for Americans to take action, even if all they do is sign this petition.

  • Dave Jones 15th Feb 2013

    In the call for "more global protest and solidarity" we need at least as much emphasis placed on quality as on quantity. The 2003 protests showed that expressing dissent to "leaders" while expecting "policy change" is a failed tactic. Let's learn the lessons and move forward, rather than "do the same thing, only more of it."

    I believe protest has to involve more risk and extract more enforcement costs as we move into a new phase. Peace has to be understood as a counter to the objective violence taking place at every moment in our (the developed world) name. This violence is not ended by chants or marches or puppets or signs.

    What if counter-vailing forces for peace rallied around the reality that oil is both the life blood of the profit system and the poison destroying the natural system? And that the task was to stop the flow of poison? With all the risks that entails.

  • Michael Albert 15th Feb 2013

    Dave,

    I didn't write this, but I will say that while I understand your feelings, and share them emotionally, strategically they just don't make sense. The answer to what would happen is that the movement would be quickly decimated and populations would support the endeavor to decimate because the movement activities you suggest would be portrayed, seen, and felt as attacks on the populace.

    You also dismiss protest too quickly - I think - conceive it as a process of developing mass support - revealing and demonstrating that support - raising the consciousness and commitment of the support - and when it is sufficient moving on to new activities, and the logic may be more compelling. 100,000 rallying is alone insufficient - but 100,000 growing steadily, and a subset of it moving from rallying to civil disobedience, and then to occupations, and then to creating alternatives, all as the number rallying keeps growing - and thus the number doing more diverse other activities also grows - that is a very different picture.

  • I.N. Reiter 15th Feb 2013

    Signed. Great initiative.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 16th Feb 2013

    I'll support anything that increases global anti-systemic communication and action. IMO we've got no time to be too petty and start quibbling with certain wordings or omissions that we might do differently from our varying backgrounds and perspectives. That way lies sectarianism. Yep, a great initiative, count me in.

  • Alex Lewis 16th Feb 2013

    interesting... was looking for united states alphabetically in the petition dropdown, and went back up to the top and found it out of order at the top. just a software issue (sort of). kind of common in the source of how systems are made. peace.

  • Dave Jones 16th Feb 2013

    just sayin its not too early to be thinking about what the "durable structure" does once it is durable. Or what "rejecting the economic structure" means in terms of boots on the ground. I am fully on board with the trajectory Michael articulates- civil disobedience to occupations to some kind of autonomy- I just suggested an oil pipeline or mine as a place to focus occupation. As opposed to occupying a Capitol or Parliament or city park.

    Here is where the difficult but necessary discussion with "progressives" about the nature of the capitalist State happens and where you necessarily lose a few. But I am not doing Occupy again, which tried to be all things to all people.

    I am talking with people every day who need something real to do ( intellectual work as well as activism)and who look at the anti-war movement as a failure on many levels. They want to resist in a way that reflects the urgency of the historical moment and yes, a piece of that is emotional. I suppose separating critique from sectarianism is one piece of the theoretical work that needs doing.

  • Sarah Owens 18th Feb 2013

    Signed. Always glad for the opportunity to register with others a commitment not to cooperate with evil.

  • Zane Hannan 22nd Feb 2013

    Like. Will sign when I have time. (Sorry for being so scarce on IOPS, but I'm burnt out!)

    A friend, the poet Kelwyn Sole, just posted this on his Facebook wall:

    "You think you can change the world by talking to a leader. Leaders are the effects, not the cause of changes."
    Alasdair Gray