Building Anti War Movement:
Tasks and Perspectives
By Alison Bodine & Noah Fine
September 11, 2001 marks the beginning of a new era of war and occupation. Under the mask of a “war on terror,” imperialist countries have begun to directly invade, plunder and decimate the entire world, particularly oppressed nations and countries. In their rivalry for resources and complete hegemony in the Middle East and Latin America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Palestine, Syria, Iran, and oppressed people living in every part of the globe have all stood in their path of destruction.
Whether it is to bring “democracy,” the liberation of women or to eliminate the danger of weapons of mass destruction, the governments of imperialist countries have proven nothing but that they are liars, hypocrites, and in fact they are the terrorists they claim to be fighting. The disastrous situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Palestine, and Africa are the best proof of that.
All of these atrocities from imperialist countries have been delivered at the wholesale cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. The occupiers, UN, NATO, or otherwise are the direct source of instability, the direct source of lower life expectancy, house raids, rape, murder, lack of schools, of housing, food, and medicine In short, they have made the world today a more miserable place to live in.
It is the responsibility of an effective antiwar movement to reverse this situation, to declare that there is no such thing as free elections under the guidance of 140,000 US troops. It is our responsibility to state that the racist media campaign against Iran is nothing but preparation for intervention in that country, and that there is no other solution for an end to terror and destruction than an end to the occupation and colonial practice!
When we listen to the demands of people around the world with whom we are fighting in solidarity, we hear one clear and distinct sound; a sound that must be reverberated around the world wherever there is action being done for social justice. It is these demands that we echo that are the barrier and solution to imperialist plunder: End the Occupation! Self-Determination for occupied and oppressed nations! These are the foundational and basic program that we borrow from the cries of all people living under occupation who have been fighting for their lives, dignity, freedom and against foreign imperialist occupiers.
The demands of people living under imperialist occupation share a common ground. Their demands are a result of the concrete situation in which they live, a situation that has been created by their oppressor. Whether it’s the people of Haiti demanding the return of their first democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide; the people of Palestine demanding the rights to their land; the return of the over 6,000,000 Palestinian refugees around the world and an end to Israeli occupation; the people of Afghanistan demanding a complete withdrawal of foreign occupiers and an end to the US imposed puppet government; the people of Iraq demanding their rights and freedom from the occupation or the demand of the Indigenous Nations of this land for sovereignty, dignity, and the basic human rights they had before the colonial occupation and theft of their land; they all have the same characteristics and solution. All of these cries, although products of their individual environment, are directly linked to two basic and essential demands that connect them to struggles happening around the world: End the Occupation! Self-Determination for All Oppressed Nations!
In February 2003, before the war on Iraq began, millions of people hit the streets under the demand of “No War in Iraq.” This showed the amazing potential of human beings to stand in solidarity with oppressed people and join them in the fight against war and occupation. Yet the war on Iraq still happened and when the bombing was over and the US/UK began to establish themselves as a long-term occupying force, the antiwar movement was not prepared to respond. The leadership of the antiwar movement lost its clear and immediate goal and had not developed a program able to extend beyond invasion. Building an effective program takes an understanding of the struggle of oppressed people, of history and the ability to think and act effectively, promptly and with consistency in program, demand, slogan and execution of action with potential and actual allies.
Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) responds to the leadership of the Iraqi people and resistance, and all oppressed people under occupation, with a program for an effective antiwar movement in Canada. Through consistency, education, mobilization and organization MAWO has been able to form a movement with oppressed people in the leadership. Building a movement requires work in the streets, making the war at home and abroad an issue that affects the daily lives of every person in Canada. As the government of Canada moves further to the right, and exposes itself as an imperialist country that has never acted in the interests of oppressed people anywhere, attacks on oppressed people at home will increase and it will become harder to ignore the reality of Canadian imperialism. The gears are shifting and our day-to-day work of forums, films, and cultural events has and must reflect this change.
In January 2004 MAWO launched the “Operation: Canada Out!” campaign in order to take on Canadian imperialism in Afghanistan. “Operation: Canada Out!” is a mass education and petition campaign. The campaign was expanded in March 2004 to include “Canada Out of Haiti!” to expose Canada’s role in the invasion and occupation of that country. There are over 7000 signatures on the petitions demanding “Canada Out of Afghanistan!” and “Canada Out of Haiti!” This means that thousands of discussions and debates have been conducted among people in Canada.
In response to the Canadian government’s recent push towards a higher level of involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan, MAWO organized 2 consecutive weeks of pickets in front of the Canadian Forces Recruitment Centre downtown Vancouver. Although important in many aspects of the antiwar movement in Canada, this campaign was not taken on seriously by any other organization.
Afghanistan is Canada’s Iraq!
When Canada first stepped foot in Afghanistan, as the leader of the NATO occupation, the force was 2000 troops strong and brought a promise to reconstruct the destroyed country, but nothing ever changed. Canada got its piece of pie in the Middle East, but it was not enough for Canada to stop there. In February of 2004 Canada took another leading role, this time in the invasion of Haiti. Since then the RCMP has had the ongoing responsibility of training the Haitian police, the most forceful oppressor of the Haitian people.
The Canadian antiwar movement has been focused comfortably on exposing the US/UK war drive. But when it comes to what directly affects the people of Canada, war and occupation by Canadian colonial state, it has been somehow silent. The response of the anti-war and progressive community to the new course of Canadian militarism is worrisome and astonishing. With the doubling of the military budget, the announcement of the deployment of 2000 more troops to Afghanistan and the recent racist war mongering quotes from Gen. Hillier, the Canadian government has dropped its veil of “peacekeeping.” There is no longer any excuse to ignore the reality that Canada is a colonial imperialist country. Is there a difference between General Hillier of the Canadian army and General Richard Meyers of the US army, who said the same thing about people of Afghanistan two years ago? Gen Hillier has, in fact, done the antiwar movement in Canada a huge favour. No one who claims to be fighting for an end to war and occupation, or even for abstract “peace”, has any other choice than to shift gears to a major campaign against Canada’s destructive role in Afghanistan. Gen Hillier’s comments and Canada’s increased role in Afghanistan are just preparation for joining, in the broadest sense, the US’ “war on terrorism.”
The Canadian government has never been and is not today a neutral or progressive body. Founded on the continuous suppression of Indigenous Nations, Canada has now a leading and strategic role in the imperialist endeavours of its partners and competitors. The government of Canada has been hard at work for over a century building a racist campaign to neutralize any hostility it would face from the people in Canada. It has hidden its colonial roots and clouded its imperialist strategy under the softer characterization of “peacekeeping”.
As the Struggle Began, it Must Continue…
We have witnessed only the beginning of this “war on terror,” or era of war and occupation. It is only a matter of time before the privileges that we in Canada gain from the oppression of the global poor will be privileges we lose and we will truly begin to share the oppression of people around the world. We see these constant moves of the government of Canada further to the right, whether it is through its place on the imperialist stage or with the strike of the TWU against the reactionary policy of their bosses. Here in Canada we must connect and act as an essential part of the international anti-war movement. We must take examples from the war abroad and connect them to the particular struggle of people at home. We must continue tirelessly alongside the people of oppressed nations to progress the struggle of working people and build the foundation we need in order to tip the balance of the scale in favour of oppressed people. We must bring the consistency we see in Iraq against occupation to the streets we walk everyday, wherever we are. This means constant mobilization, it means shifting our gears to a Canadian antiwar movement, against the Canadian war drive, all while maintaining a thoroughly international perspective.
Canada Out of Afghanistan! For an Independent Public People’s Inquiry!
Canada Out Of Haiti!
End the Occupations!
Self-Determination for Oppressed Nations!
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