The Economics of War

Military action in Iraq is costing the United States and the Iraqis a lot in terms of lives, as well as financially. As the Pentagon makes requests for more funding, social programs are being cut and schools are closing. Moreover, corporations such as Halliburton (Dick Cheney’s old company) stand to make enormous profits in post-war Iraq.

Coverage:

In these times, it’s more important than ever to NOT rely on the
mainstream media for coverage of the antiwar movement. In San Francisco, activists SHUT DOWN THE CITY and are still marching in the streets. Do you hear about these and other inspiring events in the New York Times or on CNN? In Michigan, there have been direct actions in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Detroit, Traverse City, and Ann Arbor. Not only does the corporate media fail to cover these events accurately, they actually organize pro-war rallies and then give coverage to them!

The Michigan Independent Media Center uses an open, democratic newswire where YOU can post stories, pictures, sound clips, and video. We encourage our readership to BE THE MEDIA and contribute to the open newswire. It takes only a few minutes, and many well written newswire stories become part of center column features. This is why you can read unedited firsthand accounts, and see pictures taken by protesters of all the antiwar events going on across Michigan.

You can also add your comments to articles and stories that have been posted.

Anti-war Activists Hold Rally and Leafleting Action in Grand Rapids

Anti-war activists continue to protest the invasion of Iraq with a rally and leafleting action in Grand Rapids.

After holding protests on Thursday and Friday, activists had another rally in downtown Grand Rapids at Veterans Park.

An estimated one hundred people attended the rally and most of the local media was there to report on the event as well. There were a few different speakers, who provided both analysis of current events and news from Iraq as well as sharing ways for people to get involved–explaining future events and meetings in Grand Rapids.

In continuing their waste of resources (see Grand Rapids: Police Deploy in Force, Monitor Meetings for more on recent police activities), the GRPD assigned many officers to the rally at Veterans Park, who were once again equipped with gas masks. There were an estimated 15 to 20 officers on the sides of the park with numerous unmarked police cars parked on the surrounding streets. The police, who have claimed in previous newscasts that they were the protests to protect anti-war activists from “pro-war” people, refused to intervene even when confrontations between activists and a lone pro-war person got increasingly tense. As has been the case at anti-war protests in Grand Rapids since January, they videotaped everyone in attendance.

After the rally, there was a march to the VanAndel Arena, where activists intended to distribute 1,000 flyers with information on the military actions in Iraq to the people who were at the arena attending the event. The GRPD made sure the march stayed on the sidewalk, and even with officers stopping the march at traffic lights, they still felt the need to drive cars along the side of the march.

Once the march made it the three or so blocks to the VanAndel, activists began distributing flyers, while others went to a WOOD TV 8 truck, the local NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids. After the protest at the Federal Building on Thursday, WOOD TV 8 only reported on the police, reporting the erroneous idea that the police were deployed in force to protect the city from anti-war demonstrators, completely ignoring the fact that protestors, not just police, gathered at the Federal Building. Activists were able to effectively disrupt the news taping, surrounding them with drums, refusing to remove signs from the shot despite the reporter’s “orders,” and chanting loudly. Many activists participating in this action considered the very fact that the WOOD TV reporters’ job was made difficult to be a victory, regardless of whether the footage was used.

As drumming, chanting, and leafleting protestors crowded the public sidewalk at the VanAndel, police and arena employees became increasingly upset and began operating without regard for the law. They setup barricades and refused to let protestors cross them, even though the space was clearly public, while simultaneously contradicting previous statements that demonstrators had the right to be on the sidewalk as long as they did not go up to the doors. The police also closed crosswalks to protestors, claiming that you had to have a ticket to the event to cross. The officers were clearly making up laws; some of them, including badge number 554, pushed people and confiscated banners that were left unattended—while police refused to allow people to file stolen property claims on the banners, stating that you had to know who stole the banner in order file a complaint. Within this context of nearly unbelievable restrictions on the right to assemble, it is not surprising that two activists were arrested for crossing the street.

Overall, the event was a success, as activists effectively demonstrated in the core of downtown where many people were, creating an almost carnival like atmosphere with passing cars honking, drums and chants echoing off the surrounding buildings, and leaflets being distributed to many in attendance.

“Shock and Awe” = Terrorism

Now that the US military has begun its “Shock & Awe” assault on Iraq, we can be certain that many innocent Iraqis will die. Moreover, numerous non-military targets will be destroyed and the lives of people, who have been living under incredibly harsh conditions do to the lingering damage caused during the first war and the ongoing damage from the sanctions, will only get more difficult.

Reports from Iraq:

Despite the media’s overall lack of coverage, people across the world continue to protest this war. In New York there were 300,000 to 400,000 people in the streets according to the police, San Francisco had a third day of massive protests, and cities all over the United States saw continued protests.

Reports from the Protests:

Grand Rapids Police Deploy in Force, Monitor Meetings

In response to growing anti-war protests over the past two months, the Grand Rapids Police Department is increasing their presence at events and making attempts to monitor meetings.

As the military campaign against Iraq escalates, the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) is taking an aggressive approach to protests, showing up at all anti-war events with what many activists see as an excessive presence. Moreover, according to a news report aired on local NBC affiliate WOOD TV, the GRPD is making an effort to “know about events before hand”–intelligence which they are gaining by spying on activists and meetings.

A week and a half ago, the Grand Rapids Press ran an article in which they reported that the GRPD was preparing for anti-war demonstrations once the bombing started by increasing training–training which included observing other cities and learning how to handle “breakaway” protests and training to make mass arrests. In the past three days, local activists have seen this new “training” in action in the form of excessive police presence at events and the monitoring of meetings by the GRPD.

On March 20th, at an emergency anti-war rally at the Federal Building, the building was surrounded by police, and while there exact numbers were not counted, it was in the range of thirty to forty. All of the police present were deployed with gas masks and tear gas was on hand, in case the situation got out of control. In addition, numerous unmarked cars and regular cars circled the block. There were also at least three uniformed officers videotaping protestors. As was the case with the Bush demonstration, there were also undercover police deployed within the crowd. Along with the numerous police on hand at the Federal Building, there were also an estimated 30 officers on standby on the other side of downtown, all of whom were also equipped with gas masks. In addition, a small rally at Grand Valley State University’s campus was monitored by three to four police cars that continually drove around the block.

After a direct action planning meeting on the night of the 20th, a meeting that was infiltrated by police, local activists planned a funeral procession through the crosswalks of downtown Grand Rapids for the 21st at 4:30. Due to the infiltration of the meeting, activists were greeted by approximately 25 police at the intersection at which they intended to commence the action. Once again, the police were deployed with gas masks and tear gas was on hand. The number of police was completely excessive, as there were only about 15 people participating in the action. The GRPD made it quite clear that they were looking to arrest anyone who made even the slightest violation of the law. When activists changed it up a bit by moving to different intersections, five officers followed them on foot while others drove by the procession in their cars.

Despite the increased police presence and the efforts designed to intimidate anti-war activists, numerous events continue to be planned. Local activists say that they are not deterred by the fact that the GRPD is reassigning officers from their traditional patrols to cover protests and making efforts to monitor meetings.

Media Distortion

In the wake of Bush launching an (illegal) pre-emptive war on the nation of Iraq, the mainstream media has responded with a near black-out of information–only reporting a few distorted facts. Protestors are portrayed as radical, violent fringe groups; impacts of war are ignored or downplayed; facts are misreported, falsified, or unreported.

Relevant Articles:

All across the world a variety of protests are occuring against the war. You can get non-corporate coverage on indymedia.org.

Global Co-existence and Action

It ain’t over even if it looks over! Although Bush and his fellow group of chickenhawks and the “Coalition of the Few, Ingratiating and Internationally Criminal” are invading Iraq, we should continue to plan for long-term vision and action of fighting war and other interrelated cultural, social and economic struggles.

‘Long-term’ is an important point to note because I noticed that a sister organizer and I both had feelings that were perhaps a little like losing our breath after Bush’s ultimatum of 48 hours on Monday night. And we started off focused on the long-term strategy all the while knowing full well that bombs were likely to rain down on Iraq at any moment. ‘Long-term’ is where this struggle is at, so if you’re new to, young at, tired of or revisiting education, organizing and action, then take a break if you need it, but stay on the path! Every one of us is needed: especially if they are interrelating struggles against war with other international and domestic struggles on cultural, social and economic issues.

There has been such a spontaneous and organized voice and resistance against war in Iraq that it is clear that these actions of solidarity are unprecedented in all of human history. A journalist for the New York Times even stated that there are indeed two superpowers: the United States and global public anti-war opinion and action.

Many incredible things have developed on our post-World War II planet.
In a recent speech by Edward Said at the Univ. of Calif. at Berkeley, he paraphrased the studies of Ken Booth, a Welsh political scientist, and stated that Booth “draws attention to the existence of a growing number of, what he calls, transcultural and moral political solidarities: that have acted the part of what he calls ‘sovereignty-free agents’ – that is to say actors and institutions not bound[ed] by the borders between countries …” That’s many of us, folks. Call us ‘patriotic,’ call us ‘worldly,’ call us ‘humans,’ call us ‘crazy,’ but also make sure you call us ‘feminists,’ call us ‘liberated’ (not necessarily liberal), indigenists,’ maybe even ‘sublime nationalists,’ whatever reflects our views of deeper, complex and more interrelated relationships. We are working at interrelations and positive justice and change for the short and long-term.

Although there is plenty of work to be done locally and nationally, there are also on-going possibilities for international and interrelational organizing and action. This organizing can involve actions and institutions ranging from the United Nations and the Organization of American States to participating in international solidarity actions and sharing letters, calls and e-mails across national borders.

  • The Center for Constitutional Rights has supported an urgent action called the Uniting for Peace Resolution. A member nation of the General Assembly can request a meeting of the general assembly to consider the threat to international peace by unilateral-oriented war from the U.S. and others. A resolution by the U.N. General Assembly against the U.S. and British-led invasion could conceivably prevent, shorten or stunt an imperialist and racist invasion and occupation.
  • We urge you to contact your U.N. representative, other members of your government, and other governments to request that they write to the Secretary-General to call for an emergency special session under the Uniting for Peace Resolution. Please also circulate these materials to other groups and individuals and encourage them to do the same.
  • Stay in touch with International ANSWER and other local (People’s Alliance for Justice and Change, national and global organizations to find out more about interrelational solidarity organizing and action.
  • Stay informed on and actively supportive of interrelated international and domestic political, social, economic and cultural issues and struggles: women; environmental; indigenous; disabled; prisons; media; poverty; labor; race and culture; civil liberties; etc. Sources like Z Magazine/ZNet and South End Press and others are invaluable in finding other sources and resources.
  • Support indigenous liberation and decolonization movements and struggles. The American Indian Movement is currently working on an Indigenous World Forum and Dark Night Press’ free e-mail publication “Pockets of Resistance” are excellent sources for stories and links on indigenous struggle. Support indigenous peoples in countries and regions like: Palestine, U.S., Colombia, Rwanda, Scandinavia, Japan, Diego Garcia, New Zealand, Iraq, etc.
  • Support the International Criminal Court and the campaign to get the U.S. to respect this judicial body of international humanitarian and other law. The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is one source of information.

“There’s room for all at the rendezvous of victory.” – Aimé Césaire

This War is Illegal

After Bush’s ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, it is important that we remember that this military action, with or without the support of the United Nations, is illegal by a variety of international treaties and laws, while there are also serious questions about the legality of Bush’s undeclared war here in the United States.

Relevant Articles:

As the war gets closer, activists around the world are engaging in a variety of direct actions designed to make it harder for the government to wage war. Here in Michigan, activists in Traverse City delayed a troop deployment and in London activists halted trading at London’s International Petroleum Exchange, while numerous other actions continue around the world.

Statement: Vern Ehlers – A War Criminal?

The People’s Alliance for Justice and Change has issued the following statement on Representative Vern Ehlers and the protest yesterday at his office:

We are here today to hold Representative Vern Ehlers accountable for crimes violating both international and constitutional law. By supporting the Bush administration in their unrelenting drive to war, Congressman Vern Ehlers, as well as any other Representative or Senator that support this impeding war, will be complicit in crimes against humanity.

Articles 41 and 42 of the U.N. Charter declare that no member state has the right to enforce any resolution with armed force unless the Security Council decides there has been a material breach of its resolution, and determines that all nonmilitary means of enforcement have been exhausted. Then, the Council must specifically authorize the use of military force. The Security Council has not authorized any use of force for subsequent violations involving Iraq, and at this point appears very unlikely to do so. Despite this, the Bush administration has repeatedly claimed that they will go to war with Iraq regardless of what the Security Council decides. This would be a violation of International Law.

The U.N. charter is a treaty and part of the supreme law of the United States under Article 6, clause 2 of the Constitution. . It requires the United States to settle all disputes by peaceful means and not use military force in the absence of an armed attack. The U.N. Charter empowers only the Security Council to authorize the use of force, unless a member state is acting in individual or collective self-defense. Iraq has not attacked this country, or any other country in the past 11 years. None of Iraq’s neighbors have appealed to the Security Council to protect them from an imminent attack by Iraq. Any war against Iraq without the approval of the U.N. Security Council is therefore not only a violation of the U.N. Charter, but also a violation of the U.S. Constitution as well.

Article I, section 8 of the Constitution empowers Congress, not the president, to debate and decide to declare war on another country. The War Powers Resolution provides that the “constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories, or possessions or its armed forces.” Congress has not declared war on Iraq, no statute authorizes an invasion and Iraq has not attacked the United States, its territories, possessions or armed forces. In supporting the Bush administration in waging war on Iraq, Congressman Ehlers is remiss in his own duties as an elected member of congress by abdicating the authority to wage war to the executive branch.

For twelve years Iraq has suffered under an extreme sanction regime that has prevented it from purchasing necessary foodstuffs, medicine, and materials essential to rebuilding destroyed infrastructure. The result of these sanctions has been the death of 5000 Iraqi children a month from what would otherwise be preventable disease and malnutrition and standard of living conditions that are the worst in the region. According to the Geneva Conventions – 1977 Part IV, Section 1, Chapter III, Article 54:”Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive”. These sanctions violate international law and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” Despite both the dubious legality and horrendous moral ramifications of the Iraqi sanctions, Representative Ehlers has continued to support them.

According to the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which was accepted by the U.N. as International law, “any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment” (article I). Furthermore, “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law”(article III). We are here today to say that any member of congress that supports a preemptive war in Iraq or the continuation of the sanctions is, by the standards set by the Allied forces at the end of WWII, a war criminal.

Antiwar sit-in at Grand Rapids Federal Building leads to at least five arrests

4pm today, a group of around 20 people gathered around the U.S. Federal Goverment Building in Grand Rapids, MI (or – as named by the Odawa peoples – Owashtinong Aajigaaning) and part of the group entered to speak to U.S. Representative Vern Ehlers about his crimes against international law as it related to an impending invasion of Iraq. The community members who entered the building never made it past the lobby since an aide came out to try to address the needs of the group.

Although Vern Ehlers was not present, his aide was informed of his crimes and was handed the list of violations – current and potential – to forward to him. The aide attempted to frame the confrontation as a matter of different opinions. Community members responded that opinions were not the focus but that it was the actions of government representatives and whether they supported or committed crimes against international law that was the focus.

A list of varous charges and violations cited the U.S. Constitution, Geneva Convention, Nuremberg Principles and other international resolutions and laws that the U.S. government has broken or violated in the past, presently and in the future if an invasion of Iraq starts. The list explained that such violation affected the peoples of Iraq, indigenous peoples around the world, and involved such crimes of genocide as found in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. [please see related handout text below]

The aide left after promising to forward the information. Members of the direct action explained that the Nuremberg Principles legally compelled citizens of countries to confront violators of international humanitarian law and refused to leave the lobby until a significant and appropriate response came from the U.S. Representative. The federal building closed at 5pm. Around 5:30pm the Grand Rapids Police Department arrested at least five community members. The remaining group of observers and media contacts observed the five being driven to Kent County Jail.

Hand Out Distributed by the Protestors:

CRIMES AND MALFEASANCE IN U.S. IRAQ POLICY: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKES

U.S. government abuse and violation of international law & domestic and global order

Establishing background and history

-the U.S. and Israeli governments have consistently blocked or stopped multiple U.N. resolutions to end Israel’s illegal, ongoing invasion and occupation of Palestine since 1967;

-the U.S. government ignored atrocities and genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s;

-the U.S. government continues to seek to undermine the self-determination or liberation of the world’s indigenous peoples by actively undermining the U.N. Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

-During the Gulf War of 1992 with Iraq, the U.S. government violated international humanitarian agreement and law – including the 4th Geneva Convention and Protocol II of the Geneva Convention – by indiscriminant bombing of civilians, targeting of civilian infrastructure with the intention of creating civilian misery, and killing surrendering Iraqi soldiers in retreat;

– U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 of November 2002 does not authorize armed force, invasion or bombing for a “material breach”;

-U.N. members are threatened by withholding of U.S. aid; for example, the African Growth and Opportunity Act requires that as a recipient of US assistance, a country “does not engage in activities contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests”; in autumn of 2002, Mauritius recalled an ambassador because he failed to clearly support the U.S. position;

-the U.S. government continues its history of bribery and coercion of other nations by trying to get troops stationed where they want them and in purchasing, pressuring or cajoling of votes on the U.N. security council.

It is an outright crime for the U.S., Britain, Spain, Bulgaria and others to invade Iraq because:

-Article 2(4) and Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations prohibit a country from attacking another unless in response to an armed attack, or unless approved by the United Nations. Any other attacks are illegal, and crimes of aggression, for which U.S. civilian and military leaders and their teams may be held accountable in international courts;

-Armed aggression will destabilize and break down international law. Israel and Russia will be fortified in arguments already made that they too are utilizing pre-emptive war policies against Chechnya and Palestine; Nelson Mandela has stated, “the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries.”

-the U.S. policy of an “all options” pre-emptive strike includes nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, in complete violation of Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaties;

-according to U.N. resolution 687, sanctions were to end with completion of disarmament, so if no weapons of mass destruction are ever found, the U.S. government’s past, current and ongoing implementation of sanctions could be criminally liable under international law;

– Article VI of the Nuremburg Charter defines Crimes Against Peace as “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties . . . or participation in a common plan or conspiracy . . . to wage an aggressive war.”

-And, it is a violation of centuries of common and written international law to dictate the governance of Iraqi Shi’ia, Sunni and Kurds and call it democracy while threatening more such invasions and redrawings of boundaries around the Middle East.

————-

Sources:

Anderson, Sarah, Phyllis Bennis and John Cavanagh, “Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of the Coerced? -How the Bush Administration Influences Allies in its War on Iraq,” Institute for Policy Studies, Feb. 2003.

Bennis, Phyllis, “Understanding the U.S.-Iraq Crisis,” Institute for Policy Studies, January 2003

Center for Constitutional Rights [www.ccr-ny.org], NY, NY; Letter to Pres. Bush and Sec’y Rumsfeld, Re: Consequences of Future Use of Force Against Iraq, January 2003;

Fourth World Bulletin, “Stop Making Sense: State’s Distortion of U.S. Indigenous Policy,” Summer 1998, University of Colorado, Denver.

Fitrakis, Bob and Wasserman, Harvey, “Bush and America’s willing executioners would be guilty at Nuremburg,” March 2, 2003, The Free Press, Columbus, OH

Herold, Marc, “A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting”, 12/01, pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/

Jaimes, M. Annette, ed., “The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance.”

Krugman, Paul, “Let Them Hate As Long As They Fear,” New York Times, March 7, 2003.

Power, Samantha, “A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide”