A report from New York
AT THIS time one is reminded of the dictum of Clausewitz, one of the most famous writers on the philosophy and history of war, that “War is a continuation of policy by other means”1. A few policy changes, among numerous policy changes that are taking place as a result of this ‘war on terrorism’, illustrate how this dictum is a truism. Recently, “The Pentagon has spent millions of dollars to prevent western media from seeing highly accurate civilian satellite pictures of the effects of bombing in Afghanistan… At the same resolution, it would be possible to see bodies lying on the ground after last week’s bombing attacks…. The decision to shut down access to satellite images was taken last Thursday, after reports of heavy civilian casualties from the overnight bombing of training camps near Darunta, north-west of Jalalabad.”2
One of the nominees for the peace prize this year was a group called Women in Black, who have routinely risked their lives in the hope of preventing war. Instead of winning the Nobel peace prize they have “been labeled potential terrorists by the FBI and threatened with a grand jury investigation.”3 Organizations like the Carnival Against Capitalism have already been branded terrorist organizations4. Similarly, all the countries that are not explicitly supporting this war are by the same definition terrorist states. Is this war or imperialism in disguise?
This is happening while innocent people of various ethnic backgrounds are being targeted because of their looks, attire and religious affiliations. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that their “group has collected reports of more than 700 possible hate crimes across the United States.5 This is one of the highest numbers of reported hate crimes against this minority. The post-Oklahoma city bombing legislation, where no immigrants were accused, passed in 1996 had already curtailed the right of immigrants. Now the new act that has been passed recently in the US is being condemned for restricting the rights of people, especially immigrants. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a recent press release that “Congress has just passed a bill that would give the government expanded power to invade our privacy, imprison people without due process and punish dissent.”6 This seems to be a continuation of policy of ‘peace’ times.
The struggle for peace
As the media portrays the popular mood, there is overwhelming popular and political support for military action. This has not dampened the mood of peace activists, who continue to wage a struggle against all odds. From the midst of the terrorist attack destination union representatives and entire unions have signed a petition called “New York City Labor Against The War”. The unions and the leaders represent unions of attorneys, nurses, postal workers, teachers, artists, industrial workers, and government employees. Hours after United States and British forces began military strikes in Afghanistan, several thousand people attended a preplanned peace rally in Union Square Park and marched to Times Square in New York City, singing antiwar protest songs and carrying banners announcing their opposition to military action. The marchers swelled to around 10,000 people. This march was addressed by two Nobel peace prize winners. The theme of the march and rally was “Not in my name, not in the name of New York City”. “New York Not in Our Name” is a coalition of more than 100 groups.
Several cities and towns around the US have seen similar protests. About 2,000 activists marched in Boston. ‘’We need to come together as a country and as a culture, and atone for the terror and destruction we have created in the world,’’ said City Councilor Chuck Turner, who spoke to sustained applause in Boston. ‘’As we struggle against terrorism we have to begin to take apart the military-industrial complex. There is no way to get peace for people here or for people overseas without unraveling it.’’ The well known American historian and author of the “People’s History of the United States”, Howard Zinn, who attended this rally but did not speak, said the momentum the antiwar protests have attained in just a month far outpaces early protests during the Vietnam war.
Similar protests, demonstrations and marches are taking place around the world. In Europe, anti-war protesters have hit the streets in even larger numbers. In Germany, about 50,000 anti-war protesters came out in Berlin and 20,000 in Stuttgart. 20,000 marched in London chanting we want peace. In Assisi-Perugia, Italy there was a march of about 150,000. Similar marches and protests have taken place in various parts of Australia and Asia. The movement is building at a very rapid pace and gaining momentum. As the reports of civilian casualty mount, hopefully, we will see the tide of marches and demonstrations rise. People have to lead this struggle against global injustice and imperialism and fight for world peace.
– Pratyush Bharati
11 Clausewitz, On War, Vol. 1, p. 399.
2 Duncan Campbell, “US Buys up all Satellite Images,” The Guardian, October 17, 2001.
3George Monbiot, “Gagging the Sceptics,” The Guardian, October 16, 2001.
4 George Monbiot, “Gagging the Sceptics,” The Guardian, October 16, 2001.
5 Jeff Coen, “Hate-crime reports reach record level,” Chicago Tribune,
October 9, 2001.
6 Press Release from aclu.org