War in Afghanistan
Below is the text of a speech made by Joe Higgins TD (Member of Parliament) to the Irish parliament, the Dáil, on October 3, 2001. Also, a copy of a motion Joe put forward, which is in the ‘Order Paper of the House’ but will not be debated.
Joe Higgins TD (MP) speaks out against the war
From the debate in the Dáil on the situation following the attack of 11 September in the United States.
Mr. Higgins (Dublin West): The Socialist Party and our international movement, the Committee for a Workers’ International, have trenchantly condemned the atrocity carried out in the United States on 11 September. The condemnation of international terror by the United States government, the British and some other Governments, however, and their declaration of war on terror, reek of nauseating hypocrisy. They have no moral authority to condemn terror because they have routinely deployed state terror themselves or sponsored state terror by others in pursuit of economic and political objectives that facilitate primarily the powerful multinational corporations, which operate from these western countries – international capitalism if you wish.
Successive United States administrations have for generations propped up, financed and facilitated murderous dictatorships in Central and South America and other regions, which pillaged the wealth of their societies and imprisoned, tortured and slaughtered countless thousands of innocent citizens. In Chile, the CIA organised the overthrow in 1973 of a democratically elected government. Mr. George Bush says he is pursuing a war against those who have murdered thousand of innocent people, people whom his Christian church would call the innocent children of God. However, what of the innocent children of Iraq? Are they the children of a lesser God? They must be in the eyes of Mr. Bush because his government continues to visit painful death on thousands of them by the sanctions that deprive them of medicine, nutrition, clean water and sanitation.
That is terror of the most atrocious kind. The United States and British Governments are leading the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his organisation, al Qa’eda. They brought that organisation into being. Now that it has turned on them, their grotesquely deformed creature is to be destroyed. The British Prime Minister, Mr. Blair is leading the charge. Mr. Blair is a sanctimonious hypocrite. Two years ago he had a notorious international terrorist, a proven mass murderer, in his custody – one General Augusto Pinochet of Chile. Did Mr. Blair then lead a crusade to have this mass killer brought to justice? In fact, Mr. Blair’s Government did everything possible to get Pinochet safely out of Britain and back to Chile. Why? It was because Pinochet deployed his CIA sponsored terror in defence of the interests of the American and British multinationals and of the government of the United States.
Those who carried out the atrocity on 11 September most likely emanated from the poisoned situation in the Middle East. Does anybody believe that a war in Afghanistan will resolve that situation? It will simply make it worse. It was reckless and irresponsible of the Irish Government to offer Irish air space and airports for what the United States might do. This offer must be withdrawn.
Terrorism does not in any way advance the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Its effects are reactionary. One consequence of 11 September is a discussion of plans by governments, including EU governments that will have the effect of attacking civil rights and the right to protest. In particular, the massive and peaceful movement against global capitalism may be under threat. That will not be tolerated. Empowering people through mass movement to change the world is how the tyranny brought about by global capitalism and the poverty and horror it entails can be challenged and overthrown. The principles of democratic socialism, where the fruits of the earth are equally deployed among the peoples and national oppression is removed for all time, are how we will create a world where both the state terrorism of the United States and Britain and the horrific terror of 11 September will be eliminated for all time.
Motion for Order
Joe Higgins T.D. (Dublin West)
Dáil Eireann condemns absolutely the atrocities carried out in the United States on September 11th, 2001, which resulted in the slaughter of thousands of innocent people, and expresses solidarity with the suffering of the American people and those of all nationalities involved.
The Dáil does not believe that a military attack that might be carried out by the United States, Britain, and other Western powers on Afghanistan would resolve the issues raised by the events of September 11th and would result in the further slaughter of innocent people. The Dáil demands therefore that the United States military is not allowed the use of Irish airspace or Irish airports for any activity that would assist such an attack to be carried out and censures the Taoiseach [prime minister] for having made such an offer.
The Dáil recognizes that the foreign policy of the United States and other Western powers toward the Middle East region has embittered tens of millions of people through their support for brutal, undemocratic regimes; the contempt shown toward the plight of the Palestinian people; the economic exploitation of the region and the murderous sanctions that have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi people. The Dáil condemns this foreign policy and endorses the right of the peoples of the Middle East to decide democratically the future of the region.
Thousands protest in Stockholm against war and capitalism
Between one and two thousand people demonstrated yesterday (11 October) in Stockholm against global capitalism and the ongoing war on Afghanistan. The protests were originally aimed against TABD (a big business institution), but this body called off its summit following the September 11 bombings in the US. However, protest organisers decided to go ahead, and bring people onto the streets to show their opposition to the war and the rule of the big corporations. Given the circumstances, the turnout was impressive, and shows that the anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movement is not ‘dead’ as some sections of the international media have recently claimed.
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS), the Swedish section of the CWI, played an important role in building for the demonstration and also provided two platform speakers to address the protesters. RS members sold 110 papers, raised £180 fighting fund, and received 27 new subscribers for the section’s weekly paper. Many people signed up for more information about Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna, including one from a town where the party presently has no members.
Day of action at Oberlin campus
The ‘day of action’ at Oberlin University on Thursday 11 October was a total success, reports Ted from Socialist Alternative (US section of the CWI). About 300 people left their classes, and 500 people attended the teach-ins. I feel that the biggest success of the evening was the good will that the event inspired in the entire student body. We sent e-mail to every professor a few days beforehand requesting his or her support. Many supported us.
Seattle students mobilise against the war
Campus students in Seattle have stepped up anti-war activities, according to Greg Beiter from Socialist Alternative. Today (10 October), we began our second round of public meetings at Seattle Central Community College (SCCC). Nine new people attended.
There are three existing anti-war coalitions in Seattle (one citywide, two campuses – the University of Washington (UW) and Seattle Central Community College (SCC)).
Our first two public meetings on campus were entitled, ‘End the Cycle of Terrorism: Stop the War and Racist Attacks’. Thirty five people attended the UW meeting and 27 attended the SCCC meeting. So far, we three people have joined Socialist Alternative at UW and three from SCCC.
The evening of the public meeting at UW, we launched the University of Washington Coalition Against the War. We were the main organisers of an anti-war rally, which was also endorsed by UWCAW, the Muslim Students’ Association, Refuse and Resist, and the ISO. 75 people stuck around for the entire rally, while 300-400 attended part of it. Around 2000 people witnessed the rally for a few minutes due to its central location on campus and due to the exhibition of our massive Socialist Alternative banner. Articles were written about the rally in both the UW daily (the mainstream student paper) and Ruckus (the Left student newspaper).
The 911 Peace Coalition organised a rally/march on September 29 in solidarity with the anti-war protests in Washington DC. Approximately 1,000 people attended. We brought our huge banner and sold 25 papers and 50 statements.
With the onset of the US and Britain bombing of Afghanistan, we rapidly mobilised our forces to an emergency rally. We distributed fliers announcing plans for walkouts at both SCCC and UW the following day. We sold a few papers/statements and some other literature at our table. Our banner was proudly on display and made it onto two TV news shows. 400-500 people were present at this spontaneous demonstration.
At SCCC, 100 students walked out of class and rallied outside. At UW, 50-60 people attended our walk out rally. We were able to coordinate with other local high school students to get them to walk out and join up with our rally at SCCC. Our SCCC rally then marched downtown to the Federal Building where we met up with participants from the UW walkout. Socialist Alternative member, Ramy, was interviewed after the rally and this interview was later aired on a local TV news show.
Despite the walkouts being relatively small, they were a tremendous success. They showed to activists that Socialist Alternative organises successful events and has a clear strategy for building the anti-war movement.