The Feb. 15 Call for Global Protests for Democracy, Solidarity and Justice
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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.