Speeches delivered at the "Vigil for Nonviolence" on October 6, 2001, Ottawa.
(Organized by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade to counter the NATO Parliamentary Assembly meetings in Ottawa Oct.  5-9)

Lazar Puado, Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The categorical imperative of Jesus Christ was to cherish and nourish your neighbor as yourself. 
I wonder why our parliamentarians can hear every murmur and whisper from the White House, but they cannot hear the wails and cries of mothers watching their children die of starvation and preventable diseases throughout the world. 
I wonder how long we can claim to be a civilized society when we do not respect even the most fundamental obligations of civilization.
I wonder how many of the people here will hear all these speeches today and then go away and do nothing.
Resistance is everywhere, especially in our hearts, in our minds, in our souls. 
Resistance to doing the things we claim we believe in.
Resistance to taking the action we encourage others to take.
Resistance to follow through on the things our conscience tells us we should follow through on.  So long as we do not overcome that resistance within ourselves we will have no impact on the world around us. 
Brothers and sisters, we are headed for a cold, corporate fascism in this world. 
What good is it to liberate some women in some country and stand by and watch poverty, exploitation, denigration of human beings and human values continue around us?
What good is it for us, the Americans, anybody, to spend billion of dollars on star wars when all their powers, and all their nuclear weapons were useless against a few box-cutters, and a few daggers?
What good is it for us who claim to be moving towards world peace, toward justice, toward the respect of all humanity; to give speeches, and publish leaflet, and make statements if it becomes totally useless against the forces moving in the opposite direction?
We have to examine ourselves.  We say we need a peace force, not a police force, but so many of the peace movements, like so much of Christian misionariism  around the world has simply been subversive.  We have to stop being subversive ourselves if we want nations to stop being subversive. 
Are we going to follow through, all of us gathered here? 
It's not enough just to write to our parliamentarian.
It's not enough just to demand of our parliamentarians that they answer to us. 
There has to be a fundamental change of mentality.  And if that fundamental change of mentality is going to have any impact on society, it has to begin with us.
We cannot just be here simply because we are protest groupies. 
We cannot just be here because we like to hear some unpleasant thing about our neighbor to the South.
We have to be here because we are determined to make a substantial change in the way the business of life has been carried on.
Everyone can hear when somebody says we'll have tax cuts.  How many people here can hear when 200 - 300 children a day are starving today in Iraq?  How many people hear that the KLA is forcing young girls into prostitution and that the KFOR troops are lining up to sexually abuse them?
How many people hear these cries of all these people around the world who have no voice?
We can stand here and speak all day long, we have a voice.  But if we don't stick together and follow through on what we're talking about and what we are professing, those without a voice will continue to have no voice and all the death and destruction will continue to go ahead.  And we'll worry about whether or not we can buy a new car next year, when there are mother who would give their own life for a mouth full of rice for their children.  All those children are dying because NATO wills it so.
Don't just come here and listen to these speeches and go away and do nothing.  We've done so much nothing in this world.  Let it some how let it go into your hearts and your consciences that you have to stick with it and we have to stick together, and that we have to try to have an impact first by first of all having an impact within ourselves.  That we're not just trying to get parliamentarians to defend Canadian sovereignty.  We're trying to get parliamentarians to become human beings.
Promise yourselves at least that you are going to stick with it when you leave here, that you're going to make it meaningful, that you're going to mean what you said, and that we'll mean what we say, and that we'll stick together regardless of our political party, regardless of our religion, our race, our nationality, the way we dress, and we'll have an impact on the society around us by trying to change the way other people think and the hearts and consciences of other people.


Carolyn Langdon, Co-Chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

A few days after September 11, Margaret Wente's headline in the Globe and Mail: said "We are all Americans now!"  I wrote to her saying "if we are all Americans now then we are also Iraqis, Chechnyans, Rwandans, Columbians, Ogonis and Beothuk.  Most of us have no quarrel with Americans but we dislike U.S. foreign policy, their war economy, their nuclear arsenal and the fact that they export more weapons around the world than any other country.  We are critical of the politics of other countries, as well, including our own.
As the world's self-declared global cop, U.S. interventions have enormous repercussions.
In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then the U.S. Secretary of State, was asked on national TV what she felt about the 500,000 Iraqi children dying as a result of U.S. economic sanctions.  She replied that it was a "very hard choice," but that, "all things considered, we think the price is worth it."
Afghan women's organizations brought the brutal Taliban regime to our attention.  Afghan women and girls are systematically robbed of their human rights.  They are the "disappeared," absent from public and political spaces.  It wasn't always this way.
We share the goal of ridding the world of terrorism but part company with the militarists, not least because of their methods.  The Pentagon has recommending retaining tactical nuclear weapons as an option in the "war against terrorism."
Indian writer and peace activist Arundhati Roy describes George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden as twins: "Both are dangerously armed -- one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the utterly hopeless.  The fireball and the ice pick.  The bludgeon and the axe....  Neither is an acceptable alternative to the other."  Bush's ultimatum of you're either with us or against us is not a choice that people should have to make.
NATO formally pledged to back the U.S. in any military strike.  The Canadian government then publicly committed itself to participate in NATO operations.  Defence Minister Art Eggleton assured us that Canada's forces are "ready if and when called upon," and the secret is out about Canada's anti-terrorist military commando unit Joint Task Force Two.  There is no place for unilateral and disproportionate responses from the U.S. or NATO.
War is not the answer.  Ursula Franklin reminds us that "Force doesn't work even for the enforcer."
The number of civilians, wounded and killed in conflict now vastly outnumbers that of combatants.  More aid workers are killed than peacekeepers. More firefighters and police died during rescue efforts at the World Trade Center than U.S. soldiers in the last 20 years.  Ordinary civilians pay the ultimate price of war yet have little voice in determining how relations between cultures and nations should be conducted.  Matters of 'national security' are not decided by parliamentary debate, non-governmental organization consultation or citizen vote.  Such matters are decided by the inner sanctum, the war cabinet.
Women and children represent the overwhelming majority of the 2 million amassed at Afghanistan's borders. The Canadian government agreed to open our doors to Afghan refugees and for a $6 million pledge humanitarian aid.  But, if women and the elderly are to avail themselves of Canada's largesse then Immigration and Refugee officers must go to the border camps.
Our government is also proposing tougher immigration and refugee laws.  NGOs must call for a larger refugee program to meet the special needs of millions of war-shocked women and children in the world's semi-permanent refugee camps.
We need to stop terrorism but we must also urge the U.S. and other governments to show the same kind of leadership in facing infectious disease, environmental destruction, illiteracy, malnutrition and homelessness.
Individually and collectively, we are thinking deeply about what it means to foster better understanding among all Canadians, what it means to embrace and celebrate diversity and to speak out against discrimination and racism.
Ontario Premier Mike Harris has responded monstrously with policies that could allow police to scapegoat people based on skin colour, religion, language or birthplace.  Retired General Lewis Mackenzie, Ontario's new special security advisor says racial profiling is necessary.  Government's statistics show that the vast majority of immigrants are law-abiding citizens with an over-all crime rate lower than those born in Canada.
We must be encouraged that NGOs and many in the media are calling for a debate of all proposed actions or legislative change in the rush to fortify domestic security.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our political and civil rights, including freedom from discrimination and protection of minorities are to be fiercely defended.
A VOW member, working in conflict resolution, is frustrated by the skewed priorities of our government that devotes more to war than to building peace and cross-cultural understanding.  Canada has a youth program training 55,000 military cadets, yet CIDA has a peace-building budget of just $10 million per year.  Citing adventure and travel, her teenaged children begged to join the cadets.  She asks "where are the funds to prepare 55,000 youth for careers in peace-building?"

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Network of women throughout Canada working for peace and social justice for all.   Focii include a Culture of Peace, UN, Voice of Somali Women for Peace, and nuclear issues.

For more info., contact: 761 Queen St.  W., Toronto ON, M6J 1G1.   Tel.: 416-603-7915; Email: <vow@interlog.com>  Web: <www.interlog.com/~vow>


Greetings.  Laurel was unable to make it and so she asked me to come in her place.  My name is Venesta Libinius Carborum.  I am from the Planet Venus.
I am here today to lend our support to your efforts, and to share my grave concerns over something being developed just a few kilometres from this church: you know it by the name, Star Wars.
On Venus, we are watching with great fear the way you have not only militarized your planet, but are now planning to colonize space with weapons of war.  Through our interplanetary monitors, we watch with trepidation the research and development for the star wars space warfare system.  With great sorrow, we discovered that Canada is part of this destructive enterprise, through its research and development arm, just down the road from here, at the Defense Research Establishment Ottawa (DREO), in Nepean.
We on Venus have long admired one of the great earthlings of the twentieth century, Martin Luther King.  In 1967, Dr. King said he could not speak out for peace without first recognizing that his government was the greatest purveyor of violence in the history of humankind.
King declared that nations -- and I assume he also meant planets -- which continue to spend ever greater amounts on war at the expense of programs of social uplift are approaching spiritual death.  He also declared that the gaping chasm between proclamations of peace and the practice of war must be closed.
On Venus, we took his words to heart and worked hard to end the causes of war: the economic inequities.  Within a very short time, the diversion of Venusian funds from war to the sustainability of peace is being accomplished.
I hope you don't feel I'm being presumptuous, as a visitor to your planet, but I believe King's words challenge the view of Canada's as a peacemaker.  In our view, the facts do not bear this out.  For example, Canada spends well over $15 billion annually on war and armed enforcement of injustice, or almost 800% more than is spent on affordable housing programs.
Note the following equation which your UN recently described: The richest 20% of the earth, consume 86% of the planet's resources.  The lowest 20% consume just 1.35%.  This translates into a perverse result, the failure to address the ultimate violence of global racism: the starvation to death every day of some 35,000 children, and thousands of their parents and grandparents, almost all of them people of colour.  I'm here to tell you today that this situation is preventable and can be reversed.
This brings us back to DREO and the Canadian government's complicity and secrecy in the developing space warfare.  Billions of dollars are being spent -- in your name -- on the development of what will turn out to be the most lethal weapon in earth's history.  And yet, the Canadian government continues to say that Canada is not involved in Star Wars.  This is greatly confusing to us.
Our research has uncovered the following question: "Will technology allow us to fit 70 tons of lethality into a 20 ton package?"  This question, whose sickness defies words, comes from a Canadian government document describing the work done at DREO.  At DREO, the research and development crucial for the star wars and space warfare plans, is proceeding quietly, in good orderly fashion, guaranteed both by your tax dollars -- and by your silence.
Space warfare is about the ability of rich nations to completely dominate earth by planting weapons platforms in space.  As the Pentagon admits, U.S. control of space is crucial, because "the gap between the haves and have-not nations will continue to widen, creating regional unrest."
For Venusians, of course, the threat is that one day these weapons will be turned on us.
We have unearthed a copy of the Canadian government's 2000 technology investment strategy which states: "Space soon will by the fourth medium of warfare.  It will not only bind all war fighting forces together but will become strategically critical to the survival of warfighters.  For future coalition warfare, space superiority will be fundamental."
I have come to earth today to issue a warning that the development of space warfare must stop, to ensure the safety of all life on earth and indeed throughout the galaxy.  I'm here today to plead with all earthlings:  do not put your money into war, but into mechanisms for sustainable peace and social justice.  It is only through a commitment to social justice that security for all is ultimately guaranteed.
On November 9, I will return to earth with some of my sisters in the hopes of persuading the scientists and engineers who work at DREO to stop building weapons of war, and to start creating the conditions for peace.  We invite you to join Homes not Bombs in a nonviolent action and festival of life at what we might more accurately call the Canadian Department of Death.
We will be there not to cause violence or damage, or to take anyone's jobs, but to transform the evil genius which would make a desert of this world and call it peace.  We want to transform the tools of terror being developed there into the implements of inspiration to help solve the ravages of pollution, poverty and inequality here on earth. 
The work of DREO is to create the tools of mass violence and terror that will maintain the gross inequality on this planet.  Join us in uncovering Canada's best-kept, most dangerous secret, and put an end to this country's role in an armageddon that will make the great crimes of your 20th century pale by comparison.

For more information, contact: Homes Not Bombs, 509 St Clair Ave W, PO Box 73620, Toronto ON M6C 1C0; Tel.: 416-651-4514; Email: <tasc@web.net>


Radmila Swann, President, Ottawa Serbian Heritage Society

Greetings from the Ottawa Serbian Heritage Society.  We were formed, to disseminate true information about the Serbs' homeland, to protect the rights of Serbs in Canada and internationally, and to keep the Serbian language and culture alive.
Since we so recently witnessed the wanton killing of thousands of innocent Serbians, old and young alike, in the recent bombing of Yugoslavia, our awareness of the results of such violence has been heightened.  That is why we are here today.  Because our suffering was so great and our wounds are so fresh, we can relate to the horrible possibility of thousands of real live Afghani human beings being killed even though they pose no threat to anyone.
The threat of violence is always there until we, the so-called civilized world, appreciate that every person's life is of equal value.  The events that took place in New York on September 11 are extremely sad, and we pray for the people who died and who suffer still, but we should not be surprised at what happened.  What is different between the terrorist strikes against the World Trade Center towers, and the NATO strikes against the television tower in Belgrade, where journalists and others working inside were killed?  Only the height of the tower and the number of people killed are different.  The principle is the same.  Yet there were no church services around the world, nor flowers laid in front of embassies for the dead Serbian civilians.  We need to reach a point where every life counts, where an Afghani or Palestinian life is worth every bit as much as an American or Israeli life, and an Albanian life is worth the same as a Serbian life.  No one is dispensable.  All life is precious.
There is no doubt that the world is becoming a more violent place, and we need to halt this pattern.  Even our everyday language has become violent.  People in sports competitions and in business are proud to tell you they will "kick ass."  Music and theatre are described admiringly as "in your face."
The language of diplomacy between countries, too, seems to be disappearing.  Countries are labeled as "rogue states."  Their leaders are called "thugs."  Are we seriously interested in living at peace with other people, when we show them no respect?
We need to replace violence with justice -- not revenge -- justice.  We need to care that the Palestinians are still in refugee camps after 50 years.  As individuals, we need to show an interest in what is taking place in the world, to ensure that it will be just.  We cannot have the bizarre spectacle of million-dollar salaries on one side of the globe, and starvation on the other.
We must first care about our brothers and sisters around the globe -- every colour, every religion, every nationality.  Every life counts!  Then we must ensure that we have governments that understand, and are prepared to carry out our wishes. 

For more information, contact: Serbian Heritage Society, 2447 Wyndale Cres., Ottawa ON  K1H 8J2; Tel.: 731-3704; Email: <radmilaswann@hotmail.com>


Moraima Rivera, a native, farmer and activist from Puerto Rico.

Vieques is a small island off Puerto Rico.  For 60 years it has been a bombing range for U.S. and NATO militaries.  People in Vieques suffer from high contamination, cancer, asthma problems, skin sickness and the continuous sounds and vibrations of explosions.  In April 1999, a bombing mistake killed David Sanes, an island native.  This called the world's attention to our struggle. 

In 1941, the U.S. Congress passed a law giving the island to their navy.  They expropriated 26,000 of the island's 33,000 acres.  Thousands of families were removed from where they had lived for generations.  Some families had only 24 hours to leave.

This caused the decline of the flourishing, agricultural society that grew rice, sugar cane, minor fruits and vegetables.  Thousands had to emigrate in search of employment.  In 1947, the plan to relocate the whole population failed.  

When David Sanes was killed during a live-fire training exercise all sectors in Puerto Rican society demanded that the bombing be discontinued immediately and that the lands be decontaminated.  

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans and people from other countries, including North Americans, used their bodies to stop the bombardments.  Thousands have been arrested and punished with long prison terms for doing civil disobedience.  Those arrested have included Senators, actors, artists, farmers, women, lawyers, former presidents of the Puerto Rican legislature, mayors, the president of the Independence Party, the vice president of the Pro-Statehood Party, religious leaders, Vietnam war veterans, Robert Kennedy, Congressman Luis Gutierrez and the wife of Rev. Jesse Jackson.  The mayor of Vieques is now in jail for 4 months.  Tito Kayak an environmental leader was put jailed for one year in inhuman conditions.  The sentences are abusive for minor offenses like trespassing.  Bail ranges from $500 to $30,000.  Videos show physical abuse and sexual harassment by the Navy after arrest.

Solidarity actions calling attention to Vieques have been carried out in the U.S, Chile, Colombia, England, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, India and elsewhere.  For more than a year, civilians put peace camps in the restricted zone.  Two camps are still in the restricted zone.  Local Puerto Rican police and U.S. Navy machine guns are pointed, ready to shoot.

Vieques has 9,400 inhabitants but there is no room to expand.  People must live in a narrow buffer zone between exploding bombs and the huge munitions depot that holds up to 4000 tons of explosives.

The U.S. Navy generates more than $100 million per year by renting Vieques to military fleets from Holland, Belgium, England, Canada, Italy and others.  In solidarity, Argentina and Venezuela have stopped sending their soldiers.  The sea close to the island being destroyed, killing species from the Atlantic to the Caribbean near Venezuela.  The bombing range covers 900 acres on the Eastern tip, including the keys, forests beaches, two blue lagoons and phosphorescent bays.  Cayo Conejo, has the only brown pelican in Puerto Rico.  Alcatraz Rock has a nesting site for terns.  Many whales, turtles, fish and birds have been killed.  In 1936, there were three large lagoons, with many species, a rich wetland area, coconuts, a lush plantation and many archeological sites, where our forefathers, natives of the island lived in contact with nature.  Fragments of pre-Columbian pottery have been found.  Beautiful coastal forests, cacti, flowers, insects, lizards, vines, palms and grasses have been destroyed.

Three lagoons are contaminated by unexploded ordnance, craters and pieces of targets.  Some areas have been bombed for so long that there isn't any soil left.  Years of bombing and shelling have altered the topography and covered offshore coral reefs and sea grass with sediment.  These sediments contain toxic substances that are probably entering the food chain.  Unexploded rockets and cluster bomb were found.  Lots of trucks, tanks, cranes, airplanes and targets are pollute area.  The invisible waste of radioactive Depleted Uranium (DU) is blown towards the population.  When these particles are inhaled, they can cause cancer.  In 1999, the Military Toxics Project described three places where the U.S. Navy uses DU munitions: Tolu Shima Island, Okinawa and Vieques.  Napalm has burned whole areas.  Tests have found high concentrations of arsenic, barium, cadmium, cobalt, copper, chromium, lead, cyanide, nickel, vanadium and zinc. 

The rate of cancer in Vieques is 25% higher than Puerto Rico.  The drinking water is contaminated.  There is a high incidence of lupus, asthma, scleroderma and telarquia.  Kidney and heart diseases are also higher, as is child mortality.  Nineteen Viequenses were found with high levels of mercury.

People are being killed slowly.  First, they were forced to leave their land, they have no work, little food and contamination.  They must travel to Puerto Rico to get medical services.  For 20 years, children haven't been born in Vieques.  This is a way to detach them from the island.  Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both said they will leave the island in 2003.  A referendum was conducted on July 29 by local government and 68.9% called for an immediate stop to the bombing.  The Navy wants another referendum.  It is tampering with our elections.  At this time, they are pouring money into media and public relations.  In the July referendum, they gave money, offered jobs and business options to buy votes.

Through many years of sacrifice, by those engaged in civil disobedience, militant civil and political organizations have limited the U.S. Navy's activities.  This was recognized by a unanimous resolution of the UN Committee on decolonization on July 1, 2000.  This year's resolution:

"Encourages the U.S. government, in line with the need to guarantee to Puerto Rican people their legitimate right to self determination and protection of their human rights, to order the halt of its armed forces military drills and manoeuver on Vieques Island, return the occupied land to the people of Puerto Rico, halt the persecutions, arrests and harassment of peaceful demonstrators, respect fundamental human rights, such as the right to health and economic development, and decontaminate the impact areas."

We were invaded by the U.S. Navy in 1898.  They came shooting, destroyed our local economy and forced us to carry their citizenship and to send our boys to war.  We are the last colony in the Caribbean, with 102 years of resistance, keeping our language and our culture.  We are a Nation.  Colonialism is an offense, a crime.  How can people have self-determination when the system teaches people to accept and celebrate colonialism as a treasure.

The political persecution of democratic organizations and more than a million people by the FBI, is shameful for the U.S., that proclaims itself a guardian of human rights.  Too many people have been jailed for having a Puerto Rican flag.  Thousands were killed.

A group has been protesting at a peace camp in Vieques since April 1999.  They have suffered abuse and seen people die silently.  No money can pay for those lives.   But even U.S. soldiers have shown solidarity with us.  When I was arrested, the marshal said "keep fighting.  This is too beautiful an island to use as a bombing range."  Another marshal, with eyes full of tears when arresting priests and nuns, said "This is the first time in 16 years that I hate my job, you win."

It is hard to see a grandmother crying because she has lost her 26-year old daughter and her 7-year old granddaughter has leukemia.  It is hard to see how activists' dignity is abused.  It is hard to see a whale bleeding on the beach, touching its warmth, listening to its cries; to see how their trucks stop on turtle eggs.  Thousands of happy dolphins have been killed.  We are now calling on environmentalists around the world, to join us.  We are telling foreign government not to send young boys to get contaminated and to contaminate our baby island.  In 1966, a special bomb fell, we knew it was a nuclear weapon, but they lied to us about it.  We want them to stop bombing, clean the land and give the land back to the people of Vieques.

The Navy doesn't want to leave.  We are going to keep struggling until they give back our land to develop it in a sustainable matter.  We want a better world and a decent and healthy place to raise our children.  We want the U.S. Navy out, no more bombs and peace for Vieques.  Today, the Navy is bombing Vieques.  Another simple mistake could kill thousands of people.

Moraima Rivera, P.O. Box 1020, Ciales, Puerto Rico 00638.  Web Sites: <www.viequespaz.com> and <www.viequeslibre.org> <www.ddh.nl/vrede/kernwapens/in2000/>


Terry Wolfwood, director, Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation; Board member, Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group in Victoria, BC. 

I am here today to bring you greetings from Victoria, the little city that said "NO to NATO."  When we learned two years ago that NATO Parliamentary Assembly was going to meet in Victoria, activists got busy.  We planned days of events, peaceful protests and meetings.  Of course, we discussed this action at open public meetings, so the city council and police heard about our plans and got scared of dangerous activists -- like me!  They wanted million of dollars to barricade off downtown Victoria to make it safe for the world's greatest military power - and for tourists having tea at the Empress Hotel.  NATO went off in a huff!  We went ahead with a conference in Victoria anyway and you got NATO here in Ottawa.
We are sorry NATO was not in Victoria, but I am sure they are here today with us because what we are saying -- is the unthinkable, the unspeakable -- beyond silence the violence -- we are saying that the terror of violence by states or groups is the same.  The only real option to violence is the creation of a culture of peace and justice.  We must reject false options! 
We say NO to the ideologies of death, to environmental destruction, to the evil of the great wealth and power of a few, backed by the military might of NATO. 
At our conference in Victoria, past-moderator of the United Church, Bill Phipps, told us we must "seize the moment," and I say we must face the terrible situation of today and "hold fast to this time." 
We need to build a strong resistance movement.  Resistance is a space, a position, a life commitment to a just world for all.  Resistance is daily work -- not a crisis reaction.  Resistance is rooted in our own life place.  But we must be clear and vocal about our global connections and our solidarity with others. 
Resistance speaks the truth.  We reject the institionalized cultural amnesia, the trivialization of history, the worship of consumerism and violence in the corporate media.  We have to remember that the bomb, the buck and the boob tube are indivisible! 
Some activists recently suggested that now is the time to unplug and reject the corporate media -- what a great idea!  I thought so -- until I realized I haven't watched TV or subscribed to a corporate paper for decades!  So we must go further and create our own media and networks and find new ways to communicate!  We need to find our own voices! 
Resistance creates community, new knowledge, inspiration and art.  Resistance imbues our relationships with others with compassion as we reach out to those around us and around the world. 
Resistance is respect and dignity for biodiversity and cultural diversity.  Resistance gives shape and meaning to our lives.  As my friend, Maria Mies a German author-activist says, "We must put life in the centre."
Resistance is growing, resistance is spreading, we are everywhere and resistance is everywhere! 

For more information, contact: Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, Tel.: 250-595-7519; Email: <bbcf@islandnet.com>


Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade

Ever since the the end of the Cold War, the U.S. and NATO have been desparately searching for a new global enemy.  The so called, "War on Terrorism" is a new Cold War. 

What is terrorism?  Terrorism is the murder of innocent civilians for political purposes.

Over the past 50 years, there have been hundreds of wars and many millions have died.  An increasing number of victims of wars have been civilians.  The percentage of civilian victims in wars has increased to the point where it is about 90%.

Therefore war is terrorism.  The US knows alot about war and terror. 

Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Timothy McVeigh and bin Laden Their crimes are evil and horrific.  However, it is totally unfair to compare them to those who armed, financed and backed them.  These thugs were all supported and controlled -- for a time -- by the US military and intelligence.  They have all come back to haunt the US. 

But it is unfair to compare their horrific crimes with those of the US military.  Noriega, Hussein, McVeigh and bin Laden are mere amateurs compared to the US military.

During the recent terrorist strike against the US, about 20 terrorists were killed and about 6000 civilians died.  During its war against Vietnam, the US lost 55,000 troops. But in Southeast Asia, 4 million people were killed.  Canada, under noble peace prize winner, Lester Pearson happily provided the napalm and billions of dollars worth of military equipment to the US during that war.

4 million dead. Thoat's just a number.  I want you to brace yourselves for a horrific image.  What would happen if you piled up all those bodies, how high would that pile be?  I worked it out this morning.  Three bodies piled on top of each other would be about one metre. 

1000 bodies would be 330 meters high.  A million bodies would be 330 thousand metres high.  The 4 million people, mostly civilians killed in southeast asia by the US war, would create a pile of bodies 1,333 kilometres high. 

I then wondered how tall the World Trade Center towers were.  How many of those buildings would have to have been piled one on top of the other to reach the height of the pile of bodies generated by the US war in Southeast Asia?  The World Trade Center towers were about 415 metres tall.  That means that one would have to stack up 3,212 such towers to match the pile of bodies killed in that particular US war.

The US has armed, trained, financed some of the worst terrorists, among them Suharto (a million people were massacred in Indonesia); the death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala (half a million killed); In Iraq, the Canada helped the US bombed water treatment facilities, sewage treatment plants, power stations.  This unleashed a biological warfare. There were widespread epidemics. Diseases have killed hundreds of thousands of babies and children. 

The US knows a lot about terrorism.

It's just what they needed to rationalize their bloated military spending. The US government spends about half of its total budget on the military about half a trillion dollars a year.

About 80% of the world's total military equipment is produced by NATO member states.  The following NATO members are among the world's top ten military producers: the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Canada.  The U.S., U.K. and France alone contribute about 70% of world's total arms production. 

* The US military budget is more than twenty-two times as large as the combined spending of the seven "rogue" states (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria).

* The US is the real rogue.  It is a rogue superpower.  It is immune from international law.  It is immune from prosecution for its crimes against humnaity.  We must try to build awareness and support to hold the US and NATO accountable for their crimes. 

* The United States and its close allies spend more than the rest of the world combined, accounting for 63% of all military spending. Together they spend over thirty times more than the seven rogue states.

* The seven potential "enemies," Russia and China together spend $106 billion about a third of the U.S. military budget.

* In the last few years the U.S. share of the world's military spending has risen from 30% to 36%.

After the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO became increasingly irrelevant and needed a reason for its continued existence.  NATO's illegal war against Yugoslavia provided a viagra like boost to NATO.

Prior to Sept. 11, NATO member states had committed themselves to increase their military abilities for "power projection, mobility and increased interoperability."  European NATO countries had already increased their expenditures for military equipment by 11% since 1995.  Military budgets in the U.S. and Canada have also increased over the past two years. 

The military budgets of NATO countries amounted to about 60% of the world's total military spending (US$798 billion) for the year 2000. Rather than focusing on such genuinely humanitarian priorities as providing food, housing, health care, education, environmental protection and public transportation for their populations and the rest of the world, NATO is intent on increasing their military budgets for future interventions even farther afield. 

The new Cold War means even more military spending, more wars, more civilian deaths, and more terrorism.

What's it all for?  Why are they doing this?  They have to. They absolutley have to in order to maintain the unjust global econiomic order that exists in this world.  A tiny fraction of the world's population controls the world's wealth.  To keep their wealth they absolutely need brutal regimes in place all over the world. Brutal regimes that will massacre people who organize unions.  Brutal military and police and death squads that will massacre people who form organizations to struggle for their human rights, who struggle to build their communities, who struggle for education, health care, housing, food, and basic human needs.  f the butal regimes that we help to put in power and keep in power through the provision of weapons, money, diplomatic support are unable to maintain control over their populations, if they are unable to keep people working like slaves to create wealth for a small elite of corporate businessmen, then we send in the marines to do the job for them.

NATO is a criminal organization.  It is a creature of the Cold War and it should be abolished, not expanded.  The time is ripe for a campaign to get Canada out of NATO.

Mel Watkins, President, Science for Peace - Canada

It is almost four weeks since the mass murders in America.  We in the peace movement, like millions of others, continue to grieve for those who lost family, friends and colleagues.

Sadly, the horror of September 11 is leading to further horror.  We see America's massive deployment of air power.  We hear the rumours of war against Afghanistan.  So too do the desperate people of that poorest of countries who are fleeing in fear and terror.

The autocratic Taliban regime is one of the worst governments on the face of the earth with its pervasive persecution of women and of all faiths but its own.

But this does not mean that the United States government can, de facto, arrogate to itself the role of global cops with power to search and destroy at will and to bully and bribe other countries to pledge support.

To the images of the plane striking the World Trade Centre and the towers crumbling are now added those of desperate people fleeing for their lives.

In the name of all humanity, this escalating process of pain and misery and death must be stopped lest it spin completely out of control.

It will not be easy.  We make many pleas.

We plea for time, for caution, for moderation.  Let the worst of our passions cool. 

Let us remind our leaders that power lacks foresight.  Hence, in the name of realism, of realpolitik, it can create, as it did, a bin Laden to fight one enemy while creating the next enemy in the process.

Remember that on another September 11 in 1973 in Chile, the Nixon-Kissinger administration helped to overthrow the democratically-elected Allende government, paving the way for the murderous Pinochet.

Heed the wise and worldly words of the great scholar and pacifist Ursula Franklin: the moral is the practical.

We plea for a response to terrorism within the framework of law and not the framework of war.  We talk of democracy and freedom but what are they absent the rule of law?

We plea for tolerance.  We insist that there be no scapegoating and harassment of Arab-Canadians and Muslim-Canadians.  Now a retired professor, I laud the student members of the university community for the leadership they are taking against anti-racism.

We plea not only for tolerance within Canada but for global tolerance in McLuhan's imagined global village.  We insist that all lives are equal everywhere in the world.  The killing of innocent civilians was a commonplace of the twentieth century.  We risk exaggerating not the horror of September 11 but its novelty.  In this sense, there is nothing " new" about "America's new war."

We plea for the right of dissent and insist that it not be lessened in the days ahead.  It is our experience that those who preach war lack tolerance for those who preach peace.

We plea for independent Canadian policy in the face of inexorable pressure to harmonize Canadian and American policies -- which necessarily means the adoption of American policies.  We insist on having our own immigration and refugee policies.  If Canada, in effect, joins the United States, how will that make the world a safer place?

We plea on behalf of Canadian workers who are losing their jobs in the economic fallout from September 11 and we call on our governments to aid them in every way they can.

We call on ourselves and on all who will listen to protest against war and racism and for global justice.  There has long been a peace movement but too many people have been lulled, since the end of the Cold War, into thinking that, at least for us in the West, we lived in a peaceful and safe and just world.  That was never so and now we all know that.

Fortunately, we now have an impressive movement against corporate globalization and for global democracy.  It tells us of the dark side of actually-existing globalization and we see now how dark it is.

These two movements share a common diagnosis, of a global war machine with powerful corporate interests on our side.  And we share a common hope, for peace, for justice, for democracy, for cultural and racial diversity, for many faiths -- but against all fundamentalisms and fanaticisms -- within Canada and throughout the world.  We must all work actively for all these.