Linking Peace and Anti-Corporate Globalization
By Mel Watkins, President, Science for Peace.
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 U.S. 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 U.S., 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.
Source: Presentatation at the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade's Vigil for Nonviolence, Oct. 6, 2001, in Ottawa.