In his mind’s eye no doubt he comes as conqueror–in reality he will be flying into a few problems. Hundreds of anti-war activists and campaigners met at the end of April to ensure that Bush and the other warmongers will get a ‘warm’ reception.
At the diplomatic level the war on Iraq has created huge tensions and resentments. French and German opposition to the war has translated into an initiative to rearm Europe. While divisions among the European powers may not worry the Pentagon hawks too much for now, the fallout has been global. China has already warned the US that it will regard any US ‘engagement’ in North Korea as an infringement on its interests. WTO officials are concerned that global resentment against the US’s behaviour will torpedo the already strained trade negotiations in the run-up to the Cancun ministerial meeting of the WTO this autumn.
At the same time, the shine is already beginning to come off the victory in Iraq. The repression grows and the number of Iraqi victims of the occupation continues to mount. Also, it has got to be a little awkward, even for George Bush, that US forces still haven’t come across weapons of mass destruction, or for that matter Saddam Hussein. US forces still come under regular attack and face regular demonstrations from the Iraqi people. As every day passes the real agenda of the war becomes clearer–US corporations are taking over the oil and control of the ports, as well as the education and medical services. Embarrassingly for Bush and Blair, demands from ordinary Iraqis for an Islamic state are gaining ground.
And then there are the protests outside Iraq. Military victory doesn’t alter the fact that the war has pushed popular hatred of the US and its partners to stratospheric levels. Opposition to war reached 80 percent of popular opinion in many countries from France to the Philippines. In Turkey and Spain it was over 90 percent. The impressive demonstrations in more than 40 countries on 12 April, days after the US victory, shows that the warmongers will face continued political opposition.
The Iraq war has actually strengthened the wider movement for global justice. April’s meeting to prepare the European Social Forum and the protests against the G8 leaders was the biggest so far–and the hundreds of activists who came together all reported that the anti-war demos had brought thousands of new people into the protest movement. The agenda of the movement has also been strengthened by the discussions connecting militarism with globalisation.
The protests at Evian are a great chance to cement the links between the anti-war and global justice movements. It is a crucial opportunity to show the masters of business and war that the movement is growing.
Proceedings will start with various forums and actions on Thursday 29 May, based round activist camps near the French town of Annemasse, ten kilometres from Geneva. On Saturday 31 May there will be four counter-summits in Geneva against debt, privatisation of pensions, the WTO, and war and occupation, followed by a mass assembly in the evening. On Sunday 1 June there will be two demonstrations, one from Annemasse and one from Geneva, that will converge in what organisers hope will be a gathering big enough to blockade the whole area.
Activists across Europe are gearing up for a huge turnout. Coaches are booked from Norway to Greece. German Attac is organising a train with the help of local union branches. The Swiss are expecting a massive turnout after the huge anti-war demonstrations that have taken place.
It is now crucial to raise the Evian protest in Stop the War Coalition rallies, union meetings or at college or school. Flights to Geneva are cheap at the time of going to press. Globalise Resistance have produced leaflets and an information sheet that you can get from their website (www.resist.org.uk). They can also put you in touch with speakers involved in organising the protests.
We should make sure there is publicity and information for Evian wherever activists come together. It is a chance to show the self appointed leaders of the world there is another power coming through–people power.
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