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Issue No. 166 14 February 2003  

A Call To Arms
Workers Online returns from our summer break to face a world on the brink, the structures of global cooperation being crushed by the iron will of the earth�s last remaining superpower.


Interview: Agenda 2003
ACTU secretary Greg Combet looks at the year ahead and how a union movement can keep the focus on the workplace at a time of global crisis.

Peace: The Colour Purple
Local communities across Australia are taking stands against war by displaying purple banners. Jim Marr visits one.

Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
As Workers Online took its annual break, the world kept turning � at an increasingly alarming velocity.

Solidarity: Workers Against War
Joann Wypijewski reports on how union locals in the USA are fighting the hounds of war at home.

Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
With all the talk of terror, the Howard Government�s Achilles heel is its tolerance of Flags of Convenience shipping , writes Rowan Cahill

International: Industrial Warfare
Scottish freight train drivers have already acted to disrupt the war effort in the UK with crews of four freight trains carrying war supplies to ports walking off the job, writes Andrew Casey

History: Unions and the Vietnam War
The Vietnam experience steered some unions towards social activism for the first time. Unions are today key players in the anti-war movement, writes Tony Duras.

Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Mark Hebblewhites looks at two summer movies that tap into different sounds of American culture - white boy rap and motown blues.

Poetry: Return To Sender
Resident bard Divd Peetz discovers that Elvis has become the latest shock recruit to the peace cause.

Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
CIA Director George Tenet announced today that the agency has begun recruiting future enemies for the year 2014.


 The Cuffe Link � Taxpayers Cough Up

 Carr: Secret Lib Plan to Slash Public Sector

 Abbott Comes Out Swinging

 Thanks a Million: Cole�s Lawyers Clean-up

 Corrigan Dogs On Jobs Promise

 Gnomes Fess Up � Unionism Best For All

 Owens Survives 30-Year Ban

 Ribs and Rumps Something for Government to Chew On

 Badges of Honour

 Guards Rail Against Assaults

 Workers Online Scoops Global Prize

 Currawong Must Pay It�s Way

 Let�s Get Real! 2nd Australasian Organising Conference

 Guard Knocked Out in Villawood Escape

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Getting On with The Job
Premier Bob Carr chose Trades Hall as the venue to launch Labor's IR policy for the upcoming state election.

Justice in Bogota
Sydney lawyer Ian Latham knows how to pick them. He�s gone straight from the Cole Royal Commission to justice Colombian-style.

The Locker Room
Heart Of Darkness
There is a school of thought that there is, in fact, only one World Cup - and it doesn�t involve cricket, writes Phil Doyle.

Danger Mouse
John Howard's politics have trapped him into supporting an unpopular war. He is in political trouble, Leonie Bronstein argues.

 Bouquets and Brickbats
 War Talk
 A Tale of Two Malls
 Talk Back Tom
 On The Beach
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A Call To Arms

Workers Online returns from our summer break to face a world on the brink, the structures of global cooperation being crushed by the iron will of the earth�s last remaining superpower.

Beyond the threats and diplomatic manoeuvres we could be witnessing the ultimate end game in a two-decade project of deregulation - the deregulation of international relations.

The consensus reached after the ravages of World War II looks like going the same way as the post-Depression Keynsian economic compact and the still-born environmental agreement of Rio and Kyoto.

The architect of its destruction is a Far Right US Administration born of the Culture Wars of the 90s, oil hungry extremists who won the Republican Party, the Congress and then the Presidency with a potent mix of lies, dirty tricks and big corporate dollars.

Their mission has been to cut the State out of every sphere of life, except of course defence - where the massive corporate donors dominate the one remaining subsidised

industry in their lean, mean world.

These Deficit Hawks cut all layers of public spending for the poor and delivering a trillion dollar tax cut to the rich; until they have a new surplus to squander on armaments.

Until they achieve their ultimate goal - a system where the only valid regulations are those to ensure corporations have freedom of movement, until the only rule is that of the market, controlled by the executive class whose idea of society begins and ends with their shareholders.

On a global stage, they have trashed international cooperation on climate change, multilateral trade and an International War Crimes Tribunal, while demanding the UN bend to its will on Iraq.

And all the way with Dubya our own brown-nosin' PM, chief cheer-leader in the Coalition of the Willing, talking up our obligations to America, while squibbing on our international responsibilities on refugees - many of whom are fleeing the dictator we are now told must be eradicated.


Maintaining the fight for a system of rules are those who felt the brunt of WWII - France, Germany and Russia, insisting it must be the UN that deals with the real threat that Saddam Hussein poses the world, knowing more than most that national interest carries untold pain for their people.

But there is a growing sense that the USA will block this push: pressuring the UN Security Council into approving US intervention in Iraq or risk being circumvented and rendered completely irrelevant.

If this occurs, those of us opposed to a War in Iraq face a difficult dilemma; having argued for months that the US must not act unilaterally, what do we do if the UN gives its rubber stamp?

For a union movement that sees a global system of international conventions under the auspices of such bodies as the ILO, UNHCR and UN Security Council as one of the key rays of hope for regulating global capital, this is an important call.

In this context, for the peace movement to simply condemn the UN for pandering to America's might in the increasingly likely event it caves will do even greater harm to our chances of rebuilding a harmonious world into the future.

Instead we must regard such a breakdown, should it occur, not as the international community's death knell, but as its low point, a rallying call for a fight to reassert a global consensus.

If the UN is forced to approve action in Iraq, it must do so as the leader of a peace-keeping mission, with the explicit role of disarming Saddam.

If the operation is brief, we must pressure the UN to assert control over the reconstruction, allaying those who believe this is all about America's thirst for oil by ensuring these resources remain in the hands of the Iraqi people.

If it drags on, we must pressure the UN Security Council to manage its mandate, continually pushing on the warring parties towards peace. Even as the United States stomps over it, we must continue to assert the rights of the United Nations.

In fighting the USA's intervention in Iraq the peace movement must also begin to wage its own culture war, where individual citizens join forces around the globe to assert the right of international bodies to temper the excesses of individual nations.

Out of the wreckage that looms, this must become a launching pad for a broader dialogue about the rules that should cover our globalised world - core labour standards, core environmental standards, limits on corporate excess - to fight the biggest threat to world peace, the widening gap between rich and poor and the resentment, extremism and violence it fuels.

It all starts this weekend when unions will join hundreds of thousands of citizens worldwide to elevate an international consensus ahead of the will of the richest.

Peter Lewis



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