||Issue No. 166||14 February 2003|
A Call To Arms
Interview: Agenda 2003
Peace: The Colour Purple
Industrial: Long, Hot Summer
Solidarity: Workers Against War
Security: Howard And The Hoodlums
International: Industrial Warfare
History: Unions and the Vietnam War
Review: Eight Miles to Mowtown
Poetry: Return To Sender
Satire: CIA Recruits New Intake of Future Enemies
The Locker Room
A Tale of Two Malls
Talk Back Tom
On The Beach
A Call To Arms
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.
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