Recently, at the fifth Asian European People's Forum in Ha Noi I got to know that there will be a meeting between "the movement for global justice" and the Muslim movement in Beirut soon. I think that is good. It is good to have exchange between movements; it is good to get more knowledge and more insights.
The anti-war movement has rolled back since 15 th February, 2003, that seems to be the case throughout the entire world. Different reasons are significant for different countries and movements. The reason I see, besides an organisational concern is that it does not exist a movement to solidarise with.
During the Vietnam War the slogan in Europe was: Victory to the NLF. It was not: American troops out of Vietnam , or Occupation forces out of Vietnam , it was Victory to the NLF. There were NLF groups formed that worked for years with all sorts of campaigning. Solidarity movement in Sweden had something to be against, but also something to solidarise with.
The great difference between the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq is that most of the activists only can be against something and not in favour of something. It does not exist a movement to solidarise with. Solidarity does not mean to pity, or to feel sorry for or try to help, solidarity is to share aims, and to feel that you share aims I think there must be something more there than just being against an unjust war.
Of course we have to be clear and speak up and out against occupation and we have to clearly say that the Iraqis have the right to resist and that that we support resistance against occupation. The US does not have the right to bomb, to occupy and to decide which government should be running which country. We have to support resistance in Iraq .
But that does not mean that we support the resisters, and their aim. I think that one of the big differences between anti-war movements now and then is that we don't, we don't have an organisation that we support, no national liberation front, and there is not a common vision or idea in common between the movement in Sweden and resistance in Iraq .
15 th of February, 2003 in Stockholm was fantastic. There was an enormous mobilisation, and heavy opinion against the war in Iraq . The demonstration was bigger than the anti War demonstrations in the 70s. You have to go back as far as the beginning of the last century, in the morning of the working class movement and the calls for democracy and the right to vote to find a mobilisation as big.
The movement vanished quite rapidly after February 15 th. No permanent solidarity groups were created. Some of us did a day of disobedience actions against the war and the arms industry that feeds it. It received a lot of media attention, and support but almost none mobilisation. After that the demonstrations against occupation have been very small. They have not managed to attract more than the ordinary amount that shows up at anti-imperialist demonstrations for Palestine , Venezuela , Cuba.
For me there is an after and before February 15th, as significant for a radical movement as September 11th, 2001 was for the so called war against terrorism. Before was the movement, the movement of movements, called anti-globalisation by its opponents and the movement for global justice by it supporters.
One mistake we did was that we did not take on the issue of war against terrorism from the beginning. Anti militarism was not a big issue. That meant that we were badly prepared for the aftermath of the attacks on the US economic and political centre. From one day to another that changed. The war against terrorism, and the aggression against first Afghanistan and then Iraq , and with the occupation of Iraq changed that. It became our concern and suddenly the anti-globalisation movement turned into an anti-war movement.
Why had we not taken on the issue of war and peace before September 11, 2001? It was as if the new wars were not part of our concern. Because of the characteristics of the war. Most of the "wars" in the world today are not between countries. They are fought in the borders if old empires, were globalisation has struck hard, characterised by children soldiers, rape, violence against women, hired soldiers.
We have to believe in something as well, not only being against. I would have done it when it came to Vietnam . There was something more than supporting resistance. It was hope about a better and more just future. I don't have that hope when it comes to many of the important groups of resistance today. And I repeat, I think they have all the right to resist.
So what should we do? I do see the urgency of breaking US military hegemony but I think that fighting globalisation is to fight war and militarism. If we fight against privatisation, fight to give peoples access to natural resources, if we claim people's sovereignty and participatory democracy we can give people hope as well. The movement is obviously not strong enough to do both at the same time.
I think that the WTO top meeting in Geneva showed that. For the first time since Seattle the WTO negotiations had a major breakthrough and for the first time since Seattle the movement was not there to protest. The old left had a view on politics that there always was a centre, somewhere were struggle was the most important. The movement changed that. We managed to fight against many centres at the same time. I don't think the war in Iraq should let us back into that thinking. War against Iraq is one centre, there are other ones as well.