A short information leaflet about the war -
please adapt as you wish - designed to fit on 2 sides of A4
which can be reduced to two sides of A5:
1. Why does 'the USA'
want an Iraqi war?
Iraq has become synonymous in the mind of most US citizens
with terrorism - most believe Saddam Hussein was directly
involved in the attacks of 11th September 2001 on the USA.
This presumably came about because as soon as the last Afghan
war was 'over' (trouble continues in that country), the US
government switched all its propaganda efforts onto Iraq;
no connection has yet been shown between Iraq and '9/11',
and in its current state and with the level of surveillance
existing it is highly unlikely that Iraq could offer any credible
threat to the USA or indeed the UK (any such threat is likely
to come from other sources, such as al Qaeda).
How can we summarise the USA government's underlying
interests in relation to Iraq? ?Iraq is an 'old enemy' from
the Gulf War of 1991 (though previously an 'old friend', much
supported with weapons of mass destruction and technology
by the USA even when they knew what was being done to the
Kurds and other opposition groups within Iraq); George Bush
Junior would like to finish what George Bush Senior started.
?Iraq is headed by a dictator who has done many evil things.
There is no dispute about that. The USA sees itself as a force
for good in the world. ?Iraq is an easy target for a winnable
war. How can you win a 'war against terrorism' of the al Qaeda
variety? The latter is much more difficult. ?The USA is the
only world superpower and sees itself as invincible and morally
superior to the rest of the world (this partly comes from
the right wing Christian ideology prevalent in the US administration)
so it is it its duty to 'sort out' trouble spots where this
concurs with US interests (note: 'sorting out' the Israel/Palestine
issue is much more tangential to US interests and the Jewish
lobby in the USA helps ensure ongoing support for Israel).
?The USA is in dire need of secure supplies of oil as its
internal supply decreases but demand increases: see box below.
The refusal of the heavily oil industry dominated US administration
to even contemplate switching to alternative energy sources
(e.g. copping out of even the modest and limited Kyoto agreement)
means the USA is extremely vulnerable in relation to oil supply.
The USA and oil ?
Daily consumption of oil in the USA is expected to increase
from 19 million barrels a day currently to 25 - 27 million
barrels a day by 2020 (it could be less if fuel efficiencies
were introduced). ?Total domestic production, however, has
already peaked and may decline to 7 million barrels a day
by 2020 (though it could be up to 10 million if new fuel production
programmes are introduced). So the USA could be dependent
on imports for 70% of its oil (in 1996 the figure was 46%)
- leaving the whole country very vulnerable to supply disruption.
?At current rates of consumption, there is about 70 years
oil reserves left in the world. The Middle East has 65% of
the total reserves known - and Iraq is the second biggest
reserve holder after Saudi Arabia.
We are not so simplistic to imagine that the
USA's only interest in going to war in Iraq is to get a secure
supply of oil. But one thing is very noticeable. The US will
administer Iraq as an occupying power after a 'successful'
war and the Iraqi political opposition in exile is very fractured.
The USA will control the government and the oil supply until
it is sure the Iraqi situation is stable enough to ensure
a benevolent regime for their interests in the foreseeable
Given the propaganda war which has been ensuing
between primarily the US and UK governments on one side, and
Bush and Blair in particular, with most of the rest of the
world, the USA has said nothing about handing over control
of the oil supply to the United Nations or a neutral body.
Given the depths US propaganda has been reduced to (e.g. claiming
a statement of support by Osama bin Laden about Iraq is evidence
of al Qaeda-Iraq links) it would be incredible if they were
acting 'disinterestedly' but were not making propaganda out
of it. It can therefore be safely stated that the USA has
a major interest in a stable supply of Iraqi oil.
At what level the US Administration even admits
to itself its interest in Iraqi oil is a good question. It
may be that they simply feel their interests and the interests
of 'the world' coincide and that there is nothing wrong with
that. But 'the world' in general does not support war on Iraq
(nor does 'the world' support the USA's gas-guzzling culture).
And the concept of a pre-emptive strike against Iraq because
of something which it may do in the future is illegal in international
law, immoral and an issue that may come home to roost in the
future. If the US and UK can make a pre-emptive strike against
Iraq (with or without UN sanction), then who else will be
prevented from taking similar action in the future?
If the USA was interested in more than a change
of regime in Iraq to one which was friendly to the USA and
'the West' then there is something positive they could do.
They could encourage 'people power' in that country. This
would include ending most international sanctions so Iraqis
are fit and well. Of course arms embargos should continue.
The experience of Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s,
and the Philippines and Indonesia since then, indicates that
even very repressive regimes are not immune to uprisings of
non-violent popular protest - and these are extremely difficult
to put down with military means. Saddam Hussein is a brutal
dictator who would have killed his granny if he felt the need
to do so; that does not mean that he is immune to popular
But the thing with going down this path is that
there are problems for the USA. Firstly, it would be primarily
the Iraqi people doing it themselves, and that would not look
well for the USA. Secondly, there is a different timescale;
it is a waiting game, building up an opposition and awaiting
the right time, it is not like a war where, with vast technological
superiority, the USA could be sure of victory almost to a
timetable. The advantages are, however, much greater; there
is unlikely to be the couple of million refugees predicted
for a war and 'people power' would be a force for democratisation.
Nor would the USA and UK be encouraging, by their actions,
the very forces of terrorism which they purport to attack;
a war on Iraq will ensure an increased number of terrorist
attacks on the USA, Britain and other 'western' countries.
In the 20th century, the First World War led directly to the
Second World War; what may the Second Gulf War lead to?
The USA and UK still have a choice. They can
go with an illegal crusade (which is also how it will be seen
in the Arab and Muslim world) which risks destabilisation
of the Middle East and is certain to increase terrorism, and
which will further penalise ordinary Iraqis. Or they can engage
with the rest of the world, including the UN and the Arab
and Islamic world, in dealing with the Saddam Hussein regime,
and work with and encourage Iraqi opposition groups over an
indefinite time scale. The days of Saddam Hussein's regime
will be numbered but waiting and working quietly for something
requires infinitely more patience than going for a short and
It is clear that George W Bush wants Iraq over
a barrel - of crude. If it comes to war then 'the USA' will
win. The losers will be the Iraqi people, international law,
and the people of the West who can expect increased terrorist
attacks and tension as a result; the losers will also be the
ordinary people of the USA and UK who will suffer ongoing
cuts in social provision to pay for the war. ?This leaflet
is produced by Justice Not Terror Coalition, Belfast [2.2003]
Contact at 028 - 90 64 71 06 (phone and fax), or mobile 0771
511 0517, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and group website http://groups.yahoo.com/group/justice-not-terror
?JNTC organises a weekly vigil outside Tescos, Royal Avenue,
Belfast, Thursdays from 12 noon to 1 p.m., and other events
The street theatre can be proceed by a die-in
but this is optional
Some 'dead' are (re-)arranged in a row.
Evel Knievel appears (figure wearing US
flag is introduced by a commentator:)
Commentator: "Oh, you
know how the phrase 'axis of evil' was used by Bush, well,
we have here today a representative of 'The Axis of Evel Knievel'
- this includes Bush/the government of the USA, Blair/the
president of the UK, and any of their allies who go to, or
support, the war on Iraq. " Why 'Axis of Evel Knievel'?
- Because they are trying to do some fancy but dangerous stunts
to impress people, - the risks are great, - it's all up in
the air (which is where the bombs would come from too), with
lots of showmanship, - and a major part of it is impressing
people and not losing face. - We am not impressed and neither
are the bulk of the population of this globe. - Just look
at the crazy stunt Evel Knievel's going to do, jumping over
all these dead bodies."
Evel Knievel on (push) bike gets set up to
'jump' over the dead bodies. Roll of drums Evel Knievel
cycles towards bodies.
Just as gets close to bodies Evel Knievel
brakes to almost stop as simultaneously 3 - 4 people jump
in front of the bodies, grab bike, lift him off and hold
him - and the dead get up and walk because Evel has been
Commentator; "Evel has been stopped!
If we work together we can stop Evel!" (or some other
possibly less cringe-making comment!)
1 Arranger of bodies;
1 Drummer (these first three roles can be
done by one person);
3 - 4 'lifters'/'direct actioners' - two
or three to get hold of Evel and hold him, one to take bike;
3 - 5 dead bodies or surrogate dead bodies
(could use dummies or cut-outs if short of live people).
Note: this requires rehearsal,
particularly exactly who will do what in grabbing 'Evel' and
his bike so no one is hurt, knocked or run over. Safety first!
This piece can be repeated at regular intervals and/or in
resources on the war
At this stage most people probably have their own sources
of information, and a number of people are doing 'samizdat'
circulars. But organisations such as the Justice Not Terror
Coalition locally email@example.com
and the War Resisters International firstname.lastname@example.org
regularly send out copies of interesting material to their
internal groups. - you can ask to be added to the list (the
latter would include more general anti-militarist material
as well). The WRI's website has information on actions; www.wri-irg.org
For online information and debate in Ireland,
including almost instant reports from activists, the Indymedia
(Independent Media Centre) site at www.indymedia.ie
is a good source. The Shannon Peace Camp/House site is at
The website of the Irish Anti-War Movement is at www.irishantiwar.org
In terms of English-language newspaper coverage some of the
best is at the British Guardian's site www.guardian.co.uk/iraq