The International Solidarity Forum will be held on May 24th in Osaka and on May 25th in Tokyo. The Forum is sponsored by the MDS (Movement for Democratic Socialism), which has been actively waging campaigns in Japan to stop the Iraq war. SATO Kazuyoshi, President of the MDS speaks to FLAG OF UNITY on why the MDS holds the Solidarity Forum now.
Justice on the Side of People
Q: What is the meaning of the Iraq war?
It was a war for oil, as clearly seen from the occupation policy proposed by the US. Shamelessly and scandalously, they grabbed the oil fields. This is also the war in the interest of capitalists in the defense industries. US forces did nothing to stop the looting in Baghdad while they did everything possible to protect the Ministry of Oil. I can see clearly that the expected profit from the Iraqi oil sale plays the central role in the US design to cover the war expenditure as well as to pay the huge sum of money in the contracts awarded to Bechtel and Halliburton for the reconstruction work. In the meantime, the war revealed absurdity, indecency and lack of fairness of global capitalism.
The US attacked Iraq on the excuse that the Iraqi government is in possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). But they have never found a piece of WMD. And before you know it, the US claims that the object of the war is democratization of Iraq.
I watched Bush declaring "the end of war" on TV on May 1st. The scene reminds me of a scene from a Hollywood movie entitled "Independence Day." Bush touched down on the aircraft carrier Lincoln out of a warplane triumphantly just like a movie hero did. His appearance was tasteless and he looked so stupid. He and his aides obviously have no pain on their conscience that US and allied military forces killed many innocent civilians and ruined the life in Iraq.
Their spy satellites must have transmitted them multitudes of images about what is happening in Iraq. Some people would think of the way how bombing should be carried out while others would imagine daily life of the Iraqi people. Which people would be more humane and more cultivated?
In Iraq, people had their steady life in bazaars, surrounded by wealth of natural environment with pride in a longest history of human life since B.C. Whatever the US have done to Iraq are vile in every possible way. US military forces dropped bombs on the Iraqi people in cold blood and after the bombing, they demand that the profit from oil sale should be used for reconstruction. It is like a burglar broke into a house and destroyed everything in there. Then he demands that the victims should pay the cost of repairs and rebuilding.
On the other hand, what are we in solidarity with the people of the world who marched and protested against the Iraq war?
As a slogan "Start Seeing Iraqi Children" says, we started with watching video films about Iraqi children who have been suffering from radiation of deplete uranium, eventually reaching a consensus that children should not suffer any more. And we said, "No Blood for Oil," that is, "Don't make a war out of greed for oil or no blood should be shed for oil interest."
We may not be in touch with the people of a distant country everyday. But when we became awaken to their pains and approaching danger to their life, we wanted to stop it before it started by uniting with the like-minded people of the world, putting pressure on our own government of Japan, which shamelessly followed the acts of the US government. You see the big difference between those who have a big imagination to think about the sufferings of the people and those who were designing how to kill them. Don't you see which side will be beneficial to the future of human beings and represent the right of human beings.
I don't see any justification for the global capitalism. I don't think that the global capitalists are qualified to shoulder the 21st century. Nor can they survive the 21st century.
Who Could Move the World?
Q: What is the significance of anti-war movement?
You need to pay attention to the people's power as "another superpower" in the sense that they prevented the war at an early stage delaying the actual military operation.
Although the attack against Iraq took place despite our anti-war efforts, it is important to note that the movement held the planned war in abeyance for several months. We should gain confidence in the power over the global situation.
Even though Bush declared that the war is ended, another war is continuing between war makers of global capitalism and us in the peace movement. It is a battle to decide which will take the leadership in the 21st century.
Should we let the jingoistic global capitalism drive the whole earth to extinction or should we act to prevent wars? In other words, are we determined to dismantle a system, where a war is made systematically to bring profits to defense industries as well as to oil industries? Ours is not an individual anti-war action to stop this particular war or that one. We are at more advanced stage to fight against the system itself, the major cause of wars.
Now, as I said before, people gained confidence through the recent activities. That is to say, people realized that it is not true that global capitalists push the world around as they please. People are no longer powerless or voiceless. People power has appeared on the stage of history because their voice should be heard to create the better world.
Japan's movement is no exception. For example, Japanese youths had been considered most oppressed seemingly indifferent to politics. They seldom participated in the protest march, nor did they speak out their objections. However, this time young men and women have changed. They began to speak out. The change came from their confidence. While the mass media is spreading the image of the falling Hussein statue indicating that the war has ended, Japanese youths who have participated in anti-war efforts are not disappointed. On the contrary, they talk about the new direction for their next campaign. When the coalition of Bush, Blair and Koizumi of global capitalism joined their hands in carrying out the war, oppositions were also united to fight back at the same time. I am glad that such significant development has taken place in the beginning of the 21st century because there is a prospect that the 21st century made its first step to build a society of democratic socialism, which is capable of sustaining peace and democracy.
In Pursuit of Responsibility of Corporate Profiteers
Q: What strategy will be required to tackle with the problem of occupied Iraq?
Naturally we have to demand withdrawal of US troops because the Iraq occupation by US forces is clearly unjust. And it should be the people of Iraq that choose their own government and rebuild their own country.
What did the United States do? They faked the images of Hussein's statue being pulled down. By bombarding a camera crew of the al-Jazeera TV and the stronghold of Reuters, they put pressure on medias sending the message "Don't take overall view of the scene by any means." If the picture of the same scene was taken from a distance away, anybody can tell right away that there were not many people gathered in the area except for the small area around the statue.
US troops encouraged looting and pillage. Important cultural articles of historical value were no exception. The US encouraged Iraqi mob to steal anything and everything from the governmental agency or stores to produce the total chaos in the city of Baghdad. They needed justification for the occupation. They wanted to give the impression that the present regime collapsed and that the situation in Iraq is totally out of control, so the world should know that the occupation of Iraq is absolutely needed.
Occupation forces showed their true color when they fired at a group of nonviolent demonstrators, and slaughtered them. They are not there to liberate the Iraqi people, but to slaughter them.
Moreover, we have to investigate the reconstruction-related undertakings and oil-related business, which would bring in huge profits. They must learn the lesson that they could not make profits from people's blood. We should not let them get away with excuses they might invent. "Wars don't pay," that is the message we should convey to every industrialist of the capitalist's world.
Don't allow Japan's Self-Defense Forces to cooperate with the US in the occupation of Iraq. Not to mention war crimes, the damage caused by the war must be investigated. Especially war crimes committed by the winners should be investigated by any means. An International Criminal Tribunal or the like should be set up to prosecute Bush, Blair and Koizumi. For this, we need strong international solidarity.
By the Power of International Solidarity
Q: The MDS is holding International Forums on May 24th and 25th. What do you want to accomplish at the meetings?
Our protest demonstration against the Iraqi war is completed for the time being. It is time to reconsider and reconfirm the meaning of anti-war movement. It is people who move the world and people have that power. We will continue to fight against the war-mongers of global capitalism. We will move in the direction of disassembling the war-system itself. We must join hands with the people in the anti-war peace movement throughout the world. The MDS Forum is an opportunity to review what we have achieved and to find out the new direction for the next stage. This is the crucial time to think about the future.
Do not trivialize our campaign by concentrating only on the activities against emergency legislation. The national campaign should be designed always in broader perspective with any eye on international law and international humanitarian law. We have to stop the Self-Defense Forces from the deployment in Iraq to assist occupation under planning by the Japanese government. It is one more step to emasculate our Constitution preceding the above-mentioned legislation. We have to not only work on domestic political leadership in the Diet but also cooperate with the people around the globe with due regard for international law.
For us to materialize the international solidarity, we have to conquer the weakness of the anti-war movement peculiar to Japan. As of last December, to Japanese activists, an anti-war rally meant a meeting to debate on the measures to oppose the national emergency legislation without even mentioning the word Iraq war. They did not even realize that the global peace movement formed the united front to stop the war on Iraq in those days. In January, overall situation improved a little in Japan. However, the narrow vision of the Japanese anti-war movement helped Koizumi make a decision to support the Iraq war.
It is important to build the unity in terms of shared goal among the anti-war and peace groups. We have always appealed to Japanese public "Let's march in protest with the same slogan on the same day with the activists of the world."
I want to introduce to the Japanese people the UK-based Stop the War Coalition which led two million people in demonstration in London and other international anti-war groups, and to clarify the meaning of the global solidarity at the MSD Forum. (May 5)
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