'Only a movement can bring lasting change'

Issue 

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BY PIP HINMAN

As the bombing of Afghanistan continues and ground troops move in, many more are increasingly horrified at Bush and Howard's so-called "war on terrorism".

Why is Australia going to war against one of the poorest countries in the world, where eight million people have already been displaced by famine and civil war, a country which Pentagon officials complain is "not target-rich"?

This is a war to end terrorism, we're told. But isn't it true that while 83 countries have ratified the UN conventions against terrorism, the US government hasn't?

Isn't it true that the US government has trained and continues to train terrorists and torturers around the world, and September 11 "prime suspect" Osama bin Laden was just one of the graduates from this grisly CIA school?

Isn't it true that the Taliban was trained and equipped by the US and its client military regime in Pakistan?

Isn't it true that this same Pakistan military dictatorship that officered and supplied the Taliban army until recently is now being offered more military aid by the US?

Growing numbers of people around the world are beginning to see that this is not a war against terrorism, but a continuation of a war that the leaders of the rich countries have been waging against the people of the poor countries for decades.

Labor MP Anthony Albanese has been distributing Labor's 10-point plan to fight terrorism. It is what you'd expect from a so-called opposition that's running full-steam behind Howard's pro-war campaign.

Here's a very different 10-point plan to eliminate global terrorism:

* Stop arming dictatorial regimes.

* Stop training the troops of repressive regimes.

* Stop fostering "friendly" terrorist groups.

* Wipe the Third World debt.

* End the drive to enhance global corporate exploitation.

* Increase untied humanitarian aid to the Third World.

* End the war against refugees.

* Demand that the US ratify UN conventions against terrorism.

* Make the UN Security Council representative of and accountable to the UN General Assembly.

* Support consistent implementation of UN resolutions, especially on Palestine.

I want to see an end to terror but I don't support a war that inflicts terror on Afghan civilians in retribution for the crime of September 11. Such a war will not end terrorism; it will spread it.

An end to global terror will only come about if we act in solidarity with the world's most oppressed and exploited peoples.

The sea of global misery, brought about by a drive by the world's corporate super-rich to become even richer, is now reaching Australia. A tiny fraction of the world's 30 million refugees are risking their lives trying to reach a safe haven, only to be turned away by Australia's crack SAS troops.

Shame on the Howard government for that — but shame on Labor too. Labor has joined Howard's wedge politics — a dangerous, dirty and totally morally bankrupt game. But Labor won't make headway by trying to out-racist the racists.

Socialist Alliance is firmly committed to building a movement to stop this war. We're confident that this movement will grow from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands. Not possible? Remember that the Australian government of the day began with local public support for the war in Vietnam — it was "all the way with LBJ" — but it soon lost that.

Today it's "all the way with Bush and Blair" — but our politicians will soon choke on that too.

As the war on Afghan people unfolds, it's crucial that the anti-war and anti-racist movement broadens out and gets better organised. We should take inspiration from the movement overseas: the so-called consensus behind Bush and Howard is only a consensus of the elites.

[Pip Hinman is a Socialist Alliance candidate for the Senate in NSW. This article is an abridged version of a speech given to the October 19 Newtown community march against war and racism.]