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The Feb 15 Call for Global Protests for Democracy, Solidarity and Justice

[Washington, DC protest against the war in Iraq in 2008. Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr] [Washington, DC protest against the war in Iraq in 2008. Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr]

[The following statement was issued by an international group of activists and scholars on 15 February 2013.]

Ten years ago, millions of people around the world said "no" to war on February 15, 2003. Now, we say "yes" to peace; "yes" to demilitarizing, to having decent lives, including economic lives, determined by democratic principles. 

The invasion of Iraq still began after the 2003 protests, but the violence wreaked by Bush was still more limited than the U.S. government inflicted on Vietnam a generation earlier. Our vigilance was part of the reason for that. Had we acted sooner, we might have been able to avert the disastrous invasion. The lesson is we need more global protest and solidarity, not less. Indeed, had we continued vigorously protesting, we might not have seen the years since 2003 show a lack of accountability for the war makers, even as conscientious whilstleblowers are prosecuted. 

This isn't a reunion party. The same impulses that drove us to the streets in 2003 are still with us; the same war mindset prevails world affairs. Politicians who backed the Iraq war dominate the U.S., UK and other foreign policy establishments. The dominant media's demonization of Iran is similar to what it did to Iraq. The U.S. escalated its war in Afghanistan and launched a series of smaller "dirty wars" in Yemen, Pakistan with illegal drone killings and now, with AFRICOM and other mechanisms, threatens perpetual war in Africa as well as the Mideast. The Obama administration's "pivot East" threatens a Cold War or worse with China. 

The Arab uprisings displaced some dictators -- most successfully when done peacefully by the people in spite of violence by the regimes, as in Tunisia and Egypt. But the oppressive regimes of the Gulf have not only escaped real scrutiny, they are actually molding much of the rest of the region in conjunction with the U.S. and other outside powers -- even has the U.S. proclaims its support for "democracy." Much of the wealth from the Gulf states flows to Western banks, as well as the dictators and their cliques, rather than to benefit the people of that region. The Palestinian people continue to suffer not only the neo-liberal dominance, as much of the world does, but also the settler colonialism of Israeli forces. 

These issues are not unique to the Mideast -- the U.S. has over 1000 bases around the world. The U.S. and Russia have tens of thousands of nuclear war heads threatening life on earth. A fundamental transformation is needed. The United Nations has failed in its paramount duty to shield future generations from the scourge of war. 

We don't just say "no" to war -- we say "yes" to peace, we say yes to building economic and social systems that are not dominated by central banks and huge financial institutions. We don't just say "no" to war -- we demand an end to massive resources being squandered on the military while billions are made poorer and poorer as a few reap huge wealth totally disproportionate to any labor or ingenuity or their own. 

We don't just say "no" to war. we reject an economic system that in the name of "economic competitiveness" pits workers against each other in regions and nations so they accept work for less and less pay in worse and worse conditions. From the seeds of antiwar that were planted ten years ago, we want a flowering of global democracy. So we can honestly say "We the People" without the hierarchies based on ethnicity, gender, class or nationality. 

The rise of the "occupy" movement, the Indignados, Idle No More movement has been critical, but we must set up more durable structures, to go beyond merely occupying to liberating and to being connected across nation borders. The quest for profit and perpetual financial growth has enriched a tiny minority while causing hardships to the vast majority. The quest for perpetual financial growth and profit has ravaged the earth so that we today face unprecedented threats to the possibility of sustaining a livable habitat for future generations. The quest for profit and perpetual financial growth has corrupted virtually every system in the society, from government to housing to transportation to education to the legal system. The dominance of finance and military must end; the targeting of the social safety net must end. We, the people, must not pay for a crisis we did not cause, and for wars that are fought in the name of our security – but which ensure perpetual global insecurity and hardship. 

[Part of the need building of durable structures that liberate is to globalize and coordinate protests. These could be done regularly, even monthly beginning March 15 and going onward.]

Solidarity demands much greater communication between the people of the world, not elites planning for their continued dominance. The response to the decline of U.S. power is not a smarter use of power, or a balance of power with other elites with their own hierarchies. Instead, we issue "This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation" and establish meaningful solidarity with people worldwide. 

Signers so far:

As'ad AbuKhalil, California State University, angryarab.net, author The Battle for Saudi Arabia
Junaid Ahmad, Lahore University of Management Sciences  
Christine Ahn, Korea Policy Institute
Noam Chomsky, MIT, author of Hegemony or Survival and Power Systems
Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
Bill Fletcher, former with TransAfrica and AFL-CIO. co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal and author of Solidarity Divided
Arun Gupta, co-founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal and The Indypendent
Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy
Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
David Marty, International Organization for a Participatory Society in Spain and co-author of Occupy Strategy
Harpreet Paul, solicitor, blogger at Znet
David Swanson, RootsAction.org, author of War is a Lie
Deborah Toler, formerly of Institute for Food and Development Policy and Oxfam America

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