Highlights

 
Quotable
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps the most to be dreaded because it compromises and develops the germ of every other.
James Madison
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
August 5, 2004

UK Activist Sees Opening in Iraq Failure


by Jim Lobe

MONTREAL - The failure of the UK/U.S.-led coalition to implant democracy in Iraq has prompted deep soul-searching in the British civil service and opened the door for progressive organizations to influence its policy, says one long-time activist.

Whereas three years ago groups proposing alternatives to peace and security issues "couldn't get inside the door at all," now senior bureaucrats reply, "that's quite interesting, come to lunch," says John Sloboda, executive director of the Oxford Research Group and co-founder of the website Iraq Body Count.

"You have to be a bit suspicious: are they trying to buy us off?" he added half- jokingly, in a talk to peace activists in Montreal on Monday.

Sloboda, a professor of psychology at the University of Keele in central England stressed that he wants to discuss the way forward for the peace movement rather than the success of Iraq Body Count, which has become the recognized authority for the number of civilian causalities in that nation (11,429 - 13,398, depending on reports, as of this writing).

First, said Sloboda, perched on the edge of a table in front of about 20 activists in a small café in the heart of the city, the peace movement should celebrate its successes prior to the U.S.-led attack on Iraq in March 2003.

"All the questioning that is going on now in public life is a result of our action," said Sloboda, who estimates last year's anti-war protests delayed the launch of the U.S.- UK campaign by six months.

He also urged activists to not despair that they had been unable to call millions of people into the streets again as they did during the global anti-war marches of February 2003.

"People will turn out again in large numbers when the time is right," said Sloboda, stressing that the strength of small movements working independently but in contact with one another is that if one fails or is destroyed by authorities, the others will continue operating.

Another sign of the peace movement's success in Britain is that the ministry of defense, foreign and commonwealth office and the department for international development have created a liaison group that includes key members of non- governmental organizations (NGOs), he said.

"They meet us regularly and they listen to what we have to say," according to Sloboda. What the activists tell the policy-makers is that they need "a whole new way of thinking about war and peace (and about) the impulses in our society which actually are making things worse than better," he added.

"(We) really articulate for governments what are non-military (approaches) to preventing war," explains Sloboda. "We arm civil servants with resources (and ask:) 'before you go to war, have you thought of this?'"

Those ideas include an analysis that argues the immediate cause of many of today's conflicts is resources, particularly oil – as in Iraq – says Sloboda. Other experts, including in the Pentagon, have already predicted that fights over water will be the main source of conflict in coming years, he adds.

The reason: "massive, profligate over-consumption," says Sloboda, concluding that sustainable development is the path to future peace and security.

What that also means is that global peace, environmental and anti-globalization movements are actually struggling for the same ends, he adds.

Meanwhile the tally on the Iraq Body Count website turns over faster and faster. "Every sign that we have is that the number of civilians dying violent deaths is going up month by month," Sloboda says.

Optimists predict the war and occupation of Iraq have unleashed violence and instability that will reign in the region for a decade; pessimists predict 30 years, he adds.

But Sloboda is encouraged that Iraq Body Count, which was conceived as a tool for public awareness about civilian deaths, is being used by other activists with more specific aims. For instance, one group, Peace Rights, is sifting through IBC's 500 reports of casualties from April's U.S. military siege of the city of Fallujah to find evidence that could be used in a public inquiry of the event.

Another organization plans to use information provided in the website's reports to launch lawsuits against individual soldiers that the group believes it can prove were responsible for deaths of specific Iraqi civilians.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • US Jews Open to Palestinian Unity Govt
    3/26/2009

  • Bipartisan Experts Urge 'Partnership' With Russia
    3/17/2009

  • Obama Administration Insists It's Neutral in Salvador Poll
    3/14/2009

  • NGOs Hail Congressional Moves to Ease Embargo
    3/12/2009

  • Call to 'Resist and Deter' Nuclear Iran Gains Key Support
    3/7/2009

  • Washington Ends Diplomatic Embargo of Syria
    3/4/2009

  • Diplomatic, Aid Spending Set to Rise Under Obama Budget
    2/28/2009

  • Many Muslims Reject Terror Tactics, Back Some Goals
    2/26/2009

  • Lugar Report Calls for New Cuba Policy
    2/24/2009

  • U.S.-Israel Storm Clouds Ahead?
    2/20/2009

  • Calls Mount for Obama to Appoint 'Truth Commission'
    2/20/2009

  • Washington's Praise of Venezuelan Vote Suggests D├ętente
    2/19/2009

  • Rightward Shift in Israeli Polls Creates New Headaches
    2/13/2009

  • US Advised to Back Somalia Reconciliation Efforts
    2/12/2009

  • Hawks Urge Boosting Military Spending
    2/5/2009

  • More Troops, More Worries,
    Less Consensus on Afghanistan
    2/4/2009

  • Report: Most Citizens Kept in Dark on Govt Spending
    2/2/2009

  • Obama Raises Hopes of
    Mideast Experts
    1/28/2009

  • Obama Picks Israel-Arab, Afghanistan-Pakistan Negotiators
    1/23/2009

  • Rights Groups Applaud Move to Halt Gitmo Trials
    1/22/2009

  • Obama Offers Internationalist Vision
    1/21/2009

  • Around the World, High Hopes for Obama
    1/20/2009

  • Liberals, Realists Set to Clash in Obama Administration
    1/19/2009

  • Obama Urged to Take Bold Steps Toward Cuba Normalization
    1/15/2009

  • Clinton Stresses 'Cooperative Engagement,' 'Smart Power'
    1/14/2009

  • Bush Foreign Policy Legacy Widely Seen as Disastrous
    1/14/2009

  • Networks' Int'l News Coverage at Record Low in 2008
    1/6/2009

  • Amnesty Calls on Rice to Drop 'Lopsided' Gaza Stance
    1/3/2009

  • Israeli Attack May Complicate Obama's Plans
    12/30/2008

  • Report: Recognizing Hamas Could Help Peace
    12/19/2008

  • Business Groups Support Dismantling Cuba Embargo
    12/8/2008

  • Mumbai Massacre Seen as Major Blow to Regional Strategy
    12/5/2008

  • Obama Urged to Quickly Engage Iran, Syria
    12/3/2008

  • Diplomacy, Multilateralism Stressed by Obama Team
    12/2/2008

  • Obama Foreign Policy: Realists to Reign?
    11/28/2008

  • Hemispheric Group Calls for Major Changes in Americas Policy
    11/25/2008

  • Greybeards Urge Overhaul of Global Governance
    11/21/2008

  • Intelligence Analysts See Multi-Polar, Risky World By 2025
    11/21/2008

  • Obama Urged to Strengthen Ties with UN
    11/20/2008

  • Obama-Tied Think-Tank Calls for Pakistan Shift
    11/18/2008

  • Obama Advised to Forgo More Threats to Iran
    11/17/2008

  • First, Close Gitmo,
    Say Rights Groups
    11/11/2008

  • Obama's Foreign Policy:
    No Sharp Break From Bush
    11/11/2008

  • Coca Cultivation Up Despite Six Years of Plan Colombia
    11/7/2008

  • Obama to Seek Global Re-engagement, But How Much?
    11/6/2008

  • Two, Three, Many Grand Bargains?
    11/3/2008

  • Moving Towards a 'Grand Bargain' in Afghanistan
    10/19/2008

  • Top Ex-Diplomats Slam 'Militarization' of Foreign Policy
    10/16/2008

  • Bush Set to Go With a Whimper, Not a Bang
    10/15/2008

  • Pakistan 'Greatest Single Challenge' to Next President
    10/8/2008

  • Senate Passes Nuke Deal Over Escalation Fears
    10/3/2008

  • Brief Talks With Syria Spur Speculation
    10/1/2008

  • Iran Resolution Shelved in Rare Defeat for AIPAC
    9/27/2008

  • Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World
    9/25/2008

  • White House Still Cautious on Georgia
    9/6/2008

  • US' Somalia Policy Likely to Bring Blowback
    9/4/2008

  • Iran Could Reap Benefits of U.S.-Russian Tensions
    8/28/2008

  • A Really Bad Couple of Weeks for Pax Americana
    8/24/2008

  • Success of Attack on Iran's Nuclear Program Doubtful
    8/9/2008

  • US Gets No Traction in the Middle East
    8/5/2008

  • Gates Strategy Stresses Unconventional Warfare
    8/1/2008

  • Air Force Think Tank Advises Against Iran Attack
    7/31/2008

  • Pakistani PM May Be Pincushion for U.S. Frustration
    7/26/2008

  • Realists Urge Bush to Drop Iran Precondition
    7/23/2008

  • McCain Knee-Capped by Maliki
    7/22/2008

  • Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service's correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com