"Let us step up our actions against this unjust war!"

"We have always held that our contribution to the cause of world peace is by how much we prevent our own city and port and country from being used as a base against other peoples and nations."

Editor's Note: For the information of our readers interested in Canada's participation in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and the response of Canadians we are reproducing the speech given by Tony Seed on behalf of the People's Front (Halifax) to the mass rally against the Gulf War of some 800 people held at the Casino Theatre, Halifax, 12 January 1991. The country's first offensive military action since the Korean War was met with large-scale protests from coast to coast by Canadians, but all "major" political parties (Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Reform) endorsed the war. The invasion of Iraq, with the terrible consequences, was launched on 15 January 1991, three days later. Not all the speech was given due to constraints of time.

A dangerous situation prevails in the Middle Bast which is causing grave concern amongst people everywhere. An ominous threat of war with unimaginable consequences is being orchestrated by George H Bush arid the US in the name of the United Nations and high-sounding ideals.

On November 29, the UN Security Council, with a vote of 12 for, 2 against and one abstention voted that its members are authorized "to use all necessary means to uphold and implement the Security Council Resolution 660." US Secretary of State James Baker then said "We must meet the threat to international peace created by Saddam Hussein's aggression. If Iraq does not reverse its course peacefully, then other necessary measures, including force, should be authorized." Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has repeatedly stated that "Peace would be fatally undermined if nations like Canada failed to take appropriate measures arid the United Nations was weakened." Joe Clark asks rhetorically, "Does this mean that force will be used?" He answered: "That is up to Iraq. It is not yet too late to solve this peacefully, and that is the desire of us all." The Iraqi UN ambassador said that "Iraq calls for peace. It desires peace not for us alone but for the entire Middle East region."

Since all these declarations in late November, the threat of war has become very grave. The People's Front does not agree with either George Bush or James Baker, Mulroney or Clark, nor with Iraq, even though this may look strange to some. How is it that all these people, who profess to be for peace, claim that peace will emerge out of war? They do so because they have interests other than those of the people. This is why they are bringing humanity to the brink today. Only a peaceful solution can guarantee peace. This means that all foreign forces withdraw from the region, the export of arms to the region be ended, and Iraq withdraw from Kuwait and the sovereignty of the country be respected.

"International UN Coalition"

But we cannot have any illusions about securing "peacekeeping" from the U.N. or that this is an "international" "coalition" -- or that the problem with the coalition is that it is "not international enough". Not only has Bush distorted the U.N. mandate as an instrument for war. But for some to advocate U.N. action -- without condemning the US means to support US intervention -- is to bring a fig leaf for what is naked US aggression. The call to "internationalize" intervention serves the US aims. The US has always tried to hide its hand so as not to be isolated or condemned by selling its invasions as "international peace-keeping forces", as in Grenada. The US has 415,000 troops there. It is altogether wrong to promote that war is the will of the international community. The United Nations cannot be an organ of a great power, or a handful of big powers. Only a UN force which did not include troops from any aggressive power could be considered. But this would mean that the US, Britain, France, the Soviet Union, whose troops are marching on Lithuania, and Canada should be barred from having any forces there. The US, Canada, Britain and others sat by for decades while South Africa occupied Namibia. They have issued no threats or sanctions against Israel, which dispersed the Palestinians and continues to occupy the West Bank and Gaza after more than 23 years. There have been many UN resolutions passed opposing this illegal occupation. Nor has the UN taken further action against Israel. Why are they not so patient with Iraq? This should convince even the most credulous that all the parties in this case are wrong, and that war between them will not bring peace.

Our principles on the question of war

Our opposition and action springs from two principles:

1. We are opposed to this unjust war.

2. We are opposed to all unjust, aggressive wars and their main cause -- the international imperialist system of enslavement and world domination.

These parties are not interested in peace because they precisely have such interests -- the redivision of the Middle East, its resources, its strong points, between them.

Our approach in Halifax

In Halifax, we proceed from two principles. Halifax is the most heavily militarized city in Canada. This is an objective fact. This "fact" is used by the media and others to create a blackmail over the people that, "well, after all, you can't ac much -- 12 per cent of the population is dependent on the military". We reject this blackmail. Let us turn this "fact" into its opposite. We have always held that our contribution to the cause of world peace is by how much we prevent our own city and port and country from being used as a base against other peoples and nations. On this basis, we acted against the "visits" of the warships of the US and Soviet superpowers -- the same ships now in the Gulf and Red Sea. We acted against the deployment of Canadian warships from the harbour of Halifax to the Caribbean and off Central America. We acted with cultural workers and NSCAD students against the National Film Board producing such military training films as "Nuclear Chemical Warfare", which is now being used in the Gulf. We acted on August 22, 1990 -- before the deployment of Canadian warships to the Middle East and the big "ceremony" and media party at the naval dockyards on August 25 -- with a mass picket at the US Consulate. We have consistently explained we cannot have any illusions about the role of the UN at this time nor of the warmongering role of the US and the Mulroney government.

Our perspective and tasks

Now let us look past the so-called "countdown" to January 15th.

The question of peace is not just a sentiment, it is a fundamental democratic right. All nations, all peoples have this right, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. Let us turn our sentiment for peace, our ideals into deeds to preserve and guarantee this right.

What social force will act against this unjust war? Not the warmakers. The people of our city -- workers, port workers, the rank and file in the Forces, the youth and students, women -- all peace-loving people.

The fine words of the religious speakers thus should not be just addressed to us: they should be addressed to the members of their congregation in the Armed Forces being deployed to the Middle East. That the leaders of these great powers who sanctify themselves as doing God's work are not religious people.

The fine words of the union speakers should not be just addressed to us, but to the shipyard and other port workers, to oppose the government and prepare for industrial action against such an unjust war, to refuse to unload ships with war materiel, to declare it hot cargo.

The fine words of the NDP should not be just addressed to us, but to their constituency. If you are genuinely for peace, then speak out clearly against US intervention and oppose the deployment of Canadian warships without creating any illusions about them that they should play a "humanitarian" role as hospital ships in the Persian Gulf.

Our sentiment for peace is just, our ideals are lofty, we need analysis, education, mobilization and especially organization if we are to defeat the warmaking course of the Mulroney government. This is our objective. We rely on our own forces.

For our part, we will undertake to publish a regular bulletin against the war which is most needed.

We will continue to unite with all those opposed to the war whatever their religious or political affiliation, sex, race or origin on the basis of unity in action.

Let us step up our actions against this unjust war!

Let us organize no war! committees everywhere. The slogans on our banner speak loud our stand:





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