ON 18 January, the growing anti-war movement in the US took another important step forward. A crowd of over 200,000 marched on the Naval Yard in Washington DC.
The protest was very diverse with large numbers of high school and college students but also many veterans of the 60s antiwar movement and many people who had never been to a demonstration before in their lives.
Meanwhile, another 50,000 people rallied in San Francisco, and thousands more demonstrated in Portland, Oregon and other cities across the US. The anger against the Bush administration's relentless drive towards war against Iraq was palpable in Washington DC.
Increasing numbers of people clearly see the war preparations as having little or nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction and everything to do with control of the oil supplies of the Middle East.
Opposition to the war is also being fuelled by domestic factors; almost 200,000 jobs were lost across the US in November and December alone.
Large sections of the population are deeply uneasy when they see estimates of war costs running into the hundreds of billions. And it will not be the rich who will have to fight and possibly die on the streets of Baghdad but working class and minority youth.
It is very significant that a number of trade unions and labour councils have taken a strong stand against the war. Recently, 100 delegates representing over two million organised workers formed US Labor Against the War at a meeting in Chicago.
Unfortunately, organised la-bour was not particularly visible in DC. More prominent were various religious and pacifist groupings.
Among the keynote speakers were Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton who invoked the memory of Martin Luther King without mentioning King's increasing opposition to capitalism at the time of his assassination.
Not a word was heard from the platform against the Democratic Party who, despite their occasional differences with the Republicans, are every bit as tied to big business and have prosecuted most of America's imperialist wars in the past.
The ideas of Socialist Alternative, which calls for the building of a new political party to represent the interests of working people and all the oppressed in America, were well received.
Over 450 copies of our paper Justice were sold. The next major antiwar protest in the US will be in New York City on 15 February and this could potentially be even bigger than last Saturday's DC demo.
It will also be part of a coordinated international day of protest against the war which aims to mobilise 10 million worldwide.
THOUSANDS OF people marched against Bush's war plans on Saturday 18 February in Christchurch and in Dunedin, New Zealand. The protests were held as part of an international day of action against the threat of a war with Iraq and followed a demonstration just two days earlier outside the US embassy in Wellington.
In Dunedin, members of the newly formed CWI group, Socialist Alternative, were heavily involved in planning and organising for the 'J18' day of action, distributing hundreds of leaflets and collecting hundreds of signatures for a petition demanding that the Labour-led government cease all military and political support for the US-led 'war on terrorism'.
Noticeably absent however were the trade union leaders who, despite a New Zealand Council of Trade Unions resolution opposing a war with Iraq, did absolutely nothing to mobilise for the event. This meant that most of the speakers at the rally were from members of the local establishment such as the Mayor and the Dean of the Anglican Cathedral.
In contrast, Socialist Alternative member Tim Bowron, speaking from the platform, emphasised that: "...a new war with Iraq, if it comes, will represent not just the work of one crazed individual - George W. Bush - but rather the logical outcome of a system that puts the needs of the wealthy few before the lives of millions of ordinary people...
"As long as this system remains in place we will never be rid of war, poverty and oppression...we must begin to build a socialist alternative."
OVER 10,000 people assembled in Toronto braving sub-freezing temperatures to protest against the war on Iraq.
Protesters included trade unionists from the Canadian Auto Workers, the UNITE textiles union, the steelworkers, teachers and other unions, various church, Muslim and Jewish groups, war veterans and pensioners, high school and university students and the Left. Another rally is planned for February to build on this excellent event.
MEMBERS AND supporters of the Socialist Party (Australian section of the CWI) joined with the Victorian Peace Network to hold a protest outside the Army Recruiting Office, Melbourne on 17 January.
The protest was to present the results from balloting Victorians in 16 suburbs (two cities) over the past weeks. 87% voted against the war plans of Bush!
After running a stall outside the office to great support, four representatives went inside the Army Office with the media in tow. When 'Chubb' security personnel refused to accept our ballot results, one of the protesters tipped the ballot bag contents over the head of a particularly uncooperative security guard!
We were told that the Melbourne Times will carry a photo and article on the protest, which will greatly help bring our anti-war campaign to a wide audience.