New Internationalist

Forward march!

Issue 381

Nonviolent action can help Iraq move closer to peace. Jo Wilding makes some suggestions.

As overwhelming as the bombing was in Iraq, if you were underneath it (like me) it was less than had been expected. And it was the world-wide protest by people like you that made it so. People often ask me what they can now do to help the Iraqis. Here’s seven ways to start:

ONE: Lobby politicians to drop Majority World debts unconditionally. Debt – created by arms sales and exacerbated by sanctions – laid the groundwork for control of Iraq’s economy and resources by foreign corporations, the International Monetary Fund and Western creditor countries. Following the invasion, Iraq was forced to privatize state-owned industries in exchange for debt relief, which benefits corporations (especially oil companies) and defrauds the people: a guaranteed way to cause anger, resentment… and therefore more conflict. (More reading: www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk ; www.data.org ; and www.jubileeiraq.org )

TWO: Choose a local arms dealer, military base or dodgy transnational and do what you can to expose its complicity in the Iraq conflict. Amongst the top war profiteers in Iraq are Aegis, Bechtel and Halliburton. (More reading: www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk ; www.corpwatch.org ; www.caat.org.uk )

THREE: If you can, transfer your phone service to a telephone co-op. Almost all the other telecommunications companies are huge and unpleasant transnationals, lots of which are investing in Iraq – Motorola, Vodafone, Argent (New Zealand), Alcatel (France), Nokia, Lucent and MCI WorldCom, for example. (More reading: www.thephone.coop ; www.ethicalconsumer.org )

FOUR: Join a car club or co-op if you only occasionally need a car. You’ll use it less, take up fewer parking spaces and promote common ownership instead of buying privately.

FIVE: Research your bank’s investment policies and priorities. If they’re using your money to bankroll arms dealers, dictators or sweatshops then harass them relentlessly till they stop. (More reading: www.mindbranch.com ; www.ethicalconsumer.org )

SIX: Become a vegan or vegetarian. Just as they were centuries ago, wars today (particularly the one in Iraq) are still about resources. Your decision to switch from animal- to plant-based eating would immediately slash your dependency on resources by both saving hundreds of litres of water, and using less land and fossil fuels. (More reading: www.viva.org.uk , www.vegansociety.org )

SEVEN: Join a co-operative. It could be a food co-op, a credit union or even a worker-run co-operative. We won’t stop the next war unless we break down the economic conditions that demand wars. Belonging to a workers’ co-op means that you – not the boss or a group of faceless shareholders – will control your work, so you can’t be forced to make something unethical or trade on unfair terms. (More reading: NI 368; www.ica.coop )

Jo Wilding is an activist, writer, trainee lawyer and clown who spent eight months in Iraq before, during and after the 2003 invasion.

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