Rather than write a ponderous introduction to an issue which already runs to 182 pages, I've dug up an old leaflet I wrote for the Direct Anti War Action coalition in those hectic weeks before the invasion of Iraq and asked Muzzlehatch to run it after the contents pages. The leaflet one of the tens of thousands of quickly-written and quickly-written pieces of propaganda that any large political campaign throws up - the 'flat ephemeral pamphlets' of Auden's 'Spain' - but it will hopefully lend an edge to the poems, essays, letters, and short stories in brief #34, by reminding us that the catastrophe of the past few years was not inevitable, even if it was forseen by those of us on the left of the anti-war movement.
OPPOSE BUSH’S WAR – GROUND THE ORION!
To Whenuapai workers – in and out of uniform!
We are picketing this airbase to protest the Clark government’s plans to send an RNZ Air force Orion to the Persian Gulf to support Bush’s war for oil in Iraq. Working with the frigate Te Kaha, the Orion will be asked to identify and plot the movements of every ship passing through the only sea access to Iraq. Information collected by the Orion and Te Kaha will be fed to the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. In recent months, the Abraham Lincoln has been involved in the bombing of Iraq and in planning for an invasion. By doing some of Bush’s grubby spying, the Orion and Te Kaha would help US ships and planes to focus on direct aggression against Iraq.
But the Orion can’t take off if there is no one to service, supply, or even fly it. Whether you are a worker wearing a uniform or a worker on civvy street, there are three bloody good reasons why you should join the global anti-war movement and blackballing this plane.
Reason #1: the Iraqi people will suffer terribly from the war the Orion would be supporting. According to a study by Australian doctors, 500,000 lives are at risk from an invasion of Iraq. ‘Collateral damage’ from bombs and missiles, contamination from depleted uranium shells, and disease are all expected to take a toll.
Reason #2: your fellow workers around the world are already suffering the effects of Bush’s War of Terror. Many workers recognise that Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ is a war on workers in the West, as well as a war on the peoples of the Middle East. The warmongers want to take long-term control of the region and boost their flagging profits by making Western labour as well as Middle Eastern oil cheaper. Bush used his war plans as an excuse to attack the West Coast waterside workers when they tried to strike last year, and is trying to use his post-World Trade Centre ‘Patriot Act’ to strip hundreds of thousands of state employees of their right to union membership. In Britain, Bush’s best friend Tony Blair has used the war as an excuse to threaten to ban the right of firefighters to go on strike for higher wages. (Refusing to back down, the firefighters have scheduled more strike actions.)We can trust Helen to pull the same ‘national security’ card out of the pack the moment she fears the prospect of working class militancy.
Reason #3: you will suffer from continued New Zealand support for Bush’s wars.
The Clark government is trying to trade military and political support for the War of Terror for a free trade deal with Bush. According to economic analysts, such a deal would mean the privatisation of the New Zealand health system and water services by U.S. multinationals, the removal of restrictions on Genetic Engineering, and the buying up of the New Zealand countryside by US bosses. This is what New Zealand workers in uniform are being asked to risk their lives for in the Middle East!
Unions representing 130 million workers from Australia to Togo have come out against the latest stage in the endless War of Terror.In Western Australia, 75,000 workers from nine unions have pledged to go on strike the minute any attack on Iraq begins, whether or not it is sanctioned by the UN. In Ireland, mass pickets have forced the US government to stop using the Shannon Air Base to move troops and supplies to the Middle East.In New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions opposes a war on Iraq and calls on its members to protest. You should protest by blackballing the Orion!
Working class militancy can defeat this military madness!
Oppose Bush’s war – ground the Orion!
Muzzlehatch is planning to put brief #34 online, so I'll let all you stingy buggers know when you can read poems like Richard Taylor's 'The Policemen Has Two Eyes' without shelling out for a copy of the journal...