Building an alliance for peace

Speaking at this year's Desmond Greaves Summer School in Dublin, Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) chair Roger Cole stresses the importance of building a broad-based alliance for peace.

"I WOULD like to thank the organizers of the Desmond Greaves Summer School for the invitation to speak. The Desmond Greaves Summer School has always been the only summer school that really challenges the establishment. I look forward to the creation of a DGS web page containing all the papers given over the years. Such a web page would show the continuing influence of the democratic values of Desmond Greaves.

Roger Cole

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance was established to advocate an independent Irish foreign policy, Irish neutrality and a reformed United Nations.

The reason why PANA was established was because the Republic of Ireland was being integrated into US/EU military industrial structures through the militarisation of the European Union and a move towards NATO membership via Irish membership of the Partnership of Peace. The six counties of Northern Ireland are already in NATO, so these developments would consolidate all Ireland integration into the established EU/US military structures.

A number of people in 1996 with a background in the Irish peace movement decided there was a need for a broad based alliance that would oppose these developments by focusing on militarisation, the weakest link in the integration process and advocate an alternative future than that on offer from the Irish political elite. Over 30 groups are now affiliated to PANA. Our objective is to ensure the establishment of an all Ireland Republic, with a government implementing its own foreign policy, outside any military alliances, and pursuing that policy through a reformed United Nations where the Security Council, instead of being dominated by the victors of the 2nd World War, was genuinely inclusive and representative of the world’s states.

However, what is happening in Ireland cannot be examined without first outlining the global context in which Irish independence and democracy are being destroyed.

The background for the attack on Irish independence, neutrality and democratic has the steady rise in power of the neo-liberal ideology of many of the global corporations throughout the world, especially in the western states, and the belief by a significant section of them, that the decline in oil stocks would need the sustaining and development of military capitalism and the restoration of direct imperial domination to ensure their continuing wealth and power. Ireland was being integrated into their economic structures, so it was inevitable that in due course they would seek to integrate Ireland into their military structures as well.

  • The effect of the growing power of the corporations on the world, especially the poor have been stark.
  • The total export debt of developing countries rose from $90 million in 1970 to $2,000 billion in 1998.
  • 2.8 billion of the world’s poor live on less than $2 a day.
  • 1.2 billion of the worlds 6 billion people live on less than$1 a day.
  • 30-35,000 children die every day from preventable diseases.
  • The gap between the richest 20% of the world’s population and the poorest 20% has doubled over the last 40 years.
  • The assets of the world’s top 3 billionaires exceed the GNP of all the population’s of the least developed countries, which have a total population of 600 million.
  • 80% of the world’s income goes to the top 20% of the world’s population.
  • 60% of the world’s population has only 6% of the world’s income.
  • 51 of the largest 100 economic global entities are corporations.
  • $1.5 trillion are traded every day in foreign exchanges.
  • Basic food and raw material prices, the staple income for the majority world, fell by 50% in real terms in the last 20 years.

Russia, a state that adopted neo-liberalism, encouraged by the US Treasury Dept. and the IMF, saw its industrial production fall by 60% between 1990-99 and the percentage of its people living in poverty rise from 2% to 24% (living on less than $2 a day) and more than 40% living on $4 a day.

While Bush and the neo-liberals want to keep it that way, these facts go a long way to explain why he has relatively little support in South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the peoples if not all the governments in Europe for his decision to invade and conquer Iraq because he wanted the oil and to strengthen Israeli/US military domination of the region.

An example of the lack of support was a recent Pew global survey showed only 7 of 20 nations (Britain, Israel, Kuwait, Canada, Nigeria, Italy and Australia) had a favorable view of the US.

Yet through organizations like the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, and the European Round Table, the global neo-liberal elite work together, not in any conspiratorial way, but by and large in an open confident manner, using their domination of the mass media to maintain their control (i.e., every Irish newspaper supported the Irish governments decision to destroy Irish neutrality). They know that neo-liberalism has made them rich and powerful. They believe that war; especially an atmosphere of fear generated by permanent war, consolidates their wealth and power. Bush, Blair, Ahern and Co has nothing to learn from Orwell.

They are aware that conflicting ideologies are necessary to ensure the justification for the massive military expenditure that provides the backbone of the American empire and the aspiring EU empire. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, they needed a new enemy, especially that section of the corporate elite in arms production. They found it in what they now call Muslim fundamentalism and the so-called war on terrorism, which provides the justification for the destruction of international law, institutionalized and systematic torture, and the erosion of civil liberties.

Huntington’s book, The Clash of Civilizations provided the intellectual justification. The concept that there is a Judeo/Christian civilization, which is superior to the Muslim civilization and that war, was inevitable between the two civilizations, was just what the US/EU arms industry corporations wanted to hear.

It might be said that fact that the US/EU supported the colonization and occupation of Palestine by millions of European Jews and are now occupying Afghanistan and Iraq and are threatening to invade the Sudan might be a factor in alienating millions and millions of Arabs and Muslims does not appear to have occurred to them. But of course it has, which is why they do it. They need war, they want war, and they love war. It’s great for business.

If the US/EU really wanted peace they would withdraw for Iraq and Afghanistan and impose sanctions on Israel until it withdraws to its 1967 borders. In fact, the EU states and US support Israel, the latest example being their opposition to the role of the International Court of Justice on the issue of the legality in International law of the Israeli wall. Those states that voted against the ICJ issuing an advisory opinion included Ireland, Israel, the USA, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the EU. Those in favour included the Palestinian Authority, Cuba, Indonesia, South Africa and the Arab League. .

That is not to say Muslim fundamentalism does not exist, it does, just as does Christian fundamentalism or Hindu fundamentalism. Neither is it surprising that many millions of the oppressed people of the world will seek in Muslim fundamentalism an answer to their oppression, especially since the leaders of Western imperialism like Bush and Blair and Ahern, who are largely responsible for their oppression, are Christian fundamentalists and much of their popular support base is explicitly based on mobilising Christian fundamentalism.

In Ireland, where the exploitation of religious hate and fear by unionism has played such a key role in our domination by Imperialism, Irish Republicans, have long experienced the power of religious bigotry and the use of that power by the rich to divide the people so they stay rich. We should, like Tone and the United Irishmen in a previous generation reject any role for religious fundamentalism in the struggle against Imperialism.

However, it is the US where military capitalism is concentrated, where the use and abuse of Christian fundamentalism is strongest, and with such power mobilised, is an integral part of the ideology by which the elite retain their wealth. The American empire is the power centre of neo-liberal corporate elite. Their power in that state is virtually absolute. Their domination of their own people can be seen by the following facts:

  • 13% of American companies in the US no longer pay paid leave, an increase of 5% from 1997
  • 25% of workers in the United States no longer take an annual holiday.
  • Of those that do, they typically receive 8 days after one year and 10 days after 3 years.
  • Only 13% of workers in the US are unionized.
  • The ratio of the annual income of US Chief Executives to the average workers annual income increased from 42 times in 1980 to 500 in 2000.
  • 43 million Americans have no health care.
  • The American political parties will spend $1.3 billion on advertising in 2004.
  • Forty-seven million Americans work for less than $10 an hour.

Yet it is these facts that are providing the backbone to a major challenge to the corporate elite within the US and the anti-globalisation demonstrations in Seattle was a major turning point in the struggle against imperialism.

The growth of the Internet, especially in the US has massively undermined the power of the corporate information giants of Fox, CNN etc. If the printing press led to a transformation in culture and politics then the Internet is having an even more powerful effect. For example, the net provides the mechanism by which Dean, a leading ant-war candidate, propelled the anti-war issue centre stage, it ensured the success of Michael Moore’s book Stupid White Men has spawned a growing number of web sites, such as z net, which are replacing the establishment media as the real source of information, and most importantly it is providing a cheap and effective method for those opposed to the neo-liberal elite to build a coalition against them.

The power of imperialism within the US however, cannot be underestimated. Ralph Nader, the only presidential candidate calling for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq only has the support of 2% of the electorate. Many progressives therefore believe that defeating Bush is a priority and in effect have joined the Democratic Party coalition

Kerry was selected as the Democratic candidate in the presidential election this year and the coalition he has built reflects the successful fight back by progressive political forces in the United States. Kerry is a supporter of neo-liberalism, but in the context of the US, a Kerry victory would be a defeat for Bush and his version of military capitalism.

While Kerry’s selection was a defeat for the American anti-war movement. It is really a reflection of the fact that not all corporations have an absolute commitment to war capitalism. Many of them are in sectors; such as entertainment where having the rest of the people of the world hating America is not good for business. Other CEO’s of these Corporations would rather make money that die for George W. Bush. The fact that last year the figures show that US corporations invested more money in France than in previous years provides evidence that many did not buy into the anti-French hysteria of the right wing US media.

That large sections of capital, in the US, and even more strongly in other regions such as South East Asia, that have done well out of globalisation largely by ignoring the harsher neo-liberal solutions of the IMF, do not support Bush is indicated by a recent poll of global fund managers that control $940 billion, the majority of whom thought Kerry would win, although the British and US managers thought Bush would win. The reality is that large sections of capital believe war causes instability, such as hugh increases in oil prices, and is not good for business.

Also many people in the elite are aware that the US, with only 4% of the world’s population is not as strong economically as it once was as these figures show;

  • In 1950 the US supplied 50% of the world’s gross product. It is now 21%.
  • In 1950 the US was responsible for 60% of manufacturing production, and it’s now 25%.
  • Of the top 100 corporations ranked by foreign-held assets, only 25 are American.
  • In 1960, 47% of the world’s stock of direct investment in other countries was American. It’s now 21%.
  • In global finance, in 1981, 67% of private savings in the world was American. It is now 40%.
  • In 1971 the US had a deficit in its trade in goods for the first time in 78 years. To date the deficits were offset by trade in services and borrowings. But by 2002 the US was borrowing $503 billion from abroad, 4.5% of GDP and by 2003, foreigners owned 41% of US treasury marketable debt.
  • The federal budget surpluses of the 1998-2001 are now projected to be budget deficits of $450 billion for 2004-6. The federal government is slashing spending on education, health, transport, etc. Only the military industrial complex is receiving state investments. Federal aid to state government is being cut, and state governments now face deficits of $65-85 billion leading to deeper cuts local expenditure on everything from public safety to libraries.
Seamus O Tuathail and Roger Cole

IN SHORT, the American empire no longer has the economic power to sustain its military domination of the globe. Like all previous empires, it’s due for a fall. It will be defeated in Iraq, as it was in Vietnam, and the sooner the better.

There is even very strong opposition to Bush from within the heart of US power structures. Richard Clarke, a central figure within US state put the anti-Bush case very well when he said invading Iraq after 9/11 was like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbour.

It is true Kerry supported the conquest of Iraq, and that the coalitions that make up the Democratic and the Republican parties are similar. But they are not the same. Clinton was better for the world, especially Ireland, and Kerry, warts and all, will be better than Bush. A Kerry victory will be a victory for all those forces opposed to war capitalism. A Bush victory will mean the majority of Americans support imperialism. A Bush victory couldl mean an attempted military conquest of Cuba, Iran and any other state that opposes the rule of the American empire. A Kerry victory will not, or at least is less likely to.

It is therefore crucial that powerful and growing anti-war movement coalition in the US, continues to grow and ensures that Kerry wins. If Kerry wins, he will seek to get more troops from other states, especially states in the EU to go to help maintain US empire

The peace movement coalitions throughout the world ensure their states do not send troops to Iraq. The reality is the economic figures show that on their own, the American imperialism has only defeat to look forward to and that without global support the American empire is finished whether Bush or Kerry leads it.

In short, the global progressive forces need to agree to be part of the coalition than brings together as broad an alliance as possible, including corporations that do not support Bush, to in effect isolate, the war capitalists. Defeat Bush first. Then move on, to ensure Kerry withdraws the US army from Iraq.

After the US withdrawal, there could be a role for a peacekeeping force directly under the auspices of the United Nations, which could play a similar role that it did in East Timor after the withdrawal of the Indonesian army of occupation. The credibility of the UN has suffered by its decision to endorse the illegal conquest of Iraq. A reformed United Nations, reflective of the 21st century, rather than the mid 20th, is needed to create global governance. A global institution is the required institution for global peace and security. A regional grouping, such as the EU/US block will not provide security. It only provides instability as other regional groups are formed to act as counterweights. Any lasting peace must be based on the concept of inclusive and agreed global institutions.

It is this process of global coalition building that is central to the defeat of war capitalism.

When Bush visited Ireland on his election campaign, PANA helped to organise major demonstrations against him. The fact is that in this globalised world, the outcome of the election in the US will have a profound effect on the rest of the world, including Ireland, and it was important to Americans, especially Irish Americans, to see that unlike Clinton, Bush was not welcome here by except the Irish elite.

In Ireland the elite are already strongly supportive of the US version of neo-liberalism. Harney has openly supported the Boston rather than the Brussels version of capitalism, McDowell has stated his support for inequality and Ahern has destroyed Irish neutrality by turning Shannon airport into a US airforce base. The Ahern led FF/PD Government is the most right wing, neo-liberal incompetent in history.

Our purpose in the longer term (say 12 years) in Ireland is to ensure the formation of a government in an all Ireland Republic committed to Irish Independence, neutrality and democracy. We seek to ensure that this Irish Republic would be part of a EU, which a Partnership of Democratic States, legal equals, without a military dimension. That objective is only worth it, if it is part of a struggle for global justice and democracy.

It is to develop an alternative to the institutionalized war economy now on offer from the neo-liberal elite, not just in Ireland, but also globally, by linking up with similar organizations throughout the world. Their vision is global, and if their vision is to be defeated, then our vision has also to be global. The massive demonstrations of over 15 million people that took place on the 15th of February 2003 throughout the world, was their first indication of the potential of our future, the first indication of their weakness, the first indication of our capacity to win.

PANA was one the groups that helped to organise the 125,000 strong march in Dublin. It was a real indication of the potential for building an alternative political coalition throughout Ireland that would defeat Ahern and the rest of the Irish war capitalists. Before the march, PANA had also played a role in gaining a 38% No vote to the Amsterdam treaty and a 54% no vote to Nice 1 and a 38% no vote to Nice 2 treaties, treaties that were steps towards integrating Ireland into the EU/US military structures.

On the 11th of June 2004, Fianna Fail (or should it be Fianna Bush) suffered it worst electoral defeat since the 1920’s. The Fianna Fail/PD government, the most right wing neo-liberal and incompetent government in our history suffered a hammer blow. They have lost control of local councils throughout the country and have only 4 MEPS in the European Parliament. Even more important, the political parties that led the opposition to the Fianna Fail decision to support the imperial conquest of Iraq; the Green Party, the Labour Party and Sinn Fein, as well as radical independents, overall increased their vote.

Since PANA’s objective is to seek an Independent Irish foreign policy and Irish neutrality for all of Ireland it is worth looking at the results of the EU Parliament elections on an all-Ireland basis, as our objective can only be achieved if it supported by the majority of the Irish people, from whom all power derives.

  • FF...............523,000 (23%)
  • FG..............495,000 (22.4%)
  • SF..............342,000 (15.5%)
  • Labour.......188,000 (8.5%)
  • GP................82,000 (3.7%)
  • SP/SE............32,000 (1.4%)
  • Ind..............345,000 (15.6%)
  • DUP.............176,000 (7.9%)
  • UUP...............91,000 (4.1%)
  • SDLP..............88,000 (3.9% )

These figures show that while FF has suffered its worst electoral defeat in decades it remains a formidable political force, as is Fine Gael. Sinn Fein has decisively replaced the Labour Party ( which if it had any sense should merge with the SDLP) as the major political party on the left, and the Green Party, the SDLP and the far left retain small but significant support from the electorate.

While the DUP has replaced the UUP as the largest party. Together, they have the support of a significant 12% of the electorate. In an all Ireland context they would be a major political force, far greater than they now are within the British state.

Independents also constitute a sizable percentage of the electorate and while it is difficult to categories them on an imperialist/anti-imperialist spectrum, a 50/50 divide is probably reasonable.

The figures also show that to gain the support of the majority of Irish people for a United Independent Irish Republic with its own foreign policy remains a formidable task. Yet power derives from the people. No group can claim the right to speak for them, and they express that power by voting in elections and referendums. Those of us, who wish to establish the Republic, have to gain their support through the democratic process.

On the crucial issue of support for the Imperial war of conquest of Iraq, only the neo-Redmondites of FF/PD alliance and the unionist’s parties actively supporting it. FG formally opposed the war, although they refused to take part in the marches because to quote Gay Mitchell, “ it was organized by PANA and Sinn Fein”.

A breakdown of 54% against the war and 46% in favour is probably accurate; it also probably is not coterminous with party affiliation as many FF/PD and unionists supporters oppose the war while many FG supporters support it. One way or the other however, there is enough evidence from the marches, elections and public opinion polls to suggest that a majority of the Irish people do not support this Imperial war and that the Green Party, the Labour Party, Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and radical Independents that led the campaign against it have largely benefited by increased electoral support already and as the war continues, can confidently expect that support to grow at the expense of the FF/PD’s and unionist parties.

The nearest historical parallel is when Ireland supported an Imperial war was 1914-18. At the commencement of that war the political parties that opposed the war and that supported the Irish Neutrality League’s foundation in October 1914, only had the support of a small minority of the people, about 5-10%, but by 1918 they had formed an alliance that replaced the Home Rule Party that had dominated Irish politics for decades.

Ahern’s Fianna Fail, however is not the same as Redmond’s Home Rule Party. They have been in power much longer via state structures. Their supporters are in positions of power and influence throughout every level of society. They have integrated and co-opted the trade union leadership and whole layers of NGO’s and community groups through partnership agreements and financial donations via the state. It will be a lot tougher to destroy them.

However, they have made their decision. They supported the conquest of Iraq. Fianna Fail is now an Imperialist party. The Irish Imperialist tradition has been restored, and in the person of Ahern, Redmond has been reborn. FF is the party of war capitalism in Ireland. Imperialism in Ireland cannot be defeated until Fianna Fail has been removed from power. The results of the elections of the 11th of June needs to become the first major step in ensuring that Fianna Fail suffers the same fate as the Irish Home Rule Party.

However, the major opposition party, Fine Gael also openly advocates the destruction of neutrality and the integration of Ireland into the EU/US military structures. They only opposed the Iraq war because they decided to support the then dominant opposition to the war by the then majority of the EU states. Until there is a coherent anti-Imperialist alliance, which has a creditable possibility of providing an alternative government, or at least providing a majority in a coalition government as a stepping stone, then the option of voting for Fianna Fail rather FG will always be the least worst option for many people who otherwise would vote for parties that opposed the war.

Therefore the real question is can the parties, the Green Party, the Labour Party, Sinn Fein and independents that oppose war capitalism, form a government? Can the parties and Independents to the left of the Labour Party substantially increase their electoral support to ensure that a left majority government is an option at the next election rather than the FG/Green/Labour government that is the favoured option of FG and of many in the Labour Party?

Our short tem objective is to build an alliance so that:

  • An Irish government in the 26 county Republic that would be committed to adding a Protocol to the proposed EU Constitution, similar to that achieved by Denmark that would exclude Ireland from involvement with the ERRP,
  • Enshrine Irish neutrality into our Constitution
  • Withdraw from the PfP
  • Focus on a reformed UN as the institution through which Ireland would pursue its security concerns.
  • Terminate the use of Shannon airport by the US and its allies.

Since the Green Party, Sinn Fein and radical independents already support these objectives, the key question is can the Labour Party alter its current support for a militarized EU? Can it revert to its critical attitude to the EU it had in the late 60’s, early 70”s? Will its opposition to the Iraqi war result in its willingness to take part in a broad anti-war alliance including Sinn Fein, the Greens and Independents on a more formal basis? Can such an alliance gain the support of the majority of the people so it can form a government?

While the election results show it is not now an option, as the war drags on and on, the possibility of such an option becomes more and more real. As the war capitalists in EU, seek to gain support and send more troops to Iraq, such an option becomes more and more a realistic. It is in building opposition to the militarisation of the EU and in again and again pointing out the EU/US military links that will undermine the imperialists within the Irish Labour Party and gain more and more popular support both within it, and among the general population, for the formation of a Green/Labour/Sinn Fein/Independents government.

The first campaign fought by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance was the Amsterdam treaty referendum held at the same time as the Good Friday agreement. Both referendums played a significant role in the process towards achieving our objective. For while the elite saw the agreement as an end in itself, a defeat for Irish republicanism, a mechanism of drawing republicans into supporting the EU/US military structures, the rise of the No vote to the Amsterdam treaty together with the result of the Good Friday agreement, instead, strongly indicated a growth in support for Irish independence, in the desire for structures that would deliver, peacefully and democratically, an independent and united Irish republic. This growth of support among the people for national independence and democracy increased in subsequent referendums.

In the context of Irish integration into the emerging European empire the Amsterdam result was a major blow for the EU empire loyalists, especially in the context of growing support for Irish Independence and when compared with previous referendums.

  • 16.9% (10.5.72.)
  • 30% (26.5.87.)
  • 30.9% (18.6.92.)
  • 38.3% (22.5.98.)
  • 53.1% ( 7.6.01.)
  • 37.1% (19.10.02)

Thus Amsterdam marked a decisive shift towards Irish independence and while we went on to win Nice 1 and lose Nice 2 it created new plateau of 37/38% electorate support for anti-imperialists, and it was one in which the issues of Irish neutrality, independence and democracy rather than religious divisions which were central to the debate on the future.

Now we are not only to have another referendum on the EU constitution, but for the first time there will be a referendum in all 32 counties, and hopefully at the same time.

The EU constitution creates the legal framework for the creation of an Imperial nuclear armed, neo-liberal, centralized superstate. The EU constitution, rather than our own constitution will be the “fountainhead of all law”, and the European Court of Justice rather than the Irish Supreme Court will the final arbiter in interpreting the EU constitution. To date, as each of the EU treaties were ratified, only the provisions of those treaties became part of the Irish constitution. This EU constitution is a completely different concept. The EU itself, as distinct entity, acquires legal personality. The EU itself, rather than the member states will be the sovereign legal authority via the EU constitution.

The proposed EU constitution will create an EU with a strong military dimension, closely aligned with a nuclear military bloc (NATO) and committed to increased military expenditure and support for the arms industry.

It takes several giant steps towards a fully-fledged military alliance, armed not just with a military capacity, but also wit mutual solidarity commitments, all within the structures of the European Union.

It legalizes the transfer of power from, not only the Irish people, but also all the people’s of Europe to a EU political elite. A EU elite that makes decisions in secret in the EU Commission and at meetings of the Council of Ministers. A EU elite that is building its own distinct army via the European Rapid Reaction Force. It is why they support it. It is why all democrats in Ireland and throughout the EU should oppose it.

The EU constitution is another Act of Union. It destroys the legal basis for Irish national independence in the same way the Act of Union with the British empire did at the end of the 18th century. It is the European Union, rather than the British Union, which is now the main opponent of Irish Independence and democracy.

However, just as the Act of Union did not destroy the desire for Irish national independence, neither will the EU constitution. It is merely another battle between Irish people that support Irish Independence, Irish democracy and neutrality on one side and Irish people that support imperialism on the other, another battle in a conflict that has raged for generation after generation, and will continue no matter who wins the referendum on the EU constitution.

Our objective is to defeat the EU constitution, while accepting that some affiliates are still discussing their attitude to it. Since the latest MRBI survey showed that 51% of the people in the 26 county Republic want more independence from the EU and since the vast majority of the people living in the 6 counties support parties that have declared their opposition to the EU constitution, then a victory, as in Nice 1, a decisive no vote in all Ireland referendum, is a perfectly reasonable and achievable objective.

We need to continue to build a broad alliance of all those progressive forces, including those sections of business, which do not have a vested interest in war. Such an alliance, like in the US should be based on progressive and inclusive values. There is no doubt that there are political forces that oppose the EU from a reactionary perspective. Political groups that seek to stir up religious or racial hatred and division in opposition to the emerging EU empire. Political forces that look back and seek inspiration from old Imperial values. Any coalition we participate in will have no role for reactionary elements.

However, we have to accept that many of those who will be supporting those opposing the empire from a reactionary position are our potential allies. Unionists might see they are supporting a British state, that like the 26 county state, is to become only a small part of a European empire to which they, no more than Irish Republicans are willing to die for. The British union, a state to which they give their allegiance, is ceasing to exist. In that context, a United independent Irish republic in which they would be 12% of the electorate could become a more attractive alternative than an European imperial state, where the Irish, will be the cannon fodder in Iraq and elsewhere, for the EU/US elite.

In Ireland PANA has co-operated with two other broad based alliances, the Non-Government Organisations Peace Alliance (NGOPA) and the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) both of which, like PANA reject religious or racial hatred. It was this broad based alliance and all the groups affiliated, which provided the leadership to opposing the conquest of Iraq. PANA would seek to ensure that a similar broad based alliance by in the first instance gaining their support to opposing the militarisation of the EU, by opposing the EU constitution. A constitution which would bind Ireland into supporting the progressive framing of a EU defence compatible with NATO’s defence policy, more arms production and appoints an EU foreign minister,

We need to continually point out that the concept that the EU can develop as an alternative centre of power to the US is not a realistic option. Even if it were, it’s not an option for any progressive forces in Ireland or any other EU state. If history teaches us anything, there is no such thing as a “good empire”. One can be better than the other, as there is no doubt that the 3rd German empire under Hitler was worse than the American empire under Roosevelt, but they both remained empires and the victims of Hiroshima would not have appreciated any great distinction.

A EU state, which includes states such as Belgium, Britain, France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Portugal, and Spain, which have such strong imperial traditions, cannot but be tempted to revive their imperial traditions. It could be a case of “Empires, united, Shall never be defeated”.

Since the EU leaders have just elected Barroso, a strong supporter of the imperial war in Iraq and a hard line neo-liberal, president of the EU who has in turn appointed neo-liberals to the three economic Commissions and is a strong supporter of the US/EU alliance, there is no evidence that the majority of EU elite want to oppose US Imperialism. The fact that the EU states Britain, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia have troops in Iraq supporting the US occupation shows that there is ample evidence that a majority of the EU elite now support imperialism and neo-liberalism and collaboration with, rather than opposition to, American imperialism.

This is not to say we should not recognize that EU is not the US. The political forces that seek to develop social market capitalism as distinct from the neo-liberal version are much stronger in the EU than it is in the US. We should recognize that many political activists involved in seeking woman’s rights, as well as trade union and environmental activists are well disposed to the EU that has been for many decades very supportive. We also should recognize that the imperialist governments in Europe do not have the support of their peoples. It is not just PANA that opposes the EU Imperialist project.

We need to make it clear that we support environmentalists, trade unionists and woman’s rights activists. We have to make it clear that we believe these rights are best protected and developed by promoting Irish democracy, rather than by destroying it. We have to make it clear their environmental rights, their trade union rights, their woman’s rights, their civil rights, will be destroyed if they support the institutionalization of EU militarism if this EU constitution is accepted. The neo-liberal Imperialist agenda of the EU is no friend of democratic rights. We need to ensure that we build an opposition alliance to the militarisation of the EU via this EU Constitution throughout the EU by building up links with similar groups throughout Europe. PANA is already affiliated to TEAM and the European Peace & Human Rights Network. Our slogans in the campaign are, 'Yes to Europe-No to Superstate', as well as, 'Support Irish Neutrality, Democracy and Independence'.

To PANA, the European Union should be a partnership of Independent democratic states, legal equals, without a military dimension. By advocating such a vision of Europe is to be truly European, but Europeanism that rejects its imperial traditions.

A victory would mean that a different future for the European Union is possible. If we can successfully be part of a EU coalition that has rejected militarisation and Imperialism then we can help build an alternative future for Europe, we can become part the dominant pro-European political alliance.

Even if we defeat the Imperialists, defeat the empire Loyalists, and win the referendum on the EU constitution, that victory will not ensure the formation of a Green/Labour/Sinn Fein/independents government, but it would go long way. For once the broad framework of a vision of a future, united, independent, inclusive and democratic Irish republic, a member state of the EU, which is a partnership of democratic states, has been seen to have the support of the majority of Irish people, then the formation of a government based on those principles becomes an option.

Gaining majority support for such a government would not be easy. All the parties have to develop policies on heath, education, transport, housing and other issues within an economic framework that rejects Imperialism and neo-liberalism. These are major tasks but achievable But since the alternative on offer would be the neo-liberal Imperialists of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, victory is an a real possibility.

Finally, may I again repeat that this campaign on the EU constitution is just another battle against imperialism, and in favour of Irish independence, Irish neutrality and Irish democracy. Win or lose, it is a struggle that has been waged for generations, and we, in waging that struggle are only standing on the shoulders of giants such as Desmond Greaves.

Internationally, the issues of democracy and Independence, of Imperialism and war go back for generations, to ancient Greece, Egypt and what is now Iraq.

In our generation, we are unique, in that we the first to live in an era of weapons of mass destruction, first used in Hiroshima. Now that more and more states are acquiring such weapons, war and Imperialism, which were once able to kill millions, can now obliterate all life on this planet.

If imperialists like Bush, Blair, and their lackeys like Ahern are not rejected people, then there might not be next generation. It would be more than ironic if all civilization came to an end as a result of a war where in a region where civilization began. So lets hope we win and they lose."

<< | Up | >>

This document was last modified by David Granville on 2006-01-12 10:23:28.
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2004 Roger Cole