JUNE 5, 2001
As the WTO prepares to meet in the relatively isolated and secure spot of Qatar Nov. 9&endash;13, many are no doubt wondering about an appropriate symbol around which we as Canadians and Quebecois can demonstrate our opposition to the violence of global capitalism.
We apologize at the outset for the length of this letter, but feel it is necessary to lay out the political framework for this proposal, as well as the philosophical and tactical basis of the action, so that anyone wishing to join is clear about exactly what we propose.
It is in the spirit of trying to bridge the gaps between various social movements that Homes not Bombs would like to extend an invitation to those active in the anti-globalization movement (which includes many of us to begin with) to consider placing a focus on an action around which we have already been building since last January. On Friday, November 9, 2001, we plan to resist the fist of globalization with a major nonviolent direct action focusing on the Ottawa-based federal government research facility where space warfare and star wars research is carried out on a daily basis.
The November 9 action&endash;already endorsed by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister, Voice of Women, Nevada Desert Experience, National Union of Public and General Employees, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Country Music Fans Against the Cuts, Toronto Action for Social Change and many others&endash; is as much about peace as it is about stopping the most powerful capitalistic nations on the planet from pursuing global domination through control of outer space. It is also about Canada's unique vision of creating the ultimate in cost-effective Armageddon. "Will technology allow us to fit 70 tons of lethality into a 20 ton package?" asks a document produced by Defence Research and Development Canada, whose Ottawa facility DREO provides the focus for this direct action.
The US Space Command document Vision 2020 is very clear that war in space is about protecting U.S. capital from those who want to share the world's resources. Indeed, the document identifies as one of the primary reasons for developing a space-based war fighting capacity the fact that "The gap between 'have' and 'have not' nations will widen&endash;creating regional unrest." The report, which forms the basis for the Bush administration's policy in space, continues: "Space commerce is increasingly integral to the global economy. Military and commercial uses of space will become vital national interests for the United States. Achieving space superiority during conflicts will be critical to the US success on the battlefield."
Because of the explosion in commercial space technology, the U.S. is increasingly wary about who controls the upper atmosphere. "Future potential adversaries will challenge the US ability to maintain a comparative advantage. Increasing access to space capabilities will contribute greatly to the leveling of the playing field between the United States and its enemies...Given the huge economic and military importance of space, USSPACECOM must shape the region of space and be prepared to protect and defend the US national interests and investments in space."
Star Wars is about the ability to
"negate [i.e., obliterate] hostile space systems that place US and allied interests at risk...As a recent report states, 'Commercial use of space is rapidly expanding on a global scale. In the next ten years, more than 1,000 satellites are projected to be launched. This represents a total investment of more than one-half trillion dollars.' At the same time, the Tofflers have observed that the 'way a nation makes wealth is the means by which it will choose to wage warfare.' (Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War) As the US economy evolves from an industrially-focused nation to an information-based one, the US military is following the same pattern. The tools of warfare in the Information Age may differ from the tools of 20th Century warfare. Our nation's increasing military and economic dependence on space power makes it likely for space to become a vital national interest. This same dependence also implies vulnerability. US interests and investments in space must be fully protected to ensure our nation's freedom of action in space."
The concurrent Canadian Technology Investment Strategy is no less clear. Written in 2000, it states clearly "Space soon will be the fourth medium of warfare, it will not only bind all war fighting forces together but will also become strategically critical to the survival of warfighters...For future coalition warfare, space superiority will be fundamental."
The connections between the policies of those who wish to continually expand the punishing policies of global capitalism and the need for a deadly enforcement mechanism (the military) are myriad. Whether it's Thomas Friedman writing in The New York Times that "the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist [the military]" or Bill Clinton remarking on the day before bombing the Balkans, "If we're going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key...That's what this Kosovo thing is all about," it is all too clear that anyone who gets in the way of the corporate bottom line gets megatonnage dropped from above.
According to The World Trade Organization and War: Making the Connection, a fact sheet produced by International Network on Disarmament and Globalization,
"The WTO is based on the premise that the only legitimate role for governments is to provide for a military to protect the country, and a police force to ensure order within it. And so while the WTO attacks social and environmental policies, it protects the war industry through a "security exception" in the GATT (Article XXI).
"The security exception allows governments free reign for actions taken in the name of national security. It states that a country can not be stopped from taking any action it considers necessary to protect its essential security interests; actions "relating to the traffic in arms, ammunition and implements of war and such traffic in other goods and materials as is carried on directly for the purpose of supplying a military establishment (or) taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations."
Article XXI is the most powerful exception in the WTO because governments define for themselves their "essential security interests" and protect what they want by couching it in these terms.
The development of space warfare technology can be seen to be a direct response to the strength of people's movements against war and "western" nations' concerns about discontent over body bags coming back home in the event of armed conflict. Hence, the ability to wage war from space&endash;zapping guerrillas in a Colombian jungle or shooting laser beams at an African pharmaceutical company which wants to provide cheap generic drugs&endash;means fear over losing our boys in battle will no longer be an impediment to quick use of deadly force against any opponent of the free market.
DREO, the Ottawa facility where the direct action sill take place November 9, is about developing the high-tech tools&endash;especially the sensor technology&endash;needed for attacking ground targets from space. Their mandate is very clear. According to their own website, DREO boasts it is a centre of expertise to
"exploit the electromagnetic spectrum" for military purposes, in addition to "Major Thrusts in the areas of Maritime Integrated Above Water Warfare, Aircraft Combat Survivability, Land Force Command and Control Information Systems and Electronic Warfare, National Level Command and Surveillance, Information Warfare, Military Information Technology Infrastructure, Space Systems and Technologies for Defence Applications, Detection and Identification of NBC [nuclear, biological, chemical] Agents."
On Friday, November 9, the proposal is to occupy the grounds of the federal government-funded Defence Research Establishment Ottawa (DREO) on Carling Avenue, the site of Star Wars and space warfare research. We will attempt to transform the site into a Civil Society Research Institute, and will also have groups enter the grounds in an attempt to offer a Pledge of Conscience to the researchers within, calling on them to not work on military projects.
We also propose conducting an inspection of the facilities to check for violations of international and Canadian law, while a Festival of Life offering alternatives to war research will be organized on the grounds as well. Some have discussed the construction of a house on the grounds to point out that the federal government's funding of space warfare is completely off the wall, and should be directed to solving social ills such as poverty and homelessness. Others would like to dress as space "aliens" with a message of peace from outer space.
DREO's grounds are extensive, and offer a range of actions, from banner drops to "back-country"-style actions. There are nowhere near enough police in Ottawa to watch every link of the six-foot high barbed wire fence, which is easily enough overcome with a stepladder and some thick carpeting.
Homes not Bombs actions are built on three equally weighted components: they are confrontational, they are nonviolent, and they are transformative. While we welcome an incredibly broad range of creative actions within our framework, all we ask is that a specific basis of unity is respected by all participants.
That basis of unity can be summed us thusly: we pledge not to do violence&endash;verbal, physical or psychological&endash;to our opponents, whether they be police, war researchers, or bystanders who disagree with us. We pledge this both in reference to pro-active acts of violence and in the sense of "self-defence." We pledge not to have alcohol or drugs either on site or at the gathering points for the action, nor do we carry any weapons or objects would could be perceived as weapons; we do not engage in property damage unless it is clearly defined and consensed to by all of the affinity groups taking part in the action; we attempt to establish an atmosphere of calm and self-discipline at our actions through the use of song and theatre, and generally discourage chanting and long boring speeches.
In terms of structure, we propose building this action on an affinity-group model with the use of a spokescouncil for decision-making.
Our actions are built in the spirit of honesty and openness which forms the core of most direct action; hence, everyone participating in the action knows what to expect from one another before engaging in the confrontation, heightening the sense of solidarity which can be broken when something unexpected occurs and some folks feel uncomfortable showing support for something they did not consense to at spokescouncil the night before the action.
We hold this as a basis of unity not in judgment of others who may wish to go beyond these parameters in other situations, but rather as a point of accountability and respect for one another participating in a specific action. We find that if everyone can agree upon specific points of unity within an action, then those who are first-timers will feel just as comfortable as those who have engaged in such actions again and again. In the interests of building in a sense of respect and comfort with one another and a sense that we will be accountable to one another, having this basis of unity has helped us create a certain style of action which we find very effective on the streets and in the courts, where our actions have resulted in acquittals despite the best efforts of the state to criminalize them.
With all of this in mind, it is our hope that folks who have been focusing largely on the resistance actions and marches at the global summits of capital will consider joining us to protest both the WTO and its military enforcement mechanism on November 9 at the DREO facility in Ottawa. We wiould also propose that those unable to come to Ottawa focus on a military facility in their area November 9, if they wish, to show the links to globalization in their area.
For more information, contact our members in the cities listed above. If you would like to endorse this action, send an endorsement to firstname.lastname@example.org Because this is an all-volunteer effort, any contributions toward our out-of-pocket costs are greatly appreciated, and donations can be forwarded to Hmes not Bombs at the address listed above.
But most importantly, in the meantime, let's talk, let's build, let's keep growing.
Peace and Justice
Homes not Bombs
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