WE joined the Earthlife Africa/Anti-War Coalition Protest outside Ysterplaat Airforce Base yesterday. Approximately forty people, mostly representatives of other organisations handed out pamphlets criticising South Africa’s arms deals with Israel and other countries. Nobody chained themselves to the front gate, because it was a weekend.
Workers International Vanguard were there as usual, advancing the cause of socialism or the internationale, one can’t be sure. Great banner against Imperialism but aside from the flyers, the placards could have done with a little more care. The ELA t-shirts abounded amidst a rather scraggly lot who seemed a bit confused as to what they were doing there except to demonstrate the result of living in a warzone caused by poverty.
Okay, so here is what happened this morning.
After some initial car trouble, we eventually got to AFB Ysterplaat, a little later than planned , parked outside and then donned Food Not Bombs T-shirts, proceeding to picket the entrance while more cars filled with military types and I guess, some “arms dealers” drove past into the base.
Then a huge contingent of kitskonstabels arrived with one rather scrawny dog. A cameraman and reporter from the Cape Times luckily pitched up before anything nasty could happen and the presence of a very large camera stopped what could have been an awkward situation. On comrade then decided to attach a Food Not Bombs banner to one of the SADF poles and was surrounded by some burley men.
She then engaged about fifty officers in a discussion around the metaphysics of revolt and the machinations of the peace movement including the problematic notion of resistance to war versus peoples power. We managed to hold our ground for about 45 minutes after which the gathering crowd got tired of us and a very large man with lots of badges and shiny stuff on his lapels decided to read me the riot act. I was told to move 50 metres away from the base and after looking at his incredibly large cannon I chose to call it a day and regroup my comrades somewhere else.
NEW YORK, Apr 15 (IPS) – Although only a handful of them have gone public, at least several hundred U.S. soldiers have applied for conscientious objector (CO) status since January, says a rights group.
The Center on Conscience and War (CCW), which advises military personnel on CO discharges, reports that since the start of 2003 – when many soldiers realised they might have to fight in the Iraq war – there has been a massive increase in the number of enlisted soldiers who have applied for CO status.
In 1987 following the lead taken by Dr Ivan Toms, David Bruce, Kevin Wilkinson, a group of 15 South African conscientious objectors refused to do military service in the Apartheid war machine. After the End Conscription Campaign was banned in 1988, hundreds of white South African war resistors refused the call-up, and conscription into the War in Angola and Civil War raging in South Africa’s Black Townships
On March 3, 1988 – Conscientious objector Dr Ivan Toms was sentenced to 640 days’ imprisonment for refusing to serve in the SADF. Yesterday, a Royal Air Force doctor was jailed for refusing to serve in Iraq. A case of history repeating itself?
LONDON: A Royal Air Force doctor has become the first serving British military officer to be dismissed from service and jailed for refusing to serve in Iraq on grounds that he believed it was an illegal war.
But Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith (37), maintained that he was justified in refusing to participate in a military campaign which, he argued, fell into the “category of criminal acts”.
“I have been convicted and sentenced… .but I still believe I was right to make the stand that I did and refuse to follow orders to deploy to Iraq ‘” orders (that) I believe were illegal,” he said after a court martial sentenced him to eight months for disobeying orders to go to Basra last June.
Dr. Kendall-Smith said there were “many others” in the army who shared his view. Describing the Iraq invasion as a “campaign of imperial military conquest”, he said: “To comply with an order that I believe unlawful places me in breach of domestic and international law, something I am not prepared to do… .I would have had criminal responsibility vicariously if I had gone to Iraq.”
Dr. Kendall-Smith, who served in Iraq twice before, said he decided the war was illegal after reading books and articles on the subject. The court martial ruled that obeying orders was at the “heart” of any disciplined force and an officer could not “pick and choose” which orders to obey.
Dr. Kendall-Smith was praised by anti-war groups and rights campaigners for taking a “courageous stand”.
“Many people believe the war in Iraq was an illegal war and therefore we would consider he was quite within his rights and it was indeed commendable to stand up to what he considered to be an illegal instruction to engage in an illegal war,” said Kate Hudson, chairperson of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Recently, an SAS soldier Ben Griffin resigned from the army protesting that the Iraq war was illegal.
IS BOBBY FISCHER, the world renowned chess champion mad because he rails against America and jews? I think not. Although Charles Krauthammer of Time Magazine would like us to believe monomania is behind Fischer’s flouting of official US policy, for instance, the embargo against Yugoslavia , merely defying one of the George Bush’s is no grounds for insanity.
What is insane is the notion that America can be governed by one family. That democracy can be replaced by the mob, that a new kind of dicatorship can arise, simply because unilateralism is allowed to hold sway and turn into empire. That the fear of Islam can breed a generation intolerant to religious freedom, even the strange beliefs of chess players like Bobby Fischer. (BTW I am an ethnic Jew)
I have no doubt that when George W Bush spoke of an approaching war in an interview with Larry King shortly before he became president, he meant it. I am more than convinced that when the full horror of sept. 911 occurred, the republican government was rushing its network lists of whose-in and whose-out, past a president whose war to liberate Iraq was really an attempt to cement power in Washington.
After one of the most popular peace-time presidencies in American history, it was not hard to see Republican strategy for what it was, an attempt to destroy Clinton’s democratic legacy by returning the world to that epic battle – Gulf War 1. If Bush were an evil genius he would probably have taken over the entire planet with CIA stormtroopers, but since he is an evil idiot, the Bush resolve was more along the lines of: “lets turn the whole of country, including the world into Texas”.
For obvious reasons, the real story of how the world came close to globalising overnight into one shambolic nation without borders will never be told, at least until we figure out the strategic implications of invoking the Nato Treaty whenever there is a domestic dispute involving so-called terrorists. Until proven otherwise, those World Trade terror suspects are innocent. In fact we do not know yet, if they exist, or whether perhaps the incident was the world’s worst fly-by-wire incident?
Until the US legal system succeeds in convicting trade terrorism of its supposed misdeeds, we can only surmise a conspiracy, that yet again, a Reichstag fire occured, a Bay of Tonkin, a 9-11 that says more about the mindset of people who play chess and deploy numbers than those who read Torah or study the Koran.