"You can’t bomb democracy into existence!"

The anti-globalisation activists from attac Germany are part of the movement against the war in Iraq. Together with other peace initiatives, they organise numerous protests and events, such as the recent "Axis of Peace" and the last major anti-war demonstrations in Berlin. Attac Council member Barbara Fuchs describes the work and the prospects of the peace movement, and discusses its attitude to the Iraqi regime.

Why is your organisation getting actively involved in the anti-war movement?

Barbara Fuchs: The actual core of our work is the economy. But in the course of the Iraq crisis, we realised that there is a close connection between neo-liberal globalisation and the war. We see ourselves as part of the peace movement. We worked together in peace alliances when Bush came to Berlin last May. The “Axis of Peace” came into being at that time, and we contributed a very substantial amount to its emergence. We were also in Florence at the European Social Forum, where we agreed to organise Europe-wide protests from then on.

In what ways does the stance of the attac peace activists on the Iraq conflict differ from the position of the German government? Are there, in fact, any differences at all worth naming?

Fuchs: Naturally, it’s impressive that the government says ”No to war!” – and we support that. But otherwise, our positions are not identical. We feel that Germany is a hub for military transports, for replenishing supplies. And these are issues that we keep bringing up and focussing on in the context of the peace movement. We demand that the right to use German airspace be denied to the Americans and British. Nor do we want to accept that German AWACs may seek out targets for bombing. German tanks must be withdrawn from Kuwait. This war must not be supported either logistically or financially. Of course the government’s “no” carries great international weight; we don’t deny that. Nonetheless, we say: even a little war is participation in the whole war. And this war contravenes international law; it’s a war of aggression, and therefore unconstitutional.

Numerous Iraqi intellectuals are now accusing the peace movement of being ”blind in one eye“; they say that the pacifists are condemning the American war of aggression while often having not a word of criticism for the Iraqi regime. What’s your reaction to these charges?

Fuchs: Well, Saddam Hussein is not exactly the only dictator. One might also take a look at Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. But we don’t want to play this problem down. We say that there’s a very bad situation in Iraq, but we also say that the war is very much worse. It will hit the civilian population hard – the women, the children, the innocent men. This war will destroy everything. I know that various Iraqis support the war. That has to do with the whole miserable situation in Iraq, but also with this dreadful embargo, which has already claimed hundreds of thousands of victims. Of course it also has to do with the Iraqi dictator; nevertheless, one can’t take this as a justification for trying to bomb democracy into existence.

How useful, in your view, is cooperation or dialogue with the Iraqi opposition?

Dialogue and exchange of ideas are always to be supported. But first of all, the democratic currents in Iraq have to have a chance of gaining in strength. At the moment, however, the situation is such that the economic sanctions are hindering the normal life of the people. Under these conditions, it’s hardly possible for a democratic exchange of views to emerge. Faced with war, the people will be more likely to stand behind Saddam Hussein. Thus, what’s happening at present is not helping the growth of democracy: on the contrary.

Interview: Arian Fariborz, © 2003 Qantara.de

Translation: Patrick Lanagan

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