Friday, February 02, 2007

Umbrella against the war

As always last night's CamPeace meeting was excellent in a fraught kind of way. It included an in depth discussion on the history of Afghanistan by local StWC co-ordinator Jannie and the usual robust, frank and sometimes off the wall debate.

CamPeaceI made a terribly controversial contribution making the outrageous claim that the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks were carried out by Al Queada style terrorists rather than the CIA and/or MI5. Apparently this makes me part of the lunatic fringe of the anti-war movement. Sigh, that's a burden I will just have to live with.

However, it was the indomitable Doros who, in his usual straight to point way, managed to draw the first blood of the night - by condemning the Stop the War Coalition in the harshest possible terms (although in informal discussion later he did claim this was because "he loved them", on that I shall reserve judgement).

The argument from StWC members was that we should all be under one banner and they compared, in unfavourable terms, the turn out of twenty for the monthly CamPeace meeting with the "eighty" at StWC's November public meeting (which seemed slightly disingenuous to me).

The difficulty for me was that whilst I think CamPeace should be affiliated with StWC and there is no question it is part of the anti-war movement, its value lies in the very independence that was being criticised and the (possibly unintentional) implication of StWC's argument was that CamPeace should wind up and just take part in their routine of broad meetings with the Lib-Dem MP, building for the next demonstration and sloganeering about an invasion of Iran that isn't going to happen.

CamPeace people do attend and build StWC events and that's all that can be expected of them. Unless the local Coalition is going to create a space where we discuss issues in depth, and the background to what's happening in the world today (which it isn't going to happen) then CamPeace has a role. It's also a space where genuinely independent activists and controversial ideas can be discussed without being squashed as heretical.

Love Peace, Love WarAfter we'd all benefited from a really useful talk by Jannie on the history of Afghanistan from the 1600's to today it seemed obvious, to me at least, that we can't get this anywhere else. One audience member even claimed we shouldn't spend *any* time thinking about the background of Al Quaida, the Taliban, or the Iraqi insurgency - because the only problem in the world is us, the West. I think that's dangerous, unnuanced and completely uninspiring.

We need to know who and what we are dealing with, and an understanding of the history is extremely valuable. Al Quaida and the Mujaheddin's roots in the Western backed war against the USSR's occupation is important, and the two hundred year history of Imperial interventions in Afghanistan is very instructive and gives us a good all round grounding in the region which prepares us for well informed discussion rather than arguments born out of simple gut feeling, no matter how well intentioned.

For me, it comes down to how we "do" pluralism. We should come together in as united a possible way, for instance like during last summer's invasion of Lebanon and Gaza by Israeli armed forces, but we need to have space to be ourselves. You can't have a united movement that never comes together but you can't have a diverse movement that insists on homogeneity.

Church groups do things that SWP branches can't, and visa verse - and we need both, and a hundred other variations, to build a movement that gets into every nook and crannie of society.

Next month (Thursday, March 1st, 7.30 pm, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge) CamPeace will be discussing "Democracy and the Balkans" with top notch brain box Liz Fearon leading off discussion.

It's important to look at the record of these democratic and/or humanitarian interventions so we do not forget the lessons of the past the next time those at the top come to us saying "well, we have to do something... so let's send in the bombers" and unfortunately this is the only space in Cambridge where we are able to have the more in depth discussions that we so desperately need as part of a wider, more comprehensive anti-war strategy.


a very public sociologist said...

"I made a terribly controversial contribution making the outrageous claim that the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks were carried out by Al Queada style terrorists rather than the CIA and/or MI5. Apparently this makes me part of the lunatic fringe of the anti-war movement."


Perhaps the esteemed leadership of the movement should take the time out to help quash the conspiratorial nonsense. Co-habiting with the bams of the 9-11 "Truth" movement does our case no favours.

Jim Jay said...

I know I take some time out to do this - but there are some quite reasonable people who believe this stuff (although less so for 7/7)

I'll always remember the 7/7 bombings, I was up in gleneagles protesting against the G8, went on indymedia to see what was being said and there was already stuff about this being an attack by CIA / MI5 or MOSSAD... which seems to me to show fairly clearly that this is what some people WANT to believe and they really require any sort of evidence to do so

Graeme McIver said...

I think it comes from an unwillingness to accept that most of life is outside our control and that people (and ourselves) fuck up all the time.
If we "understand" how 11/9 was all a conspiracy and SOMEBODY was all in control of what happened then in some way we feel we can be in control of our lives. Rather than AQ getting lucky, and the US electing an (alcohol brain damaged?) president who made (and makes) crap decisions.
All the "evidence" that I've ever bothered looking at from the conspiracy claimants has turned out to be misunderstandings or lies.
Hopefully the owner of this blog will be voting against the 9-11 "Truth" movement's motion at Green Party conference?

Jim Jay said...


There was a similar motion at the last conference which I thought equally mistaken and I voted against.

Thankfully it did not pass.

Andrew Coates said...

Interesting post Jim.

The 'truth' movement have a meeting in Ipswich on the 24th of Feb. I never really paid much attention to this until I noticed this. When I Googled about their public event, they were boasting of having a stall at an Ipswich StWC public meeting - a disgraceful occurence if true.

There was a good article by Monbiot in the Guardian yesterday, and reference to a deconstruction job done on them by Counterpunch (which I'd already seen).

Some people think the Truth movement is getting more and more virulent - potentially anti-semitic. See:

Andrew Coates said...

Should have been link: http.//

AN said...

I have expanded on some of Jim's points (whch I totally agree with BTW) in this post: