Ten years ago today, millions of people around the world were part of an unprecedented mobilization against war. On February 15, 2003, record numbers protested U.S. plans to attack Iraq: up to 30 million people in over 800 cities spanning every continent—including Antarctica, where dozens of research scientists at McMurdo Station formed a peace symbol in the snow.
To understand Syria it is necessary to consider both the 'war on terror' (which can be traced to 2001) and the Arab revolutions (a more recent phenomenon, emerging first in Tunisia in December 2010).
One of those contexts without the other leads to a one-sided, inadequate understanding of events and their political meaning. Those on the left -- a small minority -- who have been in some sense sympathetic to the Gaddafi and Assad regimes, seeing them as a progressive bulwark against Western imperialism, may be consistent opponents of the U.S.-led 'war on terror,' but they don't understand the immensely positive and liberating role of the Arab revolutions.
March 20 marks the nine-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, but it still feels a lot like 2003. The pro-war arguments that were exposed as lies almost a decade ago are now making a comeback, this time to justify an attack on Iran. As the U.S., Israel and their allies -- including Canada -- make the case for war, anti-war activists must respond with the case against it.
In the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003, an unprecedented anti-war movement emerged. Although it failed to stop the invasion and subsequent occupation, it still made history, and no doubt accelerated the hardening of anti-war opposition in the U.S. and around the world. Today's activists must learn from that experience, generalizing the lessons that could make us more effective.
A series of anti-war demonstrations took place across Canada last week that marked the beginning of a co-ordinated campaign to oppose sanctions and war on Iran. A total of seven actions were organized in Toronto, Ottawa, London and Vancouver, including rallies, marches, information pickets and a "die-in," with support from the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA). The protests coincided with a three-day visit to Canada by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived in Ottawa on March 2 to drum up support for an Israeli attack on Iran. Netanyahu's stopover in Canada was followed by his meeting in Washington with Barack Obama to press the case for war.