Stop the War Coalition 2009 National Conference
Resolutions passed by Stop the War members and delegates from affiliated organisations at Stop the War Coalition's National Conference on 25 April 2009, Friends House, London.
Stop the War Coalition Steering Committee
The massive country-wide upsurge of solidarity with the Palestinian people during the Israeli assault on Gaza at the turn of the year, and the leading part played by the Stop the War Coalition in the mobilisations against the aggression, indicate the continuing central importance of the anti-war movement after nearly eight years of sustained campaigning.
At the same time, the political environment in which the Coalition operates is changing. Both Obama's election as President of the USA and the deepening global economic crisis will impact on the future conduct of the war unleashed by the US in 2001. While it is impossible as yet to make a definitive estimate as to the consequences of these changes, we can be certain that a mass anti-war movement will be as necessary as ever in the months and years ahead.
The Stop the War Coalition's central objective remains to ensure British disengagement from the "war on terror" (or whatever new rhetorical umbrella may be used to cover US-lead aggression), to build support for a policy which could contribute towards global peace and social justice, and to mobilise mass campaigning in support of this objective and in solidarity with all those around the world resisting unjust wars.
Our immediate campaign priorities are:
Recognising that freedom for Palestine is central to peace and justice in the Middle East, the Coalition will continue to campaign in support of the Palestinian people and against Israeli, occupation, aggression and expansionism.
In particular, we demand that the British government end all arms trade with and diplomatic support for the Israeli government. We support a boycott of Israeli goods, and initiatives to bring the Israeli state leadership to account for its war crimes in Gaza. We demand an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza and the relief of the suffering of the Palestinian people there.
The Coalition will work with the British Muslim Initiative, the Palestine Solidarity campaign, Viva Palestina and others in support of these demands.
We oppose Obama's decision – supported by the British government – to order a major military escalation of the war in Afghanistan. This war, now in its eighth year, has already brought immense suffering to the Afghan people. It is being waged purportedly in support of a government which is universally reviled as one of the most corrupt and incompetent on the planet. A broad range of military and diplomatic figures acknowledge that it is unwinnable, and that its increasing extension to nuclear-armed Pakistan risks sparking off a much broader and more devastating conflict.
The Coalition must therefore step up its campaign for a total withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan and for the restoration of Afghan sovereignty within international law, and will work alongside CND, Military Families Against the War and other organisations committed to this end.
The Coalition will also continue to campaign for a complete withdrawal of all occupying troops and mercenary forces from Iraq and the immediate restoration of full Iraqi sovereignty.
We will also step up our efforts to secure a full public inquiry into the decision taken by the government in 2003 to join in Bush's aggression against Iraq.
StWC will campaign against sanctions and the threat of war against Iran; and the danger of conflicts caused by NATO expansion, as highlighted in the summer 2008 war in Georgia.
Building the Coalition
Nationally and locally, the Coalition should strengthen its connections with all organisations and individuals working for an end to the "war on terror". These must particularly include the Muslim communities, student organisations and others who have played a major part in the movement against Israeli aggression.
The Steering Committee of the Coalition should prioritise the production of campaigning material and information which local groups can make use of and the effective co-ordination of local groups in the different regions.
Stop the War Coalition Steering Committee
Muslim Community and Democratic Rights
When the Stop the War Coalition was established in 2001, it adopted as two of its aims resisting any racist backlash arising out of the "war on terror" and the defence of civil liberties against government attack.
Both of these issues are now unfortunately more pertinent than ever. British Muslims have been subject to an increasingly vitriolic political and media campaign, particularly since their mass mobilisation in support of the Palestinian people earlier this year. This attack has included attempts to brand their views as extremist, to harass leaders of Muslim representative bodies like the MCB and to deny the legitimacy of their culture within British society.
The object of this is to silence the Muslim political voice, opposed as it is to much of the government's foreign policy. As an extension of this, Muslims were particularly targeted for aggressive police intimidation and violence at all the demonstrations around Israel's attack on Gaza.
This and other police actions have further highlighted the increasing threat to the right to hold peaceful political protests in this country. Apart from violent assaults on demonstrators, these actions have included attempting to prohibit demonstrations and the intimidatory photographing of protesters. This trend culminated in the attacks on demonstrators at the G-20 summit in London.
This conference of the Stop the War Coalition therefore declares its full solidarity with the Muslim communities in Britain and pledges itself to uphold their rights in every respect. It also declares its determination to defend the right to protest against government policies whatever obstacles the police and other authorities may place in the way.
It therefore directs the incoming Steering Committee to:
- work with the British Muslim Initiative and other Muslim and progressive organisations and individuals to initiate a broad-based campaign in support of Muslims in Britain.
- Co-operate with other interested groups in protests against the policing of demonstrations, and lobby MPs to protect these and other civil liberties.
Bristol Stop the War
This conference supports the action taken by the EDO Decommissioners in January 2009. The Decommissioners broke into the EDO/ITT arms manufacturing factory in Brighton and caused over £300,000 worth of damage. EDO/ITT produce the essential components for the F15s and F16s that were being used by the Israeli 'Defence' Force in its barbaric attack on the people of Gaza in January 2009, which killed over 1300 innocent people. The disarming of the EDO/ITT factory in Brighton successfully brought the business to a standstill and caused a temporary halt in a section of the war machine.
The Decommissioners now face trial on charges of criminal damage and conspiracy as a result of their action. Following the precedent set by the Raytheon 9, who were found not guilty at their trial in 2008 for carrying out a similar action in the Raytheon offices in Derry, they will be going to trial as the accusers not the accused.
Their trial and the campaign leading up to it will be an opportunity to expose the involvement and complicity of the arms manufacturers and the British government in the murder of thousands of innocent people in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.
This conference therefore resolves that the coalition will do all in its power to support and promote the EDO Decommissioners campaign.
Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
No cooperation with war crimes
This conference condemns Britain's continued involvement in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and calls for the immediate recall of all British troops from both these countries.
While the City of London's financial elite sought to benefit by joining arms with the US to seize Iraq's oil wealth and manipulate her domestic and foreign policy to their advantage, this conference affirms that the entire bloody debacle has always been contrary to the interests of the vast majority of British workers, who have consistently demonstrated their opposition to this modern-day Anglo-American colonial crusade.
Since 2004, more than 1.5 million wholly innocent Iraqi men, women and children have been slaughtered as a result of the illegal invasion and occupation of their country. This can only be termed genocide. In addition, more than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes as internal and external refugees, and the resultant dislocation of Iraq's cultural, political and economic life is near total.
In Afghanistan, tens of thousands of people have been murdered, and the country's infrastructure smashed to pieces as a result of the Anglo-American oil monopolies' quest to control the routes of projected pipelines.
This conference notes with shame the fact that ‘our own' British imperialist Labour government has been a key player in planning and perpetrating these heinous war crimes against the Iraqi and Afghan peoples.
Conference notes that many British workers were browbeaten, by a compliant political and media establishment, into accepting these wars on entirely false premises (Afghan responsibility for the 11 September attacks, Blair's ‘45 minute' claim about Iraqi WMD, etc) that sought to paint Afghanistan and Iraq, rather than Anglo-American imperialism, as the aggressors. Thus the necessary ground was laid to send British and US soldiers (workers in uniform) to do the bankers', oil magnates' and armament manufacturers' dirty work.
This conference believes that war fought to enforce subjection and servitude upon another nation is morally abhorrent; to fight and die in such a cause is demoralising, corrupting and meaningless.
This conference realises that, although individually powerless, collectively, British workers do have the power to stop the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, since the government and corporations cannot fight them without us.
This conference therefore resolves that the coalition will do all in its power to promote a movement of industrial, political and military non-cooperation with all of imperialism's aggressive war preparations and activities among British working people.
Union mobilisation remains key to the success of such a policy, and this conference instructs the incoming Stop the War steering committee to campaign vigorously among trade unions to encourage them to adopt a practical policy encouraging their members to do everything not to support illegal wars or occupations, directly or indirectly; and to render every support to members victimised for taking this principled stand.
This conference welcomes the magnificent examples set by such signal actions as:
- 2002/3: FBU strike action immediately preceding the invasion of Iraq, which threatened the entire enterprise.
- Jan 2003: Fifteen Aslef train drivers refused to move arms from Glasgow factories to Glen Douglas base on Scotland's west coast (which remains Nato's largest European arsenal, and from where they were bound for the Gulf).
- 9 Aug 2006: Protesters occupied the Derry offices of Raytheon when Israel invaded Lebanon, to "prevent the commissioning of war crimes by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon".
- May Day 2008: tens of thousands of US west coast dockers defied court injunctions to strike in protest against US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the decision of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) leadership to withhold official sponsorship for the strike.
- Dec 2008: Smash EDO demonstrators occupied and disabled production at Brighton-based missile-delivery system manufacturer EDO (recently acquired by Armament Giant ITT) during Israel's massacre of Gazans.
- Feb 2009: Norwegian Train drivers staged a national stoppage to protest the Israeli massacre in Gaza.
- Resolutions asking Bectu media workers to resist the transmission of imperialist war propaganda will be considered at the union's forthcoming congress.
British South Asia Solidarity Forum
Stop the US drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
The United States has been flying remote controlled Predator drones over Pakhtoon tribal areas of the NW Frontier Province of Pakistan and targeting so-called suspected areas with Hellfire missiles killing and injuring thousands of innocent men, women and children. These attacks have not been covered much by the mainstream media. Last year, May 2008, Amnesty International, in a letter to President Bush, stated, "A pattern of killings carried out with these weapons appear to reflect a US government policy condoning extra-judicial executions."
If any party dares to enter the US sky without permission, one can well imagine what the punishment will be.
Yet, President Obama has ordered the drone attacks to continue and terrorise innocent men, women and children. This will only result in the losses of more and more Pakhtoon people in a land of their own.
This conference of the Stop the War Coalition demands that the US must stop forthwith drone attacks in the NW Frontier Province of Pakistan.
Coventry Stop the War
- This conference notes that retired high-ranking military personnel, members of the British Legion and 70% of the British people have all reached the same conclusion: the war in Afghanistan cannot be won and our troops should pull out now.
- STW must immediately throw all its energy into channelling these views into one simple form of expression. We should aim to secure a million signatures for a petition to the Prime Minister by the end of 2009 calling for the withdrawal of all UK troops from Afghanistan.
- This must be supported with a range of simple materials which will gain the widest possible acceptance across religious groups, trade unions, political parties, peace and development groups. Resources should be made available via the Stop the War website.
- We need up-to-date factsheets covering losses, injuries, civilian deaths, refugees, costs so far and projected costs.
- We need to produce leaflets, which give reliable information on matters such as: the dangers of the war spreading into Pakistan; the overall ISAF expenditure on the war; the comparison of this with development aid; the uses which could be made of this money in the recession; the corruption of the Afghan system; the names and contact details of all politicians implicated in the decision-making for this war. We also need to expose the bankrupt rationale expressed by defence minister John Hutton – "kill them before they kill us".
- We should make this war an election issue.
Edinburgh Stop the War
Conference reaffirms it's commitment to campaigning for the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan.
Conference supports the call from Edinburgh Stop the War Coalition for a demonstration in Edinburgh in November to coincide with the meeting of NATO defence ministers (13th – 17th November) in that city.
Manchester Stop the War
Conference notes that:
- It was 'anti war' sentiment that initially provided Barack Obama with an electoral opening that led to the replacement of George Bush and his regime's 'war on terror' strategy. The election of Barack Obama raised expectations of millions that the era of permanent war should now be coming to an end. However, with his recent decision to increase the number of US combat troops sent to Afghanistan, spread the war to Pakistan, and further increase military spending, increasing numbers now see the continuation of many features of 'the war on terror', even if under another name.
- While Bush and Blair paid for their wars through borrowing during a period of economic expansion, Obama and Brown are continuing the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan during severe economic crisis and recession.
Conference believes that:
- The core demands raised when STWC was launched should remain in the coming period when the ‘war on terror' is rebranded. The Stop the War Coalition should continue to campaign to: Bring the troops home, Defend our Civil Liberties, and Oppose Islamophobia, and for Freedom for Palestine
- In addition a variety of responses to the economic crisis provide new opportunities to widen the appeal of our anti war message. Those fighting to defend jobs, housing, and schools are open to demands like 'Jobs not Bombs', 'Welfare not Warfare', 'Books not Bombs'. Further those opposed to the greed of the rich bankers are also open to arguments that spending on war should be curtailed.
Conference resolves to:
- Continue our campaigning to Bring the troops home, Defend our Civil Liberties, Oppose Islamophobia, and for Freedom for Palestine
- Take our anti war message to those opposing the effects of the recession by producing leaflets explaining our arguments, placards which highlight our message, sending speakers to make the connections, organising delegations to visit occupations, and building contingents on marches, to connect with those fighting the effects of the recession to the struggle against war.
- Along with our partners in CND, raise again the demand for the scrapping the Trident nuclear replacement ordered by Brown which will cost at least £76 billion.
- Explain that more jobs are created if money is reinvested in civilian, peaceful projects, compared with relatively fewer jobs that are created by investment in the military industries.
Hounslow Stop the War
Right to Protest
On 23 April 1979 Blair Peach was killed by a member of the SPG police unit at an anti National Front demo in Southall. Thirty years later Ian Tomlinson died after being violently attacked by a member of the TSG, the successor to the SPG.
Since the Bush demo of June last year the police have adopted an increasingly confrontational ,and violent approach to peaceful demonstrators, the aim clearly being to make people too frightened to protest. Before the G20 demos the Metropolitan Police warned of violence and even said they were "up for it".
In the face of this escalation of violence by the police the STWC must take every action to ensure our lawful and democratic right to protest is respected. This would include the use of clearly identified legal observers on demos, contacting sympathetic MPs and members of the Metropolitan Police Authority to raise our concerns, and working with other groups such as Liberty to campaign on the right to protest. Stop the War should also support demands for a full and independent public enquiry into the death of Ian Tomlinson, and into policing of demonstrations.
Tower Hamlets Stop the War
- The implementation of the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan by President Obama will achieve no more success than Bush and, in all likelihood, have serious destabilising effects upon Pakistan.
- The strategy, announced on March 27th, and conditioned by the response of allied governments at the NATO summit on April 3rd, recognises that attempts to rely solely upon military efforts have failed. The key new elements of the strategy are – dialogue with sections of the Taliban and insurgency; 21,000 additional troops with a possible further 10,000 in the autumn; a large increase in the army and police of Afghanistan; co-ordinated action in the border areas of Pakistan; large scale military and financial aid to Pakistan; a new Contact Group including Central Asian states, Iran, Russia, India, China alongside NATO allies.
- Despite these additional resources and initiatives, the new strategy represents an expression of the decline of U.S. imperialism and the deepening crisis of the occupation of Afghanistan. Additional troops will not make the intervention more popular amongst the people of Afghanistan. Attempting to split the Taliban and insurgents is an admission that it cannot be defeated in the foreseeable future. Extensive military action inside Pakistan will destabilise the pro-US government, make a military coup more likely, and extend popular opposition to the US intervention in the region. Given the risks, Obama has already spoken of "an exit strategy" from Afghanistan, a suggestion inconsistent with increased intervention but reflecting the growing unpopularity of the war in the US.
- The NATO summit was a setback for this strategy. The largest commitment for additional troops coming from the UK and Poland, 900 and 350 troops respectively. Several important countries, including France, refused any further troops. This was despite the attempts by Obama to secure many thousands of additional NATO troops.
- Inside the UK, the military had lobbied for an immediate increase of 2000 troops to be permanently deployed. Gordon Brown overturned this proposal, with the 900 extra troops being a temporary deployment to assist with security to the August elections in Afghanistan. Aside from the failure of other NATO powers to make anything like the commitment of the US and UK, Brown has to face domestic problems with the issue. Recent opinion polls show nearly two-thirds against the intervention. The cost of the UK military involvement has risen from £738m in 2006/7 to £2.3bn by 2008/9.
- It is vital for Stop the War to undertake some serious initiatives on the issue of Afghanistan. We cannot know how quickly the crisis of the occupation will develop. But we must draw together the widest forces against this immoral and unwinnable war. There is a well-financed campaign in support of the war being waged through TV series, the tabloid press, and other media. Although we cannot hope to match this, we can take some initiatives to create a new debate and organise a broad opposition.
- This AGM therefore agrees:
- To launch a national petition calling for NATO's withdrawal – aiming to present a substantial number of signatures by Labour Party Conference.
- To organise meetings on Afghanistan at all major party conferences.
- To support local STW groups and peace groups holding meetings and debates on the issue.
Kingston Peace Council / CND
We of Kingston Peace Council/CND urge the British Government to redouble its efforts to have the Nuclear Weapons Convention adopted and implemented by the governments of the world.
We further urge out government to undertake to continuously peruse this goal with all diligence until the threat to the world's population from the existence of nuclear weapons is finally and irrevocably removed and a nuclear-weapons-free world is achieved.
The Stop the War Coalition welcomes the US moves to promote global nuclear disarmament but deplores that the US Missile Defence system has not yet been abandoned and that it still remains possible that bases for this purpose will be constructed in Poland and the Czech Republic at some future date.
US Missile Defence takes nuclear weapons into outer space, makes space wars possible and would establish a system of total global military domination by the US.
Although the system is a continuation of Ronald Reagan's cold war Strategic Defence Initiative, the US today argues the system is to defend against Iran. However, Iran is unlikely to develop either a nuclear weapon or a delivery system that could reach Poland or the Czech Republic, let alone the US, in the near future. Russia continues to view itself as the target of US Missile Defence.
The Stop the War Coalition will work with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to campaign vigorously against the US Missile Defence system and will also oppose the use of Fylingdales and Menwith Hill in the UK for this purpose.
The Stop the War Coalition demands that the British Government should oppose US Missile Defence, close Fylingdales and Menwith Hill, but respond positively to US anti-nuclear overtures by abandoning its own Trident nuclear weapons.
The Stop the War Coalition recognises that NATO, instead of contributing to global security, is a factor contributing to its destabilisation.
Our long term aim must be NATO dissolution. Our immediate aims are to stop NATO expansion and secure a British withdrawal from NATO.
South Tyneside Stop the War
Block the Plans for Another Pro-War Government
Recognising that another world is possible is the vision of the anti-war movement and that present pro-war government continues to defy the will of the British people in prolonging the occupation of Iraq, in stepping up its occupation of Afghanistan and in continuing its policy of interference in other sovereign states.
Recognising that the continuation of this criminal pro-war policy, which is not in our name, is the preoccupation of the major political parties that are part of these present and future arrangements which are being prepared and promoted to be put in place at the next general election.
Recognising that, with the severe economic crisis, leaving in place such pro-war arrangements is extremely dangerous for the lives and liberties of the people of Britain and the world. That young people will increasingly be used as cannon fodder for wars of aggression and occupation, to defend the privileged positions of global monopolies and "British interests" and that this will lead the world into an even more dangerous situation.
Recognising that the movement for change must rely first and foremost on its own strength, organisation and sense of justice.
We resolve that the anti-war movement makes preparations to block these plans of present and future pro-war government so as to bring about an anti-war government.
We resolve that the movement should encourage the standing of anti-war candidates in workplaces, communities, and all spheres of society, and make preparations for the people to support such candidates.
Also, we resolve that the anti-war movement continues to work to form an anti-war block with any candidate and organisations that wish to take a stand in their communities for an anti-war government so that every candidate is speaking out against the continued wars and occupations, against the continued militarisation of the economy, against involvement in aggressive military alliances such as NATO, against the stationing of British troops on foreign soil and to take the stand for unity of the people of all nationalities and to defend the rights of all.
Southwark Stop the War
Women and War
- War devastates countless women's lives across the world. The displacement of families, loss of healthcare infrastructure and the death or injury of family breadwinners has an enormous impact on women, who are often the primary carers in the community.
- Women in Iraq are subject to abuse, rape and murder with no investigation from the Iraqi government or occupying forces. Only 10% of Iraqi widows receive help from the government, despite the Iraqi Prime Ministerial expense account rising to $360 million in 2008 (Haifa Zangana).
- 1 in 3 Afghan women experience physical, psychological or sexual violence (IRIN). UNIFEM estimate that 90% of Afghan women are illiterate and that 65% of Kabul's widows are actively suicidal in a society that is unable to support them. The war on terror has made life worse for women in Afghanistan.
- Amnesty International reported that the destruction of Palestinian homes and blockade has deeply affected women as the primary family carers. Many women suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder as they try to cope with losing their homes and families while caring for children. Reproductive health services have been destroyed after the latest assault on Gaza (MAP).
- The war on terror is worsening the lives of women serving in the military. US Department of Defence statistics state that one in three women in the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped by her fellow soldiers.
- The ‘War on Terror' has had a devastating effect on women and women's rights globally.
- The empty rhetoric of ‘women's liberation' to justify illegal wars is hypocritical. Devastating societies through occupation and war cannot bring about equality.
- Violence against women in warfare and the use of women's bodies as ‘weapons' in wartime rape result from militarisation and racism that dehumanises women living in occupied countries.
- The UK government should spend our money on welfare not warfare.
- The success of the antiwar movement is dependent on the inclusion and solidarity of a wide range of women's voices from overseas and the UK.
Conference resolves to:
- Run an International Women's Day conference in March 2010, focusing on women and war. Invite a wide range of women speakers from across the world and the anti-war movement and create a diverse organising committee for this event.
- Seek to increase the number of female speakers from UK and overseas at Stop the War events.
- Work to build closer relationships between Stop the War Coalition and women's organisations overseas and in the UK.
Socialist Workers Party
Conference recognizes the role played by the Stop the War Coalition in building the mass protests against Israel's assault on Gaza after Christmas. The protests and the university occupations represent a high point in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Britain. This offers an important opportunity both further to strengthen and widen solidarity and to take steps towards building an effective Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions campaign supported by the labour movement. Barack Obama is continuing the war on terrorism under new management and so it is vital that the Stop the War Coalition also carries on its work. But the global economic and financial crisis represents a very important change in the political environment in which Stop the War operates. This will mean working with trade unions and other coalitions whose focus is on resisting the effects of the economic crisis and on fighting for social justice and highlighting the connections between the distorted priorities at work in the war on terrorism and those revealed by the banking crisis with slogans such as ‘Jobs not Bombs' and ‘Welfare not Warfare'.
Glasgow Stop the War
Military Families Against War
This conference notes and applauds the central role that MFAW have played in building opposition to the illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This conference notes the consistent and determined efforts of MFAW in the campaign for all British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to be withdrawn and brought home safely.
This conference notes the crisis in army recruitment across the country. MFAW have and will continue to play an important role in exposing the dishonest and manipulative recruitment practices in inherent in the recruitment processes of the armed services.
This conference applauds the joint work over the last two years between MFAW and teaching unions in campaigning against military recruitment in educational establishments; culminating in the EIS and the NUT conferences of 2008 voting against military recruitment in our schools.
Conference calls for a full independent public inquiry into the Iraq war. This inquiry must begin immediately and have as part of its remit the prosecution of all those who knowingly lied and took us into an illegal and disastrous war.