A.N.S.W.E.R. Appeal to Sanrizuka-Shibayama farmers League Alliance

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A.N.S.W.E.R. Appeal to Sanrizuka-Shibayama farmers League Alliance

Dear Sanrizuka-Shibayama farmers League Alliance fighting against the expansion of the Narita Airport,

I am honored to be here on behalf of the A.N.S.W.E.R coalition. The word A.N.S.W.E.R stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

We are greatly inspired by the Sanrizuka-Shibayama farmers League. We are in solidarity with the heroic struggle you have been waging against the expansion of the Narita Airport, against U.S. and Japanese imperialism. I bring messages of solidarity from groups in the U.S. that are also fighting airport pollution and expansion; groups who gain strength from your protracted struggle.

My great respect for Japanese farmers goes back to my high school summers in the 1950's and 60's in the state of Oregon where I grew up. There are many farmers of Japanese origin in the Pacific Northwest. One Japanese family named Hasuike, owned many acres of strawberries and raspberries. I earned money to pay for my clothes by picking berries in their fields every summer. I still have fond memories of those berry fields each time I smell the first strawberry of the season.

Solidarity between workers around the world is especially important at this hour. The Bush Administration has followed through on its promise to "Shock and Awe" Iraq by dropping thousands of bombs and missiles on the 5 million people living in Baghdad.

The world couldn't imagine an act of terrorism as horrible as the instant annihilation of 200,000 Japanese by U.S. Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. But with Iraq, this horrible unprovoked assault on a nation already weakened by 12 years of sanctions is one of the most extreme terrorist acts of modern times.

Cruise missiles launched from submarines and aircraft carriers hundreds of miles away and 3,000 lb. bombs dropped from 30,000 ft. up. It should be clear by now. The U.S. government claims they want to liberate the people of Iraq, to set up a democracy and enforce the just demands of the world. Their real goal is to set up a military occupation of Iraq under the command of Gen. Tommy Franks who led the first Persian Gulf War. Washington's democracy is riddled with holes.

The world has entered a new phase. The war on Iraq is a signal to the everyone on the globe that the Bush Administration plans to use brutal violence and terrorism in order to achieve its objectives of conquest and occupation: To create a new era of the U.S. Empire: And Iraq is a stepping stone on this path of conquest.

The National Security Strategy Document issued last September by the Bush administration blatantly and arrogantly states their objectives. They say" that the president has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened up since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago."

They say, "Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling the power of the United States."

The document is filled with military threats, including the right to first strike. To the right-wing military in the U.S. establishment, this document is their dream come true.

The U.S. rulers are driven by their capitalist system. But markets are drying up. Big Money is unable to turn around the growing worldwide capitalist economic crisis. Global corporations and imperialist ruling classes have become pitted against each other.

The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz gangs have a plan. It is a plan to use the overwhelming military might of the Pentagon to establish their economic dominance. They want not only to rule the Third World, but also to squeeze their rival imperialist powers into submission, in Europe and here in Japan.

The war against Iraq, as well as the threats to Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Palestinians, and Zimbabwe are about stopping any regime that challenges the right of U.S. corporations and the pentagon from dominating the world.

The U.S. has given Israel $100 billion in military support since 1967,making the Israeli army among the top 5 in the world.
But, they consider it a high crime if the Palestinian people get one shipload of small arms to resist U.S./Israeli F-16s, helicopters and warships.

They want everyone to play by U.S. rules; force them to help build the U.S. Empire. But its a dangerous strategy-it is mostly dangerous now for the people of Iraq and people around the world. It is even risky for their own stability. To Washington's shock and awe, they are awakening the hatred of people all over the world. Their plans have ignited a worldwide movement of opposition and solidarity.

They have lost all legitimacy and they are isolated. The people's movement has deprived them of the any thin claim to legality.

They have lost even in the United Nations. This world body had given in to U.S. wishes for over 50 years. It backed U.S. military intervention in Korea. It backed the first Gulf war in 1991. But the UN could not go along with this latest case of outright naked aggression.

The war abroad is accompanied by a sharp escalation in the war at home in the U.S.--a racist war of the billionaire class to intensify its exploitation of the workers of this country.

The ruling class in the United States depends on the loyalty of the workers. But in the last two years more than 2 million jobs have permanently disappeared. The official poverty rate has doubled. The U.S. Constitution has been shredded by repressive laws.

Workers are beginning to see that their enemies are not in Baghdad but in Washington. That's where decisions are made to divert hundreds of billions of dollars from social programs, education and health care. This money is instead used to fund an unjust war. Every poll shows declining support for the war.

We want to build firm solidarity with all of you here today as well as with workers and farmers all over the world. We are in the same struggle against the global banks and corporations who have been destroying our local economies, robbing us of jobs, health care, education, clean water and air, and stealing the farm land to build military airports like Narita. To understand how A.N.S.W.E.R was born, it helps to look at events in the U.S. before September 11

I am a member of the International Action Center, one of 11 groups on the steering committee of the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition.
Before A.N.S.W.E.R. began, the International Action Center organized a demonstration on Bush's first official day in office, January 20, 2001. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington to protest the illegally elected president, representative of the most reactionary, racist group in the U.S. ruling class.

Later that year we began organizing a protest for September 29 to coincided with the major annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Tens of thousands were expected to converge in Washington DC, as they had a year and a half before in Seattle. They would protest the destructive role played by the IMF and World Bank around the world. This protest was gaining tremendous momentum when, on September 11, something that no one expected happened. The World Trade Tower Event.

Our main office is located in lower Manhattan in New York City. Many of our friends worked in or near the World Trade Center. Some walked up to our office covered in dust and soot. Others had planned to go in late that day.

Some who we know never made it out and were among the thousands of missing whose pictures plastered every lamppost and bus stop in the city. Others were Emergency Medical Workers and doctors who began working around the clock to help the wounded.

We could tell it would be a major political event even before the dust settled. It soon became clear that the Bush administration was using this as an excuse to head towards a major, open-ended war in Afghanistan and possibly the Middle East.

Before the bombs dropped in Afghanistan, another war began within the United States. In the weeks following September 11, thousands of attacks took place against Arab, South Asian, Muslim and Sikh people. The federal government immediately stationed police and Natural Guard troops all over cities, arresting what is now over 1,000 people--most of Middle Eastern descent--who are still being held without charges or access to attorneys.

Many progressive groups retreated or even collapsed in the face of this dramatically changed political environment. Some denounced those who wished to protest. Some said that it was no longer appropriate to hold street protests.

They said the public would not understand demonstrations anymore, that we would be brutally repressed, that this was different, that the U.S. had been attacked, that we couldn't just start protesting like we did with other U.S. wars of aggression.

In the face of this massive war threat there were those of us who disagreed, who felt that action was not only important but also imperative. We formed a new coalition called International A.N.S.W.E.R. Act Now to Stop War & End Racism.

Within days it was joined by over 500 organizations and prominent individuals from all over the U.S. and the world. It includes major social justice organizations, religious leaders, high school and college student organizations, antiwar groups and more.

On September 29 just 2 weeks after 9-11, over 40,000 people came into the streets across the United States to say no to a war in Afghanistan or in the Middle East. In Washington DC, our protest against Bush, the IMF and the World Bank became a protest of 25,000 people against war. 15,000 more demonstrated in San Francisco, and thousands more in Los Angeles; Denver, Colorado; Chicago; and Houston, Texas.

Many of us who protested the Vietnam war are asking. How are these antiwar demonstrations different than those during the 60's and 70's?

During the Vietnam War a U.S. commander explained that U.S. soldiers were burning a peasant village in order to save it from communism. Today Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld have announced they are burning Baghdad to save it from the Iraqi Government.

How is the development of a movement in the United States against the war on Iraq different from the movement at the time of the Vietnam War? How is the social situation in the U.S. different now?

The first obvious difference is the rapid rise of this peoples' movement. It has involved hundreds of thousands of people in street protests even before the main assault against Iraq began.

At the first antiwar demonstration in September, there was already a consciousness, especially in New York City, that the painful World Trade Center event would be used to promote war and a racist assault against Muslims and Arabs. The several organizations that came together as A.N.S.W.E.R kept building the movement. It called national antiwar demonstrations on April 20, Oct. 26, and then January 18.

Each time the numbers doubled from the previous protests, so that by this January half a million people demonstrated in Washington, D.C. and a quarter of a million on the West Coast. Fourteen million people around the world.

Other coalitions also began forming as the war came nearer. This Feb. 15, in coordination with a worldwide call issued from European antiwar groups, all the coalitions opposing the war organized a massive protest in New York City of half a million.

Since the horrendous bombing of Baghdad and other cities started, there have been protests large and small all over the United States, with the largest taking place on March 22 in New York and San Francisco again.

There has been more participation from the Workers' movement than during the Vietnam War. A growing number of labor unions are passing resolutions against the war. Students have been walking out of high schools and colleges. Dozens of unions have gone on record against the war. Antiwar resolutions have passed in over 100 city councils.

During the Vietnam era, it took more than five years of war and many, many casualties of both Vietnamese and U.S. forces for the movement to reach this level of intensity.

Why is there such widespread antiwar sentiment in the United States today?

Part of it has to do, with the widespread perception that the presidency of George W. Bush is illegitimate. That he did not win the popular vote in 2000 and used electoral fraud and intimidation to steal the election, especially in the state of Florida where his brother, Jeb Bush, is governor.

Black voters in particular had been disenfranchised, and the right-wing Cuban-Americans had been used to intimidate election boards. When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to order a recount of the votes, however, the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, conceded the election.

If Bush had stayed within the channels of previous presidents on foreign policy, this might have been forgotten. But instead he took advantage of the September 11 attacks and immediately began an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy.

The war on Afghanistan, supposedly to destroy Al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, was really waged to expand U.S. military control in Central Asia. And it was only the opening in a much larger quest for world domination. The war on Iraq is phase 2 of this plan.

Is the U.S. public aware of all this? Not the majority. But the antiwar movement is, and they also know of the intimate connection between members of the Bush administration and powerful U.S. corporations.

This includes Bush himself, vice president, Dick Cheney, and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. They and their corporations will gain huge profits from control over Iraqi oil and from the contracts being handed out by the Pentagon right now for reconstruction of Iraq under U.S. domination.

A second difference between now and the Vietnam era is that in 1968 the ruling class here was split on the war. This allowed a large part of the antiwar movement to follow behind a bourgeois politician or political party that was tactically against the war but not against imperialism.

Today, the ruling class and all the politicians and media all support Bush. The movement has grown up in opposition to the ruling class public opinion. This has made it easier for a clearly anti-imperialist coalition to play a big role in organizing the demonstrations.

A third difference between now and 1968 is the economic situation of people in the United States. There is a deeper understanding that this war is not about freedom and democracy but about huge profits for the U.S. capitalist class and its political agents. This awareness is growing at a time of spreading economic suffering.

Official unemployment is at 6 percent and mass layoffs are taking place every week. Almost 45 million people are without health coverage of any kind. The diversion of hundreds of billions of dollars every year to the military budget is responsible for a critical budget deficit, especially of state and local governments.

Tens of thousands of government workers are losing their jobs as essential social programs are cut. Social Security, which includes government pensions and assistance to the disabled, is facing a crisis manufactured by this administration. So is Medicare, which provides health insurance to the elderly.

Add this to the hundreds of billions of dollars lost from worker's company and private pension plans because of the falling stock market and corporate bankruptcies and it is clear that seniors now face real disaster.

Personal debt is at an all-time high in the United States. The average household owes $8,500 in credit card debt alone not counting home mortgages, automobiles bought on credit, and so on.
Many, workers depend on working overtime or two jobs to make ends meet. The average married woman with children at home works 46 hours a week at a paying job in addition to her tasks at home.

Millions of workers are unemployed and the number is growing. Homelessness is on the rise again. Many of those sleeping on park benches, in autos and under bridges are veterans. Some are veterans of the first Gulf War.

During the Vietnam War many high school friends were drafted. At this time, there is no military draft in the United States. But poverty has driven many young men and women to enlist.

They are promised an education and skills to improve their lives once they complete their tour of duty. But instead they are being given guns and told to invade someone else's country. All these conditions are combining to bring people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds together into the antiwar movement.

For years, the Vietnam movement was characterized by a generation gap. Young people, especially draft-age men, were militantly opposed to the war while their parents supported it or were quiet. That is no longer the case.

Today, along with thousands of youth, demonstrations are filled with old lefties that protested Vietnam 35 years ago. We are marching along side our children. The movement is multigenerational and our chants are: No war in our name, Money for jobs, housing, and health care, Social Security and Medicare, not for war.

One last difference that must be mentioned is that organizing has been revolutionized in the new millennium through the use of the Internet. Using the worldwide web has had a profound effect on the speed at which demonstrations are organized. Leaflets are quickly downloaded, reproduced and distributed simultaneously in many locations.

Demonstrations can be organized almost spontaneously. What an irony because the Internet was first developed by the Pentagon to meet its own needs for high-speed communication for military research and development.

People don't trust the media anymore. Many get their news on-line. People can see pictures of what's actually happening all around the world. The U.S. media can no longer hide the truth. Answer puts out news updates with our take on the demonstrations and our political analysis--a real alternative to the New York Times and CNN.

I want to report on the most recent events taking place in the U.S. since the war began.

On the day first day of the war, 5,000 to 10, 000 people packed into Times Square in New York City in the pouring rain chanting:
The biggest terrorists in the USA are the FBI and the CIA and What we need in the world today is regime change in the USA.

On March 22, coordinated demonstrations took place across the U.S. Hundreds of thousands protested against the invasion of Iraq. In New York City more than 250,000 people took over the streets in a march that spanned more than 40 blocks. In San Francisco, 75,000 people demonstrated and there were thousands in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and other major cities.

Since March 20, there has been a tremendous outpouring of people marching in local demonstrations and performing civil disobedience actions all over the U.S. Almost daily, hundreds of thousands demonstrate in the streets.

Since March 20, no part of the planet is free from mass protests. A wave of antiwar protests has been circling the globe since Washington launched its missiles at Baghdad. The movement that showed its strength Feb. 15 has grown broader and deeper. Never before have people in the U.S. and worldwide expressed their opposition to a war with such fervor and in such overwhelming numbers.

All around the world U.S. flags are burning. U.S. embassies in major capital cities have been blown up or set on fire.

In the 19th century British imperialism boasted that the sun never set on its empire. Since March 20 the sun hasn't set on antiwar protests against U.S. imperialism.

ANSWER's plans for the future depend on many things.

First there is the question of whether the Iraqi people can resist the U.S. military machine. This depends on how the movement develops in the rest of the world. In countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, even Germany or Britain, they might be able to hold a general strike. This would help our movement at home.

The longer the Iraqis are able to resist the more the worldwide antiwar movement will grow and the more militant and anti-imperialist it will become.

The struggle against imperialism is complex on the one hand but on the other hand it is simple. It's like going to the kitchen to boil water for a cup of tea. You turn on the stove. You put water in the pan and wait.

You wait and wait for the water to boil. Nothing seems to happen for a long time. Then all of a sudden it's boiling. Human society is the same way. There are long periods where you are working for change and working for change but things but nothing seems to happen.

Then. All of a sudden the water starts boiling and lots of things start to happen. Like in these hard but important times right now. People are losing sleep, working day and night to quickly organize the mass demonstrations erupting in the streets, to write and distribute literature, negotiate and battle with the cops, talking with other organizations and making new contacts.

But we have to remember that 10 years ago was the real hard time. With the fall of the Soviet Union the U.S. increased its militarization and worldwide aggression. We had to fight the demoralization of a whole movement and wait. But we knew the pot would boil. We knew the flame was under the pot.

Now our movement is beginning to boil. In the days ahead our job in New York is to bring the war home. Into the streets. Make it political.

The next step for the A.N.S.W.E.R. is a call for massive and coordinated demonstrations to take place around the world on April 12. Protests are already scheduled for Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the Philippines, Italy, Sweden, England, Germany and the U.S. Other protests are currently in the planning stages and will be announced soon.

In England the group organizing for April 12 is the Stop the War Coalition UK. They are the ones that organized over 1.5 million people to demonstrate in London on February 15.

In the U.S. we are calling on people and organizations to surround the White House on April 12 and hold local demonstrations in cities across the country.

Our plan is to keep up the pressure. Turn up the heat. Urge everyone to stay in the streets. We will to continue to organize against Bush whose economic policy is now clear: Steal from the poor and give to the rich.

Now is the time to organize, organize, and organize. The flag waving-support of the troops is shallow and many more workers are about to enter the antiwar fervor. We want to be there to greet them.

I am very moved by the strong will and stamina of the Sanrizuka-Shibayama farmers League Alliance and your tenacious fight against the expansion of the Narita Airport

Before coming to Japan I discovered that there are 3,000 airports undergoing expansion in the U.S. 400 of these are in major cities. I made contact with a few of the hundreds of groups, which have formed to fight airport expansions.

One of these struggles took place in 1966 just 20 miles from where I live. There was an attempt to turn a large wetland into a major international airport called The Great Swamp airport. However, it was defeated after 5 years. The group that grew out of this struggle became the New Jersey Conservation League now buys land to keep it from being developed. They have prevented 4 other airports from being constructed.

Just outside New York City they are trying to expand a smaller airport. This would pollute the Kensico Reservoir, which supplies 9 million New Yorkers with 90% of our drinking water. Besides using up land around the reservoir, expansion of this airport would pollute the actual water supply.

If this happens, New York City will have to build a $BILLION water--treatment facility! A group of activists is opposing ANY effort to expand the airport. They have prevented the building of a hangar and a "deicing facility." One leader in this movement, was familiar with the Sanrizuka-Shibayama farmers League Alliance and your struggle here at Narita airport.

I brought a message of solidarity from a group at O'Hare airport in Chicago called AReCO (Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare). Their website has information about struggles across the United States, and many health problems caused by airports such as noise pollution and increased rates of cancer among residents living around airports.

According to O'Hare's own data, the airport produces more than 18% of the known carcinogens in their county of 5.4 million people. The county suffers some of the highest cancer and respiratory-problem rates in the whole country! AReCO found that the highest cancer rates were concentrated in the areas around the airport.

I would like to read a letter of solidarity Jack Saporito wrote.
It begins: To the courageous members of the Sanrizuka-Shibayama Anti-Airport League . . .

I have learned much reading the history of your struggle against the Narita airport. You have given me strength.

What inspires me most is that you are a collective and have been organizing collectively.

Second, your group is extremely dedicated and committed. You have kept going through many ups and downs and it's made a difference.

Third, you are working on many fronts and using a variety of tactics.

Fourth, that you are building alliances with others. You link your fight with the other struggles of the people who are also fighting for a decent life

And fifth, you have so clearly linked your fight to save the microorganisms in your soil with the bigger issues of exploitation, globalization and imperialistic war!

We in A.N.S.W.E.R are grateful for this chance to build solidarity with the hard working, steadfast workers and farmers of Japan.

Long live the struggle of Sanrizuka-Shibayama farmers League against the expansion of the Narita International Airport!
Long live solidarity between workers and farmers of Japan the United States!
Long live the solidarity of all the peoples of the world!


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