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“Human Shields” in Iraq have political task

6. March 2003

Discussions whether to protect civilian or strategic targets

Some hundred people from the Western world followed the call to serve as human shields in Iraq. As the US aggression is approaching there are intensive discussion among the participants about the scope and aim of the mission. As the group is highly heterogeneous it different opinions prevail.

There is an important mainly Anglo-Saxon tendency which combines naïve pacifism with an overestimation of their own role. O´Keefe, ex-marine who apparently has kept the behaviour of American soldiers, is their protagonist trying to impose himself as leader of the entire movement. They retain that the human shields would be able to detain the US from attacking and that the war still can be averted. Therefore, according to them, the human shields should be deployed on strategic targets such as power plants, bridges and even oil refineries – all targets which had been bombed right in the first days of the attack in 1991 and will be prime targets also now. While in this regard they coincide with the view of the Iraqi authorities they recently provoked a conflict endangering the entire mission as they where not willing to select the targets in consultation with the authorities.

On the other hand there is a coalition of forces that base their politics on the assessment that the US have already taken the decision to wage war. In that prospective the human shield mission assume a political task to strengthen the world-wide resistance against the warmongers and not a military one to protect strategic targets – a role some of the human shields have assumed despite their pacifist allegiance. The anti-imperialist forces insist on the civilian character of the targets to be stationed on. Thus they engaged to pitch their tents on the roof of the children´s hospital in Baghdad also to remind the world of the appalling impact of the decade long embargo and of the use of depleted uranium by the US. Unfortunately the Iraqi authorities declined the request to protect the children´s hospital but an agreement was reached and the human shields have taken position on water purification plants and similar civilian installation.

The militants of the Anti-imperialist Camp in Baghdad support the civilian profile of the human shield mission also given its wide political range. We consider it to be the wrong signal to tell the world that it would be possible to stop the bellicose machine of US imperialism by exposing its moral rottenness. Imperialism will not hesitate to kill also Western human shields. To let oneself be killed without any attempt of self-defence is in the last instance a moralist posture of an impotent pacifism. Our message must be the exact contrary – the struggle against the imperialist war and the imperialist world system led by the US is possible which, however, does not imply that we can avert this impending war. First of all in Europe and the US the war must be confronted by a powerful movement trying to detract the support for it, to block politically and physically the military preparations (like the blockade of the Thessalonica port in 1999 against the attack on Yugoslavia) and to finally try to topple the war governments. The human shields should serve that movement showing that the aggressor is the US and their allies. Thus it is necessary to overcome a neutralist position and to side with Iraq weakening imperialism. The Iraqi defence – first of all the popular one – must be supported as well as the resistance against the occupation troops.