NEWSLETTER NUMBER 2, JULY 2003
Welcome to the second edition of the JUST ACT newsletter! It's time to catch up and to build on what has happened the last month. To view our previous newsletter and to see who we are and what we are about, www.justact.info will do the trick. Feel free to send this newsletter on to anyone you know who might be interested!
Since the birth of our grass roots initiative just over three months ago, we've been establishing contact with various organisations, activists, political parties, think tanks and institutions relevant to our cause. We've been received with tremendous cooperation and support for our initiative, which has inspired us to go on.
In this day and age of globalisation, or rather the decline of economic globalisation as a dominant factor, our quality of life doesn't stop with the accumulation of wealth at the expense of others while proclaiming fine moral values. All talk and no action is nothing more than a hollow shell. We can also choose to accept our individual and collective responsibility and act according to our beliefs. Our focus thereby is on the adherence to international law and treaties, rehabilitation of the UN and in opposition to unilateralism and exploitative (neo-)liberal and/or (neo-)conservative policies.
To feed the global justice movementís momentum, we've committed ourselves to not only talk but also to ACT and to encourage you and others to ACT as well and to take your responsibility as a world citizen seriously. It can be quite simple even though our willingness and/or energy is constrained by our day to day responsibilities in life. But we challenge you to come up with an idea and to share that with us and others. We mean to facilitate your ACT if we can and to serve as a link between you and other citizens or organisations, so get in touch!
DEBATE JULY 1st 2003, AMSTERDAM
Our previous act. After the first debate in Utrecht on May 7th on neo-conservatism and US foreign defence policy, a second debate took place on July 1st in Amsterdam. A transcript of the debate is now available on www.justact.info and as an attachment to this newsletter.
WHOíS AFRAID OF THE US?
ĎThe US is consolidating the Pax Americana. It defends its homeland security and its global interests by using unparalleled economic and pre-emptive military force. States reposition themselves in the new world order and seek to safeguard their (collective) interests. Global public opinion is sceptical of US unilateralism. Both the world justice and the world peace movements flourish in their diversity and level of activism.í
Panel members were Denis Campbell (spokesman American Voices Abroad (AVA)), Frans Timmermans (member of Dutch Parliament for PvdA (Labour), spokesman on defence and involved in drafting the European Convention) and Wilbert van der Zeijden (associate progressive think tank Transnational Institute). A conservative speaker, Bart Jan Spruyt (director of the conservative Edmund Burke Foundation), had also committed himself to participate but was unfortunately unable to join the debate.
The discussion touched upon the shift within US conservatism from isolationism to expansionism as the dominant influence. Since 9-11, conservatives feel they can no longer afford to withdraw from the world outside the US, but feel they have to defend their interests both home and abroad assertively and pre-emptively. Civil rights are being sacrificed for the 'war against terrorism' through for example through the introduction of the Patriot Act, which puts a strain on civil liberties.
With regard to Europe, Frans Timmermans made a case for further European unification in the political sense by means of a common credible European foreign policy and a joint European defence with credible force. Illustrations for the growing gap between the US and Europe were given not only in terms of military capabilities, but in a whole array of subjects like education, growth and productivity, arts. According to Frans Timmermans, the lack of analyses of these gaps is keeping us away from the urgency to come together as a united Europe.
With regard to public movements Wilbert van der Zeijden illustrated the emergence of grass roots networks in for instance SE Asia that are not particularly anti-American, but believe regional actors should deal with regional problems rather than invite interventionists like the US and even Europe. The US and Europe can facilitate regional problem solving capabilities by investing more in a strong 'world governance' led by the UN.
He also explained the future of US hegemony in terms of world system theories. The first fractures in economic globalisation based on neo liberalism as a dominant system had already shown themselves in the 1980's with the economic crisis of that time. In the 1990's recovery seemed to have set in, but this 'revival phase' is considered to be nothing more than a postponement of the 'terminal crisis phase', which will lead to the collapse of the dominant system that supports the current hegemon. The old hegemon may survive by going to a second phase of hegemony or it will be replaced by a next hegemon, for which no candidates are likely within the next 5 years, although China, India and even Europe have the potential to fulfil that role in the future. I no hegemon follows the last one, a power vacuum will occur.
POST DEBATE POLL
After the poll, an audience poll was conducted along the lines of the recent BBC poll 'what the world thinks of America' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/wtwta). The results of this poll were as follows:
1. Is the USA a force for good in the world? (yes 15,4%, either 7,7%, no 76,9%)
2. Does the USA make the world safer? (yes 7,7%, no 92,3%)
3. Is the USA the world's biggest solution or problem? (solution 7,7%, either 7,7%, problem 61,5%, neither 23,1%)
4. Is the EU in touch with the reality outside its Kantesian 'paradise' ? (yes 38,5%, undecided 7,7%, no 53,8%)
5. Should the EU counterbalance US hegemony? (yes 53,8%, either 7,7%, no 38,5%)
6. Do the world peace movement and the world justice movement offer viable alternatives? (yes 61,5%, either 15,4%, no 23,1%)
JUST GET INFORMED
Making your way through all the available information on the internet is a daunting task. Digesting all the newspaper articles from mainstream and independent media, books, academic papers, reports and transcripts of relevant debates is more than any of us can handle. Imagine all the information you can find on these sites:
Common dreams www.commondreams.org
Essential information http://www.essential.org
Global policy forum http://globalpolicy.igc.org
Information clearing house www.informationclearinghouse.info
Le Monde diplomatique http://mondediplo.com/
Smirking Chimp.com www.smirkingchimp.com
The Guardian www.guardian.co.uk
The New York Times www.nytimes.com
The Observer www.observer.co.uk
The Foundation for National Progress www.motherjones.com
Yellow Times www.yellowtimes.org
There are clearly thousands of articles voicing opinions and although every opinion is valuable, and many of them are valid exposure of obvious rights and wrongs, not all of them touch on the more fundamental issues at hand. We believe our focus should be with those documents that are not so much opinionated but have the depth of analysis to make us better understand the world we live in and that try to provide sustainable alternatives for global justice.
That's why we strongly recommend the various site of progressive think tanks around the globe that seem to put all the pieces together and come a long way in understanding the dynamics of global justice and providing sustainable alternatives for states, NGO's and citizens like you and me. We've listed the ones we've come across so far and some of the reports they've produced, which provide essential reading together with the articles these particular sites offer.
- 'The Postmodern state and the world order' www.demos.co.uk/catalogue/default.aspx?id=83
FPIF (Foreign Policy in Focus) www.fpif.org
- Terminating the Bush Juggernaut www.fpif.org/papers/juggernaut/index.html
- Our fateful choice: global leader or global cop? www.presentdanger.org/choice.html
IFG (International forum on globalisation) www.ifg.org
- Alternatives to Economic Globalisation (A Better World is Possible) www.ifg.org/programs/alternatives.html
IPS (Institute for Policy Studies) www.ips-dc.org
- 'Coalition of the willing or coalition of the coerced?' www.ips-dc.org/COERCED2.pdf
PPI (Progressive Policy Institute) www.ppionline.org
- 'America at Risk: A homeland security report card' www.ppionline.org/documents/HomeSecRptCrd_0703.pdf
RISQ (Review of International Social Questions) www.risq.org
TNI (Transnational Institute) www.tni.org
If you know other think tanks and/or reports, feel free to let us know through firstname.lastname@example.org!
Since our focus is not only on giving you access to information, but also on taking direct action ourselves, our next step will be to chart the global justice movement as much as we can and to seek synergy with groups and organisations both home and abroad. In our next newsletter, we'll try to give you an overview of what the global justice movement largely consists of in the hope (and determination) that you will rise too and ACT for what you stand. If this appeals to you, get in touch with us so that together we can combine ripples into a wave for global justice.
To get an insight of how vast and divers the global justice movement has become and how we can move forward, we propose you take a look at the 'Jakarta peace consensus' www.tni.org/acts/jakartaconsensus.pdf.
If you any thoughts or suggestions you'd like to share with us, feel free to let us know.
editor JUST ACT newsletter, Luciano Pitzalis
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