4-6 May 2001

By Karl Grossman

The board of directors of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space has been expanded to provide for representatives from more of the world following the group’s international meeting held in Leeds, United Kingdom drawing participants from 20 countries (including Australia, South Korea, Norway, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium.)

The three-day event from May 4 to 6 began with a protest at the Menwith Hill military facility near Leeds, a key U.S. coordination center of space military activities. Helen John, a member of the Global Network board, was arrested at the action

This was followed by a rally in Leeds City Centre with music and speakers from the international representatives at the conference.

The following day, at the University of Leeds, there was a conference packed with speakers and workshops. Dave Knight, chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the U.K., opened the proceedings by noting that “this is a very timely conference” as the Bush administration was pushing aggressively ahead on its Star Wars program.

Among the speakers was Jeremy Corbyn, a member of the British Parliament, who described the U.S. Star Wars program as “complete madness.” Reflecting on the gathering, Corbyn declared: “We have a movement here!”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network, declared that the broad spread of countries that the more than 200 people in attendance came from constituted the “biggest representation” in differing nationalities that the Global Network has had at one of its annual international conferences since its founding in 1992.

Having this Global Network gathering in the U.K. was important because the group would “help build a fire under [Prime Minister] Tony Blair’s ass”—to prevent him from supporting the U.S. Star Wars program, Gagnon said.

Later at the conference, Helen John announced that she would be challenging Blair for his Parliament seat making Star Wars the major issue in the campaign.

“Star Wars,” said Gagnon, “is about corporate power, corporate domination” and unless it is stopped it will be “stealing our future.” He spoke of how, back in the U.S., some leaders of the Democratic Party and “some in the peace movement” are beginning to describe the Star Wars program as “a lemon that won’t work.” Given “enough money,” parts of the program will work, said Gagnon, and the “argument can’t be about whether it will work or not” but instead should challenge the horrible U.S. scheme of seeking “control” of space and “domination” of Earth below.

Dr. Atsushi Fujioka, director of the Institute for Peace and Human Rights Studies in Kyoto, Japan criticized the U.S. Space Command motto of “Master of Space” stating that “humankind will never be master of space…We are all children of Mother Earth and Mother Space.”

Edward Appiah Brafoh of the Green Earth Organization in Ghana described the U.S. Star Wars program as “showing nothing but greed and selfishness.” He said: “It is peace we want in this world, not war. War is expensive. Peace is priceless.” The Star Wars program is a “recipe for violence and war,” he said. "

Dr. Philip Webber, chair of UK-based Scientists for Global Responsibility, said that the U.S. Star Wars program “creates a grave risk of re-igniting the global nuclear arms race, undermining international security and wastes resources which could be used to the benefit of the world’s people and the environment.” Dr. Webber advised: “Don’t let anybody fool you,” the lasers the U.S. seeks to deploy in space “are not defensive.” The U.S. Space Command, he said, “makes hawks look like doves” and seek to project power from space to exercise “dominion.” He said, “Frankly, the biggest rogue state around is America.”

Dr. Alla A. Yaroshinskaya, former advisor to the president of Russia and president of Russia’s Ecological Fund, said the U.S. “son of Star Wars” program could cause a return of the Cold War. If the U.S. moves ahead with the scheme, Russia as well as China will be compelled to counter the U.S. program and there would be a “breakdown” in the “whole world order.”

Dr. Caroline Lucas, a Green Party member of the European Parliament from the U.K., said that space must be seen as a “wilderness area” to which humanity should not “spread war” and leave a “junkyard.” She said: “We have a chance to stop something horrific before it happens—if we start now…We must keep space for peace.”

Alice Slater of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment said that with the Bush administration, the “U.S. is out of the closet” in pushing Star Wars. Star Wars “is about the U.S. military first enforcing U.S. corporate domination of the world,” said the president of the U.S.-based organization. The scheme can and must be stopped, she said. “We all have to work together—representatives from every continent.”

She noted George W. Bush’s “announcement this week that he is prepared to go full-steam ahead” with the U.S. Star Wars program. “The gauntlet has been thrown down to people of good will to prevent the heavens from being turned into a new frontier of war and to forestall a new nuclear arms race,” said Slater.

The three-day event closed with a morning meeting of the Global Network at which the board was enlarged to 14 members to provide for representatives from more of the world. Also at the meeting, strategy was developed and activities discussed for the year ahead. This will include an International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space that the Global Network is organizing for October 13, 2001.

(See Conference web-site;
and Star Wars protesters to stage summit in Yorks
See also: Star Wars scheme triggers protest in city
and ‘Global arms race’ fears of peace protesters.)

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