Greenpeace volunteers entered Southampton's Marchwood Military Port letting off coloured flares and setting up a peace camp in the military tanks destined for the Gulf.
Here are a few others:
"If you go out there you will be
blown out of the water by our navy."
"I'm now leaving Greenpeace!!! You
are hurting the Greenpeace name - making the organisation a
political forum against war."
"I've been a Greenpeace supporter in
the past, but after seeing your ships trying to block [military
ships]... I will never send another dime to Greenpeace, which
really is a pity."
"I'm not surprised to see that your
international office is HQ'd in Germany! A perfect place for
(For the record, Greenpeace International is headquartered in
Amsterdam, which is in the Netherlands.)
We're averaging around 300 emails a day here at Greenpeace
International headquarters about our stance against this war. Much
of it is unprintable hate-mail. Some of it expresses surprise and
confusion about why we're taking an anti-war position. Some of it
comes with membership cancellations.
For Karen and Ludmilla in our Supporter Services Department, who
field and respond to this daily barrage, it can be pretty
depressing. Especially when they get asked what they know about
war. Karen grew up in Northern Ireland, surviving the worst of the
troubles. Ludmilla grew up in Czechoslovakia and witnessed the
Velvet Revolution. Their personal experiences of a totalitarian
regime and bloodshed were part of what led them to Greenpeace.
The news isn't all bad. In some of our offices there's been an
oupouring of support for our stance against the war. And while the
mail is 90 percent negative, every now and then, a little spark of
encouragement comes along that they can forward out to our folks in
the field - the people on our ships who have been braving military
security, freezing temperatures, arrest and harassment to stand up
for what they believe in. Here's two examples:
"I want to congratulate you for the
action in Rotterdam concerning that ship with weapons for the next
Gulf War... I am really proud of belonging to and supporting such
an organization as Greenpeace. Keep fighting and try to show the
world that the US themselves do not fulfil many of the conditions
they try to impose on Iraq."
"As an American opposed to the
planned murder of many thousands of Iraqis at the hands of our
government, I salute and congratulate Greenpeace on the blocking of
the Military Port in Iraq protest.
I've long been a Greenpeace
supporter, and remember the active part Greenpeace played in
demonstrations in [Washington] DC against the first Iraq war, and
heard that afterwards that the organization took a real hit in the
form of less people giving money or joining Greenpeace-- So all
that much better that Greenpeace is taking a principled stand on
Iraq and getting out and DOING something about it-- You are setting
a terrific example for the rest of us."
The message above bore a subject line of "Donation and why."
It's the kind of support that keeps us going, both emotionally and
financially. We rely on individual donations from nearly 3 million
people world-wide who give knowing we're going to do the right
thing, even when it hurts.
(Have you donated lately? If you believe we're doing the right
thing in opposing this war, the best way to let us know is by joining us. Still not
sure? Read on.)
But what about Saddam?
We don't support Saddam Hussein. We don't back any governments
or political leaders. When we decided to take a stand against this
war, it was because we see a far greater danger in the concept of
Greenpeace has always been characterised by taking action
against global threats. We hope this is why most of our supporters
signed on in the first place. Regardless of whether this war is
prevented or not, and if not, regardless of who wins and how long
it takes, we honestly believe -no spin, but really in our hearts
believe - that it is wrong, and that in the long term the world
will be a much worse place in which to live.
For one nation to take arms against another because it
believes that nation to be a threat undermines the
foundations of peaceful coexistence, multilateral institutions like
the United Nations, and an "entire web of laws, treaties,
organisations, and shared values," to quote John Brady
Kiesling's letter of resignation from the US diplomatic
As tempting as it may be to those who view Saddam as a cipher of
evil to step in and remove him militarily, one has to ask what's
After the US conducts a preventive war on Iraq, will it set its
sights on Iran? North Korea? And if the US can wage a preventive
war to protect its national security, shouldn't India or Pakistan
have the same right?
This is the first step on a slippery slope. It ends with the
United Nations in tatters and the rule of might making right.
What does Greenpeace have to do with war?
There's a reason that Greenpeace has the word 'peace' in its
We were founded on a disarmament issue, when a boatful of
hippies sailed to stop a nuclear weapons test in Amchitka, in the
Aleutian Islands off Alaska, in 1972. In the decades following we
sailed, walked, and flew against nuclear weapons testing in all the
Nuclear Weapons States, ran campaigns against missiles and
landmines, and stood up against war and its consequences in the
Persian Gulf and Kosovo.
We've not been present or outspoken against all wars, just as
we've not been present or outspoken against all crimes against the
environment. But from our earliest days, Greenpeace has been about
preserving the future of our planet.
Four issues directly inform our campaign against this war:
the nuclear threat: We support the elimination of weapons of
mass destruction. That means the US and other nuclear weapons
states living up to their commitments to disarm -- not just the
states that they oppose. Maintaining a world of nuclear "haves"
which take military action against "have nots" is not the way to
end the nuclear threat.
climate change: This conflict is becoming a war because our
world is dependent on oil. The right path is to secure energy
independence for the US and all nations through renewables -- not
to secure more and more sources of oil.
toxics: War is the ultimate toxic cocktail. If we see the kind
of oil spills and fires that we saw in the last gulf war, along
with the chemical contamination of a conventional war, the region
will suffer another major environmental catastrophe. That's not
even to speak of the possibility of either side using chemical or
corporate responsibility: This war is brought to you by the oil
companies. In particular, Exxon has been driving US dependency on
oil by actively opposing the Kyoto protocol and denying climate
change to be a reality. If the US were on a path to renewable
energy, it wouldn't need to go to war to secure its oil supplies.
As we've said elsewhere, Saddam would be just another
run-of-the-mill tyrant among many in the world today were it not
for the fact that he may sit on up to a quarter of the world's oil
Opposing war with Iraq is not a departure from Greenpeace's
agenda -- it's part of a continued opposition to policies and
actions that threaten our world's future.
In the days of the cold war, our disarmament policies led to
accusations from both sides: in the West that we were funded by the
KGB, in the East that we were funded by the CIA. There was a time
when our policies against nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific
almost forced us to shut the doors of our Paris office for lack of
national support. And our actions against whaling have always
crippled support for Greenpeace in Japan.
What matters to us is not that we're popular, but that we're
following our conscience, and that enough people of conscience
agree with us to keep us going.
If you support that principle, and you support our view that
this war is wrong, please support Greenpeace.
Karen and Ludmilla could use some new pen-pals.