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The International Action Center’s first two decades: A beacon of struggle for the world’s anti-imperialists

January 9, 2013

Since the International Action Center originated in 1992 out of two small rooms in former Attorney General Ramsey Clark’s law office, this organization has played a unique and vital role by combating the U.S. imperialist offensive aimed at reconquering those parts of the world that had won some independence and sovereignty between 1945 and 1991.

<small><b>Reclaiming May Day in the U.S. 2005-2012.<br>
<small>photo: Greg Butterfield
</b></small></small>

Reclaiming May Day in the U.S. 2005-2012.
photo: Greg Butterfield

From the beginning, the IAC stood up against the juggernaut of pro-imperialist propaganda to mobilize resistance to this series of wars where possible. Its activists always worked to confront Washington and educate the people around the most difficult issues. By showing the world that right in the belly of the beast there were people who fought against the imperialist offensive, the IAC was a beacon to the world’s anti-war forces. The alliance of a prestigious former U.S. attorney general and anti-imperialist militants enabled this effort.

The group’s actions consistently showed how the struggles against aggressive war and plunder abroad required solidarity with the anti-racist, pro-worker and anti-bigotry struggles at home. The IAC has been especially active in struggles defending the rights of the Muslim communities against frame-up trials and bigoted attacks. Throughout its 20 years, it has supported all anti-racist and workers’ struggles against the ruling-class offensive at home.

International war crime tribunals

<small><b>Justice for Trayvon Martin, Baltimore 2012.<br>
<small>photo: Sharon Black
</b></small></small>

Justice for Trayvon Martin, Baltimore 2012.
photo: Sharon Black

The Pentagon and its NATO allies had the advantage of destructive military power and a near-monopoly on the media. The IAC made sure that the imperialists would not be the only ones to write the history of these wars and thus cover up their crimes. Whether the pretext for aggression was “self defense” or an alleged need for “humanitarian” action, these were mere excuses for the worst war crime: launching a war of aggression.

Key activists who opposed the 1991 Gulf War formed the IAC. That war ended in a military victory for the imperialist “coalition” and a slaughter of Iraqis.

Ramsey Clark’s legal arguments, based on the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Geneva Conventions, set the framework for a public prosecution of the U.S. for its atrocities. His indictments became the basis for international hearings and tribunals in 25 U.S. cities and 19 countries around the world.

These mass events helped form the IAC’s network, which went on to oppose the murderous sanctions that killed 1.5 million Iraqis, including 500,000 children. A series of international tribunals in 2004 also exposed the 2003 U.S.-British aggression against and occupation of Iraq.

The IAC also condemned U.S. and NATO leaders in a series of international tribunals and hearings on NATO war crimes against Yugoslavia during the 78-day bombing attacks in 1999. The IAC also helped organize the Korea International War Crimes Tribunal in June 2001, with sessions in Seoul, Pyongyang and New York City.

Solidarity delegations

The IAC sent delegations to Yugoslavia during the bombings and solidarity shipments of material aid to Iraq during the murderous sanctions. IAC activists went to the Central African Republic to interview kidnapped President Bertrand Aristide after the U.S. enabled the second coup in Haiti in 2004.

The above investigations led to books that not only exposed U.S. war crimes but also the hidden U.S. corporate interests in the wars — a view almost entirely absent in the political debate. They also produced a book condemning the U.S. use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq and Yugoslavia, and, with the Peoples Video Network, a full-length documentary video, “Poison DUst.”

The IAC also protested the 1993 U.S. intervention in Somalia, carried out under the guise of “famine relief,” and more recently mobilized against the drone attacks currently killing people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The IAC has been a major organizing force in demonstrations, rallies and meetings in support of Palestine, while sending support delegations to the 2000 uprising, the second “intifada,” and on a Viva Palestina caravan to Gaza in 2010 in defiance of Israeli terror. It sent eyewitnesses on a fact-finding delegation days after the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 to report on the Lebanese population’s resistance.

The IAC sent solidarity delegations to Chiapas following the 1994 uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Mexico, went to Colombia in solidarity with its embattled labor unionists, and to Honduras to support the popular resistance to the regime that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya. The IAC sent delegations to socialist Cuba and Bolivarian Venezuela and helped organize mass meetings in the U.S. in solidarity with those revolutions and to free the Cuban Five political prisoners.

In 2006, as the U.S. government and corporate media intensified their war propaganda against Iran, the IAC helped form Stop War on Iran, which has held marches, rallies, vigils, teach-ins, honk-for-peace picket lines and leaflet distributions to protest U.S.-Israeli war threats against Iran. The IAC equally participated in campaigns against U.S. bases in the Philippines.

Coalition building

Since its inception, the IAC has sought to work in coalition with other organizations in an attempt to build united mass actions against U.S. war and repression, both at home and abroad.

In the days immediately following 9/11, the IAC sprang into action, knowing that Washington would use the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as a pretext for more imperialist war. The IAC helped form the Answer Coalition, which within weeks brought thousands to Washington to denounce the bogus “war on terror” against Afghanistan as well as Muslim communities in the U.S. It later organized demonstrations of hundreds of thousands trying to stop the invasion of Iraq.

As new U.S. wars appeared on the horizon, the IAC helped initiate the United National Antiwar Coalition in 2010. UNAC held protests to denounce the imperialist war in Libya and rallied forces from around the country to challenge the 2012 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was held in Chicago, and UNAC has consistently denounced U.S.-NATO intervention against Syria.

Source: IAC document on its history

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UPDATED Jan 11, 2013 9:04 PM
International Action Center • Solidarity Center • 147 W. 24th St., FL 2 • New York, NY 10011
Phone 212.633.6646 • E-mail: iacenter@iacenter.org • En Español: iac-cai@iacenter.org