Boycotts Brew as Baghdad Burns
In response to a war waged in opposition to worldwide public opinion, activists and regular citizens from Toledo to Tokyo are taking up the boycott in hopes of deterring the USA from continuing its attacks on Iraq.
Activist groups have organized some of the boycott efforts; others are direct expressions of public opinion.
Boycotts getting organized: many of the major boycott campaigns have banded together under the umbrella group the Global Boycott for Peace, or GBP.
Among the members of the GBP, boycott efforts have included:
The International group for Direct Economic Action against war (IDEA) continues its flexible boycott strategy, offering boycotters options for both general and targeted boycotts, listing the top 2, 10, and 20 boycott targets
San Francisco-based BoycottUS rallied local support as protests continued in the City by the Bay
13 members of the European Parliament signed on for a boycott of US corporations sponsored by the boycott organization For Mother Earth
New Zealanders launched Stop USA, a group of "mad Kiwi consumers" dedicated to promoting a U.S. boycott in the South Pacific
In Japan, Peace Choice Campaign has begun a grassroots campaign to boycott U.S. goods
Halving her credit cards in protest, American Liz Snyder launched Stop Spending, which includes a personal "spending blog" about participating in the boycotts
Also in the USA, the cyber campaign known as We Won't Shop Until Attack Talk Stops has Americans pledging to reduce their consumer spending by a dollar amount, currently pledges total $166,250
In Australia, Peace Action offers "the B-lists" offering consumers comprehensive lists of corporations who both support and oppose the war against Iraq
In the USA, Be the Cause has also continued to target specific brands (such as Kraft and Philip Morris) for a consumer boycott
In New Zealand, Spend for Peace continues its boycott of US products, encouraging boycotters to write letters to companied, political leaders, and US ambassadors
German cyber-campaign Consumers Against War advocates a boycott of a couple of dozen American brands
Collectively, Global Boycott for Peace, along with For Mother Earth, is sponsoring its first day of direct boycott actions on April 15th 2003. Protesters around the globe will voice their plans to boycott at local shopping districts, gas stations, and strip malls across the globe. Sponsored by the International Peace Bureau, these nonviolent actions are not against the American people or American soldiers, but against the American administration and its policies.
Other boycotts include:
Influential Vancouver-based Adbusters Magazine continues to promote its "Boycott Brand America" campaign, where 37715 individuals have pledged to boycott major American brands "until the empire learns to listen"
Potesters in Tokyo urged a boycott of US-made products, and displayed a list of popular US brands to be spurned, including, Nike, Coke, and McDonalds
In Qatar, locals have used SMS, text messages sent over mobile phones, to advocate a boycott of American and British products
Shopkeepers in Pakistan have vowed to boycott both British and American goods.
The Brasil Worker's Party has called for a Country-wide ban of American goods, focusing predominantly on Exxon-Mobil gasoline
Waiters in restaurants across Germany are telling customers that Coke is off the menu because of the U.S.-led war against Iraq
One German bicycle manufacturer, Riese and Mueller Gmbh, cancelled $300,000 worth of deals with US suppliers
In Mexico, the Autonomous University of Queretaro (UAQ) called on students not to consume products that originate in the United Status for two months, in rejection of the Unites States-led war in Iraq
According to Pattrice Jones of IDEA, the boycott represents a form of nonviolent direct action. In contrast to symbolic demonstrations of opinion, boycotts have a direct and immediate impact on their targets. The idea behind the Global Boycott for Peace movement is that the Bush regime has listened to neither public opinion nor the United Nations, but is known to listen to US corporations. If the corporations begin to suffer, they will make their discomfort known to Bush, who will be compelled to alter his behavior accordingly.
The growing international boycott movement is a grassroots phenomenon, with boycott websites and calls to action springing up spontaneously in diverse locations. Boycott strategies are also diverse, ranging from refusal to purchase any US or UK goods to ostracism of only those corporations known to support or likely to profit from the war. However, the recent formation of the Global Boycott for Peace foreshadows the formation of a large and sustained boycott emerging as the war in Iraq drags on.
American Liz Snyder of Stop Spending states, "I refuse to ignorantly put my money into the pockets of those whose actions I oppose. These companies made large contributions to the Bush administration, and they lobby this administration to make sure the government meets their needs. Let's make sure that what these companies need is an end to war against Iraq."
Even if that doesn't work, say some boycotters, they would still shun US goods and services in order to ensure that their own money doesn't help to pay for a war they consider to be illegal and immoral. When Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere took up the call to boycott goods coming from apartheid South Africa, he wrote: "Can we honestly condemn a system and at the same time employ it to produce goods which we buy, and then enjoy with a clear conscience?" Boycotters of the Global Boycott for Peace and across the world today are embracing the same philosophy, refusing to purchase the goods of a country whose actions, in good conscience, they cannot support.
Online sources of further information
International group for Direct Economic Action against war (IDEA)
Be the Cause
Citoyens-Consommateurs Scandalises par la Politique Internationale des Etats-Unis
Consumers Against War
For Mother Earth
Peace Choice Campaign
Spend for Peace
Stop Spending: Because War Doesn't Grow on Trees
We Won't Shop Until Attack Talk Stops
News Articles referenced:
Africa South (October-December 1959) Letter to the Editor by Julius Nyerere
AP Newswire (28 Mar 2003) Information-technology tools aid anti-war rallies
AP Newswire (26 Mar 2003) Anti-war shopkeepers in Pakistan say they will boycott American goods
BBC News [UK] (1 April 2003) Anti-war boycott message spreads
The Boston Globe [USA] (23 Mar 2003) Soft-drink balancing
The Boston Globe [USA] (27 Mar 2003) Antiwar Europeans target US brands: Coke, McDonald's, others boycotted
CBC News [Canada] (26 Mar 2003) Consumers battle war through boycotts
News.Com.Au [Australia] (22 Mar 2003) Protesters burn flags, effigies
The New York Times [USA] (30 Mar 2003) McDonald's: When a Brand Becomes a Stand-In for a Nation
San Francisco Chronicle [USA] (31 Mar 2003) Coca-Cola disappears from menu as Europeans try to boycott U.S. goods
Terra Brasil [Brasil] (14 March 2003) Lançada campanha de boicote a produtos dos EUA