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By Paul Rockwell
(Condensed by GEO editors)

At the World Social Forum in Porte Alegre, Brazil, January 27th, 2003, Arundhati Roy, the most visionary and sagacious strategist on the world stage, put out a call for a new strategy of non-cooperation. Steeped in the traditions of Gandhi, Roy's books and speeches emphasize the economic vulnerability of the U.S. empire. “The U.S. economy," she writes, "is strung out across the globe. It's economic outposts are exposed and vulnerable. Our strategy must be to isolate Empire's working parts and disable them one by one. No target is too small. No victory too insignificant. We could reverse the idea of economic sanctions imposed on poor countries by Empire and its Allies. We could impose a regime of People's sanctions on every corporation that has been awarded a contract in post-war Iraq. Already the Internet is buzzing with elaborate lists of American and British government products and companies to boycott...These lists could direct the amorphous but growing fury in the world."

Sporadic spontaneous local boycotts are happening in cities throughout the globe. National Public Radio (U.S.) reports that thousands of Europeans are refusing to buy American goods. One placard in a Paris window: "Promote peace. Don't buy American." Pulitzer Prize journalist Seymour Hersh writes that Europe is simmering. "You're going to see American profits disappear. It's going to be a mantra not to buy American. All our major manufacturers are reporting serious slowdowns in Europe."

The boycott spreads. Greenpeace is already involved against Exxon-Esso and Mobil Oil. Fermiamo La Guerre, a coalition of peace groups in Italy, called for a boycott of Esso when the U.S. invasion commenced. Sales of Pepsi and Coca Cola have plummeted in the Mideast during the occupation, and Islamic nations offer alternative cola drinks, Zam Zam and Mecca Cola. Iran banned ads for U.S.-manufactured goods. South African protesters in Cape Town demanded that Denel, a South African contractor, cancel all its contracts to supply military components to the U.S. war machine. The people of South Africa are well aware of the power of boycotts. As South Africa Indy-media put it: We must "take aim at the only thing that can bring Bush to his knees - the American economy."

Without organizational support, long-range planning, creative tactics and publicity, spontaneous boycotts lose momentum. Success requires leadership. Boycotts are arduous struggles that last for years. When the leaders of the peace movement are ready to seize the time, prepared to unleash the power of non-cooperation, the darkness and despondency of our post-election days will fade.

Gandhi wrote: "Non-cooperation with evil is as much a responsibility as co-operation with good." Let the boycott begin. Paul Rockwell is a columnist for In Motion Magazine, among other journals. He can be reached at

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