31-Jan-2005: Singy Hanyona at Porto Alegre, Brazil, for planets-voice.org --- Top-Six (6) American companies have been named as having sponsored or financed the "war against terror" waged by the United States on Iraq in 2003.
Thousands of delegates at the 5th World Social Forum (WSF), endorsed the “Boycott Bush” International Campaign, aimed at boycotting products of the top Six (6) American companies named in the plot.
The Six corporates, labelled as the “impelialist financers” include Altria (Ex-Philip Morris, Kraft foods, Marlboro), Exxon-Mobil (Esso), Chevron-Texaco, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Company and McDonald´s. “We declare that we shall stop buying products from these companies as they are behind the fueling of war.”, reads a declaration issued by activists at the WSF in Porto Alegre.
It is alleged that the companies created a “mafia fund” to support President George W. Bush in his pursuit of ousted Iraq President Saddam Hussein.
In protest, the anti-war campaigners say “as consumers, they do not want their money to be used to fuel wars, environmental destruction and human rights violations”. Friends of the Earth-Finland, which has joined the campaign say by its refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, the United States has become the largest threat to environmental sustainability.
“So, people should use their purchasing power to stop the war in Iraq and bring about peace on the planet. “The U.S will turn the earth into something inhabitable if the status quo continues”, said Leo Stranius, of the Friends of the Earth-Finland.
Some still believe that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, went to war in Iraq on the flimsiest of grounds and excuses, and on the basis of what has universally come to be known as a “lie”- “the existence of weapons of mass destruction”.
Following the military aggression, the two allies have embarked on an economic reform programme for Iraq, which is also seen as a calculation to exploit resources and services through privatisation and unfair trade. At the World Social Form, there has been a lot of contentious issues in the global anti-war and anti-globalization movement. One of the issues on top of the “Boycott Bush” Campaign, is the inclusion of the American dollar on the list of items and goods for the boycott.
One delegate, who wondered why the boycott was targeting only six companies, said : “We must boycott all American products including humburgers, films, clothing and even the U.S dollar. “We must boycott the U.S dollar world wide and replace it with another friendly currency”. But according to the Mumbai-2004 WSF report, it was agreed then, that the campaign would only be effective if it targeted a few, but prominent companies.
A Boycott Bush International Network, with over 300 organizations, has been galvanizing efforts to stop the Iraq war since last year. Protests are being planned between 18-19 March, 2005, the days that have been set for mass boycott of American products world wide. Prarap Chaterjee, of a U.S based organization, Corp Watch, says the Campaign is “a struggle of people against the tyranny of big corporations.
“We now have to use our purchasing power and shopping trollies to bring about peace”. According to Corp Watch, President Bush obtained money from some banks among them Citi and Chase Manhattan, to propagate the war against Iraq.
Chaterjee said an unnamed American company that manufactures air conditioners, has also been linked to the manufacturing of weapons used in the Iraq war. According to some overseas reports, the Bush adminstration´s foreign policy, may be costing U.S corporations. A new survey of 8,000 international consumers released by the Seattle-based Global Market Insite (GMI) Inc, Malboro cigarettes, McDonald´s and Exxon-Mobil are particularly at risk. American companies are also accused of aggressiveness and arrogance, because they insist on imposing the Ameriacn way of doing things on the international markets.
“Some American brands become closely connected to their country of origin. “They represent the American lifestyle, innovation, power, leadership, and foreign policy”, said Dr. Mitchell Eggers, GMI´s Chief Operations Officer.
The issue of U.S foreign policy affecting sales of U.S corporations, is hotly being discussed overseas by advertising and public relations firms.
In November, 2004, Kevin Roberts, Chief Executive of advertising giants Saatchi & Saatch, told the Financial Times that he believed consumers in Europe and Asia were increasingly becoming resistant to having “brand America rammed down their throats”. Other analysts have been sceptical, arguing that the recent decline in sales in France and Germany by McDonald´s, Cola-Cola and Marlboro, were due far more to other factors.
These include the flagging economies in both countries or a simple failure by companies to adapt rapidly to consumer tastes. But Surveys still suggest that the unpopularity of U.S foreign policy may indeed be playing a role, at least for companies that are either strongly identified with the United States or that are percieved as having similar characteristics as its foreign policy.