"Boycott USA": A campaign whose time has finally come?

by Richard Sanders (Email: ad207@ncf.ca )

Someday, perhaps not too far in the future, the US will have alienated so many nations and peoples that a "Boycott USA" campaign will grow to massive proportions and it will have real clout.  Just as in the 1980s, South Africa was widely recognized as a racist regime to be boycotted, many are now looking upon the US as the world's leading pariah state.  It's power spreads much much globally than South Africa's ever did. The globalization of apartheid seems to be gaining strength and there are many fronts upon which the US is seen as a major bully and criminal for the behaviour of its government, its military and its corporations.  (Even its tourists aren't too well received in many places.) Just as South Africa's racist regime was ostracized by so much of the world community, the US power elite must face that possibility.  Someday they too may face a major global movement to boycott their nation.

The list of US transgressions and criminal actions is of course very long.  An encyclopedia could and should be written to elucidate these.  Nowadays, the list is growing faster than perhaps ever before.  Simultaneously, alternative sources of news and information about these US violations are reaching more and more people.  Thankfully, it is becoming harder and harder for the government and the corporate media to pull the wool over the publics' eyes. (Also, thanks largely to the revolution in communications, the internet has made it very easy to create an online "petition/pledge" that could potentially be signed by millions of people in literally a few days.)

All this makes a "Boycott US" campaign much more likely to be accepted and news of it more likely to spread incredibly quickly.

I think that within the next few years, decades at the most, global opposition to the US will indeed become so strong that a boycott of US products, services, etc., will be a incredible force to be contended with.  Actually, the boycott of US products has already begun, most notably in the Arab world. It will likely grow in leaps and bounds, if and when the US invades Iraq, again.

If they were to invade The Hague, Netherlands, the boycott US movement would get a much bigger boost. Imagine a day, perhaps not too far in the future when some US military or political figure is apprehended and charged with crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) (Perhaps they'll be charged with some crime related to the upcoming invasion of Iraq, or for some particular mass murder in Vietnam, Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile, or wherever -- pick your "favourite" US atrocity.  The US has already passed laws saying it could "legally" invade The Hague to rescue US soldiers from the ICC if this happens.

Invading the Hague seems like a fantasy but it might happen.  It would certainly make many more millions of people very quickly aware that the US is indeed a rampaging rogue superstate.

Other events could trigger a global economic boycott against the US.  If they decided to nuke Iraq, North Korea, China (and they do have such plans on the books) such an action could provoke such widespread anti-US government feelings that a widespread boycott of their goods might seriously affect their economy.

A google search for "Boycott US" resulted in over 300 web sites.  An internet search using other languages, such as Arabic, would surely yield many more hits. I imagine that in a few years, a search for that same phrase will yield a great many more hits.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how we could proceed in this direction?  Perhaps an online "Boycott USA" pledge site should be initiated.  It could be similar to COAT's site:
"Global Appeal for No More Violence!" http://www.flora.org/coat/appeal/

Some questions immediately come to mind:

Does such a "boycott USA" pledge site already exist?

Should the boycott include all US:

What else could be included on the list of boycottables?

What should be excluded from the list?

What about US organizations or companies that oppose US policies, should they too be boycotted?

What about consulting with major unions and other organizations in the US?

South African activists supported the international anti-apartheid boycott, will US activists do likewise?

What if there is little or no support from within the US?

Because Canada and the US re so closely tied economically, a "Boycott US" campaign would hurt us too.  Are Canadians and others who are tied to the US, willing to embrace such a campaign?

I'm curious to see what people think of this.  Is this an idea whose time has finally come?

Richard Sanders
Coordinator, COAT

Here are the first 10 sites that came up with the google search:

CorpWatch.org - News - Egypt: Protest Groups Boycott US Products
... Home > News > Egypt: Protest Groups Boycott US Products. IN THE NEWS.
... Egypt: Protest
Groups Boycott US Products By Khaled Hanafi Islam Online July 22, 2002. ...
www.corpwatch.org/news/PND.jsp?articleid=3148 - 18k - 16 Oct 2002 - Cached - Similar pages

Saudis boycott US products -DAWN - Business; 28 April, 2002
... Click to learn more... Please Visit our Sponsor (Ads open in separate
window) Saudis boycott US products By Syed Rashid Husain. RIYADH ...
www.dawn.com/2002/04/28/ebr11.htm - 15k - Cached - Similar pages

CNNfyi.com - Calls to boycott US products challenge Arab ...
... Calls to boycott US products challenge Arab consumers. America's economic
and cultural presence, such as these soft drink vending ...
www.cnn.com/2000/fyi/news/12/01/arab.boycott.ap/ - 26k - Cached - Similar pages

E-mail this :National campaign to boycott US products: Arab ...
. Nov (30 - 6) 2000 11, Issue No. 24, . Archives .
Feedback . Ad Info 30 - Aug - 2002 /09:08 PM GMT. ...
www.star.arabia.com/article/sendmail/0,5597,24_171_Jordan%3B+The+front+page_JORDAN,00.html    - 17k - Cached - Similar pages

... Home: Jordan: The front page National campaign to boycott US products:
Arab consumers rally to change American policy in region "EVERY DOLLAR you pay to buy ...
www.star.arabia.com/article/0,5596,24_171,00.html  - 15k - Cached - Similar pages
[ More results from www.star.arabia.com  ]

USATODAY.com - Arab nations see boycotts of US products
... The US is the arch-foe of Islam, and we must boycott US products as much as possible,"
Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual leader of the Lebanese ...
www.usatoday.com/money/world/2002-06-26-arab-boycott.htm - 30k - Cached - Similar pages

ummahnews.com || Original Accurate News for the Ummah
... www.nst.com. 9 May 2002. A grassroots campaign to boycott US products in Saudi Arabia
has already taken its toll on many local businesses, with sales dropping ...
www.ummahnews.com/viewarticle.php?sid=3421 - 9k - Cached - Similar pages

Abuljadayel | Arab News - Saudi Arabia The Saudi market is inundated by ...
www.aquascript.com/psc/archives.asp?xid=807 - 28k - 16 Oct 2002 - Cached

ANN/Groong -- Committee issues program details on boycott of US ...
... and products manufactured by pro-Israeli industries issued a document Thursday detailing
its program, principles and goals entitled Boycott US products, Save ...
www.groong.usc.edu/world/me/msg01352.html  - 4k - Cached - Similar pages

Boycott Israel News
... View Previous Issues. BOYCOTT ISRAEL CAMPAIGN. Saudis boycott US products.
April 27, 2002 By Syed Rashid Husain For Dawn Online. RIYADH ...
www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-news-0048.html - 11k - Cached - Similar pages

Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
(A network of individuals and NGOs across Canada and around the world)
Tel: 613-231-3076   Email: ad207@ncf.ca   Web: http://www.ncf.ca/coat

To join our list serve on the Afghan war, the war on terrorism and the
criminalisation of dissent, send the message:  subscribe
no_to_nato   to   <majordomo@flora.org>
To see the archives at http://www.flora.org/coat/forum/

Excerpt from Dr. Johan Galtung's SEPTEMBER 11 2001 : DIAGNOSIS, PROGNOSIS, THERAPY:

"The gandhian action September 11 would have been to organize, with the same precision and synchronization, and on a  global scale, massive demonstrations around all US-Western-Japanese embassies in the world, surrounding them by the thousands, totally nonviolently, presenting the facts of global injustice, inviting dialogue.  And not only the economic exploitation but all dimensions of class: the political monopolies and manipulation in Palestine and Afghanistan , the military violence in Iraq and elsewhere, the cultural domination through the media and other means, the sacrilege in Arabia./30/

    And there would have been a massive world boycott of the goods and products from the most objectionable, least socially and ecologically conscious, global corporations that same day, combined with promotion of concrete action for an economy privileging basic needs for the most needy; all of this far beyond Seattle, Gothenburg, Genova.  The demand would be for dialogue between people and government, assuming that they, democrats all, will never be scared of meeting people.

     Would this have an impact on the hard, corporate US/West backed by police and military power? In the longer run yes, and it would have saved thousands of lives in New York , Washington DC and all over Afghanistan so far.  Soon maybe many, many more."


January 16, 2003




We and much of the world condemn the USA military plan to attack Iraq and other countries and its support of the Israeli war against the Palestinian people. Canadians can send a clear message to the USA that we oppose the
political, military and economic domination of the world by the ruthless USA government and corporations.    We can tell the Canadian government that this action is also directed at its support of the USA.

All actions are important.  This boycott can be a major act of resistance!

It is something we can each do, every day. HERE ARE TEN STEPS - We CAN ALL ADD MORE!!

1. Don't shop there here!  We can boycott all those big chains and franchises - from Wal-Mart to Starbucks, from Home Depot to GAP, from Sears to McDonalds, etc.  There are local businesses we can support.

2. Stay away! We should not visit any part of the USA. Invite friends and family to Canada. Invite activists to hold meetings here or (given our winters) in Mexico where we can support the struggle for peace and justice there.

3. Don't look, listen or read.  Part of our USA addiction is due to the domination of its media. So we stop watching USA television (better yet -turn off the TV!), videos and movies. . Listen to Canadian radio.  Don't read or subscribe to USA papers or magazines. Try to find books, periodicals etc on issues of concern from Canada or other countries. Most important is our support and participation of Canadian independent media, film makers and writers. That is more vital than seeking out "good" USA stuff. Let's also find the analysis and knowledge of the rest of the world to enrich our activism - in magazines like The New Internationalist, Third World Resurgence, Peace News, and The Ecologist etc.

4. Don't buy USA vehicles. If we must buy cars, we can look to the producers of the most economic vehicles - Japan. I drive an 18 year old VW, but many European car companies are connected to USA companies. And just in case we are thinking of buying a Rolls, Rolls Royce makes reactor cores for nuclear submarines. So we shun the big USA three companies and most of all, shun SUVs. They are gas guzzling polluters. If SUVs' gas efficiency increased by three miles to a gallon, the USA would not need to import oil from the Middle East at all.

5. What about OIL?  When we fill up at the local pump, we are getting Canadian oil products, but from a USA company. Let's ask ourselves WHY?  Isn't ownership and control of oil what Iraq, Colombia, Sudan, Afghanistan and Venezuela are all about?  Husky -Mohawk are not USA-owned and PETROCAN is still partly owned by us.

6. We need to shop carefully! In Canadian stores we won't buy, "Made in USA". Not always easy, but ask for Canadian made clothing, paint, tools, etc. Look for fair trade products from around the world. . Booze - that's easy. We have locally made beer and wine and many international products.  We should boycott franchised products like Coors and Budweiser. And we should boycott Bacardi rum anyhow - the cause of the Helms-Burton law against Cuba. Seagram's is now a USA company.

7. We don't buy USA brands - from running shoes to coffee- no matter where the product is made, it profits USA corporations. Coffee is a major example. The coffee solution is easy as more and more retailers carry fair trade, organic coffee from many small producers. For other products, we can do without if we can't get Canadian made or goods made in other countries that need our support.

8. Sell our stocks and shares! If we have mutual funds or pension plans, or are among 10% of Canadians who own stocks, sell them if they are in USA companies.

9. We can end our biggest addiction - USA produced FOOD.  We are used to buying USA brands of food from around the world from Kraft to General Foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables in the winter come from USA or USA agri-biz in Mexico. So let's eat Canadian apples and juice instead of oranges, cole slaw made with Canadian cabbage, not lettuce salad. We can buy canned and frozen Canadian vegetables and fruit rather than imported fresh in the winter. It is easy to find local potatoes, onion, squash, carrots etc. even in the winter. Enjoy the seasonality of local berries, tomatoes and other produce.

10.  Boycott and talk about it. Share information about products and sources. Tell politicians and businesses. They are really scared of boycotts! Because they work in consumer societies! Boycotts helped overthrow apartheid South Africa and end French nuclear tests. Although this boycott is designed for Canadians, people anywhere can adapt it. We need to talk to our USA friends in the country that uses 40% of the world's resources (they are less than 6% of its population). Encourage USA activists to also boycott big corporation and agri-business. We can all consume LESS. We can all support local producers, recycle and re-use. The time and money we save we can dedicate to strengthening social movements and being more active. Walk more, use the bus, and drive less.

We are our own best media - talk to people everywhere about this boycott and the reasons for it. If everyone in the minority world consumed less, we would give positive and visible support to our sisters and brothers in the majority world; we will find greater satisfaction in our own lives. We will send a clear message to the USA government and corporations and our government that we do not support wars and oppression for military, economic and political domination!

We'll stop the boycott when the USA stops its interference outside its own borders - and that includes Canada!


Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham, all Members of Parliament:
House of Commons,Ottawa, ON. K1A 0A6 or
phone Chretien's office 613 992-4211 and leave a message: WE DO NOT WANT WAR!

TJW. Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation and Victoria Peace Centre, Victoria
BC      bbcf@islandnet.com               January, 2003
          Rycroft & Pringle, Sunshine Communications.ca
       Canada 250.592-8307 phone/fax
    Box 8307, Victoria, BC, V8W 3R9
Activist News, Links and Toolkit at www.pej.ca



For immediate release - please publish and network
No money for war: consumers around the globe boycott US
March 17th 2003 – As the largest demonstrations in history of human-kind don’t seem to have any effect on the plans of Bush regarding Iraq, a growing number of citizens groups around the globe call for a worldwide consumers boycott of the US economy. “Not an anti-American reflex, nor pro-Saddam, but a difficult step as the United Nations are once again being put aside by the US. The boycott is a very practical tool for the public to oppose this war.” declared Pol D’Huyvetter a spokesperson of For Mother Earth, an international NGO calling for a boycott of US companies who benefit from the war. The targeted companies are very often being contacted by the critical consumers in an effort to reach the White House. 

According to IDEA (International group for Direct Economic Action against war), a network and clearinghouse for the global boycott campaign, many political analysts believe that the tactic of the boycott, if embraced by the peace movement as a whole, is the only form of non-violent direct action that could  potentially stop or mitigate US attacks on Iraq. If the people opposed to the war were to express their opinion with their wallets by boycotting, the impact on US corporations would be significant.

The fast growing international boycott movement is a grassroots phenomenon, with boycott websites and calls to action springing up independently in diverse locations. Boycott strategies are also diverse, ranging from refusal to purchase any US or UK goods to targeting those corporations known to support Bush or likely to profit from the war. 
Here are some of the facts known about the boycott for South-America, the Middle East, the Pacific, Europe, South-Africa and the US. However we also know people around the world are already using their wallet to oppose the war. 
South America
In Brazil the federal deputy Chico Alencar ( worker´s party - PT), in Rio de Janeiro announced last Friday (14/03/2003) the campaign to boycott products made in USA, to be implemented if the attack against Iraq happens. " I hope we won´t have to undertake the boycott, but if this unilateral attack from the United States, disregarding the UN, really happens, we will boycott.", says Alencar. Labor unions at Santos, the largest port in Brazil and Latin America, are planning a 24-hour strike for peace by boycotting ships and goods under the U.S. or British banner, a union official said on Monday March 17th. "Labor unions from Santos will meet to vote on proposals on how to voice our desire for peace and our distaste over the coming war in Iraq," said, Marcos Duarte, the president of the Urban Unions of Santos. Representatives from 70 unions, including the petroleum, chemical, banking, shipping and metallurgical industries, should attend the meeting, set for Tuesday morning, said Duarte, who added that many had expressed firm support for the strike. "We don't know when we will hold the strike but we will vote on proposals tomorrow," he said. "I want to stress that the strike would not be a protest against the United States or Britain but rather against war and for peace. We are proposing that no adherent to the strike drink a Coca-Cola or go into a McDonald's for lunch," said Duarte. He said the idea came from local TV reports showing U.S. and British bar owners pouring French wine onto the streets in protest of France's threat to veto a new U.N. resolution that would give the go-ahead to a U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Middle East
As we all know the US foreign policy towards Israel (with ABC weapons), Palestine and Iraq has angered many Muslims. The boycott of US products has hit such American giants as McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Coke and Pepsi where some company sales have dropped by as much as 65 percent. Two of the six McDonald’s franchises in Jordan have closed for lack of business, and KFC and McDonald’s branches in Muscat, the capital of Oman, report that sales have fallen by up to 65 percent. In Jordan, a committee representing 14 opposition parties and 14 trade unions has called for citizens to boycott US goods and to purchase French and German goods instead. 
In New Zealand, the Spend for Peace campaign is calling for consumers to boycott specific US brands (such as Dow and Dupont) and to notify the companies that they are doing so. In Australia Peace Action calls for a boycott as a positive and powerful alternative to "fighting" for peace. As most people calling for a boycott they declare: “We are not anti-American, or pro-Saddam. We just simply do not believe that war is the answer.”
The European Social Forum, which encompasses a multiplicity of organizations from many countries, has called for a boycott of all US oil companies. In the UK, the Stop the War Coalition has expressed support for the ongoing Greenpeace boycott of Exxon-Esso-Mobil oil companies. In Iceland "Atak gegn stridi" (Campaign against the war) is also calling for a boycott. Elias Davidsson declared that “As Iceland has a very small population (280,000 people), the effects of such a boycott serve to unite the people here against the war.” Also in Italy the call is being networked over the web. In Belgium For Mother Earth and two other Ngo’s have taken the step to call for a boycott which was warmly embraced by the many thousands of demonstrators who marched through the streets of Brussels last Saturday. 


In South Africa, the Iraq Action Committee of South Africa has called for a boycott of American and British products to protest the bombing of Iraq.
And finally also in the USA the boycott finds support amongst the opponents to the war. Be the Cause is targeting specific brands (such as Kraft and Philip Morris) for a consumer boycott. The influential Adbusters magazine and website has launched a "Boycott Brand America" campaign, which asks participants to pledge to boycott American corporate brands "from the moment the war begins and to the best of my ability until the empire learns to listen"
The boycott has not merely had adverse results; there is also a consequent effort to produce and consume locally-produced goods instead. The biggest success-story has been Iran’s Zam Zam Cola, whose sales have skyrocketed. The manufacturers cannot keep pace with demand from customers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states. In the United Arab Emirates Star Cola is doing brisk business, while an enterprising Muslim in France has come up with the brand name "Mecca Cola". The fact that Muslims are beginning to make products to replace American ones is welcomed by both Muslims and others around the globe.
More information or to sign on:
For Mother Earth 
Press contact 
+32-495-28 02 59