[Marxism] Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal (new book)

Russell Morse russell.morse at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 24 07:51:03 MDT 2006

(See full text at http://www.counterpunch.com/healy04222006.html )

Out Now - An Interview with Anthony Arnove

by Thomas P. Healy

Anthony Arnove's new book, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal (The New Press,
2006) is tailored after Howard Zinn's 1967 brief against the Vietnam
War. Arnove has worked closely with Zinn on Voices of a People's History
of the United States and a collection of interviews, Terrorism and War.
Zinn provides both a foreword and afterword to Arnove's book. Arnove
spoke with Counterpunch from his home in Brooklyn.

TH: How do you envision generating the political momentum to accomplish
immediate withdrawal?

AA: We know from history--recently from the history of the Vietnam War--
that public opinion and political protests can change the nature of the
debate around a war and change the calculus of power. Right now I think
if we want to change the calculus of power the first thing we need to do
is to see that we have to pressure the Democrats just as much as we have
to pressure the Republicans. It's not as if the Democrats are on our
side in this fight--they're not.

So it's a mistake for us to put our energy and resources into persuading
the Democrats to somehow be some animal that they're not or hoping that
the Democrats are somehow going to become a standard-bearer for our
movement--they are not. They will respond only to the thing that the
Republicans respond to: a mass groundswell of opposition. Protest.
Disaffection that threatens their power to the point where they see
we're losing in Iraq, we're losing at home, and each day that we stay in
Iraq, things get worse for us. In order to maintain some control over
the system, in order to maintain some credibility for future U.S.
imperial projects, we need to pull out. And that's going to involve a
greater degree of mobilization, protest and disruption of business as
usual. I think it's also going to involve gaining some clarity about who
the targets of our protests are and on the nature of the Democratic
Party that, unfortunately, the antiwar movement has lacked.


There's an enormous gap that we have not filled between sentiment
against the war, which is reflected in polls and other expressions in
the culture, and the degree of opposition and organization of protests
that we've seen. That says to me that people are seeing through the
media deception. People are reaching antiwar conclusions but they're not
being engaged or involved in organization. Ideas can't change the world
alone. They need people to embody them--to act on them, to do things
with them. They need organization. For example, I think it's a serious
mistake that the major antiwar organizations did not come together in a
unified way on the third anniversary of the occupation. It was a gift to
the mainstream media. The establishment media went out on the third
anniversary looking for protests. They've got to have a story that lets
them off the hook. They had a story: Where are the protesters? People
don't care, people aren't paying attention and that story's not the real
story. So we gave a gift to our opponents and to the media.

Instead, a number of the organizations that might have been organizing
that protest are focused on the midterm congressional elections. Now,
I'm not saying that they have bad intentions. I just think they are
making tactical, strategic mistakes. I may be in a minority position
with the antiwar movement but I want to argue that position to as many
people as I can because I think the antiwar movement would be stronger
if it weren't oriented on the midterm elections and if it were oriented
on a different set of political priorities. I think those arguments
within the antiwar movement are healthy and should be had with a tone of
solidarity--of course we're all on the same side--but we can be on the
same side and argue and fight things out and hopefully in that process
come out with a stronger movement.


Look at the question of immigrants. Part of the way that the war in Iraq
has been sold is by demonizing Arabs, demonizing Muslims, demonizing
immigrants, and increasing xenophobia and racism. There's been a
tremendous rebellion taking place around the country recently, with
Latinos and other immigrants speaking out, asserting their rights and
asserting their dignity. People can see the connection between the
questions that immigrants, working people, poor people in this country
have and the situation in Iraq. Those are very fertile connections for
the antiwar movement to be making.

I think we need to broaden our movement and see all of the ways we can
localize these discussions. There are trade unions, city councils and
parent/teacher associations expressing opposition to the war and
connecting global issues with local, immediate concerns that are quite
organic and, I think, very effective. This puts you in conversation with
your co-workers, people in your community, your neighbors, people in
your school, talking about these vital issues. 


Also, look--we're the majority! On the Iraq war, on healthcare, on the
idea of raising taxes to support Social Security and care for the
elderly--we're the majority. When you look at society overall in terms
of working people, poor people and people who are affected by these
issues we're talking about, we're the majority. So there isn't a reason
to feel embattled or isolated. We have serious challenges but we also
have serious opportunities.
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