[Marxism] March 17 and Antiwar Unity

Bonnie Weinstein giobon at sbcglobal.net
Tue Feb 20 16:55:50 MST 2007


Dear all,

I think this is a great discussion. Here are my 2 cents.

One of the deepest problems that has arisen as a result of the inability of
the major antiwar coalitions to form a united front against the war--which
is what we need to bring an end to the war--is its inability to organize on
a grass-roots level; to involve those opposed to the war into the necessary
day to day work of building the movement and involving the masses in that
work.

The massive Feb. 15/16, 2003, "The world says no to war" demonstrations was
a united affair. Concretely, in San Francisco (our demo was on Feb. 16th to
avoid conflict with the Chinese New Years Parade on the 15th) we formed a
"liaison committee" of all the groups in the Bay Area and it was pretty well
represented. It started out being four groups: A.N.S.W.E.R., UFPJ, Not In
Our Name (NION) and Bay Area United Against War (BAUAW) (a once viable group
now very small group, but the group that initiated the Liaison between the
four groups at the time.)

The Liaison Committee expanded to include the Vanguard Foundation as the
fifth group to sponsor the demonstration Feb. 16. Many other groups joined
and were represented on the Liaison committee. It functioned somewhat
democratically since each group had an equal number of delegates with equal
voting rights. But,this was in lieu of a democratic structure that would
allow rank and file activists a voice and a vote at co-mingled, mass
meetings and democratic elections of a steering committee and leadership,
etc., which was the practice among the antiwar movement during the Vietnam
War--a structure that the major antiwar coalitions (except BAUAW) would not
agree to.

However, with its flaws, this limited democratic unity allowed us to canvass
every community in San Francisco and the Bay Area methodically; and the
flyers and posters had the major groups as sponsors. Each group led
canvassing for a different community--many of their forces overlapping and
reinforcing each other. Trade unions were involved as well as the college
and university community. Even the Chinese New Year's Parade Committee was
represented on the committee for Feb. 16, 2003 and organizing went on on a
daily basis. The new unity added a vibrancy to the organizing efforts and
spread enthusiasm that led to a massive turnout--the most massive to date
against the war. Ironically, it was the last, truly united effort.

The "liaison committee" fell apart right after Feb. 15/16 and the bonds
between groups disintegrated.

The war itself further demoralized the ranks and the leadership of the
movement resulting in a reduction of "activists" to do the work.

Now, as the truth about the WMDs and Abu Ghraib has taken its hold over mass
public opinion, the stumbling block to unity is the faith that the
Democratic Party can extricate the U.S. from the war in Iraq. But not just
that. More fundamentally, belief in the bourgeois propaganda that mass
demonstrations don't work and only electing and supporting "antiwar
Democratic Party candidates" will lead to the end of the war.

Israel is still the problem

[In an interview in March 1995 entitled, "Jesse Helms: Setting the
Record Straight" that appeared in the Middle East Quarterly, Helms
said, "I have long believed that if the United States is going to give
money to Israel, it should be paid out of the Department of Defense
budget. My question is this: If Israel did not exist, what would
U.S. defense costs in the Middle East be? Israel is at least the
equivalent of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East. Without
Israel promoting its and America's common interests, we would
be badly off indeed."
(Jesse Helms was the senior senator from North Carolina and the
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time.)
http://www.meforum. org/article/ 244 ...bw]

Unfortunately, the role of the U.S. In the entire Middle East hinges on U.S.
support and funding of Israel--a project the Democrats are in full support
of--and, in fact, won't budge on.

A.N.S.W.E.R. has been a strong opponent of Israel and a supporter of
Palestinian rights including the right of return. A.N.S.W.E.R. clearly
understands that Israel plays a giant part in supporting and promoting U.S.
Oil and strategic interests throughout the Middle East.

This leads A.N.S.W.E.R. to be, and accurately so, much less supportive of
the Democratic Party and further, to understand the need for the Antiwar
Movement to be independent of the Democratic party. And, this is a good
thing--but the very thing that the UFPJ strategy is strongly opposed to
fundamentally. Because they have faith in the Democratic Party's ability to
"eventually" end the war, yet keep itself entrenched in the area; in order
to control the oil in the region and connected regions like the adjoining
territories of the former Soviet Union rich in oil reserves themselves.

Clearly UFPJ is taking the lead of the Democratic Party in refusing to unite
with A.N.S.W.E.R. Certainly, the ranks of UFPJ itself includes many who
oppose U.S. support to Israel and even some who support the struggle of the
Palestinian people and their right to return to their home.

And certainly, Israel itself has narrow support outside the influence of the
U.S. And its allies--and that includes a growing pro-Palestinian sentiment
and identification among the American people.

And certainly, the inclusion of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel speakers at
all the massive protests on Feb. 15/16, 2003 did not deter people from
protesting the onset of the war.

UFPJs only rational reason for not uniting with A.N.S.W.E.R., therefore, can
only be attributed to its wish to remain in good favor with the liberal wing
of the Democratic Party--and this has nothing to do with the reality of the
war itself and the Democratic Party's consistent financial and moral support
of the war--the latter in the guise of "supporting our troops" who are in
harms way.

Bring the troops home now

You would think, then, that the immediate withdrawal of the troops would be
in order if the Democrats were really worried about the well being of the
troops. But they do not call for that. Like during the War in Vietnam, they
want the troops brought home "safely," i.e., "after Democracy is
established" in Iraq! And, not only in Iraq, but in the "region."

The liberal Democrats were constantly trying to negotiate a "truce" between
the U.S. Puppet government of South Vietnam and the North Vietnamese
government while continuing the bombardment and massacre of the South
Vietnamese resistance organized in opposition to the U.S. occupation and
war.  

Resistance mounting to U.S. Aggression

The resistance to U.S. rape and aggression around the world is
building--just today the Times reported an increase of Taliban forces in
Afghanistan. And Baghdad is no safer today than before the President's
recent State of the Union message. And all over the world, people are
beginning to resist the rape and plunder of their land while their own
people suffer and starve--in the face of the most massive accumulation of
wealth being consolidated into fewer and fewer hands--American hands, at
that.

With 737 U.S. Military Bases around the world according to Chalmers
Johnson¹s new book, ³Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic
<http://alternet.bookswelike.net/isbn/0805079114>  (Metropolitan Books), the
Pentagon has no intentions of backing down and none of the Democrats are
opposed to U.S. world military superiority--in fact, it's a priority for all
of them--Democrats and Republicans alike. On this subject they have
unanimity. 

There is a tremendous amount at stake for the U.S. if it is forced to leave
Iraq without a "victory." There's the beginning of resistance throughout
Northern Africa, Guinea, Somalia, Zimbabwe; virtually all over Africa and
the America's people are beginning to resist their constant state of
starvation and deprivation.

And this resistance is directly connected to American business practice--the
protection of which is the duty of the U.S. Military first and foremost. But
all over America factories are heading South, East, and Far East of U.S.
Borders and profits are flowing one-way, back, into the pockets of American
big business.

Once industrial cities are trying to survive by being famous for coffee
houses, casinos or "big box" stores or some other such notoriety just to
have some service jobs for laid-off factory workers. Their kids just have to
get the hell out. (Enter U.S. Military recruiters!)

American workers are beginning to feel a slow but steady decline in their
living standards while the Pentagon Budget sees no limits; profits see no
limits--and the Democrats have voted for that unanimously--100 to zero in
the U.S. Senate for the Pentagon Budget last year. (There were some
Democratic Senators, right?)

All this points to the fact that the Democrats will not end the war. They
will not. 

Only a massively organized antiwar movement--opposed to the Pentagon war
efforts and for the immediate and unconditional end to the war and the
immediate evacuation of all American troops, contractors and mercenaries
from Iraq, Afghanistan and the entire world--and that includes an end to all
U.S. aid to Israel--only then will this government be forced to act
according to the will of the majority and end the war--they have to be
forced!

Lessons of Vietnam

The massive, vital and powerful resistance of the Vietnamese people; the
massive opposition in the belly of the beast to the war and its horrendous
casualties; and the revolt of the ranks of the U.S. Military itself--these
elements uniting in massive protest together in streets of Vietnam and in
cities and towns across this country--finally forced the immediate and quick
evacuation of American troops from Vietnam and marked the establishment of
Vietnam itself as a unified country according to the wishes of its people
and free of the occupation of the U.S. Army.

The American people acted in unity with their feet--they came out again and
again in ever bigger and more massive protests. The leadership of the
movement followed the sentiment of the masses--but at least they listened
and took their lead and encouraged them to participate in the democratic
decision-making process of the movement--a movement that acted as a United
Front in opposition to the war and to Bring the Troops Home Now! A movement
that organized community by community; school by school; locally and
nationally; in a cohesive and democratic partnership with a single goal in
mind--to bring the troops home now and end the war. But, not to the
exclusion of all other kinds of human issues, interests and needs all of
which are related to the U.S. and its world-war machines.

A United Front against the war is a must for today. What will it take for
the leadership of the movement to see?

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein, socialistviewpoint.org

P.S., if you would like to receive the Bay Area United Against War daily
(almost) newsletter send your name and email address to me at:

giobon at sbcglobal.net



 





















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