[Marxism] J. Mackler replies to A. Cockburn/CounterPunch on anti-war movement

nada dwaltersMIA at gmail.com
Thu Sep 10 15:07:08 MDT 2009


*Alexander Cockburn’s light is out at the end of the tunnel!*

BY JEFF MACKLER

[/Jeff Mackler is the National Secretary of Socialist Action and a 
national antiwar leader for the past 45 years. For more information, 
visit www.socialistaction.org <http://www.socialistaction.org/>, 
jmackler at lmi.net 
<mailto:jmackler at lmi.net>http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/09/10/18621526.php]/

Alexander Cockburn’s Sept. 4-6 “CounterPunch/ /Diary“ hit piece against 
the U.S. antiwar movement, “Deeper into the Tunnel,” merits the serious 
attention of all antiwar fighters and organizations. This is not so much 
because of the spurious accusations he hurls against Socialist Action 
and this writer, as well as others whose socialist politics offend him, 
but rather because of his serious misunderstanding of what it takes to 
build a united-front-type, democratic, and effective antiwar movement.

Here we are speaking of a movement powerful enough to organize a massive 
and successful challenge to the ongoing and expanding U.S. imperialist 
wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan as well as the ongoing U.S. 
support to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Cockburn’s newfound libertarian bent, cheap-shot politics of 
denunciation, ad hominem assertions, and factual distortions are no 
substitute for the present discussion and debate over effective 
strategies and tactics to counter the warmakers, force them to “Bring 
the Troops Home Now!” and accede to the movement’s powerful demand, 
“Money for Human Needs, Not War!”

I begin this response to what Cockburn describes as the “craven behavior 
of the leadership of the October 17 anti-war protest in San Francisco” 
with Cockburn’s own words: “On August 29, the October 17 Coalition voted 
to endorse a protest at the Westin-St. Francis, one of the city’s 
flashier hotels, the following Friday where San Francisco Congresswoman 
and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was to be honored with a $100 a plate 
breakfast. But by the end of the day the October 17 coalition leadership 
got cold feet when it learned that the host of the breakfast was none 
other than the San Francisco Labor Council.”

Cockburn continues for emphasis, “There’s nothing new here. 
Genuflections to the Labor Council has long characterized San 
Francisco’s anti-war movement leadership when it comes to determining 
its public agenda.” Cockburn’s fury is unremitting, as his memories or 
misinformed sources summon him back to the 10-year battle against U.S. 
intervention in Central America and the Caribbean in the 1980s and early 
‘90s.

Says Cockburn, “In the spring of 1985, Israel was in its fourth year of 
occupation of Lebanon after an invasion that had been publicly supported 
by the AFL-CIO with no dissent from San Francisco’s labor bureaucracy. 
The main organizer of both of those marches (1985 and 1988) was 
Socialist Action. In its newspaper this group regularly boasted of its 
anti-Zionism and solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Nonetheless, in 
this instance Socialist Action promptly turned into Socialist Inaction. 
The group was adamant about not allowing any demand that referred to the 
Middle East to be added to the Mobilization’s program. The limp excuse: 
‘labor will walk.’” Cockburn adds: “It was considerably more difficult 
for Socialist Action and its allies to ignore the Palestinian intifada 
in 1988 but again they rose to the challenge, managing to appease the 
Labor Council by doing so. This required Socialist Action to cancel a 
general meeting of anti-war activists that quite likely would have led 
to the addition of a demand for an end to Israeli occupation.”

“Today,” Cockburn surmises, “we find the very same Socialist Action 
leader, Jeff Mackler, longer of tooth but no closer to socialism, taking 
unilateral action to prevent the picketing of the Labor Council 
breakfast for Pelosi.”

For the record, the date of the meeting in question was August 15, not 
August 29, and the name of the organization mobilizing in the San 
Francisco Bay Area against U.S. wars and against U.S. support to the 
Israeli Occupation of Palestine is the October 17 Antiwar Coalition, a 
new formation that is a component part of an effort to unify in action a 
badly-divided movement. To date, some 150 antiwar groups and prominent 
individuals across the country have called for antiwar demonstrations on 
October 17. Each has determined its own demands, structure, and leadership.

The S.F.-based coalition includes Bay Area affiliates of all five major 
national antiwar coalitions and networks—the National Assembly to End 
the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations (National Assembly), to 
which I am affiliated and help lead, the ANSWER Coalition, United for 
Peace and Justice, World Can’t Wait, and the International Action Center.

Cockburn, the /CounterPunch/ co-editor/publisher, objects to the fact 
that I set aside a motion presented by his apparent model antiwar 
leader, Steve Zeltzer, whom he praises to the high heavens. In fact, 
after consultation with the coalition’s leadership, I did cancel the 
previously approved Nancy Pelosi protest—a decision I stand by. Cockburn 
thinks it irrelevant that Zeltzer’s motion, approved unanimously (30-0) 
on August 15, failed to inform the meeting that the Pelosi protest was 
to be at a Labor Day breakfast sponsored by the San Francisco Labor 
Council or that our coalition was not to be merely an endorser of the 
protest, as Zeltzer originally moved, but the one and only sponsor.

It was my view, shared by all of the above groups and virtually the 
entire coalition, minus Zeltzer, that the October 17 Antiwar Coalition 
had the right to know exactly whose event it was protesting. Zeltzer 
disagreed and later e-mailed his displeasure to all concerned as 
follows: “I did not mention that it [the Pelosi protest] was sponsored 
by the SF Labor Council /and should have/ but I did not believe that 
this should make any difference since the protest was against Pelosi and 
not the SF Labor Council”! [Emphasis added.]

One can only wonder if Cockburn shared this view that our coalition’s 
knowledge of what event we were to be picketing should not “make any 
difference.” It occurred to me, however, as the coalition’s 
co-coordinator, that I had a responsibility for full disclosure once I 
learned of the protest’s target. I premised my decision on the quaint 
concept that the ranks of a coalition have the fundamental democratic 
right to know what they had truly voted for. It seemed elementary that 
at least some, if not everyone in the coalition, would contest the 
delusional contention that we were picketing “Pelosi and not the SF 
Labor Council.”

Indeed, Cockburn himself concluded that the Labor Council needed a good 
kick in the butt, or as he put it, to be shaken from “its apathy on the 
war questions and about its choice of Pelosi, a war supporter, as its 
breakfast honoree…” Apparently he forgot to consult with Zeltzer on what 
the protest was about!

Cockburn seems qualitatively less concerned with the democratic 
functioning of the antiwar coalition than he is with reiterating his 
point that the “antiwar movement” is dead—that is, charging “Deeper into 
the Tunnel.” The “Tunnel” allusion presumably means getting closer to 
the Democratic Party.

Here Cockburn misses the central point. The October 17 mobilizations 
across the country are squarely directed against Obama’s War, the war 
today conducted with the full support of the Democratic Party. Our 
coalition’s program, demands, and mobilization are independent of and in 
direct opposition to the war policies of the Democratic Party. Further, 
the construction of an independent, democratic, and “Out Now!” antiwar 
movement has always stood at the center of Socialist Action’s work. As 
we will see, this is not the case with critic Cockburn, who found his 
way to supporting John Kerry’s presidential run in 2004, the Democrat 
who trumped Bush’s “surge” by demanding an additional 30,000 troops to 
imperialism’s killing fields.

While Cockburn may mock the need for democratic functioning in the 
antiwar movement, I assert that democracy is critical to the movement’s 
success. We will not advance our cause by either Zeltzer’s devious 
tricks and maneuvers behind the backs of the ranks or Cockburn’s 
twisting of the facts to advance his false claim that our coalition is 
subordinate to the Democrats.

Whether or not to picket a Labor Council Labor Day breakfast to which 
warmaker Nancy Pelosi was invited was an important but tactical 
question. Opportunities to protest Pelosi’s pro-war politics and party 
are not infrequent in the city that she misrepresents. Indeed, October 
17 Antiwar Coalition leaflets were distributed by coalition leaders at a 
Democratic Party-sponsored “health-care reform” rally a few days before 
the scheduled Labor Council breakfast. Pelosi was the scheduled keynote 
speaker at that rally.

*Including the labor movement in mass protests*

How to approach the labor movement and engage its ranks—and the vast 
numbers of unorganized workers as well—in the essential mass protests 
that are sorely needed today is not an unimportant issue. It is a 
decisive question. It seems eminently more reasonable to approach the 
organized labor movement patiently and with due care, as opposed to the 
prescription of the Cockburn/Zeltzer club—that is, a mass picket line 
outside the Labor Council breakfast, which would carry with it the 
implied demand: “Don’t pass.”

This applies doubly to the beleaguered San Francisco Labor Council, 
which is currently faced with an Andy Stern effort to disaffiliate three 
SEIU locals at a monthly loss of some $17,000 in dues. Cockburn 
neglected to mention that key leaders of the Council, who were also 
leaders of our antiwar coalition, (unfortunately not present when the 
controversial vote was taken) had gone to great lengths to express their 
disapproval of the Pelosi invitation.

It’s true that the present bureaucratized labor movement will not be 
transformed overnight into a democratic fighting instrument of the 
working class. But it is equally true that the fight to win the active 
support of organized labor for mass protests to “Bring the Troops Home 
Now!” is important—extremely important. Yes, there is a contradiction in 
the S.F. Council supporting the Democratic Party, as do virtually all 
labor organizations in the country, while at the same time supporting 
mass mobilizations against the same party. While labor’s political break 
with the class enemy is not on the agenda today, the value of its 
involvement in action in the streets in opposition to the policies of 
capital cannot be underestimated.

Cockburn’s sleight of hand in describing the Council’s record 
understates the facts. The San Francisco Labor Council not only opposed 
the 1991 Gulf War—at the request of this writer and the mass-action 
coalition organized by the Cockburn-condemned Mobilization for Peace, 
Jobs and Justice—but it organized a contingent of 10,000 Northern 
California workers to march against that war.

More recently, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union initiated 
a one-day strike and closed down all West Coast ports from Canada to 
Mexico. They struck for a single demand, “U.S. Out of Iraq and 
Afghanistan.” In 2006 five million immigrant workers shook the nation 
with a May Day strike against proposed reactionary anti-immigrant 
legislation.

In all these cases the same contradiction prevailed. The ever-deepening 
capitalist offensive moved millions of workers to the streets. They 
protested the reactionary policies of the Democrats and Republicans 
although the leaders of these mobilizations remained committed to the 
illusion that the warmongering and anti-immigrant Democrats offered a 
way out.

This contradiction will not be resolved overnight and especially not by 
tricking honest antiwar fighters with devious motions to expose the S.F. 
Labor Council today and request its support tomorrow. I should add that 
we have recently been informed that the San Francisco Labor Council will 
support our October 17 action and make a good faith effort to mobilize 
Labor Council affiliate support for it. This is the same and rather 
unique Council that has supported virtually all major antiwar 
demonstrations in the Bay Area for the past 40 years.

A further note should be of interest here. Cockburn was perhaps not 
informed that the S.F. Peace and Freedom Party, which had also endorsed 
the Pelosi protest, revoked its endorsement when informed that it was 
directed against the S.F. Labor Council. Cockburn might not have known 
that S.F. Peace and Freedom was also Zeltzer’s party and that it had 
disassociated itself from Zeltzer’s motion.

*Palestine and the united front*

Cockburn found it convenient to ignore the fact that the October 17 
Antiwar Coalition in San Francisco included in its several demands one 
that stated, “End U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine!” 
That demand, along with “U.S. troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan and 
Pakistan!“ “Money for jobs, pensions, healthcare, housing and education 
not wars and corporate bailouts!” and several others, were proposed by 
this writer. These were also the demands recommended to the antiwar 
movement for the October 17 local and regional protests initiated in 
Pittsburgh by the summer conference of the National Assembly to End the 
Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations. They were duly considered by 
the coalition and adopted unanimously.

Unfortunately, historian-journalist Cockburn felt that this was 
insufficient for me to atone for my “sins” of 25 years ago. I judged at 
that time, along with hundreds of others in a coalition that I had 
helped to found—the Mobilization for Peace, Jobs and Justice—that the 
united-front-type mass-action movement that was needed and possible at 
that time could not be effectively built with the/ formal/ inclusion of 
a Palestine demand.

Coburn, a bit of a red-baiter when it suits him, prefers to place the 
responsibility for this decision solely on me and Socialist Action 
rather than on the regular mass meetings of 300-500 activists and 
organizations—including all seven Bay Area Central Labor Councils and 
100-plus union presidents, faith-based groups, and scores of others—who 
democratically voted to do so.

Then as now, Mr. Zeltzer and a few of his cohorts cast the handful of 
dissenting votes. Then as now, Zeltzer believed that the construction of 
a united-front mass-action coalition against imperialist war was 
subordinate to the need to denounce the union bureaucracy, that a 
movement that included all his demands was preferable to the 
mobilization of the working class and its allies to prevent U.S. 
intervention in Central America.

Cockburn’s view was not that of the Salvadoran FMLN and Nicaraguan FSLN 
of the 1980s, whose representatives always supported our coalition and 
used its mass-action rallies to defend their right to 
self-determination. They understood the constraints on our movement at 
that time. And likewise, the Palestinian fighters understood the 
centrality of the Central American revolutions in progress, which were 
in the immediate gun sights of U.S. imperialism. Some 400,000 
Guatemalans, 80,000 Nicaraguans, and 80,000 Salvadorans lost their lives 
at the hands of U.S.-backed death squads and armies in these struggles.

Moreover, although the united-front mass mobilizations of that period 
focused on the immediate threat of U.S. intervention in Central America, 
they hardly excluded the active and full participation of the 
Palestinian movement. They joined our mass actions, were prominently 
represented on our speakers’ platforms and were more than encouraged to 
participate with their contingents, banners, and placards. The cause of 
the Palestinian struggle was advanced, not retarded, for the simple 
reason that it was incorporated into powerful mass mobilizations that 
engaged in action qualitatively more forces than would have been the 
case had our coalition been sharply divided.

Yes, we could have marched down the street with a full “revolutionary” 
program and a hardy few behind us. We chose instead to bring along 
hundreds of thousands whose participation informed them, far better than 
any slogan or demand, that we represented the majority, that the 
government did not represent us, that we were independent of them, that 
we had power, that we were not an isolated few but the conscience of the 
nation. This is the stuff that makes history—not rhetoric. Mass action 
empowers those who engage in it. It opens the gap wide between 
government lies and the people’s truth. It is the essence of the united 
front.

Today, much of the antiwar movement /has included/ a key Palestine 
demand. One can only wonder what is to be gained by attacking Socialist 
Action for fighting for its inclusion. I confess to Cockburn’s 
“accusation,” that Socialist Action’s newspaper regularly championed the 
Palestinian cause. I would add that we were virtually alone in 
championing the historic Palestinian demand for a democratic and secular 
Palestine with the right of return. We rejected and still reject a “two 
state solution” as a violation of the Palestinian right to 
self-determination.

Then as now, Socialist Action denies the legitimacy of the Zionist 
state—as our movement did since 1948. Such a Zionist, colonial, racist 
settler state would be codified, along with the establishment of a 
Bantustan-like Palestine, essentially under Israeli control, should the 
“two-staters” have their way. That was not the position of “two-state” 
Alexander Cockburn in the 1980s, and perhaps today as well.

Contrary to Cockburn’s allegations, Socialist Action’s support to the 
Palestinian revolution was not limited to articles in our press. We took 
the cause of the Palestinian people to as broad an audience as possible 
and through a variety of vehicles. During the 1982 Sabra and Shatila 
massacre of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians at the hands of Israel 
and the neo-fascist Lebanese forces it aligned with, we led an 
international solidarity campaign that reached scores of countries, and 
we helped publish a full-page, $50,000 ad in the /New York Times 
/entitled, “End All Aid To Apartheid Israel!” Coupled with our conscious 
efforts to include the Palestinian community in the mass actions during 
those years to the maximum extent possible, our record exceeds anything 
that Cockburn and his past or present sideline critics ever dreamed of.

The antiwar movement in the 1980s, as with all social movements, had its 
own peculiarities. Some 17 national unions had joined the Labor 
Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in Salvador led by trade 
unionist David Dyson. It was not uncommon in those times for the 
movement against U.S. intervention in Central America to receive 
support, funding, and active participation by trade-union leaders and 
members, who were motivated by the fact that the U.S.-backed Salvadoran 
dictatorship’s death squads regularly murdered trade unionists, and who 
were still fresh from the experience of mobilizing against the Vietnam War.

Similarly, the Salvadoran government’s murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero 
and the related slaughter of Cleveland nuns based in that country 
brought a cry of outrage and mass mobilization from the Catholic Church 
and others in the religious community.

The anti-nuclear weapons movement, demanding, “Freeze and reverse the 
arms race!” was likewise energized when Ronald Reagan’s secretary of 
state, Gen. Alexander Haig, threatened to use nuclear weapons against 
the USSR. Similarly, the South African government’s racist apartheid 
polices were hated in every corner of the progressive movement. As a 
result, demands on the U.S. government relating to all these issues were 
based on social foundations capable of mobilizing tens of thousands in 
the streets, thus exposing the contradiction between what the American 
people demanded and what the government delivered.

Although the formal inclusion of a demand on Palestine was not possible 
at that time, we struggled to find a myriad of ways to integrate the 
fight for Palestinian self-determination into the mass mobilizations 
that were on the order of the day. We did not denounce the movement in 
progress and stand apart from it, as is Cockburn’s preference today.

Socialist Action’s modest forces were not capable of overcoming the 
reactionary prejudice against the Palestinian people and the 
prettification of the Zionist colonial settler state of Israel. Had we 
made Palestine the dividing line between us and the forces that /were/ 
prepared to mobilize, we would have lost the united-front coalitions 
that were a prerequisite for the mass challenge to imperialist war. 
Rather than abandon the Palestinian cause, as Cockburn charges, we found 
numerous ways to include it and advance the process of educating those 
who were not yet prepared to understand its importance.

Cockburn is correct in stating that Socialist Action believed in the 
1980s that “labor would walk” if a Palestine demand were added. Sadly, 
many other groups that were critical to the movement would have done the 
same. How to deal with this fact of political life was what was under 
consideration. Cockburn and his cohorts considered the same equations 
and concluded that the united front and mass action to defend 
revolutions in progress and immediately threatened with U.S. 
intervention were of little consequence.

Today, Cockburn chooses to howl at Socialist Action once again. He 
rejects my judgment that “the time bomb was ticking” in San Francisco He 
mockingly quotes me to make his point. He rejects my view in the same 
e-mail to wit: “Had we not acted as we did, we might have lost the 
coalition or a good portion of it.” Unfortunately, he offers no proof to 
substantiate his rejection.

For Cockburn, proof is unnecessary. But for me, the choice was obvious. 
I had consulted with all the major forces in the coalition and all were 
opposed to the Pelosi Labor Council protest. Had we pressed forward with 
the protest, we would have lost the fragile unity and coalition that is 
so sorely needed today. We would have also risked the formal support of 
the S.F. Labor Council and all other councils in the Bay Area for the 
October 17 action.

Today the October 17 Antiwar Coalition remains united, and with it the 
prospect remains of organizing a sizeable demonstration against Obama‘s 
and Pelosi’s war in the most difficult of times for the U.S. antiwar 
movement and other social movements.

*Mass action vs. individual action*

Cockburn opens his Sept. 4-6 “CounterPunch Diary” tirade against the 
antiwar movement and Socialist Action with a long quotation from his 
libertarian co-thinker John Walsh. Walsh, who today speaks from the 
/CounterPunch/ platform, slams sectors of the antiwar movement, 
including its pro-Democratic Party and more reluctantly antiwar 
components, for not joining Cindy Sheehan in her call for a Martha’s 
Vineyard protest against Obama’s wars—the same kind of protest that 
Sheehan initiated at George Bush’s Crawford, Texas, residence. Walsh 
attributes the “deafening silence” (the title of his /CounterPunch/ 
piece) that Sheehan asserts was the reaction to her Martha’s Vineyard 
call, to the subordination of the movement to the Democratic Party.

There is significant truth to this view. The Obama-mania factor—that is, 
the massive but now diminishing illusion that an Obama presidency would 
bring an end to U.S. imperialist wars—has served to dampen the immediate 
potential to realize the majority sentiment against the war in mass 
mobilizations against it. But there are other factors involved in the 
movement’s decline in the past several years that have been fruitfully 
analyzed by many. They include the momentary paralysis of millions in 
the face of unprecedented attacks stemming from the current capitalist 
economic crisis, and the demoralization of many in the movement who 
should know better, resulting from the apparent absence of a national 
liberation movement in Iraq and Afghanistan that shows promise of a 
united anti-imperialist struggle based on a program of social liberation.

As important as the latter is, socialists and other longtime antiwar 
fighters understand that the potential for the emergence of such a 
movement in the Middle East can best be realized by the forced 
withdrawal of imperialist troops. Or, put another way, the defeat of the 
world’s greatest superpower at the hands of the oppressed people of the 
Middle East and the U.S. antiwar movement would open the door wider than 
ever to the unification of the imperialist-divided forces inside Iraq 
and to the emergence of social forces capable of reorganizing and 
strengthening the present resistance on a more advanced social and 
political basis.

In the meantime, the vast majority of Iraqis and Afghanis despise the 
U.S. intervention and have every reason to fight back with any means at 
their disposal.

Cockburn’s championing of Cindy Sheehan’s heroic and individual example, 
however meritorious, serves no useful purpose when it is counterposed to 
the building of united-front-type formations aimed at mobilizing 
millions. However important the individual in history might be, the 
collective and massive actions of the many have proved to be history’s 
mechanism for every progressive social change—anti-capitalist 
revolutions included.

Indeed, Cockburn tips his hand when he cites and publishes libertarian 
John Walsh as a source of justified dismissal of the antiwar movement, 
which Walsh charges as refusing to announce and support the Sheehan 
protest. Says Walsh in /CounterPunch/:

“However, not everyone has failed to publicize the event. The 
Libertarians at antiwar.com are on the job. And its editor in chief 
Justin Raimondo wrote a superb column Monday on the hypocritical 
treatment of Sheehan by the ‘liberal’ establishment.

“As Raimondo points out, Rush Limbaugh captured the hypocrisy of the 
liberal left in his commentary, thus: ‘Now that she’s headed to Martha’s 
Vineyard, the State-Controlled Media, Charlie Gibson, State-Controlled 
Anchor, ABC: “Enough already.” Cindy, leave it alone, get out, we’re not 
interested, we’re not going to cover you going to Martha’s Vineyard 
because our guy is president now and you’re just a hassle. You’re just a 
problem. To these people, they never had any true, genuine emotional 
interest in her. She was just a pawn. She was just a woman to be used 
and then thrown overboard once they’re through with her and they’re 
through with her. They don’t want any part of Cindy Sheehan protesting 
against any war when Obama happens to be president.’”

With Rush Limbaugh as a source, it must be true! Walsh continues: 
“Limbaugh has their number, just as they have his. Sometimes it is quite 
amazing how well each of the war parties can spot the other’s hypocrisy. 
But Cindy Sheehan is no one’s dupe; she is a very smart and very 
determined woman who no doubt is giving a lot of White House operatives 
some very sleepless nights out there on the Vineyard. Good for her.”

Cockburn’s source and Walsh’s libertarian disciple, Justin Raimondo, 
also praises neo-fascist Pat Buchanan’s isolationist foreign policy 
views while neglecting to mention that their libertarian credo espouses 
“No to U.S. government intervention abroad, and no to U.S. government 
intervention at home!” (see Raimondo at antiwar.com).

One will not find website mention among these libertarian right wingers 
of any demands for “Money for human needs, not war.” These free-market 
laissez-faire capitalist libertarians, who originated in the Libertarian 
Caucus of the Republican Party, believe that Adam Smith’s “invisible 
hand” regulates all and serves all. Government must stay out of the way, 
they insist. They reject outright any demands that corporate profits or 
government funds be allocated to those whose labor creates all wealth 
and who are daily robbed by the capitalist system. Liberty for the 
reactionary social Darwinist libertarians today means every person for 
themselves! Rhetoric aside, when push comes to shove they are warhawks 
of the first order to boot!

Cockburn’s last-minute advice on the 2008 elections marked a break from 
his 2004 admonition to support Democratic Party billionaire John Kerry, 
who sought the presidency with a campaign to the right of Bush on 
imperialist war and “national security” issues.

Reluctantly rejecting a vote for Obama, he concludes his column by 
condemning this “far from socialism” writer by urging his /CounterPunch 
/devotees to “read the portions of the Libertarian Party Bob Barr’s 
platform on /foreign policy/ and constitutional rights.” The 
libertarian’s pseudo-radical anti-interventionist foreign policy, 
equating fascism with socialism and ranting against all “collectivist” 
ideologies (See Raimondo at antiwar.com), bases itself on the view that 
an unimpeded capitalist individualism is essentially humanity’s way 
forward. (/CounterPunch/ conveniently highlights “foreign policy” within 
the article for an easy click to the Libertarian Party website.)

Libertarians increasingly find their way into /CounterPunch’s/ pages and 
website, including joining with Cockburn’s oft-stated and dangerously 
reactionary view that the “Jewish Lobby,” and or AIPAC—as opposed to the 
U.S. ruling class—weighs heavily in the determination of U.S. foreign 
policy.

As with all left liberals, “lesser evil” politics remain central to 
their political arsenal. Cockburn is no exception. He concludes his 
“CounterPunch Diary” with some advice on “How Obama Can Save His 
Presidency.”

“Now it should be payback time,” says Cockburn. “Obama’s pledge to the 
American people [should be]: Cheney and Bush behind bars by 2012, plus 
Gonzales, Yoo, Addington and the rest of the pack. We crave drama. From 
Obama we’re not getting it, except in the form of racist rallies. This 
is his last, best chance.”

For lesser-evilists, Democrats always get one more chance! For 
socialists and all serious antiwar activists, the building of an 
independent, democratic, united, mass-action, “Out Now!” antiwar 
movement is a more serious alternative—as is joining the socialist 
movement to challenge the capitalist system as a whole.

I conclude this response by cautioning readers to pay close attention to 
Cockburn’s politics, an eclectic combination of self-proclaimed 
“left-leaning” radicalism with an increasing dose of carefully 
camouflaged right-wing libertarian demagogy. As for Cockburn’s 
unsubstantiated charges of 25 years ago that Socialist Action used bully 
tactics to prevent a Lebanese speaker from expressing her views or that 
Socialist Action cancelled mass antiwar meetings to prevent 
consideration of the Palestine issue, I suggest that Cockburn be more 
careful with his sources in the future. All such accusations are 
patently false.





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