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Dissonance The War Is the Question


Dissonance
The War Is the Question
ANSWER is not the answer
by MARC COOPER

The largest anti-war demonstration since the invasion of Iraq came and went in Washington this past weekend, but the peace movement remains adrift.

The post-demonstration debate is all about media coverage. Were there 100,000 marchers or 300,000? Why didn’t the networks show more aerial shots? Why were the small groups of pro-war counterdemonstrators given so much airtime? Those are the wrong questions.

What’s missing in the debate is what is always missing: a focus on strategy. Drum circles, bare-breasted guerrilla theater and giant puppets aside, there are only two ways the anti-war movement can achieve its goals. Either by what the Europeans call “extraparliamentary

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The premise that the movement was ineffective because Big-wig Democrats didn't show up.

I was there and I went NOT because I expected a Democrat to show up but because it was ME speaking to THEM and saying, "END the OCCUPATION and BRING THEM HOME!" (and even "Impeach Bush!")

BUT I did not want them to be there last weekend. I want them to hear US and listen to us.

However--Democrats in office and on the fence--NOW I had my say, I expect to see YOU take action.

NEXT time we take our time and money to march the streets, WE expect every single one of you to march with us.

March out of Congress. Do NOT pass any more bills until our soldiers have their armor. Do not pass any more laws until the war issues, the downing street memos, the treasonous leaks, and now Katrina are handled BY AN EQUAL BIPARTISON COMMISSION. Do not give BUSH any more money for war--instead take the money from your campaign donations and BUY THEM WHAT THEY NEED.

Do NOT continue to allow this adminsitration free reign-as they've showed they're unworthy of that trust--and take my word for it, the people out here will respect you for taking a stand. And if you give your campaign donations or your salery to the military, then the Republicans look like the scam artists they are by not doing the same.

So...the NEXT march we see in DC had better be all of you marching out of Congress.

You missed the message and so have the democratic enablers of GW...the nobodies now have a voice...You all aren't listening and too easily dismiss these people as fringe but there are a lot of average middle class people of all ages and all incomes that have joined the movement for: JUSTICE...and decency. The "mainstream" is the fringe today not the leader they have lost their credibility. The Iraq War has exposed the hypocrisy of both the Repubs and the Dems... Decent people do not start wars for dubious reasons and expect the masses to silently support them anymore. Decent people do not drop bombs on civilians that have caused no one any harm. Decent people do not steal other peoples land and resources in the name of freedom. Decent people do not circumvent international law to bring about regime change to serve their agendas. Decent people do not call other countries leaders names and countries evil because they do not serve the interests of the powerful. Decent people do not send other peoples children to war for their personal ideologies or financial interests. Decent people do not distort freedom to serve their own purposes.... Decent people do not invade another country and call the civilians terrorists and torture innocent people to find WMDs that do not exist. Decent people do not support selling weapons worldwide to support the military industrial complex. Decent people have a lot of complaints ... Veterans against War, Gold Star Mothers and peaceful loving people are the leaders...the 60s had individual leaders and they were gunned down. Today, there are too many to destroy...this movement is strong and needs no one voice... Life, liberty and justice for all...not just the ruling elites who think that it requires an iron fist to keep the world in line. It didn't work in Russia, China etc...Time for these dems and repubs to figure that one out....they have proven they can't just demonize someone and the masses will follow them. Castro,Saddam, Chavez, Iran, Syria, Arafat...just a few we are suppose to hate and destroy. Why? Is Iraq safer without Saddam? Is the US safer without Saddam? Is Israel safer without Arafat? Would we be safer without Castro or Chavez? Who in their right mind is going to attack us and not expect to be destroyed? It isn't being soft to be decent people in this world...and not threaten everyone that doesn't agree with us...No, Saddam, Castro, Arafat, Chavez, Iran will not be are undoing...the dem and repub leadership is doing it for us...with the foreign policy based on hate...The masses are awake and have many voices to speak with...silent no longer...there is one voice and it is very, very loud. JUSTICE for all.

The "left" has very few rituals. The demo in DC on the 24th was a very powerful force, irrespective of theater and some who marched also "tripped a little light fantastic". So what!

People will act out against the this dissembling administration and the war they manufactured regardless of some demo theater on the 24th. Remember "shock and awe"? How about "Mission Accomplshed" aboard the Abraham Lincoln?

The light is shining on the roaches and pretty soon we'll see some chatoic scatter as they run for the shadows.

I think extra-parliamentary methods - showing our displeasure with government policy, not requiring actual (but even better) overthrow of the government, and principled cooperation with politicians is the correct strategy. Most of the Democrats in Congress are probably really against the anti-war movement and oppose the War because it threatens the rest of US imperialism (the so-called "War on Terror") and their future terms in office, not because it was wrong to invade a country that was not a threat to the American people, killing 100,000 Iraqis. Many of these same Democrats probably supported the sanctions on Iraq which are estimated to have killed a million Iraqis and destroyed the country in other ways. If they opposed the War, why didn't they join us before it started, or now that it is obviously wrong? They could have supported us without being associated with ANSWER. I don't have much regard for what these politicians would say. I agree with previous posts that they need to listen to us. Also, I think there is a difference between the tens of millions who vote Democratic and the Democratic Party which has enabled Bush. Instead of criticizing the Democrats who allow this War, Marc Cooper tries to divide the movement and separate it from its allies (Palestinian groups, ANSWER, New Orleans residents, George Galloway, etc.) who opposed the War. Cooper sounds like he wants to shrink the movement himself, by removing groups like ANSWER, although they "oppose Bush policy in Iraq. Period"

I usually don't listen to the rally speeches, because there are so many other things to see at a DC protest.

Also, I am surprised that Cooper knows the PSL is in ANSWER. I only found out a week or two ago that the PSL split from the Workers World Party and now is the party in ANSWER, instead of the WWP. Maybe this is more common knowledge than I thought.

There was a recent article by Tim Dickinson in RollingStone with a similar criticism and I think the response I wrote below about it applies to the Cooper article as well.

Basically that article seems to say that the anti-war movement needs to moderate and focus its demands, so that it can unite with moderate veterans, MoveOn.org, Win Without War, Democrats, and Republicans. It would then have mass support and could present a "responsible" exit plan allowing us to declare "victory" in Iraq. I may overstate the author's views, but he quotes mainly from opponents of ANSWER, and even of UFPJ, and obviously is not very anti-imperialist (opposing the forced and undemocratic military and economic domination of other countries in general, not just the military occupation of Iraq).

This has elitist and racist overtones. The article criticizes the diversity of demands at the protest, from liberating Haiti, to anti-Israel speeches, to freeing US political prisoners. It seems racist to say we want the support of what are probably mostly white and "middle class" groups like MoveOn (by narrowing our message), and not that of Haitian and Arab Americans, or of the blue-collar working class (who have related demands they want us to include). It also says we care about the deaths of Americans over those of foreigners, and the US occupation of Iraq over the also bloody occupations of Afghanistan and Haiti. It helps us to appeal to sentiment over US deaths, but we should at least mention the other side. And I think Americans should be able to understand violent resistance by patriotic Iraqis, and recognize that they have a right to defend their country, as much as Americans in the 18th century, the French in WWII, and other Europeans. Just because some of the tactics are brutal and unsavory, such as those of "al-Qaida in Iraq," doesn't mean that the insurgents are all fundamentalist foreigners. The resistance also ranges from non-violence (such as Iraq Civil Resistance, which I heard about on the 24th) to violence.

These concerns are very linked to opposing the War, not diversions hijacking the movement. Israel does not control the United States, but it seems obvious to me that it is our government's agent in the Middle East and benefitted from this war, since Iraq was a poweful Arab nationalist opponent, which also aided Palestinian groups fighting Israel. We supported Israel's Zionist colonial policies for our own ends, and I think Americans can see that Israel is at least in the wrong in many of its tactics, even if they don't see it as based on racist colonialism. Israel will still be against a strong, relatively independent Iraq after the occupation ends, it will still need the resources and markets of Iraq, and Iraqis will probably still sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, posing a threat to Israel. This encourages future wars, which will involve the US.

It is the same arrogant US imperialism in Iraq as the imperialism that supported the Haitian coup, meddles in the Philippines, prevents reconciliation on the Korean peninsula, and pursues neoliberal, anti-popular social and economic policies in Iraq, New Orleans, and Latin America. Iraq looks like a testing ground for policies that will be applied here later on, and it is reducing government funds for domestic programs. Consider the case of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The UK removed the islanders there for a military base (I think it is the one on Diego Garcia), and this military base is now also used by the US to attack Middle Eastern countries. If the islanders protested the military base, it would involve opposing attacks on Iraq, since the base is probably very useful for the War. In that case the struggle of the islanders to regain their homes would also be anti-Iraq War, but involving more than a narrow argument for ending the occupation alone. If this took place in the US though, it would be considered adding too much to our demands by some. Opposing the Iraq War on a narrow basis only throws away our momentum, doing nothing to prevent future wars, such as against Iran or a world war, against China, the EU, Brazil, Japan, India, etc. (which I think is very possible in the coming decades). This is an opportunity to speak on related issues in some way and if we don't we weaken future movements.

There is the argument that we need to moderate so the elite's politicians will join with us. I think it isthe purpose of protest movements to make a demand and leave it to the politicians, who are really against us, to produce a solution to save themselves and placate us. If we had influence, and could say we want X exit plan, we wouldn't be protesting. My understanding is that this is how the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War struggles were won (the last movement is also critized in the RollingStone piece as "ineffective"). We should work with anyone who will further the movement's goals, but not in a way that separates us from our allies and hurts our movement in the long-term. The Democrats are not only "spineless" in general on the War, they are also really opposed to us even when they support peace. The leading Democrats, like Biden, Kerry, Lieberman, and the Clintons, fault Bush with not winning in Iraq, isolating us internationally, and distracting from the "War on Terror." They don't oppose the toppling of a foreign government that has done nothing to the American people, for economic and geopolitical gain for the rich and powerful in the US. Some Democrats have joined with us - I think Dennis Kucinich sent a recorded message to one of the DC protests and Cynthia McKinney has spoken at the protests. The US now controls Iraq and dominates other oil producing countries, but we are paying ever higher gas prices
and the oil companies are no doubt profitting greatly.

The politicians fear we will lost "credibility" as a global bully if Iraqis can force us out of Iraq, as the Vietnamese forced us out of Vietnam. A real "victory" in Iraq will hurt the American people -it will be the groundwork for future wars, it will support the Bush Administration, and it will support the neoliberal globalization hurting workers and farmers from here to India. If the government wants to declare a victory in Iraq and leave, that wouldn't be too bad, but a real victory would be bad for us and the world in the long-term. And even with our "radical" demands Democrats and even Republicans are calling for an exit plan.

The article doesn't mention civil war in Iraq as a reason for the US and UK to stay. This is only a possible result, as opposed to the actual killing our soldiers are doing now. I think the occupation encourages sectarian violence in Iraq, and the level of sectarian hatred might be exaggerated by the media here. Insurgent groups have been able to work together, as did ethnic groups prior to the War, to some extent. There are at least two broad, non-fundamentalist insurgent united fronts in Iraq now and eventually there may be an alternative government to negotiate with. Also, the government would be forced to deal with its enemies and would have room to do so if the US leaves. A third party could supervise a US withdrawl and maybe the UN could be involved, but I think it is suspect if a supposedly Iraqi decision is made while the country is occupied. A UN presence also wouldn't be much better than the US presence (look at what is happening in Haiti), and the UN would most likely end up serving US goals. A lot of the violence is over the foreign presence, and won't stop until Iraq is again relatively independent.

It would be good if even groups only opposed to Bush's strategy would join us in the streets, but narrowing what we demand to suit more "responsible" groups only serves Rove and the warmongers by separating us from our allies and ensures that we have to do this all over again in, say 2010. Also don't forget the quiet wars waged in our names, such as the strangling of Iraq after the first war, mainly under Clinton, which might have killed a million Iraqis and made the current War more possible. It would also be very difficult and undemocratic to impose a uniform message on a protest by 300,000 people, for example I went there protesting for impeachment over the War and other Bush policies. It is true that CSPAN coverage wouldn't show much of this variety, since their idea of covering a protest seems to be mainly focusing on the official speakers.

I think extra-parliamentary methods - showing our displeasure with government policy, not requiring actual (but even better) overthrow of the government, and principled cooperation with politicians is the correct strategy. Most of the Democrats in Congress are probably really against the anti-war movement and oppose the War because it threatens the rest of US imperialism (the so-called "War on Terror") and their future terms in office, not because it was wrong to invade a country that was not a threat to the American people, killing 100,000 Iraqis. Many of these same Democrats probably supported the sanctions on Iraq which are estimated to have killed a million Iraqis and destroyed the country in other ways. If they opposed the War, why didn't they join us before it started, or now that it is obviously wrong? They could have supported us without being associated with ANSWER. I don't have much regard for what these politicians would say. I agree with previous posts that they need to listen to us. Also, I think there is a difference between the tens of millions who vote Democratic and the Democratic Party which has enabled Bush. Instead of criticizing the Democrats who allow this War, Marc Cooper tries to divide the movement and separate it from its allies (Palestinian groups, ANSWER, New Orleans residents, George Galloway, etc.) who opposed the War. Cooper sounds like he wants to shrink the movement himself, by removing groups like ANSWER, although they "oppose Bush policy in Iraq. Period"

I usually don't listen to the rally speeches, because there are so many other things to see at a DC protest.

Also, I am surprised that Cooper knows the PSL is in ANSWER. I only found out a week or two ago that the PSL split from the Workers World Party and now is the party in ANSWER, instead of the WWP. Maybe this is more common knowledge than I thought.
There was a recent article by Tim Dickinson in RollingStone with a similar criticism and I think the response I wrote below about it applies to the Cooper article as well.

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