Imperialism and the antiwar movement
Excerpts from an article by Brian Becker, national organizer for the ANSWER Coalition, writing in issue #2 of Socialism and Liberation.
In the run-up to the 1991 Iraq War, the slogan of the main groups that now constitute United for Peace and Justice was “Sanctions not War.” Before and after the current massacre in Iraq, organizations like Win Without War and other mainstream peace groups insisted that economic sanctions and weapons inspections against Iraq “were working” and should have been continued as the “alternative” to war.
Thus, these mainstream “peace” groups wholeheartedly supported the policy of US intervention anyplace the US deemed fit.
Leaders of Win Without War knew full well that economic sanctions meant mass murder for the children in Iraq and that UN weapons inspection left Iraq defenseless in the face of the 2003 U.S. and British military assault. David Cortright, formerly the leader of the peace organization SANE/Freeze and now a leader of Win Without War, writes in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, “The much-maligned UN-enforced sanctions regime actually worked. Contrary to what critics have said, we now know that containment helped destroy Saddam Hussein’s war machine and his capacity to produce weapons.”
The sanctions also killed 500,000 Iraqi children, a price Ambassabor Madeleine Albright said “was worth it.” Apparently Win Without War also thinks killing half a million children is ok, as long as there’s no actual war.
In the three weeks between the March 19, 2003, opening of Bush’s “shock and awe” invasion and the April 12, 2003, fall of Baghdad, thousands upon thousands of Iraqis fought to the death with small arms against a high-tech death machine. Cortright, the “peace” leader, seems to be downright proud about the advantages secured for the U.S. invading army due to the economic sanctions and UN weapons inspections that he championed for years.
A very strange view for a “peace” organizer to take. Destroying a country with sanctions then invading it is laudable and peaceful?
When the U.S. was attacked on its own soil on September 11, 2001, very few organizations were rushing into the streets to take a stand against the Bush administration’s immediate efforts to use the attack to unleash a long-planned war. In the days after the attack, the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition was the only formation in the U.S. that called for mass demonstrations on September 29, 2001, against the government’s war moves.
That initiative was greeted at the time by either fear, or denounced or boycotted, by most of the “respectable” pacifist and social-democratic leaders and organizations not to mention a few who consider themselves revolutionaries and Marxists.
A.N.S.W.E.R.’s call to action was not a bland and politically innocuous call for peace. Rather, it directly focused on building opposition inside the United States to the Bush administration’s war drive.
The article uses as an example, the actions of wortldwide Socialist groups prior to WWI, all of whom opposed the coming war until the war got close. Then most caved in, and supported the war. A very few didn’t, among them Eugene Debs of the US, who went to prison for his views, and, incredibly. ran for President from his jail cell and got one million votes.