Wednesday, August 8, 2007
U.S. troops out now!
U.S. troops out now!
Sept. 22-29 mobilizations: End wars at home & abroad

By John Catalinotto
Published Aug 8, 2007 11:19 PM

As anti-war mobilizations are building toward the early fall, a pattern is taking shape: Activists are merging the struggle against the wars abroad with the struggles against the war directed against the poor and workers at home.

The main issues raised so far have been health care, some of the momentum impelled by the release of Michael Moore’s documentary “SiCKO”; the question of relief for oppressed communities; and, following the collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, a push to stop war funding and start repairing the domestic infrastructure.

Anti-war forces in North America have continued mobilizing against the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and against U.S. President George W. Bush, and the governments of Canada and Mexico.

Protests planned include a week of action around a security summit Aug. 20-22 in Montebello, Quebec; a majority African-American protest in Newark, N.J., on Aug. 25; and a New England mobilization on the same day at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Me.

Organizers from the Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC) have focused attention on the expected “debate” over war funding in the U.S. Congress in mid-to-late September. TONC has called an encampment for Sept. 22-28 and mass marches for Sept. 29 in Washington and Los Angeles as the arguments in Congress are expected to climax.
Summit in Quebec Aug. 20-22

Canadian President Stephen Harper, Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Bush are meeting Aug. 20-22, just 90 miles from Montreal on the Quebec-Ontario border for a discussion of their so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). The last big agreement between the ruling classes of the three countries introduced NAFTA, which eliminated job security in Canada and the U.S. and drove millions of Mexican peasants off the land, giving them the choice of emigrating without papers or starving.

Anti-globalization, pro-socialist and other progressive forces in Canada and Quebec are mobilizing to protest despite the expected presence of thousands of police. Canada’s heavy participation in the war on Afghanistan and its military’s growing casualties have aroused strong anti-war sentiments.
Aug. 25: Newark and Kennebunkport

The Peace and Justice Coalition—a united front of 120 mostly African-American and other people-of-color community organizations—has called an anti-war protest for Aug. 25 in Newark, N.J. Polls show that an estimated 90 percent of African Americans oppose the war and the Bush administration, which is reflected in the Pentagon’s growing difficulty in attracting Black youths as new recruits despite the absence of opportunities for them as civilians.

The Peace and Justice call stated clearly: “In the U.S., another type of war is going on, a war on our communities. The Bush administration, while increasing war spending, has decreased domestic spending for education, health care, housing, employment, veterans’ care and other social programs.” This call is a strong appeal to stop the war against oppressed communities at home, a demand that the anti-war movement as a whole needs to take up.

The Northeast organizers are seeking out Bush and his ruling-class cohorts in their lair at Kennebunkport, Me., where many of the rich have their family estates. This activist effort is drawing support throughout New England.

Jamilla El-Shafei, an anti-war activist in Kennebunkport, told media that Cindy Sheehan, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia plan to attend the event, which will be a “symbolic protest” because Bush isn’t expected to be there.
Organizing for Sept. 22-29

While protests have been called for throughout the congressional debate in September, the culminating activities are expected to be from Sept. 22-29.

TONC organizer Maggie Vascassenno reports that Los Angeles mobilizers for Sept. 22-29 held a meeting Aug. 4 at the Sugar Shack, an artist collective. “Organizers from the March 25 Coalition, Bayan USA, Code Pink, Latinos Against the War, the International Action Center and the American Friends Service Committee participated and joined committees to plan the encampment and demonstration,” she said.

The group called a news conference for Aug. 9 at the downtown Federal Building demanding money for “bridges not war,” said Vascassenno. “Activists took leaflets and posters, and mailings and phone-banking are scheduled. There’s a potentially huge health care rally sponsored by SEIU Aug 11 where we will distribute the SiCKO leaflet.” This is a TONC leaflet linking the war costs to the lack of adequate health care insurance.

TONC issued a statement on the cost of the war and the great needs of the crumbling U.S. infrastructure on Aug. 4. At the same time, an anti-war coalition in Minneapolis, where the bridge collapse cost at least five lives, held a protest raising the same issues while Bush was visiting the collapsed bridge area.

TONC organizer Frank Neisser told Workers World: “There are now 51 organizing centers that we expect will organize at least 65 buses to come on Sept. 29. There are also now at least 1,250 organizational and individual endorsers of the call.

“Some of the new endorsers include World Can’t Wait, the Green Party of the U.S., Not In Our Name, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Michael Parenti, MECAWI, Charles Barron, Ramsey Clark, Code Pink, After Downing Street, Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Families for Peace and Ron Kovic.”

Senators posture, but will they vote war funds?
By Deirdre Griswold
Published Sep 12, 2007 11:43 PM

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, has made his long-awaited report to the U.S. Senate. As expected, it was crafted to bolster the Bush administration’s claims that, having sent tens of thousands more troops into combat over the last few months, it is now making “progress” in that ravaged country. Indeed, the report had been “vetted” by the White House itself.

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, also testified in a similar vein.

The administration’s vow to prolong the war is sure to be answered by tens of thousands of protesters who will descend on Washington in September to demand an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Senate Democrats and a few Republicans asked Petraeus the kinds of questions that showed their extreme skepticism with his claims. Five of the senators on the panels that heard the general’s testimony are candidates for president. They are very aware of the mass anti-war sentiment in the U.S. that is also growing among the troops themselves. They took advantage of this forum to make thinly veiled campaign speeches.

According to the U.S. Constitution, it is Congress, not the White House, that has the right to declare war and to raise the money for it. Less than a year ago, completely disgusted with this war, the electorate voted out enough Republicans to give both houses of Congress a Democratic majority. Ever since grammar school, they had been taught that this was how you change the government and its policies.

Yet the unanimous view of all the big capitalist media today is that none of the political theater now happening in Washington will lead to any significant withdrawal of troops from Iraq, nor will the Democratic Party lead a struggle to stop the funding of the war—which will be up for a vote within the next month.

Partisan politics and posturing

Looking at what happens in Washington purely from the point of view of partisan politics, all this can seem quite puzzling. Aren’t the Democrats the opposition party? Don’t they know they’ll get more votes if they seize the golden opportunity Bush has given them and voice their opposition to this most unpopular war?

Yes, they know it very well. And so they talk quite eloquently about the lying, the deceit and all the “blunders” that caused the war to go ahead. Of course, they voted to make it happen in the first place, so they have to excuse themselves by saying they, too, were deceived.

Talk is one thing. Voting to stop the funding of the war is quite different. When that subject comes up, the now-majority party suddenly pleads weakness and invokes the probability of a presidential veto.

None of this should be surprising. Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992 promising a health care plan that would cover everyone in the country. He won the election and the Democrats also took both houses of Congress. But the health care plan was dropped after running into stiff opposition from industry lobbyists. His administration also gutted the welfare system, which had been a safety net for the very poor since the Depression.

And, far from pursuing a peaceful foreign policy, the Clinton administration, together with Europe’s imperialist powers, also launched a war against Yugoslavia that saw the merciless U.S. bombing of the capital city of Belgrade—a prelude to “shock and awe.”

Vietnam: similar but reversed

More and more, the present war is being compared to Vietnam. Then, the political situation was reversed from what it is now.

It was two Democratic Party administrations—under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson—that started the war. The public had to be deceived, of course, so in 1964 an “incident” was cooked up that later was proven to be phony. But the Senate passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which gave the president the authority and funds to vastly escalate the war. Only two senators opposed it.

When Richard M. Nixon ran for president in 1968, he claimed to have a plan to end the war. It dragged on for seven more years under two Republican administrations. Millions of Vietnamese were killed in combat and by abuse and torture; the land was poisoned by Agent Orange and other chemicals that are still causing birth defects and lingering deaths today; nearly 60,000 U.S. soldiers were also killed and a huge number disabled by both physical and psychological injuries.

The determining factor in both these wars is not which party controls the White House or the Congress. It is how the ruling class of the United States sees its interests. If the super-rich think a war will open up vast new areas for exploitation and profit, their attitude is: Go for it.

This view then becomes the dominant one in the corporate media and among the politicians of both capitalist parties. All kinds of justifications are invented to convince ordinary working people, the ones who have to do the fighting and dying, that the war is for a noble cause, that their way of life is threatened and that the targeted people are an evil enemy.

If, however, the war fails to achieve its objectives despite overwhelming U.S. military superiority, if the heroic resistance of the Vietnamese or the Iraqis prevents the kind of stability that would allow for “orderly” capitalist exploitation of their labor and natural resources, then voices of dissent begin to be heard even within the U.S. ruling establishment itself.

This is where things are at now with the war in Iraq. Even more than Vietnam, the economic stakes are immense. Iraq’s strategic location in the Middle East—at a time when the huge oil companies and the military-industrial-banking complex see control over the world’s petroleum as vital to their immense wealth and power—is the main reason why few politicians have taken a definite stand for immediate withdrawal. To do so would bring down the wrath of the corporate media, which is so embedded with the military-industrial complex that it still uses phrases like “cut and run.”

At the same time, the military can’t recruit, so it has to send soldiers back to Iraq for a third tour, risking potential mutiny. Immigrant workers are told that joining the military is the only way to get legal documents. Senators can still be forced out through anti-gay entrapment but not because they voted for a criminal war. Police shootings and overstuffed prisons show where the racist brutality behind Abu Ghraib comes from.

And the U.S. economy is turning sour, disproving the idea that war brings prosperity for the many along with the profits for a few.

Even the puppet government in Iraq chosen by the U.S. occupation is being criticized for not being able to carry out its master’s orders to “pacify” the country.

With all this, won’t the ruling class establishment just decide it’s in their interests to end the war?

Not yet. There is no easy way to end this war. The first thing to understand is that the people, not the capitalist political establishment, will do it. The orders to really bring the troops home will be written only when the ruling class has become convinced that it will never win, no matter how many soldiers it grinds up and no matter how much suffering and destruction it inflicts on the Iraqi nation.

That will take more than the resistance in Iraq. It requires a storm at home, a rebellion of the type that swept this country in the sixties and seventies.

The youth, facing the military draft, joined forces with returning GIs to rock the establishment. Rebellions against racism in hundreds of cities were also huge de-facto demonstrations against the war. The military chain of command broke down as soldiers deserted, demonstrated, disobeyed orders and even “fragged” their officers.

Several anti-war demonstrations are coming up in Washington—a march called by ANSWER on Sept. 15, followed by the Troops Out Now Coalition’s Sept. 22-29 Encampment on the Mall and march to Congress to say NO to war funding. TONC is also organizing an encampment and mass march in Los Angeles. These protests must let the real rulers of this country know that they face another period like the sixties if they don’t end this abominable war.

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posted by Stop War @ 11:28 AM  
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SEPT 22 - 29

It's time to move from Protest to Resistance:

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