The Challenge Ahead: We Must Stop This War

Revolutionary Worker #1193, March 30, 2003, posted at

This is a heavy moment, a time of anguish and anger, of love and rage. We march in the streets and come home to the bombing and invasion on television, covered as if it were the Super Bowl. We fight against the cruelty, we get inspired by each other's daring and resolve, and still we agonize--have we done enough? How can we stop them?

Millions, in the U.S. and around the world, have made it clear that we do not want this unjust war. And then...despite all this...the U.S. invaded Iraq.

The bombs rained down. And as the war started, the people did not give up! All over the planet they answered the bombs with a wave of struggle, defiance and disruption.

But even as we battle, we ask ourselves --do our protests do any good? And what do we do now?

Have the Protests Made a Difference?

Let's be real clear: if it weren't for our protests -- in unity with people around the world--then Bush would probably be marching into Iraq with the UN fully behind him, draped in an aura of righteousness and legitimacy. Public opinion would be eating out of his hand and believing his every lie. People overseas would wonder what the hell was wrong with Americans and was there any opposition to this obviously unjust war. Bush would have gone into Iraq riding high, with very few if any political concerns.

Instead, our movement told the truth to the American people--that this war is immoral, unjust and illegitimate--and profoundly changed the political alignment in this country from a year ago. It sent a message around the globe that there was a movement here ready to oppose the unjust actions of its own government and stand with the world's people...and the people of the world heard that message loud and clear.

Bush went to war... but he went to war looking and acting like a robotic cowboy, his lies and pretenses exposed, and the world in upheaval, from Cairo to Chicago. His bullying and bribery of countries exposed. His only real ally was his faithful yapping poodle, Tony Blair. Bush carries out his crimes knowing that the people are on this and he is looking over his shoulder.

Bush has not been stopped, but his freedom of action has been constrained by the people's struggle . As one concrete and important example, the U.S. was counting on sending its troops through Turkey, and the Turkish government had all but accepted a huge bribe to allow this; but the Turkish parliament, because of the huge antiwar sentiment in its country, had to back off this deal.

At the same time, imperialist countries like France, Germany, and Russia--who have their own problems with a world dominated by the U.S.--denied the UN stamp of legitimacy for the war on Iraq. Governments that would have otherwise backed the U.S. in the UN stepped aside. And this further fueled the people's opposition to the war.

Now that doesn't make the bitter pill of invasion any easier to swallow. We set out to stop this juggernaut, not just to slow it down. But we do need to understand what we have actually accomplished and draw the right lessons in order to go forward against the war machine.

One important thing to think deeply about: it was not the weaknesses of our movements that allowed Bush and his cronies to launch this war, nor was it the so-called support among the American people. It was the fact that the imperialists have state power--that is, they control the army and the police and they dominate the mass media--and the people do not. For all the rhetoric about "this is a democracy," that's the simple fact. That's one big reason why we say that it will take a revolution to create a new society where these unjust wars will be a thing of the past--and even if you're not down with revolution, it's something to think about. But it doesn't mean that we can't still push them back, that we can't raise the political stakes so high that they must back off.

Wars begun by governments can be stopped by the people.

"We Must Stop This War!"

What does that mean , now that they have launched the invasion?

In the first place, we need to aim for nothing less than stopping this war. Much as they would like to pretend otherwise, their victory is not sewn up.

Their talk of bloodless victory is a fantasy. War is the most uncertain of enterprises, but within that there are some sure things. And it is surely true that the United States will commit atrocities and crimes in its march towards Baghdad, and it is also true that they will try to cover these up and put out phony propaganda on how they are "liberators."

The question for us is this: will there be a force consistently in the streets of America that exposes these atrocities and brings out the truth to millions? That calls out the truth of what is actually going down in Iraq? That exposes what is happening within the U.S. with detentions of immigrants or attacks on protesters? That continues to unleash the daring and creativity of the youth? That refuses to "tone things down"? That brings out the truth that this war is not in the interest of the vast majority of people in this country? That shows the world that the government and the media are lying about how many people oppose this invasion? That supports the resistance of the troops? Because whether there is a movement like this will make all the difference, and that is up to us.

Sooner or later, those who thought this invasion would bring relief and democracy to the people of Iraq will learn the bitter truth. Oppressed people who hitched their hopes to a U.S. invasion will find themselves in the grip of an empire that is cruelly using them. Young men and women who thought they were on a mission of "liberation" will find that they have been sent on a predator's mission-- with the blood of the Iraqi people on their hands. Working people who proudly kissed their soldiers goodbye will curse the day their sons and daughters and lovers ever got involved with the U.S. military.

And the question is: will it be sooner or later...and how can our movement develop a whole climate of resistance in society where we can keep taking the initiative through all the twists and turns ahead?

What we do now and what we do over this whole coming period will help determine the outcome of this war. We need to be relentless in consistently exposing their crimes, seizing every opening to create favorable new conditions through struggle, and finding the best ways to unite the people to end this war and occupation.

What Kinds of Protest Do We Need?

There is a question up as to what kinds of protest are "appropriate" now that the U.S. has gone to war. Our primary orientation has to be to tell the truth. From there we have to find the ways to connect that truth to the resistance of the people. Some months ago, when this new movement was just getting started--and at a time when many were saying that you can't even go out and dare to build a big movement against the war "because people weren't ready to hear about that yet"--Bob Avakian said that "you get a hearing by telling the truth. You get a hearing by bringing out the reality as sharply as you can." (Bob Avakian Speaks Out, Interviewed by Carl Dix )

We have to get out the truth to people: that this is a war for empire, not for liberation. That the Iraqi dead are being sacrificed on the oil-soaked altar of imperialist interests. That the war on Iraq is but one part of an entire "deadly trajectory," as the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience puts it. That victory in Iraq will only feed the appetite of this power structure headed by a frat boy with a bad messiah complex--and the world will be a far more dangerous place.

Telling the truth has to go along with strengthening and spreading the spirit of resistance. In that same interview, Comrade Avakian spoke to the impact it has "when people see broad and determined opposition out there which stakes out a clear and firm political position of opposition and says, `This must not go down. We must oppose this. It cannot be done in our name. It cannot be done at all and we intend to stop it.' "

One thing that people have learned over these past months is that resistance reverberates . When people dare to confront the powers and tell the truth, they are answered back by people in other cities and even other countries.

Fighting for the Future

Today many people are learning vivid lessons that the future cannot be left up to the imperialists. We need a future worth living in. But there will be no better world in the future without taking up the challenge of the present. That challenge is this: to analyze what we have accomplished and what we have yet to do; to build on those accomplishments and apply the lessons we have learned to the new and more difficult challenges; to rely on each other and to strengthen our camaraderie, our organization and our understanding; and on that strong basis to find the creative and determined ways to rally forward the next waves of mass resistance to stop the horrific crimes now going down in our name.

We pledge to make it real. And, together, we will.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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