March 28, 2006

An Anarchist Opinion on the Iraqi War

Political Implications of Focusing First on Opposing the U.S. Empire

Most of the U.S. antiwar movement has accepted the need for immediate U.S. withdrawal, using slogans such as Bring the Troops Home Now! (There are those who originally opposed the war but who now are for continuing it, supposedly to prevent an Iraqi civil war. These do not take part in the antiwar movement.) However, there are certain implications which most of the movement does not yet draw.

If we are completely against U.S. imperialism then we should completely reject any politicians who support that empire. The war on the Iraqis is not the result of a mistake by a few politicians. The war is the logical outcome of the attempts of the U.S. state to continue to dominate the world in the interests of U.S. big business. No doubt mistakes have been made, in terms of U.S. interests; nor was it inevitable that the U.S. would have gone to war at this time, in this place. But war somewhere, at some time, was inevitable. The politicians who have served U.S. imperial interests have not been all of one party, the Republicans. On the contrary, the years of embargo and bombing which followed the first Gulf war and preceded this one were administered by the Democrats under President Clinton. When this President Bush launched his war, it was endorsed by almost all the Democratic politicians. In the 2004 presidential election, the Democrats outdid the Republicans by calling for more troops for Iraq. The election was between two pro-war candidates.

More generally, the Democrats, who are seen by many antiwar activists as the party of peace, are as committed to empire and war as the Republicans. The Democrats led the U.S. into World War I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. They are as dedicated to a large military force, nuclear, world-destroying, missiles, overseas military bases, global power politics, and the profitability of U.S. international businesses. They do not deny this--rather they insist on it. (On the Middle East, historically the Democrats have been more hawkish in support of Israel than the Republicans.)

Yet, during the 2004 presidential election, the leaders of the U.S. peace movement virtually put the movement in mothballs. This was true not only of the out-and-out liberals but also of many radicals, people calling themselves socialists or communists. They did not challenge the Democrats over their support for the war. They did not call demonstrations against the war. They went all-out to elect the second of the two pro-war candidates. Even the Green Party adopted a program of implicitly supporting the imperialist Democratic candidate (by not challenging him in swing states where he had a chance). Of course, many ordinary people who disliked the war nevertheless supported the Democrats out of hatred of the vile George W. Bush. That is one thing. That this was done by people calling themselves radicals, even revolutionaries, was shameful.

There was also a minority of antiwar activists who rejected the Democrats but instead campaigned for Ralph Nader. Nader makes no secret of his support for U.S. capitalism (his program is for it to be better regulated by the national state). He did not advocate the complete withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq, instead supporting UN troops. That he was vigorously supported by people calling themselves revolutionary socialists and internationalists was also shameful.


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