WHAT WE THINK
October 12, 2001 | Page 3
AS THE U.S. government's military assault on Afghanistan began, opinion polls showed wide support for bombing. But the mainstream media's enthusiasm for U.S. military might hid the fact that significant numbers reacted to the war by speaking out against it.
With sizeable demonstrations in most major cities and many smaller ones, the antiwar struggle is off to a stronger and quicker start than previous efforts.
One reason for this is that the new movement is developing in the wake of a political radicalization in the U.S. and internationally. The clearest expression of this is the rise of the global justice movement that has mobilized tens of thousands in Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Genoa.
Despite the wavering of some prominent figures in the movement, most activists immediately saw the connection between fighting poverty and opposing the bombing of poor countries.
This radicalization in turn follows a decade of growing inequality that has produced a well of cynicism about politicians who claim to care about our interests.
Washington's $15 billion bailout for airline bosses--while 100,000 airline workers are kicked out of their jobs with nothing--will only deepen the bitterness of working people.
Plus there are the very recent examples of how horrific U.S. military interventions really are. A decade after the end of the Gulf War, more than 1 million Iraqis have died because of crippling sanctions.
During the U.S. government's early 1990s operation in Somalia--which was supposed to relieve a famine--it actually became more difficult to distribute food, and more than 10,000 Somalis were killed or wounded before the U.S. pulled out.
Yet despite these examples, many liberals have jumped on the pro-war bandwagon. Writing in the liberal American Prospect magazine, Michael Walzer accused critics of Bush's war drive of being "ideological apologists" for the "suicidal holy warriors" presumed to be responsible for the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
Ultimately, many liberals have called for a "restrained war"--and an international tribunal to try the perpetrators of the attacks. But Bush's order to go ahead with bombing has exposed the problem with such proposals.
No such tribunal exists. But if it did, any call to put Osama bin Laden or anyone else on trial would give cover for U.S. officials who want to plunge ahead with military intervention anyway.
We can't allow the U.S. government to pose as a force for justice. It never has been one, and it never will be.
Instead, we need to spread the message of resistance to this war to wider groups of people. The strength of our movement will be in the support it builds in every locality.
We can reach out to those who say they support bombing today--by exposing the hypocrisy of Bush's war drive and the way that corporations have used this crisis to push through mass layoffs.
Bush's war is one face of a system of inequality and injustice. Our answer to the horrors that the U.S. inflicts is to champion justice around the world.
For a daily updated list of antiwar actions, visit www.socialistworker.org.