WHAT WE THINK
February 14, 2003 | Page 3
THE ANTIWAR movement will reach a new milestone at demonstrations in New York City February 15 and San Francisco the following day. With hundreds of thousands expected at the two main protests--and thousands more at smaller regional protests--the scale of the growing opposition to George W. Bush's war on Iraq is clearer than ever.
Already, the corporate media has been forced to shift from ignoring the antiwar movement to grudgingly acknowledging protests, speak-outs and activism. "Under scrutiny from both antiwar advocates and media-watchdog groups, most major U.S. newspapers took seriously the sentiment percolating from large rallies January 18 in Washington, San Francisco and a host of smaller cities," observed Editor & Publisher, a trade publication for the newspaper industry.
If press coverage of antiwar activism has improved, it's because the movement has grown not only in size, but social diversity. Campus teach-ins, community mobilizations and antiwar resolutions passed in union halls across the U.S. reflect a movement that's already broader than the one that opposed the 1991 Gulf War--all before a war has begun.
In San Francisco, organizers agreed to move their planned demonstration to February 16 so as not to conflict with the traditional Chinese New Year celebration. In return, Chinese community leaders--backed by local politicians--endorsed the antiwar demonstration and are promoting it along with their New Year's festivities, and Chinese dragons will lead the protest.
In New York City, however, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had so far refused to grant a permit for the short march from the United Nations to Central Park as Socialist Worker went to press, and his decision had been backed up by a federal judge.
Meanwhile, Attorney General John Ashcroft is pushing Congress to back his proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act. If Ashcroft has his way, the FBI and state police could monitor what Web sites you visit and what you searched for, and read your e-mail for up to 48 hours without a court order--all to monitor "activities threatening the national interest."
But this fear mongering hasn't prevented the antiwar movement from growing. As Bush has said repeatedly, Iraq is only the next phase in an endless "war on terror." Washington has already indicated its future targets by stepping up the pressure on Iran and North Korea, the other supposed members of the "axis of evil" along with Iraq.
The war that the U.S. wants in Iraq isn't about "weapons of mass destruction," "regime change" or even oil. It's a one-sided slaughter designed to demonstrate the might of U.S. imperialism and prevent the emergence of any rival, as Bush's National Security Strategy document spelled out last summer. "The vision laid out in the Bush document is a vision of what used to be called, when we believed it to be the Soviet ambition, world domination," wrote Hendrick Hertzberg in the New Yorker.
The Bush gang makes no secret of its aims. And so the antiwar movement must prepare to meet this challenge--not only standing up against the planned slaughter in Iraq, but Washington's drive to dominate the world.
This weekend will be an important new step in our fight. And after the demonstrations, we need to return to our communities, our workplaces and our campuses to organize protests and actions that can continue to put real pressure on Bush and the U.S. war machine--and end their senseless butchery.