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Views in brief

August 19, 2005 | Page 8

Wrong to split antiwar forces
Thanks for all of SW's help
Left is rejecting the Greens

A new name, a bigger war

"THE WAR on terror" is over! Now the militaristic, racist campaign against civil liberties will be called "the global struggle against violent extremism." This change in terminology was started in mid-July by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and was followed soon after by Bush.

Why the change? Some commentators say the "war on terror" was losing its punch. Military officers say it made people think the fight against terrorism was only military. To get more people identifying with the government's campaign, the name had to change.

But the change is more sinister than just a PR move. Government officials are stressing that the enemy is not just a method (terrorism), but an ideology, "violent extremism." This means that the enemy is a set of ideas. With this rationale, it will be easier to target people for their thoughts, for advocating "extremism."

We've already seen this recently with the trial of a Muslim cleric for "supporting" terrorism in words. This change fits nicely with the new McCarthyism on college campuses.

This shift is also an attempt to position the Bush Administration in the middle of the political spectrum. A regime that has killed 100,000 Iraqis, openly advocated pre-emptive war, gutted social spending, attacked labor, undermined worker safety, presided over millions of job losses and declining living standards, tried to destroy abortion rights, attacked gays, whipped up a climate of racism--the list could go on all day--sees itself as "moderate"! It wants to convince us that it is in the mainstream by claiming that it is fighting "extremism."

Just as we exposed the lying basis of the "war on terrorism," we need to expose this shift in language for what it is--just another attempt by Bush and Co. to increase the wealth and power of the rich at the expense of working people here and around the world.
Steve Leigh, Seattle

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Wrong to split antiwar forces

ATROCITIES LIKE the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the occupation of Palestine are not going to end as long as the system of production for profit that gives rise to them persists. Lance Selfa knows this, as do most SW readers ("Unity on what basis?" August 5). And yet, we do not insist that every antiwar rally demand the end of capitalism.

Socialists participate in movements for partial, short-term reforms for a variety of reasons, not least that we want to achieve those reforms, like ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq, in the here and now. Another reason is that we know from decades of experience that we can win people to the socialist project more effectively while standing shoulder to shoulder with them in a common struggle than in any other context.

The statistics Lance cites appear to show that opposition to the occupation is much broader than the organized left. Indeed, among those who oppose the war on Iraq, many continue to harbor illusions in Zionism. Lance is absolutely right to point out the inconsistency of this position.

But when it comes to Zionism, otherwise apparently intelligent, rational people completely lose the plot. While asserting that they oppose terrorism and ethnic cleansing they are comfortable implicitly accepting the terrorism of the Stern Gang, as well as of the Israeli state and the ethnic cleansing of 1948-49. They support democracy and oppose sectarian states, except in Israel.

The real basis of the argument for watering down or omitting demands for Palestinian rights in the antiwar movement is this: We can separate more people from their Zionist illusions when we are fighting the U.S. occupation of Iraq together than when we insist, without making the arguments in a comradely atmosphere, that they adopt anti-Zionist demands like the right of return. However, as Lance presents the situation, there is an additional factor to take into consideration.

The question has now become whether we should we drop an important and relevant demand to create an opportunity to intersect with Zionists, or demand the right of return, which will empower and include Arabs and Muslims, who are themselves very direct victims of Bush's war of terror. Under the circumstances, we call for unity, but if the Zionists want to split the movement, let it be on their heads.
Anonymous, From the Internet

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Thanks for all of SW's help

SINCE YOU published my letter for support and contributions for my battle against corrupt elements of the Teamsters, your readers have contributed $300 for my cause ("Fight for honest unions," June 10). I can't thank you enough for all your help.
In solidarity, Mark Serafinn

Contributions can still be sent to: Mark Serafinn Legal Defense Fund, P.O. Box 105, Saunemin, IL 61769.

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Left is rejecting the Greens

ASHLEY SMITH writes: "Thus, in an answer to a question after his speech, Cobb denounced CounterPunch's Alexander Cockburn, saying that he 'represents why the sectarian left has failed.' The not-so-subtle message was that the Green Party should exclude the left and continue cooperation with liberal Democrats" ("Showdown in the Green Party," August 5).

I'm the one that asked Cobb the question, which was how he felt about being the object of Alexander Cockburn's ridicule and scorn in an article in CounterPunch denouncing his candidacy in 2004. And I think Smith has it upside down. The Greens haven't rejected the left. Cockburn has rejected the Greens.

After John Kerry's betrayal of progressives last year, I for one do not advocate continued cooperation with liberal Democrats. If I did, I would have joined the Progressive Democrats of America instead of the Green Party earlier this year, and I know the majority of Greens at the Tulsa Convention agree with me.
Audrey Clement, from the Internet

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