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How can the U.S. war machine be stopped?

January 26, 2007 | Page 3

GEORGE BUSH had the lowest level of public support of any president giving a State of the Union address since Richard Nixon in 1974, as the Watergate scandal reached fever pitch. His party suffered a beating in the November 2006 election, in what all but the most die-hard right-wingers admit was an overwhelming vote against the U.S. war on Iraq.

Yet Bush is responding to failure in Iraq in the time-honored fashion of a colonial overlord: When violence doesn't work, try more violence.

Bush's address this week again highlighted his plan to escalate the war on Iraq with a "surge" of more than 20,000 U.S. soldiers. He is sending a message to anyone who opposes him, saying in effect: What are you going to do to stop me?

Now, the challenge facing opponents of the war is to take action--to send a message back that we will not be silent as the U.S. causes more devastation and suffering in Iraq and beyond.


Protests are taking place around the country on January 27 where activists will call for an end to the U.S. war on Iraq. Check below for details on demonstrations in different cities.

Washington, D.C.
Assemble on the Mall, between 3rd and 7th Streets at 11 am. March begins at 1 pm.
Click for more information

San Francisco
Assemble at Market and Powell at Noon.
Click for more information

Los Angeles
Assemble at 9th and Figueroa at Noon. March to the Federal Building at Spring and Los Angeles.
Click for more information

Austin, Texas
Assemble at Austin City Hall at 3 pm. March to the Texas Capitol building begins at 3:30 pm.
Click for more information

Assemble at the Center for Social Justice, 2111 E. Union, at 1 pm.
Click for more information

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NATIONAL SECURITY Advisor Stephen Hadley is calling Bush's surge "the big push," apparently unaware, as author Adam Hochschild pointed out, that the same phrase was used by British leaders to describe their plan for the 1916 Battle of the Somme during the First World War--in which 20,000 British soldiers were killed and 40,000 wounded on the first day alone.

The surge tactic is already a proven failure in this war. Last fall, the U.S. sent an additional 14,000 troops into Baghdad for Operation Forward Together, with disastrous results--a 43 percent increase in violent deaths among Iraqis and some of the highest monthly casualty rates for U.S. soldiers of the entire war.

A further escalation will mean more assaults on Sunni areas--which the Pentagon will explain away as raids against "insurgents" and "terrorists."

But the U.S. is also targeting the strongest Shia force in Iraq--radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, with its base in the vast Baghdad slum of Sadr City.

In a sign of things to come, U.S. and Iraqi forces abducted Sadr's chief media spokesperson, Abdel Hadi al-Daraji, from Sadr City--accusing him of organizing military operations. Sadr, fearing that the U.S. will take a page from the Israeli military and target him for assassination, has sent his family to live in hiding.

Under intense U.S. pressure, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seems to have given his support to the campaign against Sadr, but the plan remains a recipe for a bloodbath in Sadr City.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is continuing to set the stage for a new war against Iran--whether launched by its own forces or through its favored proxy, Israel.

Prominent in Bush's mid-January speech announce the surge was his promise to send more battleships and missile defense systems to the Persian Gulf region--which would be of no use against the Iraqi resistance, and are clearly meant for threatened or actual use against Iran.

And if the Bush administration is ramping up its anti-Iran propaganda, its campaign is nothing compared to Israel--where the media are spreading claims about Iran's supposed progress in building a nuclear weapon, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is demanding United Nations action.

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BUSH IS moving full steam ahead despite growing opposition not only from the general public, but within the ruling circles of U.S. society.

Even some fellow Republicans oppose his surge proposal, and the Democrats--consistently timid in opposing any aspect of the administration's "war on terror" for the past five years--have become more aggressive. Leading Democrats with a reputation as moderates have raised the specter of Congress voting against some part of funding for the war.

The emergence of opposition to the Bush White House in Washington is important in giving further confidence to people who want to see something done to stop the war. But will the Democrats go beyond words and do something concrete?

The only measure that seems certain of passing Congress is a nonbinding resolution critical of the surge plan.

The aftermath of the Bush speech and run-up to the State of the Union address coincided with the curtain rising on the battle for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination--with front-running Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama announcing their campaigns within days of each other. Though the first contests in the party primaries are still more than a year away, the leading candidates dueled with one another over the Iraq issue.

Now published in Arabic
U.S. War Crimes in Iraq and Mechanisms for Accountability

"This report on the war crimes of the current administration is an invaluable resource, with a meticulous presentation of the evidence and an astute examination of international law."
-- Howard Zinn, historian, playwright and social activist

This report was published in October of last year by 10 organizations, including Socialist Worker, to document the terrible conditions in Iraq caused by the war, and detail the direct responsibility of the U.S. in creating insecurity and humanitarian crisis. Now this report has been translated into Arabic in the hopes of reaching a new audience and broadening the struggle against the war.

Download the Arabic edition

Download the English edition


Clinton joined other senators in sponsoring a bill that would cap U.S. troop levels in Iraq--but increase deployment of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Obama responded within hours with his own similar proposal.

Virtually all of the competing proposals focus only on Bush's additional 21,500 soldiers to Iraq--but say nothing about withdrawing the troops already in Iraq.

The toughest new Democratic proposal is cosponsored by Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee. It sets a six-month deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops and civilian contractors, and prohibits permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. But the biggest problem with this bill is that it doesn't stand a chance of being seriously considered--and not primarily because of Republican opposition, but the hostility of fellow Democrats.

For these "antiwar" Democrats to take a real stand, they need to challenge their own party, and the growing responsibility it bears for the U.S. war on Iraq.

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THE FAILURE of anyone in the bipartisan political establishment to present an uncompromised challenge to the war is not the result of cowardice alone.

Because they are committed to defending the interests of the U.S. empire, the leaders of both parties are caught in a dilemma. They fear that the looming defeat in Iraq will break the U.S. military. But they also fear the consequences of retreat--a setback for the U.S. strategy of maintaining its grip on the Middle East and its advantage over rivals, such as Iran on the regional level and Europe and China on the international.

The antiwar challenge that can force an end to the occupation will not come from official Washington.

During the Vietnam War, the Tet Offensive at the beginning of 1968 proved to most people that the U.S. was losing, but the U.S. establishment--both Democrats and Republicans--continued to concoct "new ways forward," usually involving an escalation or spreading of the war, for years afterward, all in the face of increasing public opposition.

The U.S. was eventually forced out of Vietnam, but only after the scale and character of the protests--most importantly, within the military itself--became impossible for the politicians to defy.

Likewise, the key today will be to mobilize more and more people who oppose the U.S. war on Iraq to do more than vote or otherwise passively register their opposition.

The January 27 national mobilization for protests in Washington, D.C., and other cities will be an important first step--in the face of Bush's surge and the Democrats confused and contradictory opposition. But the next step begins right after those protests--in building up antiwar organizations in every city and community, and on every campus.

The way ahead is being shown by the groundswell of activism in support of antiwar veterans and especially active-duty soldiers who want to resist the war. Antiwar groups everywhere can find ways to aid these struggles--and reach out to wider groups of people who want to show their opposition.

In the process, opponents of the Iraq war will be confronted by its connections to the larger U.S. "war on terror"--whether in the form of the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan, or Washington's support for the Israeli war on the Palestinian people, or racist scapegoating of Muslims and Arabs felt here at home.

No one in Washington can be trusted to end the war on Iraq. What matters is the stand we all take--against war and empire.

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