War Addiction and Democracy

Since the January 2007 protest against the Iraq occupation and war, I have written a few pieces regarding that ongoing military activity and the movement against it. These pieces have been greeted with positive responses and negative ones. They have also been met with responses telling me that the movement is not only dead but ineffective and irrelevant. Furthermore, write these cynics, there is no point in reviving the movement because it can not be effective no matter what it does. Others write that we should the election run its course and vote for the most antiwar of the remaining candidates.

To these critics, I would argue that it is the presence of the antiwar movement and its silent majority against the war that has prevented the Pentagon from expanding the war and restarting the military draft. I would also argue that it is essential for that movement to reinvigorate itself and get out in the streets in very large numbers no matter who gets elected in November. No politician is going to move to end the war without pressure from the popular flank. It’s just too easy for them to defer to the generals and civilians in the Pentagon. Mainstream media tells us and will tell us even more as the election season heats up) that neither party wants to appear “weak” when it comes to defense. What this really means is that no politician wants to stand up to the war industry, especially since they get millions of dollars from the corporations involved. Even more importantly, it is the war industry that props up the US economy. Without the billions of taxpayers’ monies flowing into their coffers, corporations like General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and dozens of others would founder worse than the US auto industry has. Such a fall would certainly be felt across the board.

So, like a junkie needing an ever stronger fix, the Pentagon puts more and more money into its deadly addiction, killing soldiers and civilians, stealing money from the public piggy bank, and ravaging the nation’s soul. The politicians in Congress, meanwhile act like the dealer on the street, taking the money proffered by the Pentagon, and copping the drug of death from those that manufacture it. Lost in this dynamic of money and death is the very real fact that it is our money the Pentagon and the politicians are using for their thanatos-inspired endeavors. I’m not suggesting you stop paying your taxes (unless you want to go that way), but I am suggesting that we, the people of the US, demand a more humane use of the money the government does take.

If cynicism concerning the possibility of the antiwar movement being effective is one prevalent opinion among the writers telling me that I’m wasting my time, then the other strain is the bunch who believe electoral politics will elect someone who will end the war. This exists in spite of the shameful record of the 2006 class of Democrats elected to do exactly that. Further examples of the Democratic Party’s stance can be found in its’ remaining presidential candidates’ support for war on Iran and the almost unanimous support it has shown for the PATRIOT Act and other repressive measures introduced by the Bush regime. There is something tying these strains of thought together and that is a belief that there was a democratic government in this country before 2001. Those who believe that Obama may turn the tide if elected believe it is the Bush regime that has ended that democracy. So do many of the cynics.

The fact is this government has not been democratic for decades except in its form. The rise of the national security state, the elimination of the left from the labor movement and the press in the 1950s, the COINTELPRO war waged against the popular movements in the 1960s and 1970s, and the economic disenfranchisement of whole classes of people and ther re-creation into an underclass under Reagan/Bush/Clinton are all part of the history the Bush regime has continued. We can restore democracy in this country. Rebuilding a popular mass-based antiwar movement whose members and leaders spend more time in the streets than in the halls of Congress or Democratic Party meetings is the first step in that direction. It is the poseurs and fraudulent antiwarriors whose allegiances to the Democratic Party come before any determination to win the war that is making the antiwar movement a shadow of its potential, not the Bush regime. The Bush cabal’s antagonism is apparent, just like Richard Nixon’s was in from 1969-1974, and is part of what we are fighting. It is the wolves in Democrats’ clothing that are the predators we should also be aware of. Of course, there are allies in the mainstream political scene and we should encourage those folks to work with our agenda, not bend our agenda to theirs. Elections have yet to stop a war.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground and Tripping Through the American Night, and the novels Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator's Tale. His third novel All the Sinners, Saints is a companion to the previous two and was published early in 2013. Read other articles by Ron.

13 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. louisa said on May 29th, 2008 at 9:25am #

    the phrase “silent majority” was first used by Homer to describe the dead and the American branch of this majority supposedly against the war has been about as effective as the group Homer first named.

    The antiwar movement is likewise extinct, running aground as it has on the rocks of the not so silent majority of Zionist enablers embedded within it.

  2. Deadbeat said on May 29th, 2008 at 9:43am #

    Rebuilding a popular mass-based antiwar movement whose members and leaders spend more time in the streets than in the halls of Congress or Democratic Party meetings is the first step in that direction

    I agree with Ron’s premise that the anti-war movement needs to be reinvigorated. And I also agree with Ron’s description of the power of the milaritary industrial complex and the pull it has on politicians. However what is missing from Ron’s analysis is why the anti-war movement who Chomsky described as the next “superpower” demobilized in the first place. Understanding this reason will help to reinvorate the “movement”.

    The primary reason for the demobilization is the left’s failure to confront Zionism and to fully understand how Zionism became intertwined with militarism especially after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989.

    It is clear that both the Democrats and Republican are in total agreement with regards to advancing Isreal’s hegemony in the Middle East even if it bankrupts the U.S. Zionism help to provide the U.S. with an “enemy” called “terrorists” that the politican can use to see fear to the American people and to continue to justify large military budgets.

    The problem for the U.S. is that it is not in the same economic position nor it the rest of the world whereby the U.S. can maintain a domestic economy at the same time maintain large military budget and engage in wars all over the world.

    As Dr. Petras aptly describe the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC)works together to maintain this current neo-conservative madness of using the U.S. miltary in this manner regardless of the impact to the domestic economy.

    However the “left” deliberately demobilize the anti-war movement in order to CONCEAL this arrangement. In other words in order to really fight the current driving force of U.S. militarism today Zionism MUST BE directly confronted.

    What occurred was that the anti-war movement split along this challenge. One faction spoke directly against Zionism while another faction wanted to speak only to “War For Oil” and “U.S. Imperialism” in order to avoid this challenge. Clearly the latter faction, rather than confront Zionism, chose to embrace the Democratic candidate in 2004 who himself ran to the right of George Bush. And the anti-war movement has been weak and suffering every since.

    In my opinion the reason why you won’t see a remobilization is that many on the “faux” left are unwilling to confront Zionism and to remobilize the anti-war movement means bring in voice who are willing to bring up the elephant in the room.

    Because the “left” is unwilling to challenge Zionism clearly politicans will not especailly since they have to contend with the ZPC power as lobbyist and their media reach.

    The problem therefore are not Mr. Jacobs’ critics. The problem are Mr. Jacobs’ colleagues.

  3. ron said on May 29th, 2008 at 9:58am #

    If people accept the basic premise of my argument–that the antiwar movement needs to get off its ass and -mobilize despite the leadership and the cynics– then their particular analyses as to why it is moribund are secondary. If they prefer to argue about causes instead of creating results (like immediate unconditional withdrawal), then the antiwar movement will continue to be irrelevant. Blame whoever and whatever you want–just get together and get in the streets to end the war.

  4. Arch Stanton said on May 29th, 2008 at 12:15pm #

    [i]Nearly all wars in the twentieth century have both surprised and disillusioned all leaders, whatever their nationality. Given the political, social, and human elements involved in every conflict, and the near certainty that these mercurial ingredients will interact to produce unanticipated consequences, leaders who calculate the outcome of wars as essentially predictable military events are invariably doomed to disappointment. The theory and the reality of warfare conflict immensely, for the results of wars can never be known in advance.

    Blind men and women have been the motor of modern history and the source of endless misery and destruction. Aspiring leaders of great powers can neither understand nor admit the fact that their strategies are extremely dangerous because statecraft by its very nature always calculates the ability of a nation’s military and economic resources to overcome whatever challenges it confronts. To reject such traditional reasoning, and to question the value of conventional wisdom and react to international crises realistically on the basis of past failures would make them unsuited to command. The result is that politicians succeed in terms of their personal careers, states make monumental errors, and people suffer. The great nations of Europe and Japan put such illusions into practice repeatedly before 1945.[/i]

    From The Age of War: The United States Confronts the World by Gabriel Kolko

  5. bozhidar balkas said on May 29th, 2008 at 4:48pm #

    i’m not ending my protest of US occupation of and warfare against iraqi people. and i’m not even american. i also protest canadian military presence in afghanistan.
    we could use some help. even so, we do have an effect. i’m sure that Bush is angry with us. so, that’s a success; we’re no allowing him to enjoy fruits of his crimes.
    we need to put pressure on middle class: either it joins us in our protests against war crimes or we boycott their stores, businesses.
    the sit’n is too severe, perilous, etc., to let the middle class do business as usual.
    the middle calsses, it seems to me, always side with the rulers. it must stop.
    if we put our heads together, we may find other ways of persuasion to get people to join us in protesting the occupation. thank u.

  6. Deadbeat said on May 30th, 2008 at 4:12am #

    Apparently Scott McClellan’s expose puts the nail in the coffin to the “War for Oil” canard that the “left” claims was the reason for the War In Iraq. It evens shuts the door on “Imperialism”. Apparently neither was the primary reason as we been told by “scholars” and experts on the “left” like Chomsky and Naomi Klein and bombasts like Greg Palast.

    It seems, according to McClellan, that Bush drive to war was the desire to “bring democracy to the Middle East”. That there is a “War on Terrorism”. How did the word “terrorism” get applied to whole group of people — Zionism.

    The real reason behind the war, according to McClellan, sounds much more like the racist drivel of “White Man’s Burden”. In other words the War in Iraq is much more grounded in racism/Zionism than it is grounded in the “War for Oil” canard. Not once in the round of interviews that I’ve seen does McClellan bring up the topic of oil. Yet we’ve been fed this pablum by the “left”. Is it any wonder why the anti-war “movement” is now in a state of disarray and demobilization.

    Zionism has embedded and indoctrinated Americans to see Middle Easterners, Arabs in particular as “terrorists”. Terrorist has become the new “nigger” and has led the United States to war. The “left” has done an awful disservice by not confronting Zionism head on. Clearly this aspect of Scott McClellan revelation will be swept under the rug by the “left”.

  7. ron said on May 30th, 2008 at 4:44am #

    Your progression is unclear. The war for control of energy resources and the war to bring democracy to the Middle East are not two different things. Frst off, your continual oversimplification of the war to control energy resources and profits to a war for oil is misleading. Very few folks have ever said it was merely to get oil. Any understanding of the course of US imperialism over the past century understands the essential role energy resources play. This is why the middle east is carved the way it is carved–to serve the imperial interests of the capitalist nations. This is also why Israel is defended so strongly by the ultracapitalist nation–the US. This is also why the US wants to “bring democracy to the middleast”–a euphemism for putting in client regimes that will serve the needs of Washington. McClellan is like most Americans–his understanding of imperialism is minimal, so he accepts the given reasons for the war and occupation–bringing freedom and democracy. In case you don’t know or remember–that was the reason the US was in Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc. It is not a real reason at all–it’s just the god and country crap the warmakers use to sell their wars. The primary reason for anything a capitalist nation does is to create profit. Any other reasons are either secondary or mere advertising for the internal population so they will support murder and destruction in their name. This does not mean Zionism is not part of the equation, but only because it serves the interests of the supercapitalist.

  8. ron said on May 30th, 2008 at 4:46am #

    one more thing….the fear of the terrorist is not the reason for the wars–it, too, is a way to sell the wars by playing on fear….

  9. hp said on May 30th, 2008 at 12:56pm #

    Perhaps this will clear things up. A simple, no nonsense, short and concise quote which both explains and condones the events post 911.

    “We’re all Israelis now.”

  10. Deadbeat said on May 30th, 2008 at 7:28pm #

    hp says it best, in fact he essentially quotes Joe Biden — “We are all Zionists now”.

    Ron you miss the major point. There are many reasons for wars and we can present a history of wars and the motives. THE issue is what is the motive for the United States’ most recent war — the war in Iraq. The left has been telling us everything (primarily War for Oil) other than racism/Zionism.

    The left so wanted to avoid any confrontation of Zionism that they demobilized the anti-war movement in order to support warmonger John Kerry in 2004. The anti-war movement has yet to recover and remains in an atrophic state.

    As I mentioned your colleagues rather than deal with Zionism has made all kind of excuses to divert the public attention away from it. If Zionism was confronted it would remove the MAIN impetus of why the U.S. is at war in the Middle East.

    This is not to say that there would be no future wars or any new motives. Clearly citizens would have to be ever vigilant. However confronting Zionism removes THE CURRENT MOTIVE for both U.S. and Israel belligerency. This is what apologist such as Chomsky and Naomi Klein and many of your contemporaries has sought to use other explanations to divert the public attention away from.

    It is clear now due to the Scott McClellan revelations that Bush did NOT invade Iraq for oil. His goal was to “bring democracy” to the “backward terrorists” — a goal that is racist/Zionist to its core.

    It becomes ever so clear why the left in the U.S. is such a miserable state of disarray because they do not really want to confront racism/Zionism.

  11. hp said on May 30th, 2008 at 8:55pm #

    It’s really not even complicated at all. Too easy.
    A “new Pearl Harbor terrorist attack” and now we’re all Israelis. Under constant threat of “terrorists,” dead or alive. Islam has declared war on us. No doubt the very same Israeli terrorist enemies. It worked perfectly.
    The “new Pearl Harbor,” followed by the attack and occupation of Israeli enemy #1, Iraq. Next up, Israeli enemies #2 and 3, Syria and Iran. More lying pretexts, another false flag attack (Mossad speciality), along with the always effective “they’re killing American troops” and the flags come out waving, combined with all the Zionist newspapers and TV news spewing non stop lies 24/7.
    Time passes and they see the public apathetic to obvious lie after lie and nonsense excuses and what the Hell? I believe they’re amazed at how easy it is.
    Yep, we’re all Israelis now.

  12. ron said on May 31st, 2008 at 5:08am #

    the war in Iraq does not exist as a singular phenomenon. It is part of the long history of US meddling in the Mideast because of oil. While one of the motives for its launching may have been the Zionism of some of Bush’s men, the fact remains that it is still just one part of the imperial plan. As I have said, if US imperialism was removed from the world, Zionism would cease to exist as the powerful phenomenon it is. If you removed Zionism from the world, US imperialism would not skip a beat.

  13. D.R. Munro said on May 31st, 2008 at 8:25am #

    Ron, send me a memo when your crusade of blue-collar Americans clutch power from the global capitalists with wealth and weaponry that could crush you in a batting of the eye.

    It’s simple really, the Left always fails because it cripples itself. The Left brings a butter-knife to a nuke fight. Words. Don’t. Change. Anything.

    I always find something funny about the left and their “let’s join up and fight city hall mentality!” You talk about how the evil “supercapitalists” unleash destruction all over the world, and you can stop them! You people and your cardboard signs and cliche slogans!

    Question: if they’re not beyond killing hunderds of thousands, what makes you think they’re beyond putting a bullet in your forehead?

    The fact that you’re still alive means they aren’t worried.