Which Way Forward for the Antiwar Movement?

Ashley Smith is a member of the ISR editorial board. This is the text of a speech he delivered at the New England United Regional Antiwar Conference, April 25–26, 2008, in Boston, Massachusetts. This speech is printed in the July/August Issue of the International Socialist Review (www.isreview.org).

I have been asked to lay out the political rationale for a mass action strategy for the antiwar movement. To do so we must begin with the horror the United States has brought to the Middle East. The United States has nearly destroyed Iraq. Its invasion and occupation of a country of 27 million people has led to the deaths of well over 1 million Iraqis, the expulsion of 5 million refugees and internally displaced civilians, and the near complete wreckage of the economy. Nearly 70 percent of the population is unemployed. The invasion and occupation outranks the worst horrors of European imperialism as one of the great war crimes and examples of state terror. The U.S. assault on Sadr City and Basra shows that with each passing day they commit atrocity upon atrocity.

But as Max Elbaum argued on his panel last night, far from fulfilling Bush’s neoconservative fantasies of U.S. domination over the Middle East, the invasion has, in the words of General William Odom, led to the “greatest strategic disaster” in U.S. imperial history. Why? Because the Iraqi people resisted the occupation and put a stop to the other regime changes from Syria to Iran the United States had planned.

The U.S. occupation is a failure. It is one of three failed wars Bush has conducted — Iraq, Afghanistan, and his proxy war carried through by Israel against Lebanon. The cost of these disastrous wars has led Bush into enormous deficit spending that has exacerbated the economic crisis the United States and world have entered.

Like some cursed mortal from ancient Greece, Bush suffers from a reverse Midas touch as everything he touches turns to lead. His popularity has plummeted from nearly 90 percent in the aftermath of 9/11 to now 28 percent. The only politicians who are less popular are in Congress; their approval rating hovers at about 22 percent. The majority of Americans have turned against the war and the Bush agenda.

Yet neither Bush nor the Democrats have a plan for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Last night Stephen Zunes and Max Elbaum laid out the reasons. The war was not about weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, liberation, or democracy. These were all smokescreens for the real ambitions of U.S. Empire in the Middle East. In truth, the Iraq war was part of a long-term and bipartisan plan to lock in U.S. dominance over a unipolar world order. Their goal in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq was to secure control over the key areas of the world energy system in the Middle East and new energy sources in Central Asia.

By dominating these regions the United States aimed to lock in their advantage against rising energy-dependent competitors, especially China. This imperial ambition explains their tenacity in the face of the utter failure of their invasions and their overwhelming lack of popular support.

Complicity of Democrats and Corporate Media

Too often this imperialism is passed off as a product of Bush and the Neocons. In reality, the Democrats voted for these wars and continue to vote for the funding even going so far in the most recent proposed bill to give Bush billions more than he requested. They also opposed immediate withdrawal in favor of redeployment that would leave thousands of “anti-terrorist” troops in Iraq, effectively extending the occupation in the guise of ending it. And neither Hilary Clinton nor Barack Obama could guarantee that they would even be able to implement this plan by the end of their first term.

Even worse, the Democrats have often positioned themselves to the right of Bush in the campaign against their next target in their battle for Mideast imperial dominance — Iran. Hilary Clinton just last week promised to “obliterate Iran” if it attacked Israel. She targeted not just the government but also the entire nation, a threat that can only be called a genocidal. While not sharing Clinton’s Bushite bluster, Obama has stated, “launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in” given the ongoing war in Iraq. “On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse.” Obama has also promised that military strikes on Pakistan should not be ruled out if “violent Islamic extremists” were to “take over.” And both have called for an increase of U.S. troops in occupied Afghanistan, the occupation they view as good and right.

Far from dissenting with this bipartisan imperial project of the so-called War on Terror, the corporate media has loyally parroted it. The corporate media has in fact been exposed as, for all intents and purposes, state-controlled in a manner reminiscent of Stalin’s Izvestia. As the New York Times reported, the Pentagon handpicked the military experts that the major media outlets used for “informed” opinion in support of the war on Iraq. One of the experts went so far as to say that he felt like a Pentagon puppet carrying their line right onto the pages and screens of the corporate media.

Antiwar Public Opinion

Despite this imperial unanimity of both corporate parties and their media, the U.S. public has overwhelmingly turned against the war and is increasingly moving to the left on most issues. Over 67 percent want to end the war. Sixty percent of troops wanted to be out of Iraq by 2007. Twenty-three percent of Americans want an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. And as the Pew Research Center documents, workers have moved dramatically to the left, the most left-wing they have been since the last upsurge in the early 1970s. These facts conclusively dash the myth of a “right-wing America” that many even on the Left believe.

The media, however, squelches these opinions as well as the developing forces of the antiwar movement. For example, the corporate media conducted a virtual blackout of Iraq Veterans Against the War’s (IVAW) amazing Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan. In reality the corporate media, we must recognize, is owned by the same corporate power that led the war charge into Iraq.

Far from expressing this overwhelming antiwar sentiment, the presidential candidates either oppose it or attempt to co-opt it. John “McCentury” McCain threatens to keep U.S. forces in Iraq for 100 years if that’s what it takes to “win.”

Now Obama and Clinton, in order to get elected, have had to posture as antiwar. But, in truth, both oppose immediate withdrawal. Both are for retaining “anti-terrorist” forces of thousands after “withdrawal.” Both are hawks on Iran. Both are unflinching advocates of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Both are for increased intervention in Afghanistan. They are in fact presenting themselves to the real power brokers, the American ruling class, as competent managers of the empire. While they may have this or that tactical difference with Bush, they share his commitment to U.S. dominion in the world system. They boast that they can do this more effectively.

We already have tested the Democrats and found them wanting. The American public swept them into power in Congress in 2006 with the expectation that they would end the war or cut the funding. Instead they have continued to fund the war and offered only verbal opposition to Bush.

Antiwar Strategy

As a result, an enormous gap has opened up between, on the one hand, the people and, on the other, the corporate politicians and the corporate media. The question we confront in this situation is what strategy the antiwar movement should pursue to win our demand for immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

The mass action strategy remains the only viable means to win. It will take the mass mobilization of workers, soldiers, and students in solidarity with the resistance of occupied people. Stephen Zunes was right last night when he invoked the mass struggles that it took to end the Vietnam War — rebellion of the troops; campus strikes; mass demonstrations; and large-scale civil disobedience. Given the stakes for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East, it will take an even more militant mass movement to drive the United States out of the region.

Now the mass action strategy is very different from the dominant liberal strategy in the antiwar movement and the common sense of the vast majority of people opposed to the war. Co-chair of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), Judith LeBlanc describes this strategy as “creating a peace block in Congress.” The argument is essentially that yes, we should build the movement, yes, we should call demonstrations — but all with an aim of electing Democrats who are thought to be the vehicles, the means, of ending the war.

Inevitably then, the Democrats, who have been pro-war, begin to shape the demands and protests of the antiwar movement. Demands and issues and speakers that might offend the so-called “peace block” get dropped. Protests that might step on the toes of the Democrats don’t get called. During the elections the movement gets funneled into the election in the vain hope that the Democrats will do what they say they will not do — bring an immediate end to the war.

The main antiwar coalition, UFPJ, has thus demobilized the movement. UFPJ opposed united mass demonstrations on the fifth anniversary of the war, saying they would never work with the other antiwar coalition, ANSWER. Nearly every email I get from UFPJ is about phoning congress, voter registration and education, or lobbying.

The combination of the pull of the election on mass antiwar sentiment and UFPJ’s liberal strategy of orienting on Democrats has precipitated a crisis in the antiwar movement. At a national level, it is really the weakest it has been since the beginning of the Iraq war. It is in near collapse. Even at a local level there are real weaknesses in antiwar organizations on campuses, in cities, and at workplaces. Thus there is an enormous gap between consciousness and the organized movement.

We have to be honest and sober about that. The last thing we need is drunken driving in the struggle. But we also cannot be bearers of doom and gloom or give up on building a mass movement. We have to nurture the small, local coalitions in workplaces, among soldiers, and on campuses. These are the first shoots of a future mass movement.

We can organize excellent local antiwar actions and educational events. We have the powerful examples of Winter Soldier and the very successful regional conferences of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) as well as conferences like the one we are holding this weekend. We have to build on these new foundations in every way possible at the local level. At the same time we have to develop a strategy that can forge a stronger national movement.

Avoidable Traps

In developing a new strategy there are some traps we should avoid that will prevent the development of a new mass movement. Some have wrongly argued that movement tactics like mass demonstrations are a thing of the past and no longer work. They argue we need savvy media strategies instead. Now I am in favor of using the media as best we can, but as the New York Times article demonstrated, the corporate media is the voice box of the Pentagon and the White House. It is occupied territory. The very corporate backers of the war and the two mainstream parties own the media and will be on the whole unfriendly to the movement we must build. This should come as no surprise; they have been hostile to every progressive social movement in history, at home or abroad.

Others argue that instead of mass actions we need small direct actions. Now I’m in favor of direct action and civil disobedience as a tactic in certain circumstances. After all, mass and illegal factory occupations helped build the trade unions in the 1930s. Similar tactics of mass civil disobedience like the Montgomery bus boycott and the wave of sit-ins built the civil rights movement. But direct actions that are small, secret and not oriented on winning over a sympathetic mass audience can and will backfire. Moral witness can make us feel good but fail to galvanize mass struggle.

Mass Action Alternative

These are not strategies but tactics. Our alternative strategy to UFPJ’s must be independent mass action. Our movement must be independent because the electoral cycle must not set our agenda. That does not mean excluding forces and people who are going to vote for the Democrats. Yet we must be clear that our movement’s goal is not electing Democrats but the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq. The Democrats and the election cycle cannot shape our demands or actions. We must fight for our demands no matter who’s in office, and we must fight for our demands right through the election cycle.

Our organizing must aim for mass collective action. Why? Because that is the lesson of history. Change always comes from below through the mass mobilization of the exploited and oppressed. As Howard Zinn has said, “the really critical thing isn’t who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in.” Mass organizing is what built the unions, won civil rights, ended the war in Vietnam, and won abortion rights. Mass independent, collective struggle won everything we cherish today. As the great black abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Without struggle, there is no progress.”

That strategy in turn shapes our tactics. Our strategy of mass collective action must include a wide variety of tactics. We must be incredibly flexible in tactics, always with a mind of leading the activist minority to win over the sympathetic majority. So we should organize mass, legal demonstrations in some circumstance. In others, mass direct actions like those that shut down the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in 1999 are vital.

But I want to defend the tactic of demonstrations in particular since many have grown disillusioned with their utility. Demonstrations help to build the base of the movement. In the process of organizing for demonstrations, coalitions grow in size and sense of purpose. The preparation offers an opportunity for coalitions to educate new layers of activists in the politics of the struggle. On the demonstrations themselves, activists new and old feel the power of their forces. And after effective mobilizations, activists can reach out to include wider layers of new activists, thereby building larger local organization. In and of themselves, demonstrations are not adequate. But they are a decisive component for building organization for even more militant struggle.

Lessons of the Vietnam Era

To really understand the kind of mass struggle we must aim to build, we should draw on the lessons of the movement against the war in Vietnam. It was not the president or Congress that ended that war. Instead it was the dynamic interaction of three militant mass struggles. The mass civilian antiwar movement staged mass marches, mass civil disobedience, and a wave of campus strikes that shut down the universities and colleges of the United States.

On top of that, the U.S. troops revolted against the war. As David Cortright’s Soldiers in Revolt describes, civilian activists in collaboration with vets and GIs set up coffeehouses where soldiers could organize their antiwar movement and build Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In Vietnam itself, the U.S. troops refused to fight, organizing “search and avoid” missions and even threatening their officers with fragmentation grenades to prevent officers from sending them into combat. This GI rebellion essentially paralyzed the American military in Vietnam.

Finally and most importantly, the Vietnamese people themselves forged the National Liberation Front that fought for their own emancipation. They proved especially after the Tet Offensive in 1968 that the United States and its puppet government had no support in the Vietnam and that the people were committed to driving the U.S. out of Southeast Asia. This three-dimensional, militant movement won the liberation of Vietnam.

These three interrelated movements should also give us ideas for devising the strategy of our movement. To be clear, the movement of the 1960s is not a blueprint for today and we cannot simply reproduce it. We must find our own way. But we can draw from its lessons.

In reality, we will need an even strong mass movement this time. Why? Because the geostrategic stakes for the United States in Iraq are far higher than they were in Vietnam. Former Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan finally admitted the “unfortunate truth”: It really is all about the region’s oil. Whoever controls that oil controls the world economy. And the U.S. has no intention of leaving Iraq or the Middle East as a whole. They want to lock in a unipolar world order against rising global powers like China as well as eliminate regional challengers like Iran and Venezuela. We thus have an even bigger fight on our hands than activists in the 1960s.

The Movement Today

We are, however, far from the kind of mass movement we will need to win Iraq’s liberation. As I have said, the national movement is in sorry shape. While there are inspiring flashes of local struggle and organization, it too must be built or re-built. This is challenged by the election year, but not in a fashion that much of the Left thinks. The pull of the election is obvious. Yet at the same time, the election is raising hope — expectations for change and a host of reforms from ending the war to addressing social inequality, racism, and sexism. I do not have hope in Obama to really address these realities, but I have hope in the people who have hopes in Obama.

We have to be patient and determined through the election year and seize opportunities at the local level. It is simply not true that we cannot do anything during the elections. For example, just last week in Boston over 600 students came to hear Noam Chomsky lecture against U.S. imperialism. There are countless other example of hopeful small actions and educational events that embody the future of the movement.

Our key task is thus to rebuild the base of the movement. We have to initiate local organizations through educational events, actions, and all sorts of events from movie screenings to local Winter Soldier hearings. While I support the upcoming National Assembly in Cleveland, I do not think we are in a position to launch a new national formation. Cleveland will be a chance for activists to share ideas and initiate collaboration, but our key emphasis has to be on building the infrastructure of the movement.

We need to organize and build antiwar organization among students, workers, soldiers, and military families. We need to build existing and new chapters of the CAN, U.S. Labor Against the War, IVAW, and Military Families Speak Out. We must build the base for a future mass movement that will likely emerge in the aftermath of the presidential elections. As in the struggle against the Vietnam War, those organizations will be necessary to mobilize the social power to compel our rulers to get out of Iraq.

Demands for the Movement

A key part of rebuilding the movement is figuring out the demands around which we must organize the coming struggle. I agree with Max Elbaum, who argued last night that demands are a tactical question. We must figure out which demands are necessary for the movement and will galvanize popular opposition and action. In doing so, we should avoid the trap of single-issue dogmatism on the one hand and on the other ANSWER’s endless laundry list of demands. Neither is a guide to building the movement.

Our central organizing demand must be the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. But we should have important subsidiary demands that are necessary for preparing the movement to confront U.S. war plans. Thus, we must demand “no war on Iran,” since they are clearly preparing for a future confrontation with Tehran.

We also must put forth a position against anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia as that clearly is the legitimating ideology of the war and is responsible for horrific oppression of Arabs and Muslims. If we hope to build bridges of solidarity with the peoples of the Middle East and if we hope to bring Arabs and Muslims into the U.S. movement, this is a necessary demand.

Finally, we must put forward class demands such as “money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation.” This can broaden the movement among sympathetic workers who see the United States wasting $3 trillion on war and occupation while New Orleans gets washed out to sea, their homes are foreclosed, and their jobs are lost amidst the recession.

I also think it is important for the left wing of the movement to argue for including opposition to occupation of Afghanistan even though we may lose it. We should be clear that the entire War on Terror is united in the minds of our rulers from Afghanistan to Iraq and we ought to oppose it across the board — especially since the Democrats are campaigning for a surge in Afghanistan. Moreover, we should argue for speakers on Palestine to show how the Israeli occupation is a crucial component of U.S. dominion over the Middle East.

Flashes of the Future

While we have many challenges today, we can see the first shoots of the new movement developing in smaller or larger scale around us today. The Winter Soldier hearings captivated the entire antiwar movement and projected a new and hopeful GI and vet resistance. The ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) strike on May 1 represents a huge development where workers in an historic union are striking against the war to shut down all the ports of the West Coast, one of the busiest areas of trade in the world. We will need such class power to liberate Iraq from U.S. occupation. Also, new student activists in conferences and actions this spring displayed exciting new stirrings of youth resistance. These are early signs of forces stirring that have the social power to shut down the U.S. war machine through mass militant protest.

Through the election year we must be patient but also persistent and aggressive to cultivate each new shoot of resistance. Whoever wins this election — and I think the Democrats are likely to sweep every level of government — will have raised both people’s expectation for an end to the Bush regime and expectation for real change. However, they will preside over an economic crisis, two failing occupations, and deepening social inequalities inside the United States.

Today we must seize every opportunity to educate, organize, and act locally to establish vehicles to mobilize the growing sentiment for change; we must do so with the determination to provide an alternative means for winning change when the Democrats either fail to deliver or deliver inadequate solutions to the various crises we will confront. We do not know the timing of when people will become frustrated with the Democrats’ refusal to deliver what we want, when they will look for our alternative. No one has a crystal ball, but we must organize the bases of a future antiwar movement prepared to galvanize sentiment and lead a mass and militant resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Ashley Smith is a writer and activist from Burlington, Vermont. He writes frequently for Socialist Worker and the International Socialist Review. He can be reached at ashley05401@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Ashley.

26 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Deadbeat said on June 24th, 2008 at 10:57am #

    For example, just last week in Boston over 600 students came to hear Noam Chomsky lecture against U.S. imperialism.

    And herein lies the problem with Ms. Smith analysis. In fact there is NO mention of Zionism in her article. Her argument rest of the “credibility” of the renowned Zionist and AIPAC influence denier Noam Chomsky himself whose ability to “manufacture” obscurity is second to none.

    Should the antiwar movement be rekindled it will be quickly extinguished by by the “Chomskys, et.al” should a radical strain get involved and mention AIPAC, Israel, and Zionism. Ms. Ashley would rather OBSCURE the reality of Zionism’s influence upon U.S. Imperialism rather than confront it. Zionism is the ROOT cause of U.S. Imperialism today yet Ms. Smith has NO gumption to confront the ROOT cause. In other words Ms. Smith analysis is REACTIONARY — and for a “socialist” it is rather contradictory. This is extremely ironic and troubling since I’ve seen more radical analysis of Zionism’s effects on U.S. foreign policies coming from the right.

    It seems that the ISO position is to blame Democrats and the electoral process in general rather than deal with Zionism which grips BOTH parties. Clearly the public cannot rely on either parties and must resort to alternative. However the “left” including the ISO has positioned them as DEMOCRATS. They go around blaming the public for engaging in the electoral process yet they themselves dismantled the anti-war movement in order to avoid confronting Zionism.

    What the “left” hopes for is to end the war in Iraq by deliberately OBSCURING ZIONISM. This will NOT end the war in Iraq. What will force an end to this war is the economic damage that this war is having on the public — ($3 trillion). And that may cause more damage.

    Recall economic deprivation is also what happened in Germany after WWI and the backlash. History CAN repeat itself. It is IMPERATIVE that ZIONISM’s role in the War on Iraq not be obscured nor this rancid racist ideology be protected but CONFRONTED and EXPOSED.

    In doing so, we should avoid the trap of single-issue dogmatism on the one hand and on the other ANSWER’s endless laundry list of demands. Neither is a guide to building the movement.

    Yeah right. ANSWER sought to confront ZIONISM even to the point where liberal Zionist Michael Lerner characterized there involvement as “anti-Semetic”. There “list of demands” included speaking out against anti-Arab racism, Palestinians rights and confronting not only Israeli Zionism but also the power of AIPAC. However Ms. Smith talks out two sides of her mouth. One one hand she’s against a “laundry list of demands” but wants people to be active against “imperialism”. How do get people engaged WITHOUT clarifying the issues. You clarify the issues and get people involved BY MAKING DEMANDS. The real fear was that ANSWER was clarifying the issue talking about the ROOT cause.

    I had the pleasure of meeting George Galloway during his U.S. tour and we talked about the ROOT cause – Zionism especially Zionism in the United Stated and the refusal of the “left” here to confront it. As we can see the ISO elevated comrade who does their best to obscure the issue.

    In reality, we will need an even strong mass movement this time. Why? Because the geostrategic stakes for the United States in Iraq are far higher than they were in Vietnam. Former Federal Reserve Board Chair Alan Greenspan finally admitted the “unfortunate truth”: It really is all about the region’s oil. Whoever controls that oil controls the world economy. And the U.S. has no intention of leaving Iraq or the Middle East as a whole. They want to lock in a unipolar world order against rising global powers like China as well as eliminate regional challengers like Iran and Venezuela. We thus have an even bigger fight on our hands than activists in the 1960s.

    Notice the constant repetition of the “War for Oil” canard in order to shift the focus AWAY from Zionism. And Ms. Smith once again attempt to quote of all people Alan Greenspan to provide “validity” to the “War for Oil” canard. Even the recent revelation of White House insider Scott McClellan makes clear that the motivation for the war in Iraq was not for Oil. This is Ms. Smith vain attempt to obscure the role Zionism played in the War on Iraq. In fact Ms. Smith makes no mention of the Zionist doctrine — Project For A New American Century (PNAC) which planned for the overthrow of Iraq and the expansion of Israeli hegemony all before GWB became President. And Ms. Smith ignores the fact that the Oil companies were on record being AGAINST the War on Iraq.

    This is once again a PATHETIC attempt by the “left” to FOOL and CONFUSE the American people. Thus the “left” CANNOT BE TRUSTED on truly confronting Zionism and their lack of honesty will lead to failure or WORSE.

    Let’s be honest here regarding the “left”:

    [1] The “left” doesn’t want to confront U.S. Zionism. The “left” hopes it can bullshit the public to get active so that the U.S. can get out of this Middle East mire on their prescribed ideas without mentioning Zionism.

    [2] The “left” at best fears that raising Zionism as it is configured in the United States will cause a backlash against Jews and encouraged the real hardcore Anti-semitics — especially as the economy continues to sour.

    [3] In reality however while there could be a backlash against Jews the real HURT will be against minority groups (people of color) . Since Jews are overrepresented in the media and in the seats of power they will use that power to shift public opinion due to any backlash to blame minorities: Blacks, Latinos and the poor. It could get very ugly very quickly. Therefore it is especially important for minority groups to speak out and confront Zionism — not the esoteric “imperialism”.

    Unfortunately Ms. Smith analysis is more of the same weak-kneed analysis coming from the “left” which refuses to confront Zionism here in the U.S. Esoteric labels and “imperialism” is design to obscure rather than clarify. It is also the reason why ordinary citizens are suspicious of the “left” because it is clear their agenda is replete with dishonesty.

  2. Giorgio said on June 24th, 2008 at 11:39am #

    “We have to be honest and sober about that. The last thing we need is drunken driving in the struggle”

    Well, Mr Smith, with all due respect, you seem to be doing some drunken driving yourself….in your gyrations you have gone thru red lights, driven on the pavement, knocked down a few lamp posts, and in your frenzy Hit and Run over the body of Ron Paul without even noticing that he existed, lying there on the pavement, unconscious and bleeding…

    By the way, did you know that Ron Paul, of all presidential candidates got the most campaign contributions from the militar based on his anti-war stance?
    Doesn’t this mean anything to you?
    OK, may be not for now. But when you sober up, I’m sure you will twig on its significance !

  3. Martha said on June 24th, 2008 at 11:52am #

    Interrested in the topic until I read. “Hilary Clinton just last week promised to “obliterate Iran” if it attacked Israel. ” Two errors. Can you catch ’em? H-i-l-l-a-r-y. Typo, I can overlook. Promised to obliterate Iran? No.

    Quoted by CNN

    “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran [if it attacked Israel],” Clinton said. “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

    There is no “promise” to “obliterate” them.

    It’s a real shame Ashley Smith is so little concerned with the facts. A.S. was far from alone, the Obama campaign — when they were working so hard to pretend they were different from Hillary — pushed that meme: “She said she’d obliterate them!”

    Facts are facts. And honestly, Clinton’s statement is so appalling, there’s no need to lie about it. However, A.S. might have caught Amy Goodman’s clowning. Like all Barack supporters, Goodman repeatedly pushed the lie as opposed to what was said. It’s a real shame we do not have a functioning independent media.

  4. evie said on June 24th, 2008 at 1:06pm #

    Just to clarify a point or two – according to the website Center for Responsive Politics – since Iraq war began 40% of military donations have gone to congressional/presidential Democrat candidates, more than usual, but still not the majority.

    Obama’s military donations total $27,000 – more than any presidential hopeful, Dem or Rep.

    Ron Paul collected $19,000 and McCain $18,000.

    Little to crow about. Use caution when believing and repeating PR mantras such as Paul “got the most campaign contributions from the militar based on his anti-war stance.”

    Obama’s appeal to the military may be more his youth and perceived charisma and even ethnicity, than any strong anti-war sentiment among the troops.

    As for Ashley – she is performing as most on the “left” do – tap dancing and misleading.

  5. Random said on June 24th, 2008 at 1:52pm #

    An extremely astute analysis. The election is an opportunity to build a movement much larger than antiwar and committed to a larger agenda: A green mandate, economic justice,civil liberties, racial and gender equality, trade policy and a foreign policy laying the groundworks for an end to war. There should be room enough in the movement for Libertarians, disillusioned Liberal Democrats and single-issue activists, including those who believe that Palestinian Liberation is preeminent. The Obama campaign is putting together an army of young activists and potential activists. It would be wise for the left to be connected to these activists without insulting them for their naivety. They will need somewhere to go if and when Obama disappoints.

  6. sk said on June 24th, 2008 at 2:08pm #

    No one has a crystal ball…

    Perhaps a better metaphor would be the ability of being able to travel “Back to the Future”.

  7. bozhidar balkas said on June 24th, 2008 at 2:09pm #

    ashley omits two very imporatant factors in US quest for more lands.
    of the greatest importance to what is going on in iraq/ afghanistan/palestine is the fact that the planet had never been poorer.
    second most important fact in undedrstanding US frenzy for more land is that we have now ab 6.5bn people on this palnet.
    and world plutocrats, not just US b’naires, do not want to share diminishing resources w. most people.
    US had been imperialistic for 2 cent’s. it was cruel to the point it had to be; ie. obtain land w. minimum effort. but the earth was mighty rich just a cent ago but no longer; thus greater effort, sacrifices, killings r necessary to expand.
    people, like cornered rats, resist now occupation w. greater violence than ever.
    iraqis r not indigenes of the redlands. neither will iranians behave the same way as the indigenous people.
    so, US, will be more ferocious. let’s forget about obama, clinton, mccain, bush, truman, et al; they do, i deduce, what their told to do.
    thank u

  8. bozhidar balkas said on June 24th, 2008 at 2:40pm #

    it’s unclear to me how much influence aipac or zionist on US longstanding policy of expansion exert.
    let’s remember that US had expanded by warfare for at least a cent before zionists were demanding palestine for selves.
    the reason aipac/zionists look so intimidating/mighty be, i guess, because all or most world plutocrats support them and approbate their crimes.
    and the econo-military-diplomatic power is in the money and not to be found among hobos, housewives, workers, et al.
    plutocrats in US control cia, city police, armed services, fbi, the 4 houses: senate, house of reps, WH, and the house of horrors (planet)
    i evaluate zionst lobby of some importance but may not be decisive.
    it could be even assumed that world plutos use jews. it could be assumed that plutos may abandon jews one day. thank u

  9. Edwin Pell said on June 24th, 2008 at 3:18pm #

    Part of the owning class in in Iraq for the oil. There actions are systematic and clear. Other parts of the owning class are drunk they are there to liberate Iraq one day and to kill terrorists the next, to hand out coloring books one day and to randomly shoot Iraqi for fun the next day. They are servants of God one day and servants of Satan the next day. Dick Cheney is there for the oil. George Bush does not know why he is there. Dick Cheney knows he is hated and does not care. George Bush fears he is hated and is confused and disappointed and does not know why.

  10. Giorgio said on June 24th, 2008 at 4:57pm #


    Little to crow about?

    Military contributions for Q2
    Ron Paul 26.23%
    Barack Obama 24.02%
    John McCain 18.31%
    Hillary Clinton 11.08%
    Bill Richardson 5.59%
    Mitt Romney 4.05%
    John Edwards 2.63%
    Rudy Giuliani 2.44%
    Mike Huckabee 1.84%
    Tom Tancredo 1.63%
    Duncan Hunter 1.05%
    Joe Biden 0.84%
    Mike Gravel 0.16%
    Sam Brownback 0.07%
    Dennis Kucinich 0.05%
    Tommy Thompson 0%
    Chris Dodd 0%
    Jim Gilmore 0%
    John Cox 0%
    Source: Finance Reports for the 2007 July Quarterly and compiled by Phreadom. Visit phreadom.blogspot.com for more detail.

  11. Giorgio said on June 24th, 2008 at 5:32pm #


    Is this your hero?

    “It’s obvious by now that Barack Obama is treating black Americans like one treats a demented uncle, brought out from his room to be ridiculed and scolded before company from time to time, the old Clinton Sistah Souljah strategy borrowed from Clinton’s first presidential campaign when he traveled the country criticizing the personal morality of blacks and wooing white voters by objecting to what he considered anti -white lyrics sung by rapper Sistah Souljah.

    As in Clinton’s case, Obama’s June 14th finger wagging at black men was a case of pandering to white conservative voters….”

    Article’s opening lines in http://www.counterpunch.org titled,

    Obama Scolds Black Fathers, Gets Bounce in Polls


  12. evie said on June 24th, 2008 at 6:14pm #

    Compiled by phreadom.blogspot.com? Come on, anyone can be a blogger and “compile” figures. Even I have a site at blogspot.com and compile. Sometimes I pile it on real high.

    Ishmael, counterpunch, nor Obama are my heroes. If you look at “sk”‘s link Back to the Future – Obama is nothing more than putting a brown face on the Clinton/Bush dynasty.

    Although I do agree black fathers need to take responsibility – but then that would cut into the progressive victim of oppression industry aka “It Ain’t Yo Fault Yoo Ignant & Dem Babies Dont Need No Daddies”. Gotta keep makin’ babies for the massah’s plantation prisons.

  13. samson said on June 24th, 2008 at 8:48pm #

    I guess I like what I call the “winston churchill” antiwar strategy.

    Fight them. Fight them on the beaches. Fight them in the fields. Fight them in the streets. Fight them in the schools. Fight them in county commissions. Fight them in the Congress. Fight them any way we can.

    We spend to much time trying to argue what’s the best strategy. Get out and start fighting. Stage a protest. Organize a movement. If you got a chance to make a statement, make it. If you got a chance to land a blow, land it.

    Don’t spend so much time trying to decide if making a statement at this time is the proper strategy. Stop holding meetings to determine the best antiwar strategy.

    If you got an idea, try it. If it works, try it again. If you see someone else doing something that seems to work, copy it. If you got a chance to do something, do it. Just stop talking about it. Go do it. See what works. Keep doing what works. Stop doing something that doesn’t work.

    (Note: I’m a believer in non-violence, who believes violent acts always make things worse. So, above when I say ‘fight’, I’m paraphrasing Churchill’s famous speech and speaking figuratively. I’m not recommending any violent acts. But that’s just my own opinion of what works and what doesn’t.)

  14. Jim said on June 25th, 2008 at 2:17am #

    When Writers write of the sixties. They would do well to remember, there was no anti war movement. It was a pro peace movement, which made it successful.

  15. Marklar said on June 25th, 2008 at 2:49am #

    The answer is to quit wasting your breath and start fighting the civil war here at home instead of the war in Iraq. It has gotten to the point where even the most idiotic and ill-informed can smell the murderous fascism in the wind even if they don’t know just what it is that they smell.

    YOUR life is in imminent danger. If you do not win the war at home the Iraq war will go on forever.

  16. bozhidar balkas said on June 25th, 2008 at 7:22am #

    good advice. i write a lot but i also have distributed antiwar leaflets in jan ’03 and later. i’m also a member of StopWar.ca, a vancouver org.
    it is essential, that we do not commit violenet acts.
    we’r still holding protests against canadian aggression against afgh’n.
    we also yearly protest war crimes by zionistss and US.
    since middle class and religions, broadly, always side w. the ruling class, we need to boycott their stores and speak w. religius people or boycott their business or what have u.
    don’t let them enjoy peace of mind while they approbate horrendous crimes against civs and children.
    i no longer see my dentist, a jew, who may be a zionist. i didn’t ask. and i don’t care.
    thank u

  17. Deadbeat said on June 25th, 2008 at 9:26am #

    bozhidar balkas writes…
    it’s unclear to me how much influence aipac or zionist on US longstanding policy of expansion exert.
    let’s remember that US had expanded by warfare for at least a cent before zionists were demanding palestine for selves.
    the reason aipac/zionists look so intimidating/mighty be, i guess, because all or most world plutocrats support them and approbate their crimes.
    and the econo-military-diplomatic power is in the money and not to be found among hobos, housewives, workers, et al.
    plutocrats in US control cia, city police, armed services, fbi, the 4 houses: senate, house of reps, WH, and the house of horrors (planet)
    i evaluate zionst lobby of some importance but may not be decisive.
    it could be even assumed that world plutos use jews. it could be assumed that plutos may abandon jews one day. thank u

    bozhidar asserts that the power and influence of Zionism is “unclear” without any basis or evidence to support his claim. His main argument is because the U.S. has a history of warfare that the current war in Iraq is just part of the “continuum”. This is the argument that being touted by Chomsky and Ms. Smith. This line of argument is being spun today solely to obfuscate Zionism’s influence in U.S. imperialism today.

    What bozhidar is doing is essentially giving RACISM as pass. By not confronting Zionism the respondent is clearly unwilling to challenge imperialism. The reason why the anti-war movement demobilized was because there were voices in the movement who were willing to bring up the root cause of U.S. Imperialism today — Zionism .

    The absurdity of this line of argument would be like telling Blacks they are wasting their time fighting racism when they should have been fighting “imperialism”. This illustrates the “obfuscatory” and esoteric aspect of such a stance. The issue and FEAR illustrated by bozhidar is the response of the ruling class RATHER than clarity for the masses of the current epoch to get them into ACTION.

    I would suggest that bozhidar start reading James Petras, Jeff Blankfort, and others who have address this topic rather than reading and listening to Noam Chomsky.

  18. john wilkinson said on June 25th, 2008 at 10:59am #

    “I would suggest that bozhidar start reading James Petras, Jeff Blankfort, and others…”

    I was generally in agreement with you until this line. More personality cult. Petras’ recent article in DV, on which I commented was full of holes, obfuscations, distortions, fabrications. None of you on the left like the FACTS, wherever they may land. If it conflicts with your pet theory (or what you’re told by the big cheese on top) ignore it, or twist it around.

    though i generally agree w/ u wrt zionism, israel, etc. they’re being stupid and haven’t learnt anything from history, re backlash, etc. (not that I approve of anything that happened to them anymore than I approve of what they’re doing to others, including us).

  19. dan e said on June 25th, 2008 at 11:12am #

    Good job, Deadbeat. can find no nit to pick.

    BTW, anyone who has watched the DVD of the U of SF debate between Zunes, Jeff Blankfort & Hatem Bazian will realize that Zunes is intellectually a clown, who abandoned all effort to argue the question which was the basis of the debate, and resorted to rambling about what a good guy he’d been on various issues in the past. Alas, Khalil Bendib who was moderating let him get away with it, but Joe Anderson didn’t.

    One telltale inclusion in A. Smith’s rap was the praise for Miltary Families Speak Out. My experience “coalitioning” with MSFO has taught me to regard the outfit as the DOD’s nose in the tent, people who see nothing wrong with US Militarism, Expansionism, Colonialism in general but oppose US policy re Iraq because they’re worried about a Loved One.
    I’ve tended to be supportive of ANSWER vs UFPJ et al, but it’s worth noting that ANSWER core outfits like PSL/people like Becker Bros uphold the same War For Oil version of reality as Chompsky, Zunes, Plitnick & the rest of the “Progressive Zionists”. (how’s that for an oxymoron?)

  20. Max Shields said on June 25th, 2008 at 12:45pm #

    Some people on DV act as if”
    1. US policy of imperialism never existed before 1948
    2. Anyone who mentions the fact that it does pre-date 1948 is labeled (in so many words) a zionist sympathizer.

    Additional, this bad faith argument about the “left” this and the “left” that and I’m above all that because I was born dirt poor but by son is a capitain in the marines and I have a phd but live in the middle of a crime riddled neighborhood that you dumbasses couldn’t begin to understand what it’s all about ’cause you aint lived until you’ve walked a mile in my high-heels (which I can’t afford to by, even with my PHD in hand). Can you dig? IS BORING!! (hint hint)

  21. bozhidar balkas said on June 25th, 2008 at 2:51pm #

    john wilkinson,
    i said “it is not clear to me how much influnce aipac exerts on US foreign policy.
    remember, i said “to me”. if u know or it’s clear to u how much power aipac has, then u can enlighten us.
    tacitly u posit that u know! or am i mistaken?
    “not clear to me” implies that i don’t know. perhaps i cd have been that explicit: i do not know.
    true, i do not have proof/evidence that zionism/aipac do not rule america to the degree that they get the last word or can tell/order a prez to do what they wish for.
    we need more study ab the relationshp btwn aipac/isr and US.
    u obviously haven’t read my posts in which i talk ab zionism. let me please tell u what i think ab zionism?
    after nazism, zionism to me is the evilest ism mankid had to face to date.
    “giving racism a free pass” . wd u care to elucidate me ab this utterance? honestly, i’m not being sarcastic. i realy don’t know!
    i read petras’ pieces. i’m not hapy w. chomsky since he, to me, is a mini zionist;ie, wants two states; i want only one.
    by being for two state ‘sol’n’, one wd reward numerous zionist crimes.
    some of their crimes r unique: child-, woman-, manhunting; kidnapping, bulldozing orchards, holding peope in jails, stealing land daily; ashkenazic hate/disdain for all of us etcetc. thank u

  22. dan e said on June 25th, 2008 at 3:56pm #

    High heels, Max? Please explain? If you wanted to confuse me, you have.

    So your son is a Captain in the USMC? Okay, you admit to having failed as a parent. Well, nobody’s perfect.

    However you keep making statements which can arise only out of A) ignorance indulged in to the pt of irresponsibility, or B) a bias in favor of Zionism caused by a personal tendency to identify with anything “Jewish”.

    Who is it that claims Imperialism didn’t exist before 1948? Certainly not myself or any of the sources I’ve cited on DV, like Jeff Blankfort, Dr Petras, Lenni Brenner, Glen Ford et al. If you examine the DV archives, you will note that I’ve many times railed about US expansionism, neocolonialism — Didn’t I coin the mot “Globalization the Highest Stage of Imperialism”?

    But you give yourself away when you describe US Imperialism as a “policy”. Anybody but a dumbass knows a policy is something that a government can change, but US Imperialism is embedded in the structure of the society itself. Embedded especially in the State Apparatus, political/financial/ideological — but also in the folkways of much, probably most, of the civilian population. Especially amongst those who see nothing shameful about having a son who is a Captain in the Marines.

    So nothing wrong with exposing history of US Imperialism, which actually predates the US Constitution, except that the term in its modern/post-Ulanov meaning is inapplicable to the pre-Industrial period.
    Matter of fact, I myself first consciously joined in what was known then as the “anti-Imperialist Movement” in the early sixties, tailing along after various then-Maoists & “Marxist-Leninists” like John Ross & Bob Scheer, even non-Leninist Doug Dowd. In the seventies Oil Shock I spent a lot of time/effort trying to understand Big Oil, the Seven Sisters, reading Ida Tarbell, corresponding with Barry Weisberg who was maybe the most knowledgeable writer then on Petro-related matters.

    So if you are opposed to US Imperialism, we are on the same page; same page that is until you start trying to use the phrase “imperialism” or “capitalism” to divert attention from the actual state of affairs right now today, when the Imperialist State Apparatus has been taken over lock stock & Bomb Tehran Now by the Zionist Power Configuration, who want you to think Big Oil brought about the invasion/occupation of Iraq when Big Jewry has been planning same since Reagan Admn if not before.
    We are urged to engage in Civilly Disobedient Direct Action at Chevron HQ, but if we so much as mention the Walt/Mearsheimer study, writings of Jeff Blankfort (cf. Leftcurve 2003, “A War For Israel”), Jas Petras, Kathy Christison, Gilad Atzmon, Lenni Brenner, Hatem Bazian, why then were a bunch of “dumbasses”.
    The fact is, “Max”, that all this stuff is on record. Your arguments are old, tired, been refuted dozens of times if not hundreds. But may still have some appeal for newbies just emerging from MSM brainwashing, so herewith a pull of the coat to any such folks: you need to look beyond this diversionary nonsense “Max” is peddling, and do your own homework. Don’t accept any one version of reality no matter how impressed you are. Don’t buy any of the “standard” analyses, until you’ve checked out all you can find, understood them on their own terms, & compared them with each other and your own experience.

    Assume Nothing, cause it ain’t that simple:)

  23. samson said on June 25th, 2008 at 5:34pm #

    Its an easy mistake to make to think that all of this is new. Its the same mistake as thinking the past was all some glorious golden age. I tend to pick up Zinn’s People’s History of the US to remind me it isn’t all new. And Chomsky is good at pointing out that US foreign policy largely hasn’t changed since at least the end of WWI. The reasons and the speeches change, but the actions don’t.

    It would be hard to talk of US Imperialism without talking about the Spanish-American war and the Phillipines, or even further back into ‘manifest destiny’ and the ethnic cleansing of the native tribes. So yes, US Imperialism exists before 1948.

    The bullshit used to con Americans into supporting paying for imperialism with their blood and treasure (to the benefit of the wealthy exploiters) is what changes from time to time. The policy itself has remained rather constant for quite some time.

    I’d say what’s new is opposition to this in the US, but that would be wrong too. Reading Mark Twain (the less promoted works) and learning about say the anti-war resisters during WWI help cure that misconception.

    The post above mine makes a great point. I’d paraphrase it as always think for yourself, and always question what you are told. Try to learn from as many different people and sources as you can.

  24. bozhidar balkas said on June 26th, 2008 at 7:46am #

    i’v just noticed that i responded to JOHN WILKINSON instead to DEADBEAT.
    ab zionism! it was very weak in 19th cent; ie, had no army. it succeeded to get palestine because christo-capitalistic and communist lands and empires supported them w. arms; allowed illegal immigration, etc.
    zionists on their own couldn’t have established israel.
    it wd have not existed in ’49 or today w/o massive econo-military-diplomatic help from mainly christian lands end empires.
    israel, one may conclude, basing it on above facts/conclusions, that israel/zionism is as strong as US/EU wants to be.
    communist lands supported zionists, i deduce, because most of them were socialists.
    israel wd thus been a good foothold for spreading socialism and communism.
    broadly, people don’t conclude or acqnowledge as fact that israel is a US 51st state. corrollary being, absoluteness ab its right to exist/expand.
    palestine, in my analyses, was the first stepping stone for not only all of asia but the planet.
    zionism is evil; odious ideology. but, i do not think that it rules US to the degree that lostof people guess. ok, now, i’m merely guessing.
    thank u

  25. Edwin Pell said on June 26th, 2008 at 12:07pm #

    Max, you have a Ph.D. People in Egypt with Ph.D.s earn about $20,000 per year. A friend of a friend with a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry applied to GE Plastics for a job. They offered him a job at their new Shanghai Research Center at $1000 per month. Congratulations your Ph.D. entitles you to a good paying job (by global standards) $12,000 to $20,000 per year. Keep in mind without the Ph.D. Egyptian textile workers make $2 per day about $600 per year.

  26. Jeremy Wells said on June 27th, 2008 at 3:54pm #

    Ashley Smith has such a narrow focus on tactics to build an anti-war movement that he seems unable to “see the forest” by focusing on this one “tree”. My suggestion to everyone seeking an end to war would be to keep asking WHY? and seek out a socialist/Marxist perspective on current affairs to determine what tactics and strategy are needed. (I will try to eliminate the vast mass of Bush, progressive and moralistic babble, to expose a thread of a socialist/Marxist argument.)
    1. The Iraq war is but one example of the global imperialist thrust of the U.S. called the Project for the New American Century(PNAC). Why?
    2 . The PNAC agenda: with the collapse of the Soviet Union 1991, the U.S. faced a
    unique historical opportunity. The U.S. was the world’s military super-power, twice as powerful as all other military powers on the planet.
    Thus PNAC argues, the U.S. can impose this vast power to impose it’s economic and political hegemony on the planet. The PNAC, in it’s Statement of Principles, explicity rejected traditional Conservatism (i.e. maintenance of the status quo) and promoted among globalized agenda to maximize profits for international capitalism. Most of the signatories of the PNAC “Statement” (such as Cheney, Wolfowitz, Abrams, Rumsfeld, Abrams,etc.) became part of the the Bush administration. The PNAC Agenda became the foreign policy of the U.S.
    3. Why did the PNAC agenda become foreign policy? Because traditional U.S. capitalism (manufacturing) had been on the decline since the 1970s. U.S. labor simply cannot compete against overseas labor (China0 when the labor costs are 1/10th or more costs in U.S.

    The vast problems of the U.S. economy are the end result of the capitalist greed economics of the Bush gang: decline of the dollar, the stock market, the collapse of the housing market, unending stock market corruption, the total control of mass media, both political parties and candidates, by these same crooks prevents any discussion of any alternative
    The U.S. labor movement has been in steady decline and is unable to organize against growing abandonment of working people by U.S. capital. Thus employers cut wages, benefits, conditions, etc. and the labor bureaucracy becomes a “business partner to U.S. capitalism”.
    4. What are the new ways of U.S. capitalism to make a fast and big buck?
    U.S. capitalism, unable to competer against China, has transformed itself and it’s strategies to make money.(not prioritized)
    a. globalization: some 40% of the profit of U.S. companies are now made overseas.
    b. abandonment of U.S. : move to China. Halliburton moves it’s corporate offices to Dubai to escape taxes.
    c. slashing taxes: Every dollar given up by capital in the form of taxes is a dollar less profit. Huge tax cuts for the wealthies, cutting funding for essential social services essential to the well-being of the vast majority of working people.
    d. Milititarism. The Military Industrial Complex is the great immediate money beneficiary to unending wars of the PNAC agenda. Vast sums are disappeared and unaccountable. Unworkable “defense” systems.
    3. Privatization: Privatization turns a government function created for the universal common good in to a money making business. Even the functions of the government are being privatized. Privatized armed forces (Blackwater) are established. Thousands of private companies are carrying out the PNAC agenda in Iraq. Over half the functions of the CIA are now “outsourced” (privatized), making one immeately wonder the value of such (self-serving?) intelligence.
    4. Treaties such as NAFTA, CAFTA, “free trade” treaties are being rammed down the throats of weak and impoverished countries. The effects of these treaties are to privatize the few efforts of (often corrupt) governments to comply with these treaties. (Thus massive immigration into U.S. from Mexico and Central America).
    5. The effect of unregulated, unchecked gangster capitalism is having it’s effect world wide.
    GLOBAL WARMING: Bush has said that he would do nothing to stop profitable but polluting industry. Global warming is destroying the planet
    and these people don’t give a damn, seek to make profit from it.
    FOOD CRISES: commodities futures trading is driving the cost of food beyond the ability of millions.
    (I could go on about multiple crises)
    To end the Iraq war we must take the profit out of war, end corporate wars for profit.
    To end Global Warming we must put polluters out of business and transition to a ecologically sustainable economy.


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