An Anti-War Movement That Won’t Cave to Obama or Israel
For at least two years, there has been no anti-war “movement” worthy of the term – one that calls the aggressor by his name (starts with “O”) and gives no pass to apartheid Israel. There’s good reason to believe a corner has been turned, with last weekend’s anti-war conference in Albany, New York.
A renewed anti-war movement is under construction, one that breaks decisively from the Cult of Obama, demands an end to all U.S. aid to the Israeli “apartheid regime,” and calls for “immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops, mercenaries and contractors from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and the immediate closing of all U.S. bases in those countries.”
Nearly 600 delegates – twice the initial expectations – took part in the United National Anti-War Conference, held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Albany, New York, July 23 through 25. The mission: to rescue the anti-war movement from the rubble of its collapse with the ascent of Black Democrat Barack Obama to the presidency.
As George Bush exited the White House, the phony anti-war forces – people and groups that only oppose Republican wars – exited the movement. Activist and author David Swanson’s list of those that have made their peace with Obama’s wars include: Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for American Progress, DailyKos, Democracy for America, Moveon.org, National Organization for Women, Open Left, the Out of Iraq Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, Talking Points Memo, True Majority.
Black America, historically the most anti-war of all major U.S. demographic groups, remains emotionally invested in the First Black President – if not in his foreign and domestic policies. The great confusion in African American ranks over the true nature of Obama’s policies represents a huge problem for the Left – especially the Black Left. Yet, that façade, too, will crumble under the weight of events.
Organized labor’s reflexive instinct is also to back the Democrat in office, even when that means backing into a knife. But the reality of Obama, Inc. is by now inescapable to every honest unionist – and the anti-war movement only has need of the honest ones.
The conference voted to support the October 2 March for Jobs in Washington, DC, sponsored by the NAACP and both feuding wings of organized labor, as well as Rev. Jesse Jackson’s joint venture with the United Auto Workers for an August 28 mobilization in Detroit.
This writer pressed union-affiliated attendees on whether, in the end, labor and the NAACP will turn the October 2 march into a “rah-rah” session for Obama and the Democrats? “Not this time,” said a Black labor activist from upstate New York.
We shall see. Conference organizers were determined that there be a large and vocal anti-war contingent to the October 2 action. Leaders of the Black is Back Coalition say they intend to take part, as well, unless march organizers impose political conditions that make it impossible.
In the longer run, a “bi-coastal mass spring mobilization” is planned for New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles on April 9, 2011. Organizers envision actions in the interim that build momentum to the big events, when once again the anti-war movement might put many thousands of peaceful “boots on the ground.” To accomplish this, the scope of organizing must be widened. “A prime component of these mobilizations will be major efforts to include broad new forces from youth to veterans to trade unionists to civil and human rights groups to the Arab, Muslim and other oppressed communities to environmental organizations, social justice and faith-based groups.”
In addition to the demand for unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, the Conference called for:
“The allocation of the trillions spent on wars and corporate bailouts to massive programs for jobs, education, health care, housing and the environment. Compensation to be paid to the peoples whose countries the U.S. attacked and occupied for the loss of lives and massive destruction they suffered,” and
“Reverse and end all foreclosures. Stop the government attacks on trade unions, civil and democratic rights, and immigrant communities.”
Conferees endorsed a flurry of other “action plans,” from opposition to U.S. military intervention in Africa, to “no war or sanctions against Iran,” to the “immediate freedom” of imprisoned human rights lawyer Lynn Stewart.
U.S. aid to Israel was the most contentious issue to arise at the conference. Israel supporters employed delaying tactics in an attempt to derail the Palestine Solidarity Caucus’s proposal for an “end to U.S. aid to Israel – military, economic, and diplomatic. End U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the blockade of Gaza.” Opponents claimed inclusion of the resolution would make it impossible for them to recruit labor activists into anti-war ranks – as if Zionists rule everywhere in the House of Labor. After a series of dilatory maneuvers by the pro-Israel faction, the Conference overwhelming endorsed the Palestine Solidarity Caucus position.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the weekend came when Ralph Poynter read a letter from his companion in struggle for nearly fifty years, Lynne Stewart, who had been part of the conference steering committee. “I have been out of the steering apparatus due to my unavailability,” she wrote. “Serve the people with honesty, kindness and respect. Love the struggle.”
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.