Revolution #228, April 3, 2011
Stand Against the Bombing of Libya... Find Ways to Oppose This Outrage
On March 19, the U.S. government launched a vicious military attack of over 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Libya. A question was immediately posed: Would people, right here in the belly of the beast, take a strong internationalist stand and let the world know that we oppose the unjust actions of our "own" government? Would people here demand an end to this unjust U.S. war on yet another country?
This is not the first time the U.S. has dressed up military aggression with the costume of "humanitarianism." This is not the first time the U.S. has united other imperialist countries and pushed through a UN resolution to use weapons of mass destruction. This is not the first time the U.S. has cried "evil dictator" to justify raining down death and destruction on a sovereign country.
And what about the utter hypocrisy of this attack? The U.S. backs governments in Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia which savagely oppress the people—because this conforms to U.S. imperial interests. But suddenly the U.S. says it must intervene to stop government violence against an uprising. Why? Not because it cares about the people, but because putting down the Libyan government coincides with U.S. geo-strategic interests. (See Libya coverage, pages 12, 13, and 16.)
The United States cannot get a "free pass" with this latest imperial intervention. And we here in the U.S. have a special responsibility to condemn, oppose, and expose the true nature of this imperialist aggression.
This requires big efforts to repolarize the political terrain—to unite and organize those who already oppose the bombing of Libya; and to struggle with many others to see through the U.S. lie of "humanitarian intervention."
The U.S. rulers, the politicians, the media all work to set a certain framework where it's accepted that the U.S. must intervene militarily in order to "save lives." But through struggle, this framework can be cracked—many now sucked into supporting the U.S. attack can come to see that no good can come from U.S. imperialist intervention of any kind. In this light, an important experience at the Left Forum is worth learning from and spreading.
When the bombing of Libya began, the Left Forum was going on in New York City, attended by people from all over the country. This is the largest conference in the U.S. of a broad spectrum of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, academics, organizations, and others who come to discuss a wide range of theoretical questions and current and urgent issues in the world. It was extremely important that this gathering take a stand against the U.S. attack on Libya. But as important as this was, it would not happen automatically.
Revolutionaries set out early on Sunday morning—to discuss, debate, unite, and put out a call for a clear voice of opposition to be issued from the conference. Throughout the day, people mass leafleted a proposed statement/resolution which read: "We, many of the attendees at the Left Forum, a gathering of radical and progressive people within the U.S., denounce the U.S.-sponsored military aggression against Libya. The U.S. government is responsible for the slaughter and torture of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia... the occupation of Iraq... the torture in Guantánamo and Bagram and many other places... the brutal suppression of the people who are rebelling against U.S. allies now in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen... and the wholesale backing of the apartheid Israeli state—it is the greatest single purveyor of violence against ordinary people in the world today—and it has no right to carry out aggression against anyone, anywhere. We call on people all over the U.S.—especially students—to stand against this outrage."
People got this when they arrived, at panels, during breaks, and going into the final plenary. There was discussion about the great need to take a stand against the U.S. intervention, as well as what the U.S. is really up to. Signatures were gathered on a petition with the statement. A minority of people argued that maybe U.S. intervention could have a positive result in stopping people from being killed by the Gaddafi government. But the overwhelming sentiment, especially among youth and students, was against the U.S. attack and in support of people at the Left Forum taking a strong stand of opposition. At two panels that World Can't Wait participated in, there was good discussion and struggle around how people should understand the real nature of the U.S. attack on Libya.
All of this fed into the evening plenary. By the time several hundred people were seated in the auditorium, probably 90 percent of them had gotten the leaflet. Just before the program began, Revolution writer Sunsara Taylor stood up and announced that she was going to read a statement to the people of the country and the world. She asked people to applaud when she was done if they agreed. People listened closely and after she finished, there was strong applause. (See youtube.com/watch?v=Wf5UfzIabVA.) This introduced a new and urgent element into the program. And overall, many appreciated this initiative, including some of the conference organizers.
There is something to learn here about the need and possibility of going out and uniting and struggling with people to see the importance of taking a clear stand in opposition to the bombing of Libya. And as the U.S. continues its vicious, outrageous attack on Libya—we need to unite broadly and find different ways to speak out, give organized expression to people's anger and opposition, and act against this outrage.
Readers of Revolution: Get out the RCP statement on Libya, Revolution's coverage, and the YouTube video from the Left Forum. Get out among many different kinds of people, especially at high schools and colleges, and with creativity and thought, find the ways to draw a sharp dividing line and repolarize things. By taking a bold stand, with truth and certitude, we can help people understand this attack for what it really is, and unite people to oppose it.
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