Revolutionary Worker #1187, February 16, 2003, posted at http://rwor.org
"We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety. We say NOT IN OUR NAME. We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare. We extend a hand to those around the world suffering from these policies; we will show our solidarity in word and deed."
These words from the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience ring more urgently than ever in these critical days of February 2003--when the heads of the most powerful country in the world are rushing madly toward a new war in the Middle East...when the government has issued a "high terror alert," whipping up a climate of fear to justify more repression of immigrants and suppression of dissent...when Bush & Co. claim they are acting in the name of the American people and to protect their safety and freedom.
Colin Powell has spoken before the UN to present the Bush White House's case for preemptive war on Iraq. He purported to show decisive "evidence" that this battered country poses such grave and immediate danger that military action is required.
The mainstream U.S. media and British premier Tony Blair gushed that Powell's presentation was "compelling." But anyone with any integrity and grasp of facts should be able to see through the hype: the so-called evidence amounts to manipulated data and outright lies -- a pretext for war.
It was an ominous sign that a reproduction of Guernica , the famous anti-war painting by Pablo Picasso that hangs at the entrance to the Security Council, had been covered up as Powell spoke.
The myth of the "reluctant" Powell -- a supposedly "moderating" influence on hawks like Rumsfeld and Cheney -- lies exposed. He has all along been a leading figure in Bush's "war party" -- an advocate of aggressive U.S. moves around the world from the days when he was part of Bush I's inner circle.
As Powell spoke of "weapons of mass destruction" that Iraq might possess, the U.S. stepped up actual buildup for invasion and occupation--surrounding this small country with tanks, warships, bombers, and combat troops. As Powell accused Iraq of threatening its neighbors, Bush officials firmed up plans with the Turkish government to position tens of thousands of U.S. invasion troops at bases in Turkey and to allow the Turkish military to occupy parts of Kurdish areas in northern Iraq.
What will this war mean to the people of Iraq? U.S. war planners talk of dropping 800 cruise missiles in just the first two days of the war on Iraq. They warn that "no one in Baghdad will be safe." GIs in the Kuwaiti desert are training for house-to-house urban warfare in the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.
In the 1991 Gulf War, a single cruise missile hitting the Amiriya air raid shelter in Baghdad incinerated hundreds of civilians. How many Amiriyas would be created by the thousands of cruise missiles--all "made in the USA"--fired on Iraq in a new war?
Five thousand Iraqi children have been dying each month for the past 11 years as a result of U.S.-led sanctions. How many more young lives would be ripped away by the massive bombing attack that U.S. war planners have dubbed "Shock and Awe"?
It's no wonder that Guernica was covered up. Picasso's powerful and disturbing images depict the 1937 bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by the fascist Franco military that killed hundreds. The shameful and hypocritical "leaders of the world" did not want to see pictures of Powell standing in front of this powerful painting showing the carnage of unjust war.
On February 15 and 16, people are marching against the war in New York City, San Francisco, and other cities across the U.S.--joining with protests across Europe throughout the week. Not In Our Name and others are preparing for a major day of resistance in the coming weeks.
These are indeed times that demand massive, determined resistance. And these times also demand clarity--about what Bush & Co. are up to and about what the people must do to stop the U.S. war machine.*
Some still hope that the UN and/or a power like France will be able to check the U.S. war drive. Some have said that to build broad support, the antiwar movement must accept the goal of "disarming Saddam Hussein" as valid, while arguing that preemptive war is the wrong way and that we should instead "let the UN inspectors finish their jobs."
From the start, the UN inspections have been an outrageous violation of Iraq's rights as a sovereign state. But as Bush declares that military action is the only option because "inspections have failed," it's become even clearer that these inspections have never been an alternative to war. Instead, they have been one way for the U.S. to legitimize its war and recruit allies. Indian author Arundhati Roy recently observed, "The charade with weapons inspectors is the U.S. government's offensive, insulting concession to some twisted form of international etiquette. It's like leaving the `doggie door' open for last minute `allies' or maybe the United Nations to crawl through."
The monstrous lies coming out of Bush's mouth need to be countered with the truth . There is only one government in the world that wields more "weapons of mass destruction" than all other countries combined. There is one government on this planet that has actually dropped nuclear weapons on cities, killing hundreds of thousands. There is one government that openly claims the right to strike first with nuclear weapons against any country that threatens its interests. One government that threatens to use nuclear weapons in a new war in the Persian Gulf.
That government is the United States.
As the U.S. power structure moves closer to war, they are turning the volume louder on the claim that they want to "liberate" the people of Iraq from the oppression and evil of Saddam Hussein. They will promote Iraqis who "welcome" the U.S. invaders as "liberators"--or perhaps engineer a pro-U.S. coup that "invites" U.S. troops to occupy Iraq.
This, too, must be countered with the truth. It's complete hypocrisy for the U.S. to suddenly discover the "tyranny" of Saddam Hussein--when it was the U.S. that helped to bring his Ba'athist Party to power. They pretend to be horrified at Saddam Hussein "gassing his own people" in the 1980s--but the U.S. was backing his regime with billions of dollars in a war against Iran.
How can the U.S. government dare to say they "care" for the Iraqi people--when the record shows that the U.S. has brought only death and misery to that country? In the 1991 war, U.S. and allied planes pounded Iraq with 88,000 pounds of bombs, destroying not only military targets but homes, electrical lines, and water and sewage systems. Overall, 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqis were killed in that war. And the U.S.-imposed sanctions have caused the deaths of over half a million children from disease and malnutrition.
Now the U.S. war plans call for even more massive bombings of Iraq--followed by a massive invasion and years of occupation. No good can come out of any of this.
The U.S. government is on a predatory mission. U.S. troops are being dispatched to kill and die so that the U.S. power structure can impose their political will and control over the people and resources of Iraq---and use that control as a springboard to recast the Middle East and create more favorable conditions for exploiting the people and resources of the whole world.
This mission is completely unjust, immoral, and illegitimate.
Across this country and throughout the world, millions have expressed their anger and opposition to the U.S. war. We don't want this war--and we must stop it! If Bush & Co. go ahead and launch their war in the face of this global opposition, this will reveal even more clearly the true nature of these imperialist aggressors and their agenda. And we must be even more determined to stop the unjust war.
The coming weeks and months will be deeply challenging for the movement of resistance. The call to "support our troops" will influence many, even those with deep questions about the war. The official machinery of repression will be cranked up into higher gear. How can the movement of opposition to war and repression confront these challenges and build even more powerful resistance?**
As we have emphasized in these pages, the politics of Not In Our Name--concentrated in the Statement of Conscience--can speak to and rally millions. The platform it provides is durable : it can give people the backbone to stand up to the pressure and intimidation that will come with war; the intellectual tools to cut through the lies and excuses and appeals to narrow interests; and the strength from which to aggressively rally the American people to make common cause with the people of the world.
The war now being planned and prepared is NOT in the interests of the people of Iraq, it is NOT in the interests of the people of the world, and it is NOT in the interests of the majority of people in the United States. This fundamental fact enables the movement of opposition to reach out and speak to and mobilize millions--including many who will at first go along with the government.
It is only by standing up and drawing a clear line between themselves and the injustices that are being carried out by their govenrment, in their name--only by casting their lot with the people of the world--that the majority of people in America can have a future worth fighting for. These are crucial days: act as if your future is at stake, because it is.
* In "Dissecting the Bush Doctrine" on page 8, Raymond Lotta discusses U.S. imperialism's global ambitions--the real reason behind the war in Iraq. [Return to article]
** Bob Avakian addresses these important questions in "Lessons from the 1991 Gulf War" on page 7. [Return to article]
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