October 3, 2006

Over the last few weeks, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy organized various anti-war meetings in the Chicago area, both public forums as well as group discussions with activists. Michael Thorburn, editor of "The Worker," led the discussions, focussing on the question: "How to advance the anti-war struggle." Below we summarize some of the main points.

1) The recent U.S.-Israeli war against Lebanon again reminded people that the wars are going to continue. Over the last 5 years, U.S. imperialism has set Central Asia and the Middle East on fire, attacking and occupying Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. The U.S. continues to pressure Syria and Iran and prepare for war against these countries. From day one, the declared aim of the U.S. government has been to create a "new Middle East" in which U.S. imperialism imposes its economic and political dictate on every country.

The government openly tells us that its "war on terrorism" will last for decades; it has targeted more than 60 countries. Since 2001, the U.S. has also invaded and occupied Haiti, sent counter-insurgency "advisors" to the Philippines, increased its militarization of the Korean peninsula and openly threatened North Korea with a preemptive nuclear strike, published a plan for the invasion and re-colonization of Cuba, stepped up its subversion and interference in Venezuela, etc.

The savage tactics used by U.S. imperialism - widespread torture, the deliberate targeting of civilian populations with cluster bombs and other anti-personnel weapons, the standing orders to "kill all the males," etc. - reflect the aims of the wars. These are aggressive, colonial wars - wars to terrorize and enslave peoples.

These wars are going to continue because they arise from the very nature of the capitalist-imperialist system. The monopoly capitalist class, the tiny handful of billionaires who control the economic and political life of our country, has also established a world empire; 3,000 U.S. corporations have set up 24,000 overseas branch plants - super-exploiting the labor and robbing the resources of peoples on every continent. War and violence are the very foundation of this empire, of this subjugation of whole nations.

Michael Thorburn exposed how the opportunist hysteria which attributes the entire war program to "Bush, Bush, Bush," or the "ultra-right" or the "neocons" or some vague "conspiracy" actually minimizes the danger and prettifies the capitalist warmakers. The entire ruling class and its twin political parties - the Democrats as well as the Republicans - wants and needs war.

Michael Thorburn reviewed world events since the end of WWII reminding people that for 60 years, U.S. imperialism has been the principal source of war and the biggest colonial power - waging hundreds of armed interventions - in Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Yugoslavia, etc.

Today, U.S. imperialism has become even more aggressive. It has openly embraced the doctrine of "preemptive military strike" declaring that it will attack any country at any time. It wants to substitute its will for international law, trample on the sovereignty of countries and impose its exploiting system everywhere.

The People Will Win

Michael Thorburn emphasized that despite its ferocious military power, U.S. imperialism is extremely weak.

Imperialism's mortal weakness is that it is opposed by the masses of people everywhere.

Bush claimed that the Iraqi people would throw flowers at the feet of the U.S. soldiers but the Iraqi people are resisting and defeating U.S. imperialism.

The U.S.-Israeli aggressors vaunted their "military invincibility" and threatened to wipe out the Lebanese resistance in a matter of days. But the Lebanese people defeated the aggressors and are forcing them out of the country.

When Fidel Castro got sick, the U.S. government and media gloated that they would be back in control of Cuba, but, the Cuban people, as they have for 46 years, continue to resist the pressures of the empire and defend their independence and chosen social system.

Recently the 118 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement stood up against the U.S. superpower declaring their opposition to any big power interference or pressure against the sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination of every country.

With all these and countless other struggles against imperialism unfolding in every corner of the globe, there is no room for pessimism. Everyday the people are proving that they, not imperialism, are the decisive force.

Over the last 100 years, the working class and the oppressed nations and peoples have occupied centerstage. They have taken up for solution the problems of winning national liberation, equality and emancipation. In the beginning of the 20th century, the working class emerged in every country as an independent political force and when the first imperialist war broke out, the workers threw themselves into the forefront of the struggle for peace. So too, the peoples in the colonial countries - in China and India, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines, in Algeria, Palestine, Africa, Cuba, etc. - rose in a tidal wave of national liberation struggles against imperialism. This great anti-colonial, anti-imperialist movement continues and the peoples will not be forced to the "back of the bus."

Thus the American people's struggle is one part of the world front against war and imperialism. We must link our struggle with the liberation movements of the oppressed nations and support them. We must stand with every country that defends its sovereignty against imperialist dictate and we must support the working class and popular struggles everywhere.

This world front of the peoples will stop the wars; it is the harbinger of the new world of peace, friendship and equality amongst all nations. The morbid ambitions of the U.S. capitalists will never subjugate the billions of people who are fighting against imperialism and war.

Anti-Imperialist Politics

Michael Thorburn summarized some of the great achievements of the recent anti-war struggles in the U.S. He showed how people started out with virtually no organization and very little experience and yet already have turned the tide of public opinion and brought the agenda for peace to centerstage.

Today the anti-war sentiment is greater than ever and keeps growing.

But the organized protests and activities are very limited. This is due, in large part, to the opportunist politics which keeps liquidating the anti-war struggles and diverting people into the Democratic Party.

Millions of people have already experienced the dead-end of capitalist and opportunist politics; as their anti-war sentiment grows they are also assimilating their experiences and looking for the way forward.

The program of the Workers Party, the Youth and Students for a Democratic Foreign Policy and the Peace Agenda Forum shows the way forward.

Firstly, we go to the broadest possible sections of the people and mobilize them into action to demand: "U.S. Troops Out of Iraq, Now!" as well as to oppose U.S. imperialism's war program on every front.

Secondly, we actively fight against the diversionist and liquidationist pressures of the Democratic Party and opportunism.

Thirdly and most importantly we work to develop the anti-war struggle from a protest movement into a proactive, and independent movement.

This means that people must start from their own aims and rally around an immediate program which demands an end to U.S. aggression and intervention everywhere, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops stationed abroad, recognition of the sovereign equality of every country and the demilitarization of our country. It means to develop our struggle independent of and in struggle against the parties of war and imperialism - the Republicans and Democrats.

It means we cannot let our movement unfold spontaneously but rather must continuously deepen our political consciousness and build up our own independent organizations.

Working on a daily basis to develop such an anti-imperialist program will maximize the immediate struggles against every front of the capitalist war program by politicizing, empowering and mobilizing people.

At the same time this work consolidates the strength and organization of the people with the aim of bringing to power a new government - a peace government, a government of the people, not the capitalist warmakers.