Toward a Realistic Anti-War Strategy

As always, the Administration is selling snake oil. The counterinsurgency in Iraq cannot "succeed" from the standpoint of the American People. Weaver assumes that justice and morality play no part in what Americans will support, only self interest. In its history the American People have never agreed on anything important. Any so-called science which purports to prove otherwise is not science.

There are two different kinds of wars being fought in Iraq. One is for military dominance, in which the Americans have and will continue to have victory. The other is to obstruct it — an insurgency using suicide bombing, land mines, snipers, small surprise attacks to defeat a brutal occupation. This war the insurgents are winning and will continue to win, especially so long as their support in Iraq and US continues to increase. As Representative John Murtha recently observed, Iraq polls are now showing that over 80% of Iraqis want the US to leave now. Polls here indicate that over 65% of Americans want US to leave.

Neither side has the ability to end the other’s continuing "victory." The real question is whether the majority of Americans, who realize this, have the ability to stop their government from continuing the nightmare as it gets worse.

The Administration is saying it will withdraw when the Iraqi army has enough training to make Iraq secure. This obviously will never happen. Basic training for soldiers who are willing to fight normally takes 8 months at most. The reason the Iraqi army doesn’t fight has nothing to do with training. It’s that its soldiers don’t want to kill fellow Iraqis and be killed by them.

Rather than rhetoric, the realist looks at what rulers do or fail to do in order to discern their true intent. At the time the puppet government was installed in Iraq, it was agreed between the puppets and US-UK that Iraq’s oil reserves would be developed by US and UK companies, that the proceeds would be used to pay for the cost of regime change and security, and any constitution could not change this. Since this agreement deprives the Iraqi people of the benefit of their primary resource, it’s hard to see how its implementation would make the occupation more popular.

The puppets are now signing 30 year contracts with US-UK companies, the US is building permanent military bases and facilities to pump and remove the oil. There are almost as many privately hired Americans there as soldiers.

Obviously our government is planning on staying permanently, whether the American people acquiesce, whether the insurgency increases, regardless of continuing injury and death. If Congress were serious about ending this war it would cut off the funding. This is not being discussed, has never been discussed, and apparently never will be.

Presently a few Democratic Party politicians like the Black Caucus, Murtha and some others want to get the US out of Iraq soon. The majority of Democrats in Congress want to continue the war, but with some kind of timetable. The party leadership, including the front runners for president, want to continue the war to final "victory." It’s clear that if a Democrat (or a Republican) wins the presidency in 2008 the war will continue.

Realistic antiwar activists understand that, regarding this war, the American people have been and are being subjected to the most pervasive, intrusive, and massive marketing-propaganda campaign the world has ever seen. Nothing in the mainstream media about the war is worthy of belief. Some things reported may well be true, but intelligent belief in such is conditioned on independent verification. Whichever party has power, all important public decisions are made in secret and public acquiescence is later obtained by our national politicians and other public and private officials chosen to speak to us in mainstream media. Of course some national politicians like the Black Caucus and a few others are actually representing their constituents, but the vast majority in both parties are moved primarily by self interest, the "invisible hand" of late, unlimited, unregulated capitalism. They respond primarily to the needs of those who fund them. This war is good for big business.

Realistic antiwar activists understand that we are not living in a democracy as advertised. Our present political system can only be accurately described as a commercial or corporate oligarchy. It’s no longer possible to elect more than a handful of progressive or antiwar candidates in Congress. Because of campaign funding, district gerrymandering and other reasons, in the last election over 97% of the seats in our House of Representatives were either uncontested or not seriously contested. While conceivable a century ago, alternative parties, viewpoints and candidates are no longer viable on a national scale. The system is beyond the point of no return. Trying to work within it implies a belief that it’s functional.

A mass social movement of progressives must be organized, outside the system. Its primary goal will be to reorganize US political institutions so as to allow people power to overcome or at least equalize the power of capital.

Now is the time for more risky but well thought out nonviolent antiwar actions, such as boycotts, strikes, civil disobedience, direct action, military obstruction, and pinpoint demonstrations with specific goals. Militarization can be attacked successfully at its most vulnerable points. At present, the obvious one is recruitment. Remembering how the draft aroused antiwar sentiment in the Vietnam days, our government this time is shamefully recruiting mostly very poor people who are susceptible to its propaganda. $20,000 signing bonuses are being offered, which is more money than many of these young people have ever seen.

This is similar to but worse than leading children into prostitution, and should be so stigmatized. No school, organization, shopping center, business or public place should allow this shameful type of recruitment on its premises, and it should have to pay an increasing penalty if it does. The poor-youth pool of cannon fodder can be dried up. US companies with big Iraq contracts can be penalized by boycott, demonstrations and other forms of direct action. Without manpower, this government can’t continue the Iraq occupation.

Tom Crumpacker is a retired lawyer.