In reaction to Bush’s war in Afghanistan a new U.S. peace movement has arisen. It is spontaneous, politically diverse, dispersed throughout the country and reflects the basic sentiments of the U.S. peace forces at this point.
This new peace movement has a large youth and student component and in some actions has attracted many thousands. At this stage, this is an advance over the Vietnam era.
This new movement mourns those who have died, calls for bringing all those responsible for the terror to justice and stands in opposition to Bush’s so-called war against terrorism. Their position is that war and racism are not the answer.
To win peace, this movement needs to be broader then just the left, more multiracial with a strong labor component. The fight for peace must be linked to the rise of racism and the growing economic crisis at home.
In the past, the majority of the U.S. people have been won to oppose our country’s policies of war and aggression. We cannot ignore the fact that today large majorities support Bush’s war policies. This support will not hold but the peace forces cannot ignore the reasons why people are supporting Bush right now.
We have to understand that people are still in a state of shock and collective mourning. The American people of all races are just plain frightened and worried that they or their loved ones may be among the next victims of terrorism. They are also angry and they want something done to prevent more horrible acts of mass murder.
At a time when people are psychologically vulnerable they have been bombarded with a massive pro-war propaganda day in and day out for over a month now. This massive propaganda campaign is working for now. The Bush approach is to use these tragic events to scare our people into accepting his reactionary program. The only choices they are presenting is either Bush or bin Laden.
Opposition to war is painted as pro-terrorism. The Bush war in Afghanistan and curbing civil liberties are presented as the only ‘solution’ to terrorism.
The terrorist act has not only taken innocent lives; it has given the political initiative to right and turned political scoundrels into heroes. It has given, for now, the upper hand to the forces of war and racism for now. To them our need for social security, schools, health care and social justice here at home also fell with the twin towers.
Most peace activists understand that this movement must be multi-issue and call for bringing those who committed the mass murder of 6,000 people to justice. It must offer alternative solutions to Bush’s war. The Bush policy will take years and mean tens of thousand of lives. It puts the entire world in peril.
Some in the peace movement have called for the use of the World Court to bring the guilty to justice. Others have called for the creation of an independent international tribunal to fully investigate and bring the guilty to justice. The U.N. cannot be excluded from any effort to end terrorism.
Ideas like Fidel Castro’s call for a world conference against terrorism to come up with real solutions are far more effective and acceptable to the world community that the Bush war plan.
Some have called for a full disclosure of the evidence. There is also talk of worldwide demonstrations for peace and against terrorism. Such demonstrations could draw millions.
We must call for finding political solutions to the many conflicts around the world. To start, we need to find a just solution to the question of Palestine. United Nations resolutions 242 and 338 need to be enforced. The world community must respond and help end the conflicts in Africa and elsewhere.
Such solutions will actually take less time and be far more effective than the Bush plan, which is about more than Afghanistan and oil. This administration is trying to build bipartisan unity and world unity around its effort to achieve a new and more dangerous level of U.S. economic and military global domination. This can only be achieved with war.
While rejecting Bush’s war, we must not fear calling for bringing terrorists to justice. It is part of offering an alternative.
It is a natural human response to mourn the dead and call for justice. This movement must not appear in any way to be indifferent to the victims of this horrible act of terrorism. In fact, the U.S. peace movement must take a clear position against anything like what happened on Sept. 11 ever happening again to anyone anywhere on this earth.
We also must not blame the victims. To say that the entire U.S. people are responsible for the acts of U.S. imperialism lets the real culprits off the hook and targets the innocent. That’s what talking about ‘the chickens coming home to roost’ implies.
Those who died on Sept. 11 were overwhelmingly working people (from all over the world) who were not responsible for the crimes of U.S. imperialism.
Our task is to win the American people over to the understanding that their interest is not identical with Bush’s war drive. We must make it clear that peace is patriotic and globalization, imperialism and war are against the national interest.
Those of us working for peace here in the U.S. can play a major role in the worldwide fight for peace and justice. The most important immediate task before us is to building a broad, multiracial, united U.S. peace movement capable of winning a majority of U.S. people to act against this disastrous effort. This is just what the Communist Party agreed to do at its national committee meeting this past weekend.
Jarvis Tyner is executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA.