The movement against a war on Iraq is at an unprecedented moment: never before has stopping a U.S. war before it starts even seemed a possibility. I am painfully aware that tomorrow or the day after, the war could start, and this writing may be moot. But such a broad movement against the war has emerged, that the power to stop it before it starts does exist. If we succeed in stopping it, I believe we will accomplish more than keeping bullets from flying or bombs from dropping.

I can think of no greater achievement in the fight against Bush and his right-wing gang than stopping the war. We would not only make history; we would change the rules of the game. In the past, especially in recent engagements, when our government has wanted to go to war, it has done so with little or no regard for peace sentiment in the U.S. It has counted on being able to quickly move to war and even finish it before the peace movement has gained enough momentum to be a political factor. Now, the movement has at the very least delayed for months what must have seemed to Bush and his cronies an immediate war. Bush wanted to attack Iraq and lead the world to war without UN approval, much less wait for a UN inspection team. The only reason he has not attacked yet is that it became a political impossibility. It has become clear that the people of the United States will not blindly support Bush’s war drive. Try as he might Bush has not won the majority of American people over to the idea that it is in our interest to go to war.

What is different today from previous wars? Why has the anti-war movement been able to accomplish what it has never before accomplished? In part it is because the traditional peace movement has unified more than ever before, but this alone does not explain what is new and different.

What is radically different is that the movement against this war has far outgrown and outreached the traditional peace movement. This does not downplay the critical role the traditional peace movement has played in delaying Bush’s drive for war. The traditional peace movement has done a heroic job. But the overwhelming rejection of this war by “non-traditional” peace forces is something Bush and his war party never expected. A broad array of groups has stepped up to declare opposition to war and a readiness to struggle for peace. This is unprecedented in the face of imminent war.

Today scores of central labor councils, union locals, and international unions have passed resolutions against war. There have always been those in labor who have opposed unjust wars waged by our government, but never before on this scale. Some labor leaders estimate that at least a third of organized labor is on the record opposing the war, recognizing that war wreaks havoc on the economy and by extension on workers. One must look no further than the city, state, and federal budgets to see that money going to the military means working people and their programs lose money.

Mass organizations representing people of color have come out against the war early and often, including the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and hundreds of grassroots Latino and Asian organizations. It’s clear that in a war, no matter who “wins,” people of color lose, filling body bags.

The overwhelming majority of student organizations have come out against war and are actively organizing against it. Mainstream student groups whose mission has little or nothing to do with the peace movement have deemed it impossible to stand on the sidelines. They see drastic cuts in funding for education and financial aid programs, coupled with an unemployment crisis, while the military holds its doors wide open promising education, careers and a future. This sends a clear message: this government wants you and is willing to starve you into joining the military. Youth organizations in a bigger way than ever before are saying “no” to this “poverty draft.”

Thousands of churches, religious leaders and congregations have made a clear proclamation: this unjust war is unholy! They not only don’t support it; they are mobilizing to stop it.

We must not underestimate this mass loose coalition. It is possible to stop the war before it starts. We must grab onto this awesome reality. If we do stop this war, or even if we can’t, this movement forms the basis to struggle against the ultra-right on many different levels. This coalition has forced back the Bush attack week after week. We must continuously seek to broaden its reach and appeal. This is the basis for stopping this administration, its budget cuts, and its war.

Adanjesus Marin is National Co-Coordinator of the Young Communist League, USA. He can be reached at ycl@yclusa.org.

PDF version of ‘Youth say: No to war, no to poverty draft’

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