With layer upon layer of misrepresentation, exaggeration, and outright lies, George W. Bush and his war cabinet have recklessly flung our nation into an illegitimate, illegal, and unnecessary war.

The costs and consequences of this will be enormous, for our country and the world.

Many lives will be lost. Political instability and right-wing religious fundamentalism will grow. The Korean peninsula will become more inflamed. The spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons will gain momentum. The chances of terrorist “blowback” will increase.

At home, the immediate casualities will be jobs, education, health care, democratic and immigrant rights, racial and gender equality – and the truth. Returning soldiers and their families, like the vets before them, will get little help from the right-wing gang in Washington.

With the country plunging into war, the peace movement in its millions must call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, withdrawal of the troops, the sending of a UN peacekeeping force and reconstruction team to Iraq, and “No more Iraqs.” Even as Bush orders up this war, the administration is planning others – Iran, Syria, and North Korea are names bandied about by the chickenhawks.

Even if the war is short, it will be incredibly deadly. A sea of blood will be spilled and untold lives will be lost on both sides. Men, women and children will die agonizing deaths for no reason. “Shock and Awe,” the name given to the initial stage of the U.S. bombing, will slaughter innocent Iraqis, and destroy a country that has not yet recovered from the last Gulf War and the subsequent decade of punishing sanctions, which claimed the lives of as many as three quarters of a million children.

In this war, much like other wars, neither the leaders in Washington nor their privileged children will shed a drop of blood nor come home in body bags. That fate will fall largely on the sons and daughters of our multi-racial, multi-national working class.

From the very start the Bush administration has offered no compelling justification for war. As each of its reasons for invasion have been found wanting in the Security Council and the court of world public opinion, it has had to invent a new rationale. But each time it has come up empty and found itself more isolated. This has been further amplified by the administration’s arrogance and its bullying ways in the international arena.

And yet it would be a mistake to see diplomatic blunders as the reason for this crisis, as some in the media and the Democratic Party have suggested. The underlying cause is the Bush administration’s unchecked desire for regime change and its ambition for world empire.

For the past year and a half the Bush administration has carved out in full public view a new and exceedingly dangerous doctrine, whose three pillars are preemptive strikes, regime change, and the dominance of U.S. imperialism for the full length of the 21st century.

Afghanistan was a dress rehearsal for this new doctrine, but in Iraq, White House policy makers see an opportunity to provide a more thorough lesson – that is, to preemptively attack a sovereign state, to establish a foothold from which to transform and dominate the entire region, and to demonstrate the absolute superiority of the Pentagon’s military machine.

In short, with the force of example – or, more accurately, with the example of force – the White House aims to impose a new set of rules to govern and dominate the international community.

But easier said than done. To its surprise, the Bush administration has come up against an unprecedented worldwide peace movement that has not only forced it to maneuver, but has also stripped away much of its political and moral legitimacy and left it nearly alone. Worldwide opposition to the U.S. invasion will almost certainly continue, leaving the administration further isolated.

At one level, these new cleavages in the world community are a consequence of rising opposition to a war waged by the U.S. government in opposition to international law, the UN charter, and world public opinion. On another level they arise out of the post cold war era, in which the norms that structured international relations for nearly half a century and reflected a specific correlation of forces worldwide are crumbling and giving way to a new set of rules and institutions.

This process, which is in its early stages, is the site of turbulent struggles, both within our country and internationally.

On one side are the most right-wing sections of the U.S. ruling class and their political representatives, who now control all three branches of the federal government, along with a short list of allies. On the other side is a broad coalition comprising the majority of the world’s people and governments of various political pedigrees.

Though this will shape the political landscape for a long time to come, right now the main front of the struggle is to bring a halt to the bloodbath in Iraq and to demand Congressional repudiation of the doctrine of preemption and regime change.

And the way to do this is to reach out to larger and larger sections of the American people in ways that will bring them into active opposition to the war. Some are calling for peaceful civil disobedience. While this is an appropriate tactic, it cannot take the place of other forms of mass struggle that activate millions of peace-minded people – and especially labor, racial minorities, and women. In the end, our strength lies in our numbers and broad unity.

This is a very dangerous, frightening moment. Perhaps the risks and stakes are higher than at any other moment in our lives. But this is no time for despair. A movement has been born and is marching on the global stage. And if it is nurtured in the right way, an enduring peace will be won.

The Communist Party’s website is www.cpusa.org

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