“The War at Home”
Scott Scheffer, International Action Center
<##IMAGE##>First and foremost, imperialist war and occupation like those one being carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan victimize the women, men, and children there. When one talks about the consequences of the war at home, or the loss of lives of U.S. troops, it has to be talked about with that qualifier. In addition to the horrific loss of life and destruction of property, the sovereignty of their nation is eradicated. No country is free with foreign troops on its soil. Everyone in the United States should see it as their moral duty to stop the war for those reasons alone. No sacrifice is too great, no amount of effort should be spared to build the movement against it, to reach wider sections of the population with the message, to make demonstrations more and more forceful and militant. All of that will happen.
But our confidence in the potential for the movement to become more powerful is based only partly on the idea that people are moral. We also know that the war has a detrimental impact at home. And that fact is pushing people into action against the war, and will continue to do so.
There is an age old myth that war is good for the economy. This myth preceded WWII by many generations, and it got a big boost after U.S. troops came home from Europe. But the long economic expansion that followed WWII was a reflection of the U.S. having walked away from the war the victor among imperialist powers having seized colonies and markets. War spending alone, contrary to popular myth, does not stimulate an economy and create jobs, and the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan has so far prevented the oil profits that the U.S. corporate structure is trying to secure by military means from being realized.
Having said that, the fact is, the few who benefit are the super-rich anyway. Any notion of war spending providing jobs is false. So far, if you include what was just proposed for the 2007 Federal Budget by the Bush administration, nearly a half-trillion has been spent on the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But the few jobs that are being created are lower paying jobs, without benefits, and insufficient in numbers.
The day after the December jobs report was issued by the Labor Department, President George W. Bush stood at the podium at the Chicago Economic Club. “The American economy heads into 2006 with a full head of steam. ... We’re productive. We’re innovative. We’re entrepreneurial.” he declared.
He was boasting about a job gain of 108,000 for the month and a drop in the official unemployment rate from 5.0 percent to 4.9 percent.
He was trying to make these anemic numbers look like a major turning point in the economy for 2006. Others in the administration were doing the same thing in various places around the country. Cheney went to a Harley-Davidson factory in Kansas City, Mo., Treasury Secretary John Snow to the New York Stock Exchange, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez to Louisville, Ky., Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to Baltimore and Energy Secretary Sam Bodman to Pittsburgh in a major effort to try to bring Bush’s sinking poll numbers up.
Bush was pushed into motion by the latest Gallup poll, which found 63 percent of the population rates the economy fair-to-poor and 58 percent say that economic conditions are getting worse. So the roaring economy, as far as the majority of the population is concerned, is no more real than the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Of course, none of them mentioned that the job-creation numbers were half what Wall Street economists had been predicting. Nor did they mention that it takes 150,000 new jobs per month just to keep up with population growth. And they did not confide that the entire unemployment number is understated because more and more people have given up looking for jobs and are not counted in the labor force, or are only able to find part-time work.
Wages grew at 3.1 percent but inflation was 3.5 percent. This amounts to a general wage cut of 0.4 percent. Average weekly hours worked were down 0.2 percent to 33.7 hours and average weekly earnings were flat at $550.66. (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 6) This does not take into account the hundreds of thousands of day laborers and other undocumented workers, who are underpaid and whose much lower wages go unreported.
War spending does nothing to generate jobs or improve people’s lives at home.
If the hundreds of billions of dollars for the war had not already been looted from the treasury, it might have made a difference in another way. Rarely in history can you point to one specific event that spotlights the weakness of a government so much as does Hurricane Katrina and its consequences.
When Katrina hit, New Orleans was particularly vulnerable because of budget cuts to disaster funds that were carried out by the Bush administration as spending for the Iraq war accelerated. The federal budget for 2006, was finalized in the beginning of 2005 several months before Katrina hit. Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA)"s budget was drained from $36.5 million in 2005 to $10.4 million for 2006. The Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans had identified $35 million in projects to build and improve levees, floodwalls and pumping stations in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes. Those projects were in a line item where funding was scheduled to be cut from $5.7 million to $2.9 million in 2006. Not only was the budget cut for FEMA, but for programs meant for prevention such as levy maintenance.
In addition to the a lack of funding for infrastructure though, was the lack of equipment and people power that could’ve made a difference. During 2005, National Guard brass warned publicly that too much had been siphoned off National Guard units that remained in the U.S. for the war in Iraq.
Louisiana National Guard had been particularly hard hit in terms of personnel, with three thousand troops having been sent to Iraq. But also, twenty-four thousand pieces of equipment had been sent to be used in the war.
So, on top of what could only be seen as racist negligence by the Bush administration after Katrina, resources were stretched so thin because of the are in Iraq, that any chance of a rational
rescue and rebuilding effort were ruined. The people of New Orleans and the surrounding region didn’t stand a chance under the circumstances.
Every war has resulted in the presidential administration, trying to eradicate the system of checks and balances; trying to usurp more power for itself and get rid of the restrictions meant to defend civil liberties. The act of carrying out surveillance against the population at home during wartime has a long history, and in fact, the Patriot Act - which handed sweeping powers to the executive branch and threw the bill of rights out the window – was not conceived because of September 11th, but instead was authored long before and was only more easily installed because of September 11th.
In addition, the same political capital that Bush used to usher in the Patriot Act, kept the criticism at bay when the state – with its most repressive institutions realigned and reorganized under the rubric of the new Homeland Security Agency – ratcheted up its attacks on immigrants. Racist wholesale roundups of thousands of mostly Middle Eastern men immediately after September 11th were meant to terrorize all working class and poor people. Bush told the world after September 11th, “you’re with us or you’re against us.” But the message was meant for home consumption too. In other words, don’t you dare speak up for the rights of the immigrants that we are arresting. And as a matter of fact, don’t you dare speak up for yourself, because we are coming for the Iranians and the Pakistanis in the morning, and we are coming for you at night. Very much like the Palmer raids in 1919, when the anti-communist, and in fact anti-worker witch hunts began with a roundup and mass deportation of immigrant workers, the racist attacks against middle eastern people, Arabs and Muslims after September 11, were meant as a threat to all. Join us in our jingoistic racism, or you will be next.
They hoped that everyone would cower in fear, but it didn’t take long before the people’s movement responded. We organized, and just eighteen days after the events of September 11, 2001, when everyone was supposed to be marching to the anti-immigrant, pro-war drumbeat, we were able to organize thousands for a march on Washington that said, “stop the attacks on immigrants, no war against Afghanistan, defend civil liberties!”
When a powerful imperialist country like the United States goes to war, it has to go to war against its own population too. It has to carry out a preemptive war at home to stop the inevitable reaction against the military war abroad. They fight it at first by spreading fear and division, by lies and disinformation, but when that doesn’t work, they’re capable of using force against people at home too.
But even with all of the money and resources at the disposal of the giant military contractors and the banks, and the oil companies who are the U.S. empire, they can’t avoid the development of a powerful people’s anti-war movement. Solidarity with the people of Iraq, defending the right of the Korean people to work for reunification of Korea, a Korea free of U.S. military occupation, defending the right of the people of Venezuela to have the president that they elected, and the right of Haiti to have President Aristide, the right of the Palestinian people to elect their own leaders, and to defend themselves against Zionist occupation forces, who are backed by U.S. dollars and military equipment, - all of those things may seem like the furthest thing on people’s
minds in the United States. But the development of a movement that does all of those things is inevitable because worldwide solidarity against imperialism is in the interest of the people everywhere. As the war is carried out, more and more people at home are becoming activists, and becoming thinkers. It will grow at first by the ones and twos, and then suddenly – and the sooner, the better – it’ll be obvious that we’re far stronger than they are, and we will win.
“Reportback from Hong Kong”
Megyung Chung, participant on the Korea Exposure and Education Program (KEEP)
anti-WTO delegation under the Korean Peasants League
<##IMAGE##> Over 10,000 people gathered to demand the death of WTO and its policies. Under a 1/3 of the forces gathered were from south Korea, made up mostly of peasants from every major city and region, workers from various sectors, student movements, and progressive/left media. The rest of the main forces were various national workers struggles under the International League of People’s Struggle as well as various groups under BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) in the Philippines, sex workers , Indonesian Migrant Worker’s Union in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong People’s Alliance (made up of most pro-democracy organizations), Via Campesina (International Peasant Movement). Most of them were overwhelmingly from countries in Asia.
The week-long actions resulted in 1,300 arrests and world-wide international solidarity and joint actions to free the rest in jail but also protest the WTO.
Korean Peasants Struggle
v There are only 3.5 million farmers remaining
v farm debt exceeds 27 million won (about US $27,000) per farming household. (98% of all farmers in heavy debt)
v Average age of a farmer 57.7 years old, and (85% households have no successor)
v 65% of farmers do not have land ownership
v Plummeting food self-sufficiency Korea’s food sovereignty has been at 93.9% in 1965 - 73% in 1975 - 39.3% in 1988 - 38.4% in 1995 - 25% in 2005*
v Rice has been until recently the only protected product because of Roh, Moo-Hyun.
Societal Discrimination continues against rural communities including lack of access to public services. Upon termination of the 10-year UR rice protection period, the Korean government made closed-door trade negotiations with US, China, Thailand, Australia, India, Pakistan, Argentina, Egypt and Canada to import rice.
v South Korea becomes the 4th largest importer of US agricultural products.
On the average over 75% of farmers’ income is derived from rice.
Korean Mission Struggle against the WTO and the 6th Ministerial Hong Kong
While my main work was with the Naju Peasants Association under the Korean Peasants League, progressive and leftist forces in south Korea joined together (workers and peasants alike) to derail the Hong Kong talks. They called themselves the Hong Kong Korean Mission Struggle. They even prepared a newspaper to outreach and pass out to the Hong Kong people to educate the public on the devastating impacts of WTO within their home country and the world at large. Atop a “No to WTO” newspaper read: “Another World is Possible! People of the World, Unite! Stop Neoliberalism Now!” In one of the articles they addressed Hong Konger’s:” Citizens of Hong Kong! Food is not a commodity. Agriculture is not a business opportunity. If agriculture is liberalized, we will be pushed down the slippery slope of liberalizing education, medicine, and services, and everything that the people need to enjoy as basic rights will be taken away and provided only to the wealthy. We must stand to protect agriculture as the first gateway. There is no country in the world that has completely entrusted its staple foods to the hands of overseas companies and survived. Defending agriculture is the way to defend our collective future.”
I met one of the secretary-generals from the KPL Seoul Office. He handed me his business card and it read on the back the following: “victorious in the struggle KPL, founded in
April 1990, KPL is an independent peasant’s organization in KOREA struggle…For food sovereignty, For Korean National Reunification, Against USA, Against WTO.”
I say these two examples to show how KPL organized and conducted their direct actions in Hong Kong. Even though the Hong Kong newspapers and others believe that KPL are just fighting to keep their main source of income and that their struggle is only with their government, they would be wrong.
KPL is about a larger movement to reunify the Korea’s and hinder US global hegemony through institutions like the WTO. Every chant included naming the US as the target and not only the WTO and dumping practices. They understood that there struggle is similar to struggles in Chiapas and in Venezuela, for self-determination. While engaging in a series of direct actions during the ministerial conference, KPL continued their political education through documentaries teaching their members about the Brazilian peasant’s movement and the Venezuelan revolution.
While WTO Hong Kong did not collapse like in Seattle and Cancun, there was very little that the trade representatives moved on. Most of the difficult decisions were put off further to April 2006 said to be held in Geneva, Switzerland. There was no agreement on agriculture. Most of the developing countries’ representatives consolidated there numbers into different blocs to increase their voice during negotiations to form a loose alliance called the G110, to place pressure on the EU and USA on their agricultural policies. This consolidation was in response to the EU and USA’s attempts to play developing nations against each other.
For the Naju Peasants Association, there were several victories:
v First, unlike previous ministerials, this one saw developing nations raise
serious issues with US-centric globalization (98 countries registered
strong objections regarding US’ market protection.) and US’ antinomic
actions. (US protects agriculture, but insists import liberalization for
the third world.)
v Second, US, who is worried that WTO will collapse due to
anti-globalization formation materialized opposing US-centric
globalization, and pulled in Brazil and India as a countermeasure. This
provoked the minds of the third world people who demand same respect, and
in effect igniting the anti-globalization movement. This is fire that
will light up a stronger struggle.
v Third, more than anything else, the peasants that participated in the HK
struggle saw the WTO as defeatable target. Most fights are psychological, and the spirit of the fighter is most important. If you have confidence that
you can win the fight, that fight is already same as won. Through this
struggle Korean peasants learned for certain that the force that made
their lives this way is the US and the WTO, and they also learned that
this fight involves not only them but also the people of the world. And
they earned the confidence that if they fight with all their might, they
will be victorious.
v Lastly, the US and the WTO are being pushed back by the spirit of the
people of the world. US, realizing that it cannot push through the rounds
through the ministerial, is ready to discuss everything through closed
door board meetings and treat the ministerial as a mere formality in
passing agreements. They are starting to fear ministerial meetings where
the people’s resistance are intensifying.
Some Facts on Global Agriculture
v 50% of the world population live in rural communities and depend on farming, and in some developing countries more than 80% live in rural communities.
v Post WWII US created international economic institutions for global economic domination: IMF, World Bank, GATT. 1970’s US economic power declined to postwar recovery of the Western European and Japanese economies. Under the stress of oil crises during the 1970’s, competing trade blocs and protectionism emerged. Farm negotiations focused on free trade in agricultural goods through reductions in tariffs, “tariffication” of all import barriers and reductions in internal farm subsidies.
v Backed by Cairns Groups (14 non-European farm exporters) the US wanted all countries to open their farm produce markets to free trade in farm produce and to slash internal farm supports and export subsidies. These demands were designed to establish a larger export market for US agricultural surpluses and to reinforce US large agribusiness vis-a-vis small farmers.
v The US proposal to the UR was drafted by a former executive of Cargill, Inc., the largest US grain company, and by a former officer of the US Department of Agriculture. US and Cairns Group proposed cuts of 90% in export subsidies and 75% in internal supports…trade liberalization and deregulation allowed transnational agro-food corporations to seize control of input-supply, output-processing, and retail markets, global food system: Cargill, Monsanto , ConAgra, IBP, Inc., Smithfield, Farmland Industries, Bunge, AGP, Sygenta, BASF, ADM (Archer Daniels Midland ), Continental Grain Cattle Feeding.
v Large farming and brokerage corporations profit from the $25 billion in annual crop subsidies and more than $20 billion in water subsidies
v Federal government subsidies now make up 40% of the US net farm income
v Most of the subsidies go to farmers who grow corn, rice, cotton, sugar and soybeans
v 7% of US farmers received more than 75% of farm subsidies and only 2500 farmers received 78% of the cotton subsidies (more than $9 billion) during the period from 1995 to 2003 US subsidy policy is justified by agribusiness as being essential toa cheap food policy for consumers and an effective trade policy for farmers.
v U.S. is the largest exporter of agricultural products ($50-60b annually) 0.7% US population in agriculture today, yet 2/5 of the land of the lower; 48 states is dedicated in whole or in part to some of agriculture use; 95% of the US agribusiness customers are outside of the US; Low cost US corn resulted in 70% drop in real prices pad to Mexican corn producers
If we shrink the world’s population to 100:
1. 81 would be from less developed countries
2. 61 would be Asians, 12 Europeans, 13 Africans, 9 from Latin America
and 5 from North America.
3. 75 would be non-white, 25 would be white.
4. 48 would live on less than US$2 a day, 20 on less than US$1 a day
5. 14 would suffer from malnutrition
6. 50% of entire wealth would be in the hands of only 6 people, and most of them would be citizens of the United States
"Unmasking U.S. Policy Towards Africa:
Remedy Through Resistance and Struggle"
By:Tulivu Jadi, Assistant Director,
African American Cultural Center
<##IMAGE##> Let us begin by giving greeting of solidarity and struggle to all those assembled here and to all the oppressed and struggling peoples of the world.?We stand steadfast in the ranks of those who still struggle for freedom for the oppressed, justice for the wronged and injured, power for the masses of people over their destiny and daily lives and peace in and for the world.?Indeed, we maintain that to free the world from oppression, injustice, domination and war, there is no relief or remedy except in resistance, no workable strategy without struggle and no meaningful future not forged in the daily hard-won battles waged for a better world and a new history of humankind.
The basic character and fatal flaw of U.S. policy toward Africa is that it is amorally instrumental in the worst kind of ways.?Rooted in racist and imperialist concepts of the continent and its people since the Holocaust of enslavement, it approaches Africa and African people as an instrumental source of human and material resources and a faceless factor in its geopolitical concerns.?Within this framework, certainly the U.S. has been coldly consistent in its relations with Africa since the decolonization process and the Cold War.?During the Cold War period, it was concerned with African as geopolitical ground of struggle with the Soviet Union.?Thus, it sought: (1) to contain and reverse Soviet influence; (2) to eliminate left-leaning governments or those too nationalistic to compromise their commitment to self-determination; (3) to prop up and arm puppets to carry out their will; and (4) to establish military, economic, and financial relations favorable to its access and control of strategic minerals and the political direction of the countries involved.
Today, deprived of its communism-cold-war claims, it has manufactured another mask for its imperialist plunder of Africa.?It is of course a so-called war on terrorism, a war, not against a hostile state, but against a group; a war without rules or restraint; and a war without a foreseeable end for there are no measurable or meaningful goals.?Indeed, there are only lies, excuses and shifting rationales in the interest of war-mongering and the reaffirmation of White imperial domination of the world.?U.S. policy toward Africa, then, is focused on access to oil and other strategic minerals and aid to those who support its fantasies, failures and savage practices in its war on terrorism.?Thus, it declares genocide in Darfur, but cultivates the Sudanese government as an ally.?It promises to fight AIDS and supports the pharmaceutical companies" high prices for poor countries; it promises debt cancellation, but sets unacceptable conditions for who gets it.?It condemns war in Africa, but has increased weapons dumping in Africa which contributes to and prolongs the killing and chaos this creates.?And it stages public displays of generosity and cheap charity which have no reality and are never really received by the would-be recipients.
A clear example of the mystification and masking going on in U.S. international policy, especially with regard to Africa, can be seen in the summer meeting of last year of the G-8 countries in Scotland which was supposed to be about aid, trade, debt cancellation for Africa and other poor regions and even concerns about the weather and environment.?
But as we argued in an earlier paper on this subject, no one who thinks seriously or critically about the problems and ways of the world could possibly imagine that the G-8 Summit in Scotland was really about Africa or even about the weather.?Indeed, in spite of the transparent fig leaf of concern for the vulnerability of the planet and some of its poorest inhabitants, the summit was really about the health and wealth of capitalist and White supremacy in the world.?
There they were: Bush and Blair coupled in a corner discussing their slow dance of death and unraveling in Iraq; the Frenchman, Chirac, frowning at Bush about warmongering in Iraq but joined to him at the hip in the savage suppression of Haiti; the Germans and Japanese swapping old and new visions of empire and war and exploring reasons for rearming; Russia exchanging the red wine of communism for the "white lady" of capitalist and European inclusion; Canada and Italy huddled in hope for larger roles the U.S. might graciously assign them.?And all were concerned about the fierceness and resiliency of resistance to their domination and exploitation in Haiti, Palestine, Venezuela, Iraq, Bolivia, Afghanistan, and around the world and of the global justice movements and the progressive people in their own countries and thus they hid themselves behind a wall of 10,000 police.
Then there were the Africans, Asians and Latin Americans, convenient color in an otherwise colorless project, decidedly marginal at a meeting in which they were, at least for PR purposes, billed as a central concern.?It was all sham and showboat, an immorality play that could easily be titled "Scammin" in Scotland."?But as Malcolm X taught, the oppressor is the master image-maker, making criminals into victims and victims into criminals, invaders into defenders of democracy, debtors into creditors, creditors into debtors, and bandits into benefactors, and palming off a revised version of continued global theft as a genuine gesture of generosity.
The staged gesture of generosity was a cheap charity of previous promises masking a major deception. It was first to soften the warmongering, world-dominating and earth destroying images that has dogged White supremacists and empire addicts since their emergence in history.?Secondly, it was designed to preempt and divert attention from the demands of the reparations and global justice movements for more fundamental change.?Thirdly, it was a counter to Islamic and other radical initiatives in Africa and the world by seeming to alleviate conditions which draw a stark line between oppressed and oppressor.?And finally, it was a deceptive package of promises and conditions which increased wealth concentration and extraction and perpetuates domination and plunder by the favored few-the rich and the powerful countries, global corporations and international financial institutions.
There are several flaws in the fake gesture.?First, on the issue of debt and debt cancellation, it begins with an illegitimate claim. For it is not Africans and other people of color who owe the rich, capitalist and White nations of the world, it is they who owe us.?Moreover, if the fictitious debt is to be cancelled, it must be unconditional and for all the poor and exploited countries, not a selected few.?On the issue of promised aid, it is too little, too conditional and never directed toward development.?Aid offered and given is never beyond welfare, never enough to develop infrastructure and technology, reduce poverty, educate the people, truly improve their health, and empower them to take control of their destiny and daily lives.?It is always emergency aid, drawn from cast off and surplus food and supplies wasting away in warehouses and used at appointed times as weapons to wring concessions from vulnerable populations and corrupt governments. In a word, it is directed toward structural underdevelopment. For there must be no Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan or China in Africa to compete and threaten the monopoly on wealth and power Europe and the U.S. enjoy in the world.
Let me conclude where I began stressing the indispensability of struggle.?For again, there is no remedy or relief except in resistance and no real future except that which is forged on the battlefield for a better world.?Here let me pay hommage to all the people of Africa who without fanfare or fan mail, without media attention or rightful care and concern from their government strive each day to push their lives forward and forge out of the hard rock of reality a life worth living.?We pay hommage to these anonymous soldiers for Africa and humanity who say in organized and unorganized ways "no" to oppression, injustice, domination and war and who fight on declared and undeclared battlefields every day.
And we urge all our fellow Africans, other peoples of color and all progressive peoples to cast away illusions and intensify the struggle to achieve the following goals for Africa and the world: (1) cancellation of debt by the real debtors?for all needy countries without conditions; (2) payment of reparations for the Holocaust of enslavement, colonization, imperialist plunder of resources, labor exploitation, and environmental degradation and destruction; (3) end of resource theft and plunder by global corporations through proxy armies, dictators and corrupt officials; (4) shift in priorities of world laboratories to developing of affordable and relevant medicines, vaccines and health strategies for African and other needy nations; (5) end of conditions and policies which impoverish and disable the people, reduce human services, privatize public wealth, services and utilities, increase trade imbalances, encourage exports at the expense of domestic needs, and open up the countries for greater exploitation; (6) recovery and return of riches stolen and deposited in foreign banks with the complicity of collaborating countries, corporations, private banks and international financial institutions, and compensation for that which is unrecoverable; (7) respect for the sovereignty, self-determination and the need for democracy of and in these countries and the end of cultivating, cuddling and protecting collaborators by foreign forces at the expense of the people; and (8) putting forth and fighting for a policy based on the ethics of sharing in the world-shared status, shared knowledge, shared space, shared wealth, shared power, shared interests and shared responsibility in building the good and sustainable world we all want and deserve to live in and for which we struggle in the interest of global justice.And we remind our allies, ourselves and all people of good will in the world, "Now is the time, there is no other; struggle is the way, there is no alternative; and we are the ones, there is no avoiding it."
We are pleased to include the following Statement at the request of the African-American Cultural Center
Statement on Peace, Justice and Resistance to War
By Maulana Karenga
Chair, The Organization Us and the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO); Director, African American Cultural Center; Professor, Department of Black Studies, CSULB; Creator of Kwanzaa and the Nguzo Saba, author, Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture
We live in difficult and dangerous times and now stand, bracing ourselves, on
the brink of an almost certain war which could engulf
the world in ways no one can perceive or predict. And yet we must
be clear on where we stand and stand there resolutely. We stand
with the oppressed who struggle for freedom, the wronged and
injured who struggle for justice, the masses of people who struggle
for power over their destiny and daily lives, and the peoples of
the world who struggle for peace in their own time and place.
Surely, it is the teachings of the ancestors in the Husia that say
we are morally obligated "to bear witness to truth and to set the
scales of justice in their proper place among those who have no
voice." Thus, we stand in active solidarity with the actual and
intended victims of aggression, occupation, neocolonialism, racism,
sexism, classism and all other forms of oppression and constraints
on human freedom and human flourishing.
We issue this statement, then, in resistance and opposition to the
proposed war against Iraq which by definition is a war against the
Iraqi people without justification and thus unjust, immoral and
illegal. This position evolves from the ancient and ongoing
tradition of our ancestors which teaches us to respect life, to
love justice, to cherish freedom, to treasure peace, and to
constantly struggle to bring good in the world and not let any good
be lost. It is the ethical tradition of the Husia and the Odu Ifa,
of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Henry
McNeal Turner, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Ella Baker,
Luther King and others who taught us a rightful way to walk in the
world. It is a tradition which rejects the policy of peace for the
powerful and war for the vulnerable, dominance and security for the
rich and right race and
oppression and insecurity for all others in the world. We stand
resolutely among the peoples of the world who reject and resist
this unjust war as we struggle for freedom for the oppressed,
justice for the injured and wronged, power for all people over
their destiny and daily lives, and peace for the world. And for us
peace is the practice of justice which ends oppression and
hostilities and provides security and well-being for all.
We call on African peoples everywhere to stand in active solidarity
with the peoples of the world who have overwhelmingly rejected and
resist this proposed war which is without moral and legal limits,
and without due respect for collective considered judgment at home
or abroad. In taking this stand, we also reject the willful
misreading of the meaning of the tragic events of 9/11 and the
manipulation of the resultant fear and sense of insecurity in order
to wage a self-defined preemptive and limitless war of aggression,
curtail and violate human and civil rights and establish a racial
and cultural imperium in the world.
For the proposed war against Iraq is not an isolated initiative.
Rather, it is part of a post-9/11 imperial offensive which carries
with it racist and colonial conversations and
"crusades" to protect "the civilized world" against "dark and evil
nations" in "dark corners of the world." And if it is not checked,
it will have a profoundly negative effect on the struggles for
freedom, justice and peace in the world. Our position against war
with Iraq is informed by the ancient African moral understanding
that we are to pursue peace always, conscientiously avoid war, and
engage even in just war reluctantly and with considered moral
restraint. The aim here is to cultivate a predisposition for peace
and a presumption against war and where war cannot be avoided, to
provide guidelines to restrict its conduct and reduce its
devastating consequences. Within this framework, our ethical tradition requires several
conditions for a just war which the proposed war against the Iraqi people by
the Bush administration does not meet. These criteria are: 1) just
cause; 2) collective considered judgment; 3) just means; 4)
consequences of common good, and; 5) last resort.
There is no just cause for a war against Iraq. A just cause or just
war cannot be aggressive or preemptive. It must always be defensive
and it can be defensive in three possible ways, i.e., as: (a) an
act of self-defense against immediate attack or imminent grave
danger in the process of unfolding; (b) a liberation struggle
against foreign occupation or severe internal oppression and (c) a
humanitarian intervention to prevent or halt genocide, ethnic
any other massive killing of a whole population. The
U.S. attempt to use the first justification is false on its face.
There is no evidence of attack, involvement in an attack or an
imminent attack on the U.S. by Iraq. Nor is there any evidence of
Iraq’s having the ability to seriously attack or harm the U.S. or
its allies, given the devastation it has suffered in the U.S.-led
invasion of 1991 and the sustained brutal bombing by the U.S. and Britain ever
since then. Moreover, there is no provision in the U.N. Charter for
wars of preemptive aggression, or for overthrowing governments,
assassinating leaders of other countries or conquering and
colonizing other countries for national, corporate or family
interests. Indeed such aggression is called "a
crime against peace"and international law.
Therefore, the Bush Administration is rushing to wage a war not of
self-defense but rather a war of self-aggrandizement - in a word, a
war of vigilante aggression, outlaw resource acquisition and
imperial expansion against a vulnerable and long-suffering people.
More precisely, it is a war: (a) to seize and control the
oilfields, water and strategic position of Iraq; (b) to expand and
consolidate U.S. dominance of the Middle East and in the process
strengthen its ally Israel, in its occupation of Palestine and in
its status as the dominant power in the region; (c) to enhance the
US?and Israel’s capacity to dictate limitations on the inevitable
Palestinian state; (d) to terrorize and cower
other states and
people who oppose its policies; and (e) to reaffirm and insure
white hegemony in the region and the world, militarily,
politically, economically and
culturally. In a word, it is racialized globalization in its rawest
and most ruthless form - i.e., white supremacy expanding and
consolidating its presence and power in the world, camouflaging its
quest to empire with claims of concern for national security and
masking its racial aspects with culturally-coded references to
saving the "civilized world."
Collective Considered Judgment.
War as a life-and-death matter should not be decided or declared
without adequate discussion and debate. Nor should it be declared
in the name of a people without their counsel and
consent or be
waged on behalf of a world that has overwhelmingly rejected it as
unjust, illegitimate and immoral. The gravity of war requires a
vigorous and varied public discussion that works its way through
the customary mix of fact, fiction and manipulated fear and
meaningfully addresses issues of morality, law, politics and
horrific consequences of such a grave decision and act. The Bush
administration has not explained in an honest and open way the
horrible consequences and costs of war for Iraq, the U.S., the
region and the world, nor offered space for public discussion,
debate and dissent. And Congress, except for a courageous few, has
conceded in submissive silence. Indeed, the Bush regime and its media allies
have worked to discourage and divert public debate from the issue.
In the wake of the tragic events of 9/11, they have cultivated a
culture of fear and false alarm to suppress and cast suspicion on
dissent from the official line, even suggesting that those who
dissent are treading on treasonous ground and "should watch what
they say and do." Also, they have created an endless enemies list
and given the country daily doses of possible dangerous discoveries
which range from missing vials of viruses to suspicious Muslim
charities. And they have created a daily regimen of elementary
school color-coded alerts to inspire different levels of alarm,
fear and uncertainty.
Moreover, they have refused to discuss the occupation and
liberation of Palestine, even though it is at the heart of the
Middle East crisis and has unavoidable implications for peace,
freedom and justice in the region and the world. Also, the Bush
administration has framed its discourse and policies in
fundamentalist religious ideas of the evil in the world and the
evil of the world. In such a context, the president transforms into
a preacher who demonizes countries and their leaders, prays for
guidance to war and sermonizes on the need for an endless war and
crusade to "rid the world of evil."
Moreover, with characteristic religious certainty, Bush has tried
to devalue and discredit the unprecedented international opposition
to the war which has emerged so quickly and extensively. In
defiance of world opinion,international law, and the will of the
American people, Bush has declared he will wage war with or without
UN consent or cooperation. Seeking support only as a desirable
cover for his conduct, he shows disdain for diplomacy and contempt
even for his allies and rules persons, nations and the UN
irrelevant unless they accept the rightness of his irrational and
reckless rush to war. Furthermore, he has bullied, bribed and
promised punishment to states to coerce them into compliance and
silence. He thus has tried to stifle and discredit dissent, invoked
peace while demanding war, and argued against dictatorship while
dismissing the democratic dissent and will of the country, the UN
and the world.
Even in the case of a justified use of force, a just war by
definition is a limited war, a war with moral and legal limits. The
principle of just means, thus, requires a conscientious effort to
restrict and reduce the deaths, damage and devastation of war,
especially in relation to innocent civilians. This demands
discriminate and proportionate use of force, a condition not met by
the Bush administration’s plans for the largest and most
devastating bombing raids on Iraq since WW II and Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. Indeed, the Bush administration boasts of its bombing
intentions as if they were invoking a divine appearance, one which
they say will cause "shock and awe."
The estimated deaths for an attack on Baghdad are extremely high
and the resultant refugee population will also create additional
burdens and pain for a long-suffering people. Already the U.S. and
British incessant bombing and use of degraded uranium shells and
the cruel and unjust sanctions against the Iraqi people have caused
approximately a million deaths and injuries, increased cancer and
birth defects and widespread malnutrition, as well as greatly
damaged the country’s infrastructure. An intensified war with
weapons of catastrophic consequences can only cause even more
undeserved casualties and suffering to the Iraqi people.
The planned use of so-called "overwhelming force" and weapons of
catastrophic consequences in Iraq insures massive civilian deaths
and injures and extreme devastation of civilian infrastructure and
the environment must be condemned and resisted. Such massive
attacks, especially on cities and population centers are clear
crimes against humanity and must be condemned and resisted. For
they do not restrict weapons use nor the targets attacked. On the
contrary, the bombing of Baghdad and other cities would make
targets out of innocent civilians caught up in circumstances not of
their making and not in their control.
Calling the mass killing of civilians collateral damage does not
eliminate or ease the moral imperative to avoid the targeting and
injuring of innocents. Nor does it hide the horrific nature of the
use of disproportionate violence from high-tech catastrophic
weapons which creates a greater evil than the supposed evil to
be overcome. Indeed, for all the talk about the evil of weapons of
catastrophic destruction, the catastrophic weapons which the U.S.
boasts about will have similar devastating consequences. The U.S.
has promised to use most of them in the planned war and has
threatened to use even nuclear ones. In fact, the glorification of
these high tech weapons of mass destruction and talk of their
"precision" and "smartness" help to desensitize the American public
to the planned deaths of the distant, demonized and degraded people
now called enemy. They cultivate a callousness born of physical and emotional distance
from the actual killing fields and the desire for a quick and
devastating victory over the so-called evil enemy. Thus, delivery
of the crushing blow is turned over to high-flying piloted and
pilotless planes and distant computers which are not concerned with
ground zero collateral damage. But we are morally compelled to be
concerned, for this so-called collateral damage is dead and injured
people and their devastated homes, hospitals, schools, factories,
food and water supply and places of worship as well as other
civilian infrastructures essential to the life and well-being of
Consequences of Common Good.
There are no consequences of common good for such an unprovoked,
unjustifiable and unjust war. It is grossly wrong and does not
benefit the world or the American people to kill and wound
thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, half of whom
are children; to conquer and occupy their country; to seize their
oil, water and other resources; to damage and destroy irreplaceable
treasures from one of humanity’s oldest civilizations, paralleling
ancient Egypt in its age and importance to human history; to
contaminate, degrade and devastate the environment of Iraq and
neighboring areas; to violate international law and weaken
international institutions; to trample on the right of
self-determination of peoples; to destabilize the region and the
world; to cause unnecessary casualties among U.S. and Iraqi
soldiers in an unjust war; to encourage and provoke inevitable retaliatory attacks against the
U.S. and its people in this country and around the world and to
squander needed resources for social and human good on a needless
and unjust war.
Clearly the human, environmental, economic and political costs
outweigh the weak, transparent and self-serving arguments put forth
for a preemptive war of aggression. The human cost to the Iraqi
people are incalculable, especially for the vulnerable, children,
women, the ill and aged who always suffer most in wars. People of
color and the poor of the U.S. who are represented in the U.S. army
in disproportionate numbers will pay a great price with lives lost
in greater numbers and through the diversion of needed resources to
a war the whole world condemns. In a word, domestic needs for
housing, food, health care, education, employment and other vital
requirements for social well-being will be sacrificed on the altar
of racialist reasoning and imperialist assertion of power in the
The principle of last resort grows out of a predisposition for
peace and a presumption against war. It assumes, as the Odu Ifa
teaches, that "war ruins the world" and is a great evil which
should be avoided. Moreover, it assumes a rational and moral
preference for peace over war and is always reluctant to wreak the
havoc of death and devastation on the world that comes with war,
even a defensive one. By definition a preemptive war is not a last
resort, but the first even prior resort. For to preempt is to act
prior to - prior to discussion, negotiation and the pursuit of
alternatives to war.
Preemptive war, then, is by definition,
preemptive aggression. And in spite of the Bush administration’s
raising the issue of self-defense, there is no issue of threat or
attack. Even his intelligence agencies, before being
coerced into compliance with the thrust for war, reported Iraq
offered no real threat to the U.S.
Having failed to kill or capture its targeted prey in a war of
retribution for 9/11, the Bush administration has turned our
attention to a new demon and a war of manifest destiny and colonial
"democracy" in a quixotic attempt to remake the Arab and Islamic
world in its own image and interest. Having failed in its policies
at home, it turns our attention to the quest for a quick,
destructive and diversionary victory
abroad. Bush proposes to achieve peace by waging an unjust and illegal war and to protect
the world from a fantasized threat by violating international law
and weakening international institutions in a series of actions
resembling a rogue state. He proposes to teach the Iraqi people
democracy by conquering them and imposing a U.S. military
dictatorship over them until they are "mature" according to his
measure. And he promises to protect this country from group
terrorism by practicing a state terrorism against an already
devastated country and long-suffering people.
It is a project that reeks with "chosen race" and messianic notions
of U.S. power and place in the world. It assumes the U.S. has the
might and thus the right to impose a pax Americana on the world and
secure its safety through unilateral preemptive aggressive actions
against any suspected and vulnerable threats. But peace and the
security it cultivates cannot be built on or depend on the whims
and weapons of a superpower acting unilaterally and against the
opinion and interests of the world. Peace is a self-conscious and
cooperative task, a shared good achieved through justice,
reaffirmed in freedom and reinforced in mutual respect for the
rights and needs of all.
To act coercively and unilaterally outside international law and
international institutions is not only to set a dangerous precedent
of international vigilantism and further erode both international
law and institutions. It is also reinforces
the evolving conception
in the world that the U.S. is a superpower rogue state which
dismisses international opinion, violates international norms and
has no constraints or checks except what it wishes to impose on
itself and is thus a real threat to the world. In such a context,
the imperative of defense becomes one of arming like North Korea
and not finding oneself vulnerable like Iraq.
A real concern for peace and security in the world must cultivate
and sustain a comprehensive approach. It must realize there is no
security without peace, no peace without justice, no justice
without freedom and no freedom without the power of people over
their destiny and daily lives everywhere whether in the U.S.,
Afghanistan, Iraq or Palestine.
Thus, it must avoid the selective
morality and hypocrisy of war on a weak Iraq and negotiation for a
nuclear-armed North Korea, of approving Israel’s possession of
weapons of mass destruction and prohibiting other states in the
region from having them with threats of attack, of waging war to
free an occupied Kuwait, and vetoing and dismissing initiatives to
end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Likewise, peace for the
Middle East and the world must include the liberation and statehood
of Palestine, self-determination or
autonomy for the Kurds, freedom for other oppressed peoples,
justice for all and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction
in the region and the world.
The long and difficult task to eliminate WMD’s in the region
and the world requires: 1) rejection of the double standard which
permits WMD’s for racially and politically favored countries and
prohibits them for others; 2) strict observance of conventions
against them for all countries, large and small; 3) continuing
negotiation for reduction and elimination of them; 4) reinforced
systems of safeguard for existing ones; 5) eliminating export of
them and related technologies; and 6) an earnest and ongoing
struggle to ultimately eliminate armed force as a means of settling
conflict among the nations and people of the world. This protracted
struggle, the ancestors assure us in the Husia, requires a morality
of self-discipline, hard work, patience and peaceful practices that
"transforms our enemies into allies and our foes into friends." And at the heart of these
practices must be an ethics of sharing, a genuine commitment to and
equitable sharing of all the goods of the world. This includes:
shared status with no superior or inferior people or person and
respect for all as equal bearers of dignity and divinity; shared
knowledge in its most profound and useful forms as a human right;
shared space of neighborhood, country, environment and the world;
shared wealth and resources of the world; shared power in
self-determination and democracy; shared interests which are
life-affirming and life-enhancing; and shared responsibility for
building the good and sustainable world we all want and deserve to
We make a statement of solidarity. We condemn the war on Iraq and neo-imperial military, economic, and cultural wars on African nations, Palestine, Latin American and South American nations, Mexico, Korea, the Philippines, and everywhere all our peoples live, including here in the United States. We see our struggles united by our common goals of peace in the world and freedom from imperialism. We link hearts and hands with all those of every philosophy, religion, nation, and race who fight imperialism and defend national sovereignty. We stand for peace, social welfare, and the true well-being of all people, by all people, and for all people.
THE CURRENT SITUATION OF KOREAN PENINSULA
Minjok Tongshin Editor-in-Chief Roh Kilnam (Ken Roh)
at an ANSWER LA Forum on December 2, 2005
In 2005 I visited the Korean peninsula five times to advance the movement
for peace and reunification. This year is a special year for Koreans in the
north and the south as well as overseas Koreans. 2005 is the 60th
of Korea"s independence from Japanese colonial rule from 1905 to 1945.
Koreans also marked the 5th anniversary of the historic June 15 Joint
Declaration Day when the political leaders of North and South Korea met at
Pyongyang and announced a joint statement declaring the goal of peace and
reunification of divided Korea without interference from outside forces.
While the U.S. was not specifically mentioned in the joint statement, it is
clear that they represent the greatest obstacle to peaceful unification. It
is also very clear from every visit I made to both parts of the two Koreas
that they are in a process of reconciliation and cooperation in order to
achieve peaceful reunification. South Koreans largely regard north Koreans
not as an enemy but as brothers and sisters of a single Korean nation.
However, many peace activists and intellectuals on both sides remain deeply
concerned about the possibility of war, and especially a nuclear war, caused
by the pro-war policies of the Bush Administration.
Looking back upon the past century, Korea"s occupation by Japan was sealed
when the U.S. and Japan made a secret agreement now known as Taft-Katzura.
In this secret agreement, the two powers agreed not to interfere in each
other"s imperial ambitions in Korea and the Phillipines. Taft-Katsura not
only opened the door to four decades of Japanese exploitation of Korea, it
also ensured continuing U.S. exploitation of the Phillipines. Japan occupied
Korea for 40 years and the U.S. has occupied S. Korea for the past 60 years.
Today there are about 32,500 U.S. troops in south Korea in over a 100
U.S. military bases and installations.
As you know, Japan was a war crime country of World War II like Germany. But
while the German state sincerely apologized and compensated her victims,
Japan has still not offered an appropriate or adequate apology and
compensation for their criminal actions. Japanese colonialism of Korea led
to the loss of countless lives and greatly threatened the very existence of
the Korean nation, including its language.
Korea celebrated its independence when the Japanese were finally defeated in
WW II. But just one month later in September of 1945, Korea was
occupied again by U.S. armies. At that time the U.S. occupation began their
strategy of "Divide and conquer" and mobilized Korean collaborators of the
Japanese colonial government as a military and political force to control
the southern half of Korea. The U.S. sponsored 1948 election, which millions
of Koreans boycotted because they did not want to divide their nation, led
to the U.S. installing their puppet, Syngman Rhee. Two years later, the war
to reunify Korea, called the Korean War here in the U.S., began in June,
1950. Three years later, the hot phase of the war ended on July 27, 1953
with a military armistice between military leaders of north Korea and the
Numerous western scholars and journalists as well as Korean historians in
the north and the south have demonstrated that the Korean War happened
because of U.S. imperial interests, and not because the U.S. cared about
Koreans. For instance, I.F. Stone"s book, the Hidden Hisory Of Korean
War clearly lays out how selfish U.S. motives led to the Korean war.
Before the Korean War even began, one million innocent Korean
victims had already lost their lives to U.S. military forces. Among the
victims were famous and respected leaders including Kim Koo and Yeo Woon
They were all Korean nationalists, most of whom had risked their lives
years against the Japanese imperialists. Unfortunately there is not much
historical documentation of U.S. crimes against the Korean people during
this period because of the terrible nature of the Korean War as well as the
puppet South Korean government"s control over any documentation. But the
Korean people who witnessed or were told by their elders have come out to
speak the truth about how the U.S. murdered so many Koreans, and especially
those on the left. To take one example, it is not clear that U.S. armies
committed a great massacre of innocent Koreans fleeing war at the bridge at
No-Kun- Ri. By one respected newspaper"s report, 2,323,000 innocent Koreans
lost their lives and 6,520,000 were wounded from September of 1945 up to the
As you know, people have been saying that the cold war has been over for a
long time. But war and tension continue today in many corners of the world
including, of course, Iraq. The Korean peninsula now faces a critical
situation that includes the possibility of nuclear war. In the last 60 years
the U.S. government has repeatedly attempted to use nuclear weapons on the
Korean peninsula.?There have been over 10 thousand US-South Korea joint
military practice exercises on the Korean peninsula. Most practices were
trainings for nuclear war following specific war scenarios planned by the US
military including OP-5026, 5027, 5030, 5029, and 5055, and so on.
U.S. forces installed a thousand nuclear weapons in south Korean land.
Someyears ago, they announced they had taken them back out, but U.S.
forces under the George W. Bush administration allegedly has deployed again
the 1000 nuclear weapons on south Korean land.
The US corporate news media used to describe north Korea as a threat to
world peace. I am wondering whether you think the report is correct or not.
I as a longtime Korean-American journalist believe that the report is
totally incorrect. The mainstream news media usually distort the facts of
going on on the Korean peninsula.
The North Korean position is that it prefers to become a non-nuclear
country. Accordingly, the north Korean government has long stressed that the
entire Korean peninsula must be a totally nuke-free zone. However, the Bush
administration threatened preemptive attack, including possible first-strike
nuclear attack, by saying north Korea is part of an "Axis of Evil" with Iraq
and Iran. And Condoleezza Rice, Bush"s Secretary of State, called north
Korea an "outpost of tyranny". Nowadays the Bush administration is in
6-party talks with north Korea, south Korea, China, Russia, and Japan.
During this period when the series of talks are being held, the Congress
with Bush administration approval has also passed the NK Human Rights Act
which is a tool intended to bring about north Korean regime change.
As a matter of survival, north Korea could not but do otherwise than develop
a nuclear deterrent force, after withdrawal from the NPT, and asked IAEA
staffers staying in Pyungyang to leave the country. As a matter of fact,
north Korea withdrew from the NPT twice, in 1993 and 2003, because of
the U.S.A."s unreasonable pressures and threats. In the meantime,
the Bush administration invaded Iraq without U.N. endorsement or