War is Over (If You Want It)

As Slingshot goes to press, president Bush has announced that he will order a “surge” of 21,500 additional US troops to Iraq on top of the 140,000 troops already there — despite the fact that everyone from his own generals and troops to any casual observer on the street can see that Iraq has descended into civil war as a result of Bush’s unprovoked invasion and bungled occupation. Bush’s surge won’t help the situation in Iraq — it will only prolong the nightmare and sacrifice more Iraqis and US troops for nothing. Meanwhile, the recently elected democratic Congress is unlikely to block the continuation of the war by cutting off funding — they’re talking about holding some hearings but are too afraid of being blamed for “losing” the war to take the one real action available to force a pullout of US troops. Earth to Democrats: the US lost the war a long time ago — people voted for you because they wanted US troops out now.

The world needs a surge, but not of more US troops to Iraq. Its time for a surge of protest and outrage against the hopeless US occupation of Iraq — from ordinary people everywhere, from the rest of the world, from anti-war activists, and from YOU. The war has dragged on for almost four years — longer than US involvement in World War II — with up to 650,000 Iraqis and over 3,000 Americans dead as a result of the war, and $400 billion spent and counting.

Many of us hit the streets in protest before the war and right after it started — but we’ve grown tired and discouraged as the occupation has dragged on . . . and on . . . and on. Depression, resignation, exhaustion and inaction won’t stop the war — Bush won’t stop the war — the Democratic party won’t stop the war — really the only alternative is for millions of folks in the USA to somehow throw off our slumber and stop the damn war. At this point, inaction is complicity.

Sadly, the institutional US anti-war movement has been ineffective in stopping the war. There are protests scheduled for the end of January and March 17-18 — hopefully a lot of people will go. But polite protests isolated to one day are no longer enough. Stopping the war is going to require much broader action on a day to day basis, ranging from banners lining the streets across the country; to a million discussions; to action aimed at raising the domestic cost of the war to the US ruling class.

Bush talks about accomplishing the mission in Iraq, but just because he broke it doesn’t mean he — or anyone with any plan — can fix it. When US troops pull out, the ferocity and bloodiness of the civil war is likely to increase — but that doesn’t mean US troops should stay indefinitely baby-sitting a civil war to try to keep it within “acceptable” levels of slaughter. The only positive thing the United States can do at this point is get the hell out of Iraq and let folks there resolve their own destiny.

US troops lost any possibility of bringing peace and reconciliation to Iraq through a million small and large Bush fuckups — the torture at Abu Ghraib; the failure to restore electricity, jobs and other services; the $20 billion “reconstruction” that only enriched corporate interests; the right-wing use of Iraq as a guinea pig plaything to test their theories about privatization while Baghdad went up in flames around them. That’s to say nothing of collapse of all of Bush’s reasons to fight the war in the first place. The war was started and has been fought, very literally, for nothing.

The failed Iraq war and occupation are a metaphor for the dying American empire — a huge bloated beast thrashing about spreading death and misery pointlessly, and in the process, destroying itself. It may take decades for America’s rulers to repair the economic, military and political disaster they have created in Iraq. Global scorn and distrust of the US are at an all time high, with good reason.

Even the US military has lost heart for the war. An Army Times poll conducted Nov. 13 through Dec. 22 found that only 35 percent of the military members polled said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, and only 50 percent said they thought success was likely in Iraq. These numbers may have dipped lower since Bush’s speech. It is astonishing to see how isolated Bush has become with more than 70 percent of the public now against the war.

The US media focuses on the pain of the families of 3,000 dead American solders — missing the point that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lie dead, and the world’s oldest civilization has been reduced to ruins.

But despite all of this, the mainstream political system is incapable of pulling out US troops. It is much easier for Bush and the Democrats to stay the course than to have to admit the scale of their defeat in Iraq. The thousands more Iraqis and Americans likely to die are pawns to them. You can bet that none of Bush’s or Pelosi’s friends or family are living in Baghdad or serving in the US military.

As Mario Savio pointed out in a different context “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

If the rulers won’t pull out troops, regular folks need to do everything we can to make the United States ungovernable — shutting down whatever economic or social functions are within our grasp that permit the US to continue the occupation. Bush’s troop surge is just more of the same — stay the course only worse. If the regular people don’t stand up and prevent the occupation from continuing, we’re going to be right back at this point in a year, with the bodies piled higher.

March 17 – 18 Global Days of Action

Creepy sectarian ANSWER coalition has called for coordinated protests against the war in Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and other cities. (In the Bay Area, the Sunday protest naturally conflicts with the annual Anarchist conference.) As gross as ANSWER is, big marches can provide useful gathering points for break-away actions. But we don’t have to wait for groups like ANSWER to call protests — anyone and everyone can organize actions to oppose the war. Hopefully they’ll be lots of other anti-war actions as the spring goes on.