This Must HALT! A Challenge. . .
It's a nightmare you can't just wake from...
Last November tens of millions went to the polls and did what they've been told their whole lives to do to change what their government is doing: they voted.
They voted in an attempt to end an immoral war on Iraq that has sent hundreds of thousands to early graves. They voted out of disgust with a President who believes he is above the law and a Congress that has gone along with his shredding of habeas corpus, his dragnet wiretapping, and his legalization and widespread use of torture. They voted out of fear for the world if Bush is not stopped before crusading into yet another country, his lies and brutality sanctified by a fascist Christian fundamentalism.
But what they got was just the opposite.
Over mass graves, inhuman degradation, and unrelenting horrors, Bush promised more of the same. He announced a major escalation of the war.
More troops and more carnage in the streets of Baghdad and in western Iraq. More war crimes and more torture as Bush lifts the "restrictions" he claims have tied the hands of U.S. forces. More gasoline on the flames of religious slaughter in Iraq and beyond as millions more get trapped between the intolerable choices of the U.S. juggernaut of war or the Islamic fundamentalist movement that’s fueled by it. More and wider war as Bush openly threatens Iran and Syria, moves ships into the Gulf region, and provocatively assaults Iranian diplomats within Iraq. More power to sustain the killing—an expanded Army—to support a long-term escalation of these wars without end.
This is, quite simply, unacceptable. This president must be stopped! His crimes must be halted! He and his criminal regime must be driven from power!
Anything less—any idea of waiting for two years until the next election, while the carnage and crimes continue and get devastatingly worse—is unconscionable.
The Paralysis of the Democrats
Many still hope the Democratic congress will step up. And in fact many Democrats are expressing serious reservations and even opposition to Bush’s escalation. But let’s look at what they’re actually saying and promising.
Hillary Clinton revealed something the other day when she said that she has a “responsibility gene” that prevents her from cutting off funding for the war, or even proposing a withdrawal of the troops. In fact, the whole Democratic Party has this same “gene.” The question is, responsible to whom and what?
Responsible to the Iraqis? Dick Durbin, in his official Democratic response to Bush's announcement of an escalation, put it this way: "We have given the Iraqis so much... it is time for the Iraqis to stand and defend their own nation." As if Iraq somehow invited the U.S. to come in and destroy their infrastructure, provoke a sectarian civil war, and steal the lives of hundreds of thousands! As if this were a gracious and magnanimous favor for which the Iraqis are being ungrateful and somehow making greedy demands for more of!
Responsible to the millions who voted for them, in the hopes that they would stand up to Bush? Ted Kennedy admitted in advance that by the time a vote comes on his bill to cut the funds for escalation, "The troops will already be there. And then we'll be asked, are we going to deny body armor to the young men and women over there?" And Nancy Pelosi has backed him up: "Democrats will never cut off funding for our troops when they are in harm's way."
This is even after Bush has publicly sworn that he won't listen to or be stopped by Congress! Asked on 60 Minutes whether he thought being commander-in-chief gave him "the authority to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants," Bush snarled, "Yeah... they could try to stop me from doing it. But I made my decision, and we're going forward."
So to whom and what are these big politicians responsible? When they talk about “redeploying American troops” in the region around Iraq to protect “our interests”—whose interests are being protected? Where is the major Democratic politician who has come out and called this war what it is—an illegal and immoral war that was launched to protect imperial interests in the Middle East? Who would show how those interests are NOT those of the people in Iraq, or the Middle East more broadly, or the majority of people within the U.S.?
If you open your ears and listen, you will hear that all the debate being allowed is over how to defend and extend the military strength, global reach, and interests of the U.S. system. How best to maneuver the U.S. ship of state through the tumultuous waters of global upheaval and reconfiguration in the wake of the Cold War and the massive migrations of people, factories, and capital caused by the turbo-paced capitalist globalization. How best to hammer people in this society into an even more repressive morality and legal system. And how to do it all while intensifying U.S. political domination and global exploitation and the terrible toll in needless human suffering that goes with it.
At the same time, there ARE real differences at the top. This war is going badly. Talk of a possible constitutional crisis echoes even into the halls of Congress. But as long as this remains a struggle over how best to defend and expand empire in a debate conducted by the empire’s politicians in the empire’s chamber, these differences will never go anywhere good. Without a massive upheaval from below, based on the interests and demands of the overwhelming majority of people here and around the world, the paralysis of the Democrats will continue to enable Bush to commit his crimes.
Needed: More--and More Determined--Protest and Resistance
The whole situation and direction and options "up for debate" are intolerable!
The paralyzed Democrats at the top have made clear that they, on their own, will not stop this. This whole situation can only be changed for the better by millions standing up, protesting and resisting this whole course.
But, yes, we need a different kind of protest. Not protest pleading with those who rule over us to "do the right thing," followed by a return to the routine . . . but protests that make clear to all that until these crimes are halted we will not rest. Protest that challenges those in society sitting on the sidelines to join in. Protest that aims at nothing less than actually stopping this juggernaut, and that does not flinch at the upheaval that could entail. When has any major change for the better come without upheaval and struggle??
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, has spoken of the kind of spirit we need:
“It’s not merely a matter of letting the people in power know that we don’t like what they’re doing. It is saying that this course they’re on is one that will bring disaster to people all over the world, and we not only don’t support this but are going to act—to build massive political mobilization—to stop it. In this people can draw lessons, and draw inspiration, from those parents of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq, and who have come out in opposition to that war—and some of whom have come out in opposition to the whole disastrous direction of things, joining in with World Can’t Wait. These people have changed their whole lives. They’re not just saying, ‘I’ll put a bumper sticker on my car to show I’m opposed.’ Bumper stickers with progressive sentiments, statements in opposition to the war and other crimes of this regime—that is good—but these ‘bumper sticker people’ should be challenged: what are you gonna do about it.” [Bob Avakian, “On the Importance of World Can’t Wait...” Revolution, 62]
Without this spirit, there will be no good change. With it, a world of possibility can open up.
A Call to the Students and Youth
During the ’60s, the youth and students demanded and debated over the truth, and they fought for it. These youth, Black and white and all nationalities, dared to say “this system of racial segregation and oppression, this war in Vietnam, these institutions based on suppressing women...these are outrageous and they are immoral, and they can no longer be tolerated...for another minute.”
These youth put their bodies on the line for those beliefs. They broke free of the calculus of imperial interests and shell-game elections and they went to the people and took to the streets. And in doing so, they changed the face of a society.
This generation faces an even sharper challenge. It can no longer rest content with detesting Bush, while retreating into the cop-out of worldly wise cynicism. Calculations about school grades and career plans no longer apply for Iraqis whose streets have become killing fields. . . and they can no longer apply for those of us living in the society that has unleashed these horrors. The education needed above all in times like these is one that teaches and inspires debate over how to stand up for a whole different world . . . not how to find a future operating within the nightmare descending over this one.
Think about it. The Bush regime has encountered big troubles in butchering their way toward what Condoleezza Rice calls "a new Middle East." Even as the regime responds to these troubles by further throwing down the gauntlet, it confronts a political situation in this country of massive disaffection. The world is waiting for you—asking for you and wondering when you will finally rise to the mission that is on you to stop this--and galvanize the whole of society when you do.
There needs to be ferment and protest and political struggle taking over the campuses, where those of you who see what is going on challenge your friends, your teachers, your families and all of society with an uncompromising stand.
And everyone else throughout society, especially those who lived through the liberating struggles of the sixties and those who have a platform to speak from, need to share the responsibility to inspire and compel the youth of today at the same time as they raise their own voices once again to the whole of society saying: There's no one else to rely on. We are the ones, in our millions, who must bring this to a halt!
Discussion, Debate and Unity
There is a debate that has been ruled out of order, and that needs to be pried back open; it is a debate over how the world has gotten to this place, what must be done to change it, and what revolution has to do with all that. This kind of debate is not only urgently needed in its own right, it is key in fueling and inspiring forward a movement powerful and determined enough to halt the horrific trajectory of today.
Critical to that whole discussion is Bob Avakian’s revolutionary vision of a truly liberating society. This issue of our paper features an article that gives a basic sense of how Bob Avakian has re-envisioned the communist project, and of his method and approach to understanding reality and how to change it. If you are seriously concerned about the future—and who cannot be? — then you need to engage what he’s saying. And we strongly encourage you to go to Bobavakian.net and listen to the talk “Why We’re in the Situation We’re in Today. . . And What to Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution.”
Today tens of millions are agonizing over what can be done. We must take to them the discussion of the big questions of history and morality and change that are joined in this moment, and we must at the same time move together to rouse them from the sidelines and onto the playing field of history. We put it to you: wrangle with this newspaper and then put it in the hands of others. And as you do, check out and get with and help build groups like World Can't Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime and others that are daring to lead millions to stop and drive out this regime.
After four years of a gruesome war, let us not say we have learned to live with this carnage or with the unbearable acts of torture being committed even as we march. Let us tell ourselves that a "symbolic" protest is no more conscionable than a "symbolic" vote against this murderous escalation. Unless we resist and go forward to mobilize millions of others in mass, independent historical action, then we will bear the responsibility for the perpetuation of the very crimes thousands have come to Washington, D.C. to oppose.
The stakes for humanity cannot be overstated. The future is riding on how we live in these next months. We must make this the year the regime is driven out.