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A Call for Unity and Action:

Build the Anti-War Movement

by Fight Back! Editors |
April 2, 2002
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By every indication, the anti-war demonstrations scheduled for April 20 in Washington D.C. and San Francisco promise to be a great success. In communities and campuses across the country, buses are being rented, tickets are being purchased, and the message of "no to war and racism," is reaching millions of people.

The April 20 demonstrations are a logical and necessary step forward for the anti-war movement. Since Sept. 11, thousands of protests, marches and educational events have been held in places ranging from big cities to small towns. The college campuses have emerged as important centers for the peace movement. Considering the war hysteria being fanned by the politicians of both parties and the corporate press, the anti-intervention movement has done a credible job of building a pole of opposition to U.S. wars.

Of particular importance was the work of the activists and organizers - veterans of the peace movement and new folks - who stepped out early and stated clearly that the tragedy of Sept. 11 would be used as a pretext to launch a new round of wars against the peoples and nations of the Third World.

Indeed, this is exactly what has happened. No serious person believes that the so-called "axis of evil" - Iran, Iraq, and North Korea - has anything to do with the events of Sept. 11. Nonetheless, these countries are now targets. On top of this, the White House is trying to criminalize the national liberation movements. From Palestine to Colombia to Nepal, Bush wants to put a terrorist jacket on freedom fighters. Military means are being used to maintain an empire of the dollar.

September 29

The early and courageous rejection of a new round of wars gave last year's Sept. 29 demonstrations, in Washington D.C. and San Francisco, their real significance. Almost 20,000 rallied near the Capitol, and the message of "hands off Afghanistan" rang out from the stage.

For many, especially students, Sept. 29 was their first national demonstration. Some were long-time fighters in the anti-intervention and peace movements. The bottom line is, something really great was done that day. The anti-war movement stepped on to the national stage.

There are some additional lessons. Throughout the summer preceding Sept. 29, planning was underway for a massive protests to coincide with the meeting of the International Monetary Fund. When 911 hit, a number of these forces backed off. Many of the unions took a pro-war position, and withdrew from the anti-globalization demos. A section of the peace and justice movement did the same thing. Things got tough, and they got going - home, to the coffee shops, anywhere but the streets.

Finally, the IMF meeting was canceled and International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) issued a call for a mass anti-war demonstration in D.C. Despite the outpouring of support, some forces around the peace and justice movement responded in a narrow, sectarian fashion. They worked to divide the anti-war movement or discouraged people from coming to D.C. Unfortunately, some of the same nonsense is coming up again.

April 20

In response to war on Afghanistan, and increased U.S. military intervention abroad, a large wave of new activists came forward. The vast majority want a united movement that can challenge the Pentagon's plans. In the anti-war movement, there is broad sentiment for a unified response to war at home and abroad. This is exactly what is needed. "United we march" is a good slogan, but only if it is transformed into deeds.

That being said, two major demonstrations are scheduled to take place in Washington on April 20. One is spearheaded by ANSWER and the other by the A20 Stop The War Coalition. Both coalitions include committed activists who are making real contributions to the anti-war movement. Hopefully, the leadership of both demonstrations can find some common ground for some degree of unity. If this proves impossible, it is because elements within the A20 Stop the War Coalition refuse to make it happen. There is no sense in speculating on their motives, but at the very least, those opposing unity should provide an explanation to the rest of the anti-war movement.

It's neither fair nor reasonable that discussion about how to build our movement is held behind closed doors. If some people think that Palestine should not be addressed at the protests in D.C., that should be discussed by the movement as a whole. The same goes for the bombing of Afghanistan.

Beyond April 20

The Bush Administration calls for a "war without end." They will do their best to deliver. We, the American people have a responsibility to do everything in our power to stop them. We should do it for ourselves and do it for rest of the world's peoples.

People here gain nothing, when the rich and powerful rip off the land, labor and natural resources of others. So we should oppose their wars. If they win, it strengthens the hand of those who lay us off, break our unions, or send cops to act as an occupying army in our communities.

Opposition to the wars of the Bush administration means exactly that - opposition to the wars that are actually taking place. In the early 90's, some forces in the peace movement supported sanctions on Iraq. So sanctions on Iraq are in place and more than a million people are dead because of it. Any decent-minded person should be against sanctions that kill kids, old folks, and those that need operations in hospitals. With the Pentagon talking about a march on Baghdad, we need to say no to sanctions and war with Iraq.

People can talk all day about a "just foreign policy," but if that justice does not extend to Palestine, we are not talking about justice at all. The Israeli Zionists murder ambulance drivers, the devout at prayer, and those fighting in the streets for their freedom. Israel is the stick that Bush uses to beat the Arab peoples. And it is all about oil and empire. The same applies to Colombia, where U.S. Special Forces and the CIA are fighting for a death squad government.

There are real challenges in front of us. Those who oppose the Pentagon's wars need to unite. We need to make that unity concrete. We cannot talk about justice and ignore the U.S./Israeli war on Palestine. Lets keep the anti-war movement on track by standing up to each and every war move of the Bush Administration.

The countries of the Third World have a right to determine their own fate, to self-determination. They are right to fight for liberation and national independence. They deserve our support. Coming off the April 20 demonstrations, every effort must be made to involve even more people in the anti-war movement, and to raise its level of activity, understanding, and militancy.