May 25th leaflet of the Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
(CV #42, August 2008)
. The working-class youth of this country are offered a future of dead-end, low-paying jobs, and temp labor. Adequate medical or dental care, and being able to retire at age 62 or 65, are only things that existed "way back then." Working-class youth live in a growing police state where national minority and immigrant youth in particular are daily victims of police brutality and murder. Immigrant youth and their parents are dragged off in ICE raids and deported. A discriminatory and male-supremacist culture oppresses women, and thereby weighs down on all. This is "America" for the vast majority, an America that portfolio-carrying suits only notice when it rebels.
. Nevertheless, the system does offer working class youths an individual way out: "Be all that you can be," join the military and get an education and job training! For some, enlisting in the military does result in their having an edge in the degrading competition for some kind of a secure future. But ultimately there are no individual solutions to social problems. Just as many Vietnam-era veterans found themselves unemployed and homeless, veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq face the same future: being thrown away after being used.
. Of course, the "rewards" offered by the military recruiters are premised on the gamble that one
won't end up like one of the 4,600 soldiers who will never come home from Afghanistan or Iraq
(so far), or the tens of thousands who have come home permanently injured (so far), including
many thousands with permanent brain injuries or mental health problems. The recruiters also
don't talk about how the million Iraqis and Afghans who have perished as a result of the
invasions were also once were living people filled with dreams of a better future. Rather, the
military machine, politicians and press preach imperialist arrogance: "America" (meaning the
U.S.) has the right to invade anywhere in order to defend its "strategic interests" -- which is
supplemented with racist and bigoted demagoguery against "ungrateful" Arabs, Afghans, and
Muslims; who are portrayed as being less than human.
A crisis of recruits as G. I. s resist
. The war makers have a problem, however: their wars are unjust, widely unpopular, and people
don't want to be killed in them. Thus, there are recruitment shortfalls and declining reenlistments
-- which the government tries to make up for by constantly lowering aptitude, age and weight
requirements, by giving "moral waivers," and by a "stop loss" dictate which last year left 50,000
people in the military longer than they enlisted. Meanwhile, there's rebelliousness and resistance
among the troops, where, according to official admissions, Army desertions have gone up 80%
since the Iraq war began -- 42% between 2006 and 2007 alone -- with nearly 5,000 desertions last
year. And this does not include the much larger number of AWOL soldiers, or deserters from
other branches of the military. Moreover, many soldiers are simply refusing orders to ship out
despite the threats and punishments meted out against them. Others are refusing and
circumventing orders in Iraq and Afghanistan. At home, there are a growing number of war
veterans speaking out against the wars, like the veterans who have this year been testifying at the
Iraq Veteran's Against the War "Winter Soldier" events. Returning veterans are also forming or
joining anti-war veterans' groups such as the IVAW and others, and participating in other anti-war and anti-imperialist groups.
Imperialism is the problem
. There is growing anger against the situation facing the working-class youth and all working people, and growing realization that the impoverishment and denial of rights to the masses of people at home is bound up with the wars and military occupations abroad. In fact, the laws of modern capitalism drive the U.S. ruling class to dominate as much of the world's market, raw materials, and low-wage labor as it can in order to increase profits; while these same laws drive its rivals, big and small, toward the same ends. Wars inevitably result.
. Thus, the U.S. monopoly capitalists fight in Iraq to keep Iraqi oil resources out of the hands of
local and global rivals, and reap the immense profits and political advantages for themselves.
And one of these advantages would be to have a permanent military presence there with which to
better dominate the entire oil-rich Middle East. Moreover, although Afghanistan has few natural
resources itself, nearby countries do. They therefore fight to dominate this strategically located
country as part of a "great game" being played against Russia, China and other rivals for
domination of the resources of these nearby countries. These then are imperialist wars which are
fought to enrich the very monopoly capitalists who are also driven to impoverish and deny rights
to the masses of people at home in order to enrich themselves.
An election that only offers more of the same
. On the one side, militarist McCain offers tough-talk about Iraq, escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!" In one breath he now says that the U.S. will allegedly have achieved "victory" in Iraq by 2013, with most of the troops withdrawn. In the next breath he admits that "this is what I want to achieve. " On the other side, Clinton and Obama also promise to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and they threaten Iran with war. But, unlike McCain, Obama now says that he would remove all combat brigades from Iraq within 16 months and Clinton says that she would begin a phased withdrawal immediately. But when the Democrats talk of removing combat troops they mean that other troops would remain, and they don't count troops fighting in "anti-terrorist" operations as being combat troops! In fact, Obama and Clinton's plans are attempts to deal with the reality that the U.S. military is being "broken" in Iraq, while at the same time salvaging what "victory" they can. And, in order to deal with the problem that the ruling class has too few soldiers to carry out its imperialist projects, they both promise to expand the war machine with 80-100,000 more troops.
. On the domestic front, the Democrats' program is to squeeze the masses in order to ensure the profits of the capitalists. This will at some point result in big class struggles which they have an answer for, i.e. , Clinton voted for the repressive "Patriot Act," and Obama voted for its extension.
. Of course, many people have voted for Obama in the primaries because he would be the first
black president, or for Clinton because she would be the first woman president. Nevertheless,
their election would really only represent putting a black or woman's face on the same
imperialist-ruling class offensive that Bush has led. And, as a matter of fact, the reason why one
of them is very likely to be elected in November is precisely because the very biggest monopoly
capitalists support them. Hence, while to some extent also supporting McCain, the Wall Street
financiers and multinational corporations have poured the most money into the Clinton and
Obama campaigns, with Obama garnering the most money of all. Why? The rich want to disarm
the masses they're attacking by putting an African American in the White House.
The alternative? Mass struggle against imperialism!
. The youth want change, the working class and poor want change, hunted immigrants and discriminated-against national minorities want change, and the brutalized yet resisting people of Iraq and Afghanistan want change, but the only change the election will bring is a new face presiding over a program of war and reaction. But this does not mean that anti-war and other progressive activists should ignore it. The very opposite. Through mass leafleting, and through demonstrations and confrontations wherever McCain, Obama or Clinton appear, this election should be used to puncture their demagogy and expose their deceptions. This will greatly assist the building of the mass alternative: militant movements with politics opposed to the rich ruling class. And it's only this alternative that can bring real change.
. In the anti-war movement this means explaining ever more widely that the imperialist system is the cause of the atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and threats of new wars. It means directly appealing to the workers and youth of all nationalities, including those in the military, and basing the movement among them. It means supporting G.I. resistance and the movement to stop military shipments through mass blockades. It means regularly building demonstrations that go among the masses. And all of this requires more organization -- including organization of small groups of activists, and organization of coalitions that are truly democratic.
. Where will the people come from? There are already thousands of selfless and hard-working anti-war activists who have gained lots of experience in organizing over the past few years, and they're surrounded by millions of people who want change, and want to be part of a movement to attain it. We think that if anti-war activists persist along the lines outlined above that they will draw more people into motion. Such work is an expression of real solidarity with the struggling workers and poor of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a step toward our own liberation.
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
"For class struggle against imperialism"
May 25, 2008
Modified: August 24, 2008.