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News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
There is still no massive U.S. anti-war movement, thanks to Democrats
March 18, 2017
With the United States’ top diplomat publicly saying northern-Korea diplomacy is worthless,(1) it is necessary to note the state of the U.S. anti-war and anti-militarism movements. There is in fact no U.S. anti-war movement worth mentioning globally. One isn’t coming either.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t anti-war activists and some public opinion against war in some U.S. places. In no way can they be relied on to stop a U.S. attack in Korea, though, or to stop what the Amerikans may be doing by threatening an attack. For the sake of opposing war and international bullying, more U.S. activists need to admit their weakness in that way. It may have nothing to do with how energetic they are individually.
False morale-boosting statements talking about broad opposition to Trump, or the resurgence of an imaginary exploited U.S. working class, don’t help. The world needs to assume there isn’t and won’t be an effective U.S. anti-war movement. It needs to engage in anti-American diplomacy. It must get world opinion to oppose the AmeriKKKans more and support boycotting, isolating and punishing them. Disinvestment and various sanctions would be appropriate.
Individual Amerikans with power, in a position to help, should do so if they can do it without inflaming Amerikans. People need to take risks and not leave things up to students, youth and people in lower tax brackets in the United $tates. The Democrats sneering, for self-serving reasons, at the idea of anti-war action coming from unusual places should get out of the way. If there were already a massive U.S. anti-war movement, then people could be picky. Now is not the time. Many have actually chosen the path of easy, dangerous unity with Republicans by avoiding militarism/war issues or by brazenly uniting with Republicans who disagree with Trump for not being enough of an open war hawk on Russia and other countries.
An AFP article discussing the so-called “Resistance” mentions “political warriors” but many different issues except war and militarism.(2) The predominance, problems and causes of such so-called opposition were apparent immediately after Trump’s inauguration(3) and before. Two months later, people are still talking about the Women’s March as a milestone in U.S. activism instead dealing with the reality that protests like it represented an invitation to bribery to support war, that is, among those Amerikans who didn’t already support attacking non-Amerikan Muslims.
After all, what better way to fight patriarchy than to kill Muslims with drones like it’s a video game, or send country bumpkin males to get maimed on the ground in Syria while massacring Arabs, right pseudo-feminists?
To satisfy many supporters and critics, Trump can just deliver on military and foreign policy “strength” and economic promises, deport people whom Barack Obama gave criminal charges for so-called immigration offenses, support “border security” much as Obama did, and not do too much to reverse changes in areas Democrats and liberals prioritize. After “grab ‘em by the pussy” and similar media coverage, it’s hard for Trump to strongly play the role of Christian/social conservative except as a hypocrite, if anyone ever really thought Trump was part of that type of conservatism in the first place.
Some of these issues the U.$. activists are referring to are important and involve real injustice and something that wouldn’t exist in a world without capitalism and patriarchy. But most also involve demographic or structural issues that aren’t going to go away any time soon. There isn’t much of an economic/social group vehicle for real, deep change in the United States, and often it is necessary to end imperialism or U.S. hegemony first before there can be more progress. It is possible to raise an issue with Amerikans and get a result that ends up being more reaction. The result can also be endless polarization that leads not only to reversals, but also to attempts to unite on and through war and foreign policy.
Economic populism and economic agitation of Amerikans, who unite more on economic issues than in many other areas, also lead to war. War can be a way of responding to unintended economic consequences of fiscal, monetary, trade and other economic policy. And it can be a way of increasing the shareable wealth or of overcoming disagreements over how to divide the loot. Warmongering and military buildup can be a way of preparing for consequences of risky policy in different areas. Democrats have long played a leading and predominant role in agitation of U.$. so-called workers and middle-class people on economic issues. A risk of dangerous populism and protectionism has been inherent with such agitation while trying to win elections.
Problems relevant to war have appeared even in successful opposition to the U.S. Muslim travel ban, which suspends new visas for travel from one less Muslim country now. With the blocking of Trump’s revised travel ban,(4) now more Amerikans are wondering whether the Judicial Branch has too much power. They are wondering whether the Executive Branch or the Legislative Branch should have more. The courtroom approach to the travel ban has worked in a way, so far, but it has a cost. Other approaches would have been better. However, too few graduate students, professors, scientists etc. were willing to make a sacrifice to oppose the travel ban by boycotting U.S. international conferences, for example. The boycott petition sites this writer is tracking stopped counting signatures after there were so few new ones. Banning people from countries Amerikans could still visit is colonial and the world including Amerikans is supposedly more advanced than that, but it was too easy to let some judge in Honolulu or Seattle do things in a way that could make things worse. Many may have just become accustomed to living with U.S. hegemony conspicuously involved in blatant colonialism in Palestine, for example. With what’s going in Palestine, it is no doubt harder for many to see what’s wrong with the lesser-colonialism involved in the travel bans. There were and are still possibilities of countries’ taking action in diplomatic and economic spheres to oppose the travel ban, but the U.S. federal court action by people wanting to “take a stand” may have undercut those.
It is true that many Amerikans are against the travel ban at least verbally. The price of that could be war. If it weren’t for the United States’ extreme international exploitation, sanctions, and aggression, there would be fewer people from Iraq, Iran etc. wanting to come to the States as refugees and migrants in the first place. If thousands of Koreans have to do die for there to be a new Korean refugee question to give Amerikans another chance to exercise morality or talk about “American values” and “the America we know,” fuck that. When Democrats and Republicans worry about how welcoming the United States looks toward war refugees more than they worry about war, the situation shouldn’t be viewed positively.
A month ago was the 75th anniversary of the Japanese internment executive order, but the fact that Amerikans are talking about Japanese internment now should actually be worrying. Despite Trump’s Muslim registry statements, Democrats may be raising the topic of Muslim internment to an extent that Trump isn’t. In addition, again, in order for there to be this kind of question there has to be a war. The war with Japan was necessary, of course, but the war against Korea isn’t. In fact, tens of millions of Amerikans have a negative view of Japanese internment but a positive view of the war against Japan. Such an attitude is correct in a certain historical context – World War II, though the U.S. bases in Japan today need to go. A similar attitude with Amerikans pointing to Muslim assimilation into Amerika, while Muslims face U.S. missile and drone strikes, is as grotesque as it is conditioned upon war and almost inevitable. Many Amerikan opponents of the travel ban are openly supporting wars against Muslim countries in the same breath. There is also an intelligence aspect to this in that the CIA and the Pentagon both use some refugees and migrants for spying purposes.
Some things are so obvious as to almost make discussing them here unnecessary. This is the case with the jingoistic Democrat-McCain “resistance” to Trump on Russia involving intelligence leaks, which has resulted in several excellent critical commentaries from Amerikans who aren’t claiming to be Marxist or progressive. Ironically, what this could mean is that there is in fact a fascism problem generating broad consternation but that, even with a Republican government, Democrats are the main force at this time making things worse. Even if the United States doesn’t attack Russia, all of the jingoism, militarism and warmongering will have lasting consequences. To prevent a real nuclear war with Russia or change the subject from Russia, Trump may find it easier to support bombing Koreans than if there had not been the Russia-related pressure. Different brown/yellow Asians and black/brown/yellow Muslims may be the indirect victims of Democrats’ jingoism they claim is necessary to oppose racism, sexism, or Trump’s supposed white-supremacist love of Russia. Of course, to many Amerikans – particularly some coconuts and oreos – Arabs, Persians and East Asians are “white,” so the killing of Koreans may not be a cause for concern for them and might even be welcomed.
It’s not just that Democrats, who know they are increasing the chance of nuclear war by manufacturing or using Russia questions to oppose Trump, have stupidly suggested climate change or EPA regulation is more important than nuclear war that would quickly ruin the planet. Despite ignorant or lying Democrats suggesting jingoism and warmongering are acceptable because Russians are mostly white, Democrats are still wondering how they lost the election, and for many the answer involves fine-tuning rhetoric to try to win over white male workers to their positions or party. They stubbornly keep raising the same cultural, social and economic issues with Amerikans and, in the absence of change in the underlying demographic and structural issues mentioned earlier, perpetuate a dynamic that leads to opportunism and war. More Amerikans may allow what liberals want, but at a cost involving more economic crisis and more dead people in other countries. At the same time, in the absence of compromise, making and attacking external enemies might unite Amerikans. That includes those who worry about Trump “dividing us” but who don’t worry so much about Trump taking them to war.
Hillary Clinton was a war hawk, and under Obama the United States started wars or became involved in several more countries militarily. In addition, U.S. military spending after World War II peaked under Obama. As a Democrat, Obama helped make $600+ and even $700+ billion military spending a norm. Trump is also a militarist and war hawk, and the United States is just as dangerous and threatening now as it was under Obama, but Trump sometimes appeared as an isolationist who was concerned about deaths of both U.S. personnel and non-Amerikans. Many perceived Clinton as more hawkish in some cases and not just in the case of Russia. After Clinton’s campaign and Obama’s presidency, U.S. anti-war movement leaders never had a chance in terms of building a U.S. anti-war movement that could prevent wars without there also being massive or powerful international opposition. One couldn’t oppose Trump as a particular war hawk relative to Democrats, but Democrats could get Amerikans to believe Trump was going easy on Putin and other white males in Russia who had a problem with the Pussy Riot punk rock group, Lady Gaga, and Madonna, for example.
Amerikans are debating exactly how large the United States’ already extremely large military budget should be. It will be hard, however, for Amerikans to oppose Trump’s supposedly historic military buildup when military spending under Obama was higher for several years.(5) ◊
• “American anti-Russian struggle today is reactionary, period,” 2017 February. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2017-02-20-news-Flynngate-fascism.md
• “America boycott movement growing in spite of Democrats’ pro-AmeriKKKan disagreement with Trump,” 2017 February. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2017-02-10-news-travel-ban-America-boycott.md
• “America academic boycott: “Left-wing” anti-boycott arguments influenced by patriotism,” 2017 February. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2017-02-15-news-US-academic-boycott-Chicana-New-Afrikan-nationalism.md
• “The academic USA boycott is relevant to opposing colonialism and supporting Chican@ and New Afrikan nationalism,” 2017 February. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2017-02-17-news-US-academic-boycott-colonialism-nationalism.md
1. “Tillerson puts military action ‘on the table’ over North Korea,” 2017 March 17. http://www.dw.com/en/tillerson-puts-military-action-on-the-table-over-north-korea/a-37979659
2. “Behold the ‘Resistance’: a groundswell of anti-Trump fervor,” 2017 March 15. https://www.yahoo.com/news/behold-resistance-groundswell-anti-trump-fervor-043812437.html
3. “Women’s March lacked strong anti-war message,” 2017 January. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2017-01-26-news-Womens-March-antiwar.md
4. “Yet another federal judge has blocked President Trump’s new travel ban,” 2017 March 16. http://time.com/4703399/trump-revised-travel-ban-blocked-federal-judge-maryland/
5. “Trump’s military buildup is based on faulty claims,” 2017 March 18. http://www.businessinsider.com/trumps-military-buildup-is-based-on-faulty-claims-2017-3