March 19, 2003
By Bob Wing
War Times newspaper, http://www.war-times.org
As the bombs begin to rain down on Iraq, all of us are dealing with grief, anger, and depression. Surely these feelings will be with us for a long time, and we must take care of each other and ourselves in the harsh days and weeks to come.
It will be helpful if we keep fresh in our minds what the worldwide peace movement has accomplished. Although the Bush administration is going to war, we have inflicted surprising, important defeats upon it. It is far weaker today than it was just a short time ago. Another world is not only possible; change is already underway, and we are helping to drive it.
The world is much different now than just six months ago. At that time we faced the prospect of the U.S. steamrolling Iraq before an acquiescent world. We faced the possibility that the vast majority of the people of our own country would become cruel accomplices in the murderous drive to empire. Washington was billing itself as the new British or Roman Empire, boasting of its coming glory.
Now Washington stands isolated and humiliated in full public view. The would-be emperor has no clothes. The decision to go to war with Iraq is exposed as immoral, illegal and downright monstrous. Whatever moral authority the U.S. government once held has been largely squandered. Whatever sense of immortality and invincibility it once had, has been seriously undermined. Surely not everyone understands this, but hundreds of millions, possibly billions of people do. In our own country, we have much work to do, but the peace movement is much larger than most of us dreamed it would be just a year ago.
After a six-month full court press of bullying, threatening, bribery and bluster, the world’s only superpower came up almost empty handed. Small and poor countries like the Cameroon, Chile and Angola felt empowered to snub Washington’s war drive. Its longtime allies France and Germany fought it to the end. Its newfound crony Russia said forget about it. Its partner in globalization, China, said no. Formerly dependent South Korea rose against U.S. militarism. One Latin American country after another is electing progressive, anti-globalization, anti-U.S. militarist leaders. Turkey could not be bought for $26 billion. Washington’s lone allies, Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar, are in deep political trouble.
The last six months have shown that the U.S. may be a military superpower, but its economic, diplomatic, political and moral reach is more limited and diminishing.
Most important of all, and underlying all the other developments, is the emergence of a new superpower: the world’s people. As one we rose up on Feb. 15 to smite the empire. Antiwar sentiment is so great in most countries that even most reactionary leaders dare not cross us. People in more than 600 U.S. cities organized antiwar protests, millions took to the streets and more than 150 cities passed peace resolutions. Earlier this month a poll showed that Bush would be defeated by any Democrat if an election were held now.
The U.S. may launch a cowardly war, but we must be sure that in response we increase our will and our organization. In the months and years to come, we must make sure the Iraqis do not die in vain.
Having accomplished much, we still face major challenges. Undoubtedly Washington and the corporate media will orchestrate a major reactionary appeal in the weeks to come. We have a giant peace movement in the U.S. But we are not the majority. Our peace organizations and coalitions need strengthening so that they can become effective over the long run. We need to improve our ability to connect domestic with international issues, address racism and to effectively oppose the reactionary U.S.-Israeli alliance. We must learn how to grow our movement while simultaneously deepening its politics and organizations.
The peace movement is more important than ever. In the short run we must fight to shorten the war, limit the damage, save as many lives as possible, and make a lengthy U.S. occupation of Iraq untenable. In the long run, we must defeat Bush’s militaristic plan for global and local empire.
What a dizzying period of change, of victory and defeat, euphoria and grief! This is what movements are made of. Let us not lose sight of what we have accomplished. Let us instead take heart that a new world is not only possible, it is in the making. If we fight on, stay strong, patient and smart, we can help to shape it.