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War Addiction and Democracy

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Since the January 2007 protest against the Iraq occupation and war, I have written a few pieces regarding that ongoing military activity and the movement against it. These pieces have been greeted with positive responses and negative ones. They have also been met with responses telling me that the movement is not only dead but ineffective and irrelevant. Furthermore, write these cynics, there is no point in reviving the movement because it can not be effective no matter what it does. Others write that we should the election run its course and vote for the most antiwar of the remaining candidates.

To these critics, I would argue that it is the presence of the antiwar movement and its silent majority against the war that has prevented the Pentagon from expanding the war and restarting the military draft. I would also argue that it is essential for that movement to reinvigorate itself and get out in the streets in very large numbers no matter who gets elected in November. No politician is going to move to end the war without pressure from the popular flank. It's just too easy for them to defer to the generals and civilians in the Pentagon.

Mainstream media tells us and will tell us even more as the election season heats up) that neither party wants to appear "weak" when it comes to defense. What this really means is that no politician wants to stand up to the war industry, especially since they get millions of dollars from the corporations involved. Even more importantly, it is the war industry that props up the US economy. Without the billions of taxpayers' monies flowing into their coffers, corporations like General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and dozens of others would founder worse than the US auto industry has. Such a fall would certainly be felt across the board.

So, like a junkie needing an ever stronger fix, the Pentagon puts more and more money into its deadly addiction, killing soldiers and civilians, stealing money from the public piggy bank, and ravaging the nation's soul. The politicians in Congress, meanwhile act like the dealer on the street, taking the money proffered by the Pentagon, and copping the drug of death from those that manufacture it. Lost in this dynamic of money and death is the very real fact that it is our money the Pentagon and the politicians are using for their thanatos-inspired endeavors. I'm not suggesting you stop paying your taxes (unless you want to go that way), but I am suggesting that we, the people of the US, demand a more humane use of the money the government does take.

If cynicism concerning the possibility of the antiwar movement being effective is one prevalent opinion among the writers telling me that I'm wasting my time, then the other strain is the bunch who believe electoral politics will elect someone who will end the war. This exists in spite of the shameful record of the 2006 class of Democrats elected to do exactly that. Further examples of the Democratic Party's stance can be found in its' remaining presidential candidates' support for war on Iran and the almost unanimous support it has shown for the PATRIOT Act and other repressive measures introduced by the Bush regime. There is something tying these strains of thought together and that is a belief that there was a democratic government in this country before 2001. Those who believe that Obama may turn the tide if elected believe it is the Bush regime that has ended that democracy. So do many of the cynics.

The fact is this government has not been democratic for decades except in its form. The rise of the national security state, the elimination of the left from the labor movement and the press in the 1950s, the COINTELPRO war waged against the popular movements in the 1960s and 1970s, and the economic disenfranchisement of whole classes of people and their re-creation into an underclass under Reagan/Bush/Clinton are all part of the history the Bush regime has continued.

We can restore democracy in this country. Rebuilding a popular mass-based antiwar movement whose members and leaders spend more time in the streets than in the halls of Congress or Democratic Party meetings is the first step in that direction.

It is the poseurs and fraudulent anti-warriors whose allegiances to the Democratic Party come before any determination to win the war that is making the antiwar movement a shadow of its potential, not the Bush regime. The Bush cabal's antagonism is apparent, just like Richard Nixon's was in from 1969-1974, and is part of what we are fighting. It is the wolves in Democrats' clothing that are the predators we should also be aware of. Of course, there are allies in the mainstream political scene and we should encourage those folks to work with our agenda, not bend our agenda to theirs. Elections have yet to stop a war.

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Ron Jacobs is a writer, library worker and anti-imperialist. He is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American (more...)
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