Yes We Can... Stop This War!
Following is the text of the talk given at the Dec. 1 West Point demonstration by Jack A. Smith, editor of the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter and co-chair of Peace & Social Progress Now.
During the election, at Barack Obama rallies, we frequently heard the multitudes exclaim in unison — Yes We Can! The crowds also spoke of "change we can believe in."
I was suspicious of such slogans because it was never explained what they meant. Yes we can — what? And what was the "change we can believe in"?
Although a great deal was implied by these slogans — not least that Obama would end the wars and bring the troops home — the Democratic candidate never spelled it out.
But now I think we know what both statements mean.
Yes We Can vastly expand the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan by adding another 30,000 U.S. troops on top of nearly 68,000 already there, which include the 30,000 Obama sent in March. Obama has doubled Bush's troop allotment.
Now that's a change we can believe in!
And Yes We Can, in Obama's recent words, "finish the job" in Afghanistan.
What job? The "job" of vastly expanding a totally unnecessary war. The intelligent response to 9/11 was worldwide police work, sanctions and other means short of war. But Bush wanted a war to extend U.S. hegemony into Central Asia, and also to pave the way for invading Iraq.
Bush failed in Afghanistan. Obama wants to convey the impression he is "winning" in Afghanistan. By "winning" Obama will show his right wing antagonists that he's no weak-kneed, cut-and-run liberal, much less a leftist or socialist. Far from winning, however, a bigger war means a deeper quagmire.
The Republican Party supports the Afghan war. But 70% of Democratic voters oppose the war. That won't stop Obama. Yes He Can thumb his nose at his own constituency because antiwar Democrats have no place else to go. Most will stick with the so-called "lesser evil."
That's the trouble with the two-party system when one party represents the right/far right and the other party represents the center/center right, and there's no mass party of the left. It's always a choice between evils.
So Yes We Can be led to the slaughter of other people who have done us no harm.
Yes We Can manipulate the masses of the American people.
Yes We Can in actual effect support an undemocratic coup in Honduras despite our rhetorical critique.
Yes We Can continue the Cold War economic embargo and travel restrictions against our small neighbor, Cuba.
Yes We Can raise the military budget to unparalleled heights.
Yes We Can end up supporting the worst aspects of the Patriot Act.
Yes We Can bail out the bankers and Wall St. but No We Can't implement government programs to get people back to work or stop the foreclosures.
Yes We Can get rid of single payer, and transform the public option into a joke.
Yes We Can make the enrichment of insurance companies the key objective of the new healthcare plan.
Friends, we have to rebuild our antiwar movement. We're in for a much longer war.
Our movement — the base of which is composed of Democratic voters — suffered a major decline since the 2006 election when the Democrats took control of Congress. And it nearly fell apart when Obama won the election, because Democratic voters thought they elected a president who would end Bush's wars.
Even though Democrats oppose this war, most have not come back to antiwar activism. The main reason is not wanting to publicly oppose Obama. Also, too many Democrats think of Bush's Afghan adventure as a "good war."
To become a truly mass movement once again we'll have to win those people back to the peace movement. We must convince them this is not a good war. We must bring them back into the streets by the millions.
In three and a half months — on March 20 in Washington — there will be a mass demonstration on the sixth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. ANSWER is the main organizer, and scores of national and regional organizations and coalitions are co-sponsoring. The Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter will supply the buses from several Mid-Hudson towns. Please help us fill them.
Friends, the American people oppose Obama's war buildup, but without a mass peace movement their voices will never reach those in power. We have our work cut out for us.
You want a real change you can believe in? Here's how:
End all the wars! Bring all the troops home now! Money for jobs and people's needs, not for militarism, imperialism, and war!