FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Liberals and War

On 2/24, I attended a CUNY Democratic Party pep rally, “Learning from Paul and Sheila Wellstone.” Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel introduced the procedings, followed by Wellstone’s campaign manager, Jeff Blodgett, Barbara Ehrenreich of Democratic Socialists of America, John Nichols for the Institute for Policy Studies and Bob Muehlenkamp, National Co-Convenor of United StatesLabor Against War.

They uttered every “economic populist” pious wish ever invented. Description of the entire meeting is for a psychiatric journal, but Muehlenkamp’s expectations, as to what signatories of USLAW’s statements may or may not do if Bush wars without Security Council permission, should be known throughout the antiwar camp.

“To say the least, the US Labor movement is very cautious about addressing issues of foreign policy and war and peace…[It’ s a] cold war legacy… to oppose the government is unpatriotic.”

He estimated that the signatories represented about 5 million US workers, 1/3rd of the labor movement. He expected the AFL-CIO to call for more inspections, not oppose the war.

USLAW’s sales pitch was “we are in a war against terrorism, Hussein is a bad guy. He must be disarmed… You can’t reach out to trade union America and instead say other things. You may feel good,” etc.

But there is a built-in problem with adapting to the union bureaucracy. The “hardest moment is yet to come, and the madman starts this war anyway. We have to decide at that moment what to do. The trade union movement in this country is very patriotic. Its members are very patriotic. We have to decide how to carry on the struggle. I think the lesson that Paul would have taught is ‘think politically and make connections and swing back to the populist message’… If we can’t stop this war we stay together to stop them from doing it again.”

From then to intermission, when I fled, the gathering was a future music concert. Wellstone’s “democratic wing of the Democratic Party” will rally about a peace candidate in the 2004 primaries, then beat Bush. There was no discussion of what to do if Bush goes to war on his own, much less if he gets UN approval. Naturally there was no discussion of how to involve labor’s ranks when some, many, most of USLAW’s signatories punk out, if war comes.

The audience, about 300, almost all white in a city with a “minorities majority,” mostly very young or else veterans of one too many class struggles, wasn’t allowed to directly question the panel. You had to fill out a card. Then the chair picked some and/or digested many into a question. This gave the chair complete control of the temper of the event, meaning that they evaded reality and comforted themselves with their victory in 2004, when the party that armed Afghanistan’s fundamentalists ushers in perpetual world peace.

USLAW’s paper legions may yet end up looking good. Whether war will happen is still an open question. Saddam is cooperating with the inspectors, if slowly. Many capitalists, here and abroad, correctly fear that war, even victory, would create more political problems, here and worldwide, than Washington could possibly solve.

The anti-war movement gathers strength everywhere. But whether it has enough momentum to stop the war is another matter. Certainly USLAW’s. ‘economic populist’ pandering to bureaucrats who in turn pander to the most backward elements in their union isn’t the way to go forth.

If anything, it underestimates the ability of the ranks to learn in a crisis. Instead of portraying an Iraq invasion as a diversion from the good ‘war against terrorism,’ USLAW would do better to talk about Bush and the oil industry. Most bus drivers aren’t brilliant. But they know enough about gasoline prices to understand a basic explanation about how the war is about oil. And of course even the talk show hosts are beginning to talk about the fanatic Christian fundamentalists and Neo-Con Zionists that surround the ex-town drunk as he rushes forward to political disaster, whether there is or isn’t a war.

LENNI BRENNER, editor of 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis, can be reached at BrennerL21@aol.com

 

More articles by:

Lenni Brenner is the author of Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators. He can be contacted at BrennerL21@aol.com.

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail