El Bush’s Holy War on Iraq is coming to a critical juncture. As the Yanqui president implements his so-called “surge” of 30,000 new troops (150,000 total) in a desperate move to secure Baghdad, the insurgency has surged too. The more troops Bush pours in, the higher the Yanqui death count climbs. The April -May-June quarter with 320 invaders killed was the highest three-month casualty toll since this brutal war began in March 2003.
Meanwhile, the body count of Iraqi dead escalates daily. So-called “sectarian” killings are again on the rise despite the increased gringo presence in Baghdad. Factoring in the monthly massacre tallies and extrapolating from the John Hopkins University (U.S.)/Lancet (UK) estimates of the number of Iraqis killed since the invasion began, it is probable that as many as 800,000 Iraqis have lost their lives to Bush’s genocide. 4.2 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes – 2.2 million are internal refugees and another 2 million have fled into Jordan and Syria where they are unwelcome and treated as badly as the indocumentados are up in Bush-landia. The United Nations is calling the Iraqi refugee catastrophe the largest exodus in the Middle East since Israel ran the Palestinians off their land in 1948 and the most critical in the world today.
All of this carnage obeys a calendar – the Yanquis’ electoral calendar – which in November 2008 will select a successor to the bloody Bush. The Yanquis are like sun kings. They really believe the sun revolves around them, that they are really in charge. But for once the tables are turned. The Iraqi resistance – the so-called “terrorists” – holds some heavy cards and the 2008 U.S. presidential election will be determined by the kill rate in that wounded land.
Compas, when this terrible war began four years ago, we came together to stop the slaughter in a coalition named “No En Nuestro Nombre” (since fragmented), a slogan that we picked up from our counterparts in the U.S. anti-war movement. But the truth is that Bush’s war has never been fought in the name the Mexicas gave this country. This has always been a gringo war – Bush vs. the rest of the world. Our wars are in Oaxaca and Atenco, Chiapas, against the sinverguenzas that have stolen this land, cut down the trees and poisoned the water, disappeared the Indians, forced us to guzzle Coca Cola and pump petroleum, and buy our tortillas at Wal-Mart.
Yet even if Iraq is not Mexico’s war, we are invested in it – more than 200 young Mexicanos y Mexicanas tricked into serving in Tio Sam’s army, are dead in Iraq according to the lista de los muertos kept by Fernando Suarez del Solar, the father of Jesus Suarez, the first Mexica to die in the invasion. Mexican civil society sent two groups of human shields to Baghdad to stand between Bush’s bombs and the Iraqi people even before the war began. The Mexican-born doctor Augustin Aguayo was imprisoned by the gabacho military for refusing to return to Iraq. Solidarity, the globalization of resistance, is embedded in the Mexica genome.
Nonetheless, we still can’t drum up 50 comrades angry enough to tell the gringos Basta Ya! when we march on their fortress embassy on Reforma. What’s up with this?
If the war against the war is not being fought in Mexico, it is still being fought in the places that are fighting in this war – the U.S., Europe, the Middle East. I have been traveling between these points and Mexico for nearly 50 years now. When I’m out there in the world, I like to tell Mexico’s story. I just traveled through Gringolandia for six months talking to folks about being Zapatistas where they live. Now that I’m back in “El Monstro” (Elias Contreras), I bring you news of where I’ve been.
The anti-war movement in my accidental patria, the United Snakes of North America, is not enjoying its best moments. There have been few national mobilizations since Bush’s unspeakable re-election in 2004 and ANSWER, the usual convener of national mobilizations (actually controlled by a perverse Marxist-Leninist clique) is not the answer. The sole exception to this diminishment of anti-war protest was a January 27th rally in Washington called on the cuff by United for Peace & Justice to threaten the Democratic Party, which had just won narrow majorities in both houses of the gabacho congress, with abandoning their ranks if the Dems did not stop the war. This part of the story did not have a happy ending.
Since the first spontaneous outbursts against Bush’s crusade in 2003, mobilizations have become ritualized with marches on Washington each spring and fall much as back during the genocide in Vietnam (it took ten years of marching to stop that war.) The momentum has shrunk from march to march, which has something to do with ANSWER’s manipulation of these actions, but is mostly attributable to the daily grind of the slaughter. Us gringos sip at the horror as if it were our morning café Americano and then go off to work or school or play as if nothing happened. In our name.
There are many degrees of separation between the Americans and their war. This is not like Vietnam. There is no draft. The boy next door is not coming home in a body bag. Even with the April-May-June death tolls figured in, the Americanos are only losing three or four soldiers a day – in Vietnam it was 30. And most of these deaths are absorbed by military families who live in military camps isolated from major population centers – although we have buried a few too many “green card marines” here on Mexican soil. The awful truth is that after four years and more of unrelenting homicide, the Iraqi resistance is not killing enough gringos to make it hurt up in El Norte. Yet. Remember, it took ten years of massive casualties in Vietnam for the Yanquis to cry Basta ya!
On the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, ANSWER once again summoned the masses to Washington D.C. March 17th but the gods were not in alignment and a huge snowstorm surged through the eastern U.S., stranding thousands of buses and trainloads of protestors out on the road. 10,000 marched on the Pentagon in an ice storm. In New Orleans, we looked for a peace march all day and never found one. “There hasn’t been a peace movement here since we were visited by Katrina,” a local clergyman told me on the telephone.
That Monday evening after the minimalist march on Washington, MoveOn.Com, a finger of the Democratic Party, called for nation-wide vigils in a thousand towns and cities to demand an end to the bloodshed. Bringing the war home to every street corner is an excellent strategy for spreading awareness and resistance.
But then on Tuesday morning, MoveOn.Com sent text messages to their national lists announcing that it was supporting the Democrats’ bill to finance Bush’s butchery in Afghanistan and Iraq through 2008 – despite the Dems having been elected in November 2006 mid-terms to end the pinche war!
Only ten leftist members of the Democratic Party’s 233 delegates in the congress voted against this travesty. To translate, it was a lot like that deceitful day the PRD voted against the Zapatistas’ Accords of San Andres (“son de ahora, no despues”) here in the Mexican congress.
Sure, the Dems, under the tutelage of the first woman Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi inserted a timetable in the $100 billion (trillion in the way Mexico counts money) death bill calling for Yanqui troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin in March 2008. The assassin Bush blew his stack and said that any talk of withdrawal was the same as surrender and vetoed the funding law. As usual, the Democrats lay down like sick dogs, couldn’t get enough votes to override Bush’s veto, and just gave him the money to kill more Iraqis with no strings attached.
The declining numbers at marches and mobilizations have as much to do with the gringo anti-war movement’s slow, painful waltz with the Democratic Party, as they have to do with disinterest and despondency at not being able to stop the bloodshed. It’s an old story for those of us who had the misfortune to live through Washington’s last great imperial excess in Vietnam. When enough flag-draped coffins come home, the Dems start talking like they are against the war (Vietnam was their war), get themselves elected on an anti-war platform, and then backtrack the moment they are sworn in, fearful that they will be called “Un-American” or “traitors” and lose their new jobs if they dare to cut off funding for “our (their) boys” i.e. the killers of Vietnam and Iraq.
I don’t have to tell you, camaradas, that in El Norte there is only one political party with two heads. At least here with the PRIAN plus the PRD, we have three. The Democrats are mostly like the PRI with a small left wing that looks a little like the PRD. Like the PRI/PRD, the Dems make a big thing about social justice, “peace”, and labor rights blah blah but it’s really all about power and co-opting the poor peoples’ votes. The Republicans, like the PAN, are mostly interested in covering their capitalist asses by any means necessary. Like the PAN, they think they have God on their side.
Last November, the PRI uhh the Dems capitalized on the hatred of the war and bloody Bush to win the congress. But despite the big fiesta, the PRI umm the Dems failed to shut down the war and their ratings are lower than mud. At 29% in the popularity polls, the Yanqui congress is only three points up on the assassin Bush.
The Democrats’ sell-out bit peace diva Cindy Sheehan like a rattlesnake. Sheehan, the mother of a 19 year-old solider killed in Iraq, was a much-valued symbol of the gringo anti-war movement. As a “Gold Star Mother”, she elicited sympathy from Middle America, a place the radicalized movement could not tread. Sheehan’s image was cleverly managed by Code Pink and other media-minded NGOs. She often appeared on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” and even in “People” Magazine (the gabacho “Hola!”)
But Sheehan was a latecomer to the pyschopathic world of the Gringo Left. She had an abiding faith in the Democratic Party, snuggling up to liberal members of congress on camera who would later vote up the war. When they did, Sheehan bolted and went home to suburbia, bruised and feeling used by her handlers. The first thing activists wanted to hear about when I touched back in Day Efe this May was what was wrong with Cindy Sheehan. Health problems were mentioned.
But then just five weeks after dropping out of the peace movement and furious at Bush’s pardon of Cheney’s go-for Scooter Libby, this 4th of July Sheehan launched a peace walk from Atlanta to Amman Jordan.
Sheehan is what’s right and what’s wrong about the anti-war movement in the EEUUs. Her moral indignation at Bush’s crimes made her an overnight 24-7 activist who went on hunger strikes at the drop of a hat and didn’t mind being dragged off to jail. But her marketability turned her into an instant star and instant stars burn out fast. You can’t build a peace movement on burnt-out stars.
Nor can North American activists vote the war in Iraq away. The PRI/Dems’ presidential candidates for the party’s 2008 nomination are selling their anti-war credentials like sexoservadoras in La Merced, Hillary Clinton says she’s against the war but voted for the war and is proud of it. John Edwards, the liberal senator from North Carolina, is against the war but voted for it and is ashamed of it. Barak Obama, who was born in Kenya and attended an Islamic madrassa growing up in Indonesia, is against the war and never voted for it because he was not yet in congress when the vote was taken. Dennis Kucinich, the only real anti-war candidate (he campaigns for reparations to the Iraqis) is considered the lunatic fringe in this circus.
At this rate, with the North America peace movement in bed with the Dem-PRIs, the bloodshed in Iraq will last a long time, a lifetime maybe. The Yanqui army is digging in, building permanent bases. Bush says they will be there for 50 years. The Iraqi resistance will never stop fighting back. I’m an old man. I probably won’t survive this war.
In the end, I suppose, the Iraqi war will cost the invaders so much blood and money that they will slink home to Washington and declare victory, leaving behind a wound that will never close. The insurgents, having run the occupiers out, will also declare victory. One thing is certain – the people will lose no matter who claims to have won. And they will never forget what Bush and the Americanos did to them.
So what do dislocated gringos like myself do to confront this war being fought in our name? Change our names? Burn our passports? Flee to Mexico and call ourselves Mexicanos? Punch up the remote and make it all go away?
Just as we should become Zapatistas right where we live, we need to make the war real whether it’s on this side of the border or El Otro Lado. Speaking truth to power in creative ways is about all that’s left.
Up in Taos, New Mexico the “Domestic Zapatistas”, like Argentina’s “escraches”, have taken to following ex Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who owns a hacienda in that northern New Mexico power spot town whenever Rummy goes out in public. They carry paper towels and tell this Butcher of Baghdad to wipe the blood off his hands, reports Jeff Conant who was thrown out of Mexico by Ernesto Zedillo for helping El Checo paint the Zapatista mural in Taniperlas – Jeff went home to San Francisco and painted the mural all over again on the wall of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore facing Jack Kerouac Alley. Be a Zapatista where you are!
Not in our name does not mean that gringo activists take no responsibility for the horror in Iraq. The Collateral Repair Project, one dogged woman and her screen in Seattle Washington, accepts full responsibility for the pain being inflicted upon the Iraqi people in her name. When the gringos bombed an ambulance driver in Al Qain near Ramadi in Al Anbar, Sasha Crow, a human shield herself in Baghdad on the eve of the war, got mad, went out begging, and raised $5000 USD to buy the widow a house and some sheep. She convinced an Ohio Vetrans for Peace group to install a potable water system in the hospital. Now she’s trying to shake loose a new ambulance but the Yanqui military is stonewalling.
Sasha has raised money for a refugee woman’s hysterectomy and to buy hundreds of dollar reading glasses for older Iraqi sewing women who can’t see what they are sewing. With the rush of Iraqis into Amman, she’s hustling micro-loans for folks in need like a mother who wants to sell pickles in the street to make ends meet. These are band-aids, yes. One band-aid after another distributed person by person to try and staunch the bleeding the Yanquis have inflicted on these innocent people. How else can we deal with this war that is being fought in our name? What else can we do?
JOHN ROSS is in Mexico City, plotting a new novella. If you have further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org