Building U.S. peace movement is crucial

The following is based on a report to the Communist Party’s National Board.

The importance of a U.S. peace movement for today cannot be overstated. The world is entering a phase where military intervention is necessary to prop up capitalist economic interests. This is not a temporary phase.

The Bush administration’s theme is that this war is with us for the long haul. It has replaced the Cold War as the main cover under which capitalist globalization will proceed.

With the over 2,000 bombing raids in Afghanistan and the thousands of troops and special forces in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and the Middle East, the Bush administration is establishing a permanent U.S. military presence in the region that will guarantee U.S. corporate access to oil and resources in Russia and the former “stan” republics of the Soviet Union. This area represents 64 percent of the oil resources in production today. There are huge untapped reserves of both gas and oil.

The search for Osama bin Laden is secondary in this new Bush doctrine; establishing U.S. military and corporate domination is primary. No doubt the search for bin Laden is on, but it is not as central to the picture. As many people worldwide realize, war will not stop terrorism.

In the U.S., the peace movement has embraced multiple themes of peace, social justice and against racism. There is a growing emphasis to combine peace with economic issues.

For example the American Friends Service Committee’s Dec. 7 day of national response focused on redefining “homeland security” to include jobs, health care, civil rights and education.

The cost of the war means no money for social programs, schools and people’s needs here. The war in Afghanistan, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, costs at least $1 billion per month. That estimate was without a large ground troop presence nor aid packages, like the $1 billion package to Pakistan.

The Bush administration gives economic handouts for corporations while taking no action for U.S. workers who have lost their livelihoods in this recession.

It’s important to combine the peace issues with economic and civil liberties issues. They are all part of Bush’s rightwing agenda. Some may be moved on one issue initially. For example many leaders from the African-American community have come out against racial profiling and in defense of civil liberties, including important editorials in the Black press.

In many cities the main center for peace activities is a coalition for peace and justice based on six points of unity and it includes many traditional peace and faith-based organizations. This coalition has condemned terrorism, has an anti-imperialist thrust, an anti-racist component and, as a result of the anti-globalization movement, is tied to economic struggles.

The Labor for Peace initiative is very important. However, the labor movement as a whole has focused on the very important work of the economic fightback.

The AFL-CIO is supporting Bush’s war on terrorism and in Afghanistan, even though there have been some very important labor voices against the war. More work at the rank-and-file level is critical to developing a stronger labor voice for peace.

The peace movement needs to be prepared for Bush’s widening war. Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Colombia are all in the immediate cross-hairs.

The U.S. peace movement finds itself in a difficult, though crucial, position. However, there are many issues involved, and many potential allies with whom the peace movement can unite and fight the Bush agenda.