EDITORIAL: Second superpower is back

On Feb. 15, 2003, 11 million people around the world marched and rallied against Bush’s plans to unleash a pre-emptive, unilateral war. This huge outpouring was described as “the second global superpower.”

The antiwar movement ebbed when the U.S. invasion began. Yet over the following months, Bush’s lies were exposed, torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo shocked the world, and Iraq was plunged into a nightmare of chaos and death.

Now, with hundreds of thousands gathering Sept. 24 in Washington, San Francisco and other cities, the peace movement is roaring back.

Military families have played a major role in this resurgence. Cindy Sheehan and Gold Star Families for Peace captured the nation’s conscience in setting up their vigil outside Bush’s ranch to protest the needless death of Sheehan’s son Casey and so many others. “What noble cause?” she demanded. Bush’s refusal to come out and speak with the grieving mother underlined the callous arrogance of this chief executive lounging on his ranch while GIs suffer and die.

Then came Hurricane Katrina, exposing the criminal negligence, racism and gross incompetence of Bush and his crony-ridden regime. Many Americans are connecting this to the deceitful, bungled, wasteful tragedy of Bush’s Iraq war.

It’s time to seize on the initiative of Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee, both Democrats of California, and 40 other lawmakers to demand that Congress prepare a real “exit strategy” to bring our troops home.

It’s time to terminate all funding for the occupation of Iraq. Use that “peace dividend” for reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It’s time to demand a public works jobs program to employ the jobless at union wages across the country. This must include a watchdog committee composed of those directly hit by these disasters to guard against the Halliburton looters lining up to grab the $62 billion already approved. It must insure affirmative action to eliminate embedded racist hiring practices.

Next year is a congressional election year. It’s time to clean the House and Senate of all the ultra-right demagogues who support Bush’s war in Iraq and his war on the working class.