RAY O’ LIGHT NEWSLETTER
by RAY LIGHT
Also included in this issue:
Successful Defense of Planned Parenthood is a Positive Step
Imperialist Hands off Iran!
While We Were Sleeping
ILPS Condemns Law of Military Arrest without Due Process
U.S. Empire Sinks its Talons Deeper in South China Sea
“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention”
As the day approaches for the Celebration of International Working Women’s Day on March 8th, 2012, the year in which our next U.S. Presidential Election will take place, it is fitting and proper that we recognize, honor and heed the wisdom of Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan, a heroine of legendary courage.
In an extremely moving Mother’s Day “Soap Box” Column in 2009, Cindy Sheehan began: “I think many of us know the origins of Mother’s Day were for Peace and a universal declaration that we mothers won’t send our children to die in wars or kill the children of other mothers.” She concluded the column, as follows: “No matter what you personally think of our new president, the Robber Class wars for profit are continuing as bad or even worse than during the last regime and mothers are still losing their children all over the world by and for the empire.” (“The More Things Change…” 5-10-09)
Today the Obama Administration maintains a combined military force (U.S. soldiers and even more private mercenaries) of over 200,000 in Afghanistan alone, continues its bestial drone war against the people of Pakistan, has just “completed” a war against Libya that, like Iraq under Bush, seems destined to continue long after their respective chiefs of state (Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein) were deposed and murdered on the strength of U.S.-led foreign imperialist intervention, is establishing a large new military presence in Australia as part of a renewed massive U.S. military presence in the Pacific aimed against China and East Asia, and has accelerated the rapid elimination of the civil rights of the people of the USA and rapid militarization of U.S. society itself (begun under Bush) that featured the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed into law by Obama on the last day of 2011, less than two months ago.In this grim setting, Cindy Sheehan entitled a recent thought-provoking “Soap Box” column, “Republican for President?” (2-9-12) Sister Sheehan’s starting point is: “When I opposed the wars and oppression of civil rights here at home during the Bush scandal, there was a certain segment of the population I knew I could always count on to be in solidarity with me: Liberal Democrats.” She continues, “I attended HUGE protests in 2005-2006 before the Democrats took control of Congress in the elections of 2006 – but after that, the protests began to weaken or evaporate.” She then cites a Washington Post poll showing that the majority of “liberal” Democrats favor keeping the Guantanamo torture facility open, the drone bombing campaigns that have increased by at least 300% since the Bush years, and “the Presidential Assassination Program where Obama can have any American executed by his order.”
Sister Sheehan believes that, “… it really doesn’t matter who is in the White House – the Empire will crush everyone it rolls over without any qualms – and those people and their loves, dreams, struggles, and especially their lives, always, always, always matter. Period.”
On this basis, Sister Sheehan argues that “to most ‘liberal’ Democrats, killing by the Imperial Army is only considered wrong if a Republican does it … we are at least able to predict that if a Republican is elected, we will see people out in the streets protesting those murders.”
In her own unique way, Cindy Sheehan is teaching a valuable political lesson about the “Republicrat” (Republican-Democratic Party political duopoly) government rule on behalf of Wall Street and U.S. imperialism. And, viewed from her consistent and principled anti-imperialist war stand, she has even begun to expose the role of phony “leftist” organizations in defense of the U.S. Empire. For example, she explains the fact that “the anti-war movement has continued its tailspin because it was mostly populated by ‘liberal’ Democrats, or other Democratic functionaries like the Communist Party, USA.” (My emphasis)
Where does Cindy Sheehan’s Strength, Wisdom and Integrity come from?
Like the working class mother who is the main character in Maxim Gorky’s classic revolutionary 1907 novel, The Mother, Cindy Sheehan’s wisdom stems, in the first place, from deep love and respect for her son, Casey. In both the Gorky novel and in the real life of Cindy Sheehan, love for a son drew the mother into the midst of the political struggles of her society.
In Gorky’s more than one hundred year old novel, the male and female revolutionaries are impressively depicted as sharing the responsibility for the conduct of the revolutionary struggle. In the novel, the son has become a revolutionary working class leader in the struggle against the Russian Tsarist Regime. The Mother follows her wonderful son into the ranks of the revolution where she comes into her own as a dignified human being dedicated to the just struggle for freedom for all the oppressed and exploited from tyranny.
In sharp contrast, Cindy Sheehan’s son, Casey, grew up (as did Cindy herself) in a non-revolutionary period in the USA, a period of real reaction in the belly of the beast of the world’s hegemonic imperialist power. Casey became a U.S. soldier who was part of the U.S. imperialist military occupation of Iraq. So Cindy Sheehan’s path toward anti-imperialist and pro-revolutionary activism where she has come into her own as a dignified human being dedicated to the just struggle for freedom for all the oppressed and exploited from tyranny was vastly different, though no less courageous, than the path traversed by The Mother conceived by Maxim Gorky.
On April 4, 2004, Casey was killed by al Sadr resistance fighters only five days after his arrival in Iraq. With the help of a fiercely honest poem by her daughter, Carly,* Cindy Sheehan became transformed through her grief at the loss of Casey, in her own words, “… from an ordinary human being into a crusader”; “… from a private mother into a public peace mom;” “… from a shy and horrible public speaker into a brave and powerful orator; … from a nonwriter into an able author on fire for the truth.” (pages 59 and 60, Peace Mom, 2006)
* One stanza: “Have you ever heard the sound of taps playing at your brother’s grave? They say he died so the flag will continue to wave. But I believe he died because they had oil to save. Have you ever heard the sound of taps playing at your brother’s grave?” The poem concludes with the line: “Have you ever heard the sound of a nation being rocked to sleep?
With incredible honesty and courage, Cindy Sheehan confronted the first and most fundamental truth: “I have never called ‘terrorists’ freedom fighters. I have called the resistance fighters who killed Casey such [freedom fighters], but they are fighting to get the occupying forces out of their country and have a legitimate right to wage a resistance against occupiers. I don’t like that they are killing our children, for God’s sake, they killed my oldest child; my sweet and wonderful Casey. However, our government is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people of Iraq.” (page 102, Peace Mom)
At the end of 2008, she was even more explicit: “The right of a population to resist being occupied by a foreign country/military/corporation is a basic human right that has been enshrined in international law. I recognize that the person who killed my son, Casey, in Iraq had every right to do so. I am not in any way happy about it, but if Casey’s commander-in-chief and vice commander-in-chief had not placed him (immorally and illegally) in the country of Iraq to be an occupier, then the Iraqi would not have killed him. George and Dick knowingly put Casey in harm’s way and I won’t rest until I see justice for Casey’s (and over one-million others) murder. That is also my right: redress for wrong and to see justice finally consummated.” (“Occupier/Occupied,” 12-28-08)
It was on this rock-solid basis that, in August 2005, Cindy Sheehan traveled to Crawford, Texas (accompanied by a small band of determined anti-war activists) to demand an answer from President George W. Bush, face to face at his sprawling home ranch, regarding the purpose for which he had sent her deceased son into harm’s way in Iraq. This simple but bold action placed Cindy Sheehan in a formidable status from which to deal with Bush. And George W. Bush, coward that he is, was afraid to meet with Cindy Sheehan eyeball to eyeball.
As she has pointed out, if Bush had just met with her it probably would have defused the movement around her before it ever got started. The 26 day encampment which became known around the world as “Camp Casey” never would have been born. And the tremendous boost that the new anti-war heroine contributed to the weak but growing anti-war movement would have been avoided by the U.S. imperialist chieftain. With the U.S. war in Iraq going against the U.S. imperialist army, Cindy Sheehan became a powerful voice for global justice and peace.*
* In 2006, at the World Social Forum in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez with Cindy Sheehan at his side, told the packed crowd that Cindy Sheehan was “Mrs. Hope” while U.S. President George W. Bush was “Mr. Danger.”
With her fearlessness and her clear eyed principles, sister Sheehan was also able to quickly learn from her own political experience. After Casey’s death, she initially gave George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt about having a non-political “human” motive for meeting with the families of dead soldiers. Then she heard Bush use these meetings for political gain in his next State of the Union Message, even while he never attended any soldiers’ funeral services and didn’t allow caskets or even photos of the deceased to be shown on television.
She campaigned against Bush in the 2004 election and supported Democratic candidate John Kerry. Thereafter she was once again self-critical, declaring that she would never again support a pro-war democrat after Kerry said he would have waged these same imperialist wars that Bush waged only he would have prosecuted them more successfully.
The turn against her and toward a passive attitude toward U.S. imperialist war in Afghanistan and Iraq on the part of the U.S. anti-war movement (as it began a rapid decline) ironically took place with the 2006 election victory for the Democratic Party in both houses of Congress! This victory was largely seen by liberals, revisionists, Trotskyites and other opportunists as an outcome that would result in the winding down of these wars. Instead, as we had predicted, the emergence of a Democratic majority in the House and Senate provided U.S. imperialism with greater flexibility; it allowed U.S. imperialism through the close cooperation of the Republican President and the Democratic Congress to carry out the “surge” in Iraq. And, as Cindy Sheehan pointed out, the U.S. anti-war movement has been in a “tailspin” ever since.
In 2008, having met with Hillary Clinton and having already dealt with her pro-Bush war criminal role as a U.S. Senator, Cindy also saw through Democratic candidate Obama. She was supportive (as were we) of Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, an Afro-American former Congresswoman from Georgia who had strongly opposed and exposed the U.S. imperialist character of the Bush-led wars and continues today to oppose Obama’s wars on Libya, etc.
In 2008, Cindy Sheehan learned and helped many of us learn the full
extent of the political bankruptcy of the so-called “U.S. Left.”*
* In 2007, we had written, “… the USA today has a solidly imperialist bourgeois electoral system that promotes two wings of an imperialist bourgeois war party, an imperialist bourgeois mass media … and even to some extent an imperialist bourgeois proletariat and anti-war movement …” (“2007 Country Report – USA,” Ray O’ Light Newsletter #45, July-August 2007)
The 2008 Cindy Sheehan Campaign to take Nancy Pelosi’s Congressional Seat
At the time of the 2008 U.S. election, Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker of the House of Representatives and thus second in line of Presidential Succession, after only the sitting Vice President. By virtue of her position, since the president was a Republican, she was also the leader of the national Democratic Party.* Her lofty and powerful position in the U.S. government and the Democratic Party, however, could only be maintained if she were re-elected to her House seat, representing approximately one-four hundred and thirty-fifth of the U.S. population, not a huge number of people. Moreover, her Congressional district covered much of San Francisco, California, among the most “anti-war” of all the 435 Congressional districts in the USA. Finally, as pointed out above, following the 2006 election when the Democrats won majority control of both houses of Congress, rather than stopping the imperialist wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and bringing the U.S. troops home, as so many had anticipated, the Congressional Democrats, led by Pelosi, provided fresh support for the Bush-Cheney Regime that was manifested in an immediate troop “surge” in Iraq.
* In that role, Pelosi publicly promised before the 2006 election that the Democratic Party would not seek impeachment charges against Bush and Cheney, if the Democrats were to win a Congressional majority.
It was in this setting that the by now renowned anti-war heroine, Cindy Sheehan, living in the Pelosi district, launched her campaign to win the Congressional seat and retire the war criminal Pelosi.* What a great opportunity for the relatively weak U.S. anti-war movement and organized left to strike a powerful blow against the U.S. Empire and its brutal imperialist wars on the oppressed peoples! Our small vanguard organization struggled mightily with Bay Area opportunists from the CPUSA, from Workers World Party, from the Afro-American “left,” from the U.S.-Philippine radical movement, and a host of other organizations and individuals, attempting to rally them to roll their sleeves up and get involved in the Sheehan Congressional campaign. All to no avail!
* In the aftermath of the 2008 election, with both a Democratic President and a larger Democratic majority in Congress, the Republican Party in its desperation leaked the fact that U.S. imperialism would have preferred to leave in the shadows. Nancy Pelosi, as the leader of the “opposition” party, had been briefed about the torture being used by the Bush Regime from the beginning of the War of Terror and, at the very least by her silence, had given her consent to its use.
Our small organization did what we could to support the campaign including hands-on campaign work. But almost no other left organizations in the Bay Area or around the country saw the Sheehan campaign as a real opportunity to advance proletarian international solidarity with the oppressed peoples in Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere being terrorized and murdered by “our own” imperialists. They refused to see or to act on this great opportunity, provided by Cindy Sheehan and her campaign, to strike a powerful blow against U.S. imperialism. They refused to take on the Democratic Party and thus strike a powerful blow against Wall Street’s “Republicrat” political rule.
Nancy Pelosi, the arch war criminal, waltzed back into Congress. Yet, despite the abandonment of her campaign by the organized U.S. left and her shoestring budget and barebones staff, Cindy Sheehan won a larger percentage of the vote than the Republican candidate, underscoring the opportunity that was missed.
Cindy Sheehan, through her own political experience, has thus come to deeply understand the depth of the opportunist betrayal of the U.S. and international working class and oppressed peoples and the valuable service that the opportunists provide to the U.S. Empire. No wonder her recent observation about the right revisionist CPUSA as an organization of “Democratic functionaries” is so accurate.
And despite the best efforts of all kinds of slick opportunists – from gentle and kind to brutal and bullying – starting with Democratic Party liberal operatives, despite personal attacks including from her husband’s family, and myriad other obstacles, she has continued on her principled and at times lonely march against U.S. imperialist war abroad and at home.
Some Political Lessons of Cindy Sheehan for the Global Anti-Imperialist and International Communist Movements
The courage and fearlessness of Cindy Sheehan, to me, reaches its height with her acknowledgment and public recognition of her own share of responsibility in the death of her beloved son, Casey! As she courageously expressed it, “Yes, before I could blame George Bush, or the media, or Congress, or the American people, for Casey’s death, I had to realize that I also had quite a bit of my dear boy’s blood on my own hands.” (page 130, Peace Mom) It is because of this ultimate self-criticism that Cindy Sheehan has had the incredible strength to keep her eye on the prize and persevere in her principled and consistent struggle against U.S. imperialism even in the absence of a viable and serious international communist movement.*
* One is reminded of the U.S. working class heroine, Crystal Lee Sutton, the real “Norma Rae,” who in the midst of the bitter unionization campaign in a small North Carolina mill town in the 1970’s sat her three children down and told them exactly who their daddies were and how they came to be, pre-empting any attempt by the powers that be to try to shame or blackmail her into submission. Thereafter, sister Crystal was fearless and never lost sight of the prize of power for poor and working people no matter the obstacles.
Indeed, those proletarian fighters in the USA and around the world who are serious about rebuilding a substantial international communist movement have a number of things to learn from sister Cindy Sheehan.
1. Sister Sheehan recognizes the relative responsibility of all U.S. citizens for the imperialist wars against the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, et al. She recognizes that her privileged comfortable apathy had helped lay the basis for Casey to go into the U.S. military in the first place. She recognizes the role of T.V. and mass entertainment, commercialism and material obsession that helped keep someone like her from dealing seriously enough with the politics of U.S. society until after Casey’s death. This position is in stark opposition to the bourgeois approach of all kinds of opportunists and bourgeois nationalists in state power who have been so ready to dissociate the masses of imperialist society from a “handful” of evil rulers. One example: At the beginning of Chinese rapprochement with President Nixon and U.S. imperialism, Chinese Premier Chou En-lai proposed a toast to the “Great American People” at a time when U.S. imperialism, backed by U.S. society, was carrying out one of the most barbaric imperialist wars in history against the heroic Vietnamese people. If the masses and the working class in an imperialist country have no responsibility for the criminal conduct of its ruling class and government, how will they ever be able to become responsible for overthrowing and smashing them?
Sister Sheehan’s approach reflects the greater responsibility for the criminal conduct of U.S. imperialism of the more privileged sectors of U.S. imperialist society, the educators, the mass media, the Democratic and Republican Party functionaries, the “Republicrat” chieftains like the Clintons, Kerry, Obama, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, the two George Bushes, Dick Cheney, John McCain and ultimately the Corporate CEOS of Halliburton, Lockheed-Martin, and the bankers on Wall Street.
2. Related to point #1, Sister Sheehan’s courageous approach to the killing of her son, Casey, by Iraqis fighting for their freedom, provides a model for the revolutionary approach to imperialist occupation troops. It is remarkable that Sister Sheehan insists that she is a pacifist, while recognizing that the person in Iraq who killed her son had “every right to do so.” Her principled approach to the imperialist military forces is the only approach that leads to decisive national democratic and socialist military victory over imperialism instead of a negotiated compromise settlement that fails to dislodge the old comprador and imperialist-sponsored ruling system and keeps the working class and the masses from really coming into their own and taking power.
3. Sister Sheehan’s approach to the U.S. Empire, her clear call for the revolutionary defeat of “her own” imperialist state, is exemplary. In the first place, her approach exposes the opportunist treachery of all those in state power or in control of significant areas who seek rapprochement with U.S. imperialism instead of national liberation from U.S. imperialism (which paves the way to socialism).
4. Sister Sheehan’s approach to the people of the USA, “her country,” and her approach to the people of the rest of the world is a tremendous example of genuine internationalism. Says Sister Sheehan, “ I went from being the mom who did everyone’s laundry, packed lunches, kissed boo-boos, tucked in at night, cleaned up the messes, to being someone who fights for all humanity’s children not just her own.” (ibid., pages 127 and 128)
Cindy Sheehan’s internationalist
approach to the children of the world challenges the communists of the
world to become consistent proletarian internationalists. Such forces understand and operate
on the basis of the fact that the struggle for socialism is a global
struggle and that our struggle against monopoly capitalism and
imperialism and all the comprador, semi-feudal and other reactionary
forces connected to international capital is interconnected. A defeat
in one area of the world is a defeat for all. And a victory in one area
of the world is a victory for all.
Finally, in Commemoration of International Working Women’s Day in
2012, let all the women and men who are inspired by the courage and
convictions and the political life of Cindy Sheehan express our
determination to follow in her footsteps. Let us live like Cindy, with
our heads held high and our backs straight and fight together for a
better future for all humanity.
by LEA CHARLES and RAY LIGHT
Planned Parenthood has earned a reputation for providing widespread access for women’s healthcare, including funding for breast screenings for poor and working class women. Just a week or two ago, under right wing pressure, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a key financial backer of Planned Parenthood, suddenly withdrew its financial support for this important advocate for women’s health. The aggressive right wing Christian fundamentalist forces, in the name of being anti-abortion foes, placed the health care concerns of thousands of poor and working class women in jeopardy. And this is a bad omen, for it reflects the thinking of the majority of both houses of the U.S. Congress.
Fortunately, the mass response to this reactionary assault has produced a few really positive results. First, in the several days following the Komen Foundation action, thousands of women (and men) around the country contributed financially to Planned Parenthood, raising $3 million dollars, more than making up for the Komen Foundation shortfall. Secondly, the Komen Foundation, rightly criticized for its political cowardice and betrayal of women’s health, backed off its stand, and once again reinstated its financial support for Planned Parenthood, at least for this year. And third, the Susan Komen Foundation was itself exposed as an institution beholden to Occidental Petroleum and other reactionary political and ecological polluters. This helps explain why the Komen Foundation does a great disservice to women by refusing to address the toxic pollutants that are the root cause of the cancer epidemic and only encourages individual initiative for “cure” after the fact.
As The Nation observed, “But the Komen reversal, … while sweet, was ultimately a defensive victory. The campaign succeeded not in advancing reproductive healthcare but in preventing a loss of such services.” (Editorial, The Nation, February 27, 2012)
The Federal Election Commission’s records show that, in 2001, the Komen Foundation and its allies lobbied against the consumer-friendly version of the Patient’s Bill of Rights. The Health Benefits Coalition, the industry’s leading PAC in the fight to stop a Patient’s Bill of Rights, included Cigna Corporation, New York Life Insurance and the National Restaurant Association. These so-called “pillars” of the health care industry, giant corporations also including Merck-Medco and Caremark, are all part of the Susan G. Komen investment portfolio.
Indeed, Nancy Brinker, the Founder of the Komen Foundation, before she became George W. Bush’s Ambassador to Hungary in 2001, sat on the board of directors of Caremark Corporation. Nancy Brinker, still the CEO of the Komen Foundation, along with Norman Brinker, her deceased former husband and the founder of the National Restaurant Association, and their corporate cronies are not “friends” of poor and working class women.
In the three days that the Komen Foundation was openly attacking Planned Parenthood, we the 99% stood up to defend women’s healthcare and pushed the Komen Foundation back. But, clearly, we need to do a lot more.
As we approach International Working Women’s Day on March 8th, we need to recognize that we, like our sisters and brothers who marched in the first International Working Women’s Day 101 years ago, have nothing to lose but our chains and a world to win.
by NAT VESEY
Imperialism is at war with Iran. At the behest of Big Oil and to preserve its empire, the U.S. government, their junior partners/competitors of the European Union (EU) and their client/proxy Israel are engaging in acts of war against sovereign Iran. And they are “rattling their swords” to justify greater attacks on that country.
Since the 1979 Iranian revolution that overthrew the U.S. CIA and British intelligence-imposed Shah of Iran and established the Islamic Republic of Iran, the U.S. has imposed economic sanctions on Iran. Recent economic sanctions include a ban on the import, sale and trade of Iranian oil, constituting half of its Gross National Product. Also, any corporations doing business with Iran or its Central Bank will be prohibited from having any trade or economic transaction with a U.S. bank or corporation.
The European Union has followed suit. At Washington’s urging, the EU is preparing sanctions that would serve to exclude Iranian banks from Brussels-based SWIFT, the cooperative of more than 9000 financial institutions that serves as the main conduit for inter-bank transactions around the world. With concurrence of their overseeing institutions, worldwide central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank, SWIFT is ready to isolate and cripple Iranian Banks.
By denying access to life-sustaining goods and services and blockading Iranian international banking, imperialism, led by U.S. Imperialism, is engaging in acts considered by international law to be “acts of war” against the people of Iran. U.S.-led imperialism seeks to starve Iran into abandoning its nuclear energy program which it insists is aimed at the development of nuclear weapons.
No evidence has been provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or anyone else that Iran is seeking nuclear arms. Iran has been open to IAEA inspection and is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Director of U.S. National Intelligence, James Clapper reported to a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee that it was “technically feasible” that Tehran could produce a nuclear weapon in one or two years “but practically not likely;” while Defense intelligence Agency director Lt. General Ronald Burgess told the same committee that: “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.” It would only respond if it were attacked. Thus, even the imperialists’ monitoring and intelligence agencies acknowledge that Iran poses no nuclear threat to the U.S., her allies or Israel’s 400 nuke regional monopoly.
On the other hand, Israel has engaged in a campaign of assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists, claiming four lives in the last two years. U.S. intelligence officers and Israeli sources confirm that the most recent killing on January 11 of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was organized by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. Israel has engaged in military attacks against targeted Iranian nationals in Iran. Open debate on whether or not to bomb Iranian civilian nuclear facilities, as they did in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007, rages in the Israeli media.
Open and shameless advocacy for such bombing by U.S. military forces by Matthew Kroenig (a Council on Foreign Relations Fellow) appeared in the January-February 2012 issue of the most prestigious and influential U.S. journal, Foreign Affairs. The article is entitled, “Time to attack Iran: Why a Strike is the Least Bad Option.”(!)
Lies about “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) were similarly propagated by U.S. imperialism against Iraq nearly ten years ago to justify an unprovoked war of aggression that resulted in over one million Iraqi deaths, several million refugees and near total physical and social destruction of the country, as well as nearly 5000 U.S. military casualties and many more wounded on both sides.
But a decade of war that uncovered no WMDs did put U.S. oil companies back in charge of Iraq’s oil fields and solidified their control over the area of the Middle East containing the world’s largest oil reserves, secured by U.S. military force; it led to ever escalating prices for oil and the greatest quarterly profits registered in corporate history. For Big Oil a decade of war on Iraq was a booming success.
Bordering Iraq, Iran has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world, 12.7% of known reserves; second to Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and greater than already conquered Iraq. Another war of aggression and domination (this time against Iran) would go a long way to advance U.S. imperialist designs for maintaining hegemony over this strategically vital energy producing region. And U.S. military aggression would again plow the way for Big Oil to reap harvests of superprofits, fertilized with the blood of the People of Iran. As well, the rest of us would suffer continued petro-fueled destruction of the environment and corporate domination of our world. Maximizing profit, the driving force of capitalist political economy is the powerful motivating force for War on Iran.
In addition to spelling disaster for the Iranian people, war on Iran would intensify U.S. imperialist conflict with capitalist and imperialist competitors: India, China, Japan and South Korea, who collectively accounted for 60% of Iran’s oil sales in 2011. They refuse to kowtow to U.S. sanctions on Iran out of their own interests. Thus economic contradictions give rise to political conflict leading to military conflict. U.S. War on Iran pushes the whole world closer to a war that will engulf the entire planet.
While it is in the interests of all the world’s working class and oppressed peoples to prevent escalation of U.S. Imperialist war on Iran, it is the particular responsibility of the U.S. Working Class and Oppressed Peoples here in the “belly of the beast” to do all in our power to oppose U.S./Israeli war on Iran. It is our proletarian moral and political imperative. If we help defeat U.S. imperialist wars of aggression abroad we advance our own defense against their war on us at home. The system that elevates profits over people at home and abroad is weakened wherever their attacks are thwarted. Together we can win! So we demand:
IMPERIALIST HANDS OFF IRAN!!!
WORKERS OF THE WORLD AND
OPPRESSED PEOPLE UNITE!!!
Introduction to Statement by ILPS Chairman Sison
by KAY MCCARTHY
As the working class and oppressed people of the USA (the 99%) were celebrating making it through a year of upheaval, financial crisis and record unemployment and looking forward to a better 2012, on December 31, 2011, “our friend” President Obama signed into law the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Among its many provisions, this Act allows the arrest of U.S. citizens by the U.S. military on U.S. soil without cause, and their indefinite detention without the right of trial! This Act was overwhelmingly supported by both Democrats and Republicans (Republicrats) in the U.S. Congress.
Unfortunately, the working class and oppressed in the United States have been intentionally kept in the dark. It is time to open your eyes and see the truth! Any U.S. citizen could disappear from life as they know it and be separated from the rest of society indefinitely without any justification! Look to your right. Look to your left. You could be next. Remember what Pastor Martin Niemöller said about his experience in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s:
First they came for the communists,
And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
And there was no one left to speak out for me.
In this spirit, we welcome the proletarian internationalist
contribution of outstanding Filipino revolutionary, Jose Maria Sison,
Chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS),
issued on January 3, 2012 and reprinted below.
by PROFESSOR JOSE MARIA SISON
We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, condemn US President Barack Obama for signing into law last December 31 the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with its so-called Homeland Battlefield provisions, which allow the US military to arrest and detain indefinitely US citizens without due process.
This reprehensible anti-democratic law is a further step in the fascisation of the US ruling system. It further develops the legal infrastructure for fascism, as earlier laid down by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 in apparent reaction to 9/11. The US monopoly bourgeoisie and its chief political agents, from Bush to Obama, have generated the anti-terrorist hysteria to justify imperialist plunder and war and the suppression of civil liberties in the US and abroad.
Once more the dictum is proven that no country is free that oppresses other countries and peoples. The US monopoly bourgeoisie is driven to stifle the basic rights and freedoms of the American people in order to suppress their growing protests and demands against the escalating rapacity and cruelty of the capitalist system in crisis and to allow imperialist plunder and wars of aggression to run rampant with impunity.
The US has maliciously used the nearly 3000 killed in the 9-11 attacks as pretext for the imperialist wars of aggression since 2001 and in the process caused the violent death of thousands of its own troops and hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, at least 1.5 million in Iraq and more than 100,000 in Libya. Thus, 9-11 has been compared to the Reichstag fire, especially because of the long-time links of the CIA and the Al Qaeda masterminds.
The NDAA signed into law by Obama provides the hefty amount of USD 662 billion for the US military. It also pushes strong sanctions against Iran and its Central Bank, particularly for impeding oil exports and payments, under the pretext of hampering the nuclear research program of Iran. In fact, the sanctions aim to make war provocations as part of a US-Israel scheme to overthrow regimes, like Syria and Iran...
In view of the relentless worsening crisis of the US and world capitalist system and the fascisation of the US ruling system, we the ILPS anticipate greater troubles ahead in terms of imperialist plunder and war and the further rise of state terrorism on a global scale. We therefore urge the peoples of the world to raise the level of their fighting unity and militancy along the anti-imperialist and democratic line and struggle ever more vigorously for greater freedom, democracy, development, social justice and world peace.
by MIKE S.
Mark Twain, the beloved author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn fame and a founder of the Anti-Imperialist League, wrote in 1900, “We have gone there [to the Philippines] to conquer, not to redeem ... And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”
This same year of 1900, one of the staunchest defenders of rising
U.S. imperialism, Senator Beveridge of Indiana, bellowed from the
Senate chambers: “The Philippines are ours forever ... The Philippines
give us a base at the door of all the East. And the Pacific is the
ocean of commerce of the future. Most future wars will be conflicts of
commerce. The power that rules the Pacific, therefore, is the power
that rules the world. And, with the Philippines, that power is, and
will forever be, the American Republic.”
Beveridge was speaking soon after rising U.S. imperialism had seized the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guam from colonial Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The issue at the time, based on the imperialist drive for maximum profits, was whether to fully annex the Philippines and attempt to militarily crush the powerful Philippine independence movement that had been on the verge of defeating 350 years of Spanish colonial rule. The imperialist drive for profit carried the day. The Filipino-American War raged between 1899 and 1902 followed by more than ten years of a U.S. military “pacification” campaign. 1.5 million, or one out of every seven Filipino people, died at the point of a U.S. gun. Harsh direct U.S. colonial rule was imposed until 1946 (minus the Japanese occupation in World War II), followed by the indirect U.S. imperialist rule which has continued to the present through various U.S. puppet regimes including the notorious 14 year long Marcos dictatorship.
Massive U.S. military bases at Subic Bay (Navy) and Clark (Air
Force) were established in the Philippines projecting U.S. military
might in the Pacific Region. Most notably they were used as key
launching sites for the criminal U.S. wars of aggression against the
Vietnamese and Indo-Chinese people. In the early 1990’s, the Filipino
peoples’ freedom movement, after years of anti-imperialist struggle,
finally forced the closure of these important military outposts of U.S.
imperialism in the Pacific and were victorious in “legally” banning the
placement of any permanent foreign troops on Philippine soil.
U.S. President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Gillard unveiled an unprecedented agreement which grants U.S. troops permanent access to Australian facilities, including a base of 2500 U.S. marines and expanded U.S. Naval forces off the coast of Australia. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The move could help the U.S military, now concentrated in Japan and South Korea in Northeast Asia, to spread its influence west and south across the region including the strategically and economically important South China Sea, which China considers as its sovereign territory.” (11/10/11) (My emphasis)
Coinciding with President Obama’s announcements in Australia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood on the deck of a U.S warship in Manila Bay in the Philippines “reaffirming” the strong military relationship between the United States imperialists and the reactionary government of the Philippines. “We are making sure that our collective defense capabilities and communications infrastructure are operationally and materially capable of deterring provocations from the full spectrum of state and non-state actors,” said Clinton.*
* Unmentioned was the fact that in violation of the Philippine Constitution, 600 U.S. combat troops have been continually “on the ground” in the Southern Philippines since 2002 and countless other U.S. military personnel have been rotated in and out of the Philippines for over a decade providing military “training” and assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the aim of defeating the determined and powerful National Liberation Struggle led by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front and the Moro peoples struggle led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Following Clinton’s high profile visit, the Washington Post of January 25, 2012 reported that, “... the Philippines is in talks with the Obama administration about expanding the American military presence. ... Although negotiations are in the early stages, officials from both governments said they are favorably inclined toward a deal.” The Communist Party of the Philippines exposed these machinations which include opening new U.S. bases on Philippine soil: “The U.S. wants to use the Philippines as a platform for its power-projection, China-containment and interventionist operations in the Asia-Pacific region.” (Press Release, 2/16/12) In addition, the U.S. Navy is planning to station new “state of the art” combat ships in Singapore and is exploring similar agreements with Vietnam and Thailand.
As Commander in Chief and chief political representative of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex, President Obama drove his message home in the January State of the Union address: “We’ve made it clear that America is a Pacific power ...”
Over one hundred years ago, Senator Beveridge was right on one point: The Pacific is indeed the ocean of commerce. Today, approximately one half of the world’s trade passes through the South China Sea, the shortest route between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This includes one-half of the world’s oil that is transported over the water, many times the quantity of oil that passes through the Suez Canal. Furthermore, the South China Sea area itself is abundant in energy (oil and natural gas) and seafood resources. By some estimates, the area of the Spratly Islands contains energy reserves that rival those of Kuwait, which represent 8% of the world’s known oil reserves! This same sea produces some 10% of the world’s fish catches.
This new U.S. military priority, expansion and intervention in the Pacific Region is directly connected to the intensifying contention between U.S. imperialism (including some of its puppet allies such as the Philippine Government) and China. On the one hand, U.S imperialism is in economic decline, while still remaining the world’s number one military super-power, spending on its war machine as much as all the other governments of the world combined! It will stop at nothing to desperately defend its maximum profits and Empire. On the other hand, capitalist China is a new and rising imperialist power, expanding areas of economic influence and seeking control over energy resources to feed its growing and mammoth economy and to defend its maximum profits. As such, China has staked claim to the South China Sea, its resources and shipping lanes. U.S. military expansion in this region creates a powder keg for potential regional and/or world war. In addition, the fact that China holds over $1 trillion of U.S. debt raises the possibility that if and when the U.S. cannot (or will not) pay up, China may have to go through the U.S. Navy to collect what it is owed!
Propelling the U.S. saber-rattling in the Pacific Region are the same economic motives, regardless of Democratic Party or Republican Party administrations, that were driving the U.S. invasion and brutal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the escalating war against Pakistan, military intervention in Yemen, the U.S.-led NATO war against Libya, and ongoing acts of war against Iran: These include control of the world’s oil and energy resources, pipelines, vital shipping lanes and cheap/semi-slave labor – all connected to the insatiable drive for maximum profit – and all at the expense of the workers and oppressed the world over.
Over the short run and in the spirit of the anti-imperialist Mark Twain:
No to U.S. military expansion in the Pacific Region!
Shut down all U.S. bases in other lands!
Bring all the troops/mercenaries home along with the war dollars!
End the WAR$ at Home and Abroad!
And over the longer run: A 2007 speech by Ray O. Light
titled “The Economic Motives for the Bush-led U.S. Imperialist War at
Home and Abroad and the Need for Proletarian Revolution” (May-June 2007
Newsletter) concluded with the following: “To successfully combat the
Bush-led [and now the Obama-led] U.S. imperialist war at home and
abroad ... the political-economic system of monopoly capitalism and
imperialism which drives this war must be defeated. To accomplish this
urgent and noble task, proletarian [working class] revolution is
*A good bumper sticker reads, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” If you are paying attention, please send me the items that are enraging you. Thanks.
- the Editor
With profit motive in supreme command, the pharmaceutical industrial complex (Big Pharma) has caused a critical shortage of the children’s leukemia drug Methotrexate that saves 80% of those afflicted. Companies have either slowed down production or stopped it due to low profit margins. For thousands of sick children, this is a death sentence, but it makes Wall Street stockholders happy.
Meanwhile, it can’t get any better than this for one family’s
“values.” Six members of the Walton family (the original owners of
Walmart) have a net worth equal to the poorest 30% of all the people of
the United States. In this country today, six individuals have a combined net worth of 104 million people! Mind boggling.
“The great appear great to us
Only because we are on our knees:
Let us rise.”
— Camille Desmonlins
|Revolutionary Organization of Labor (ROL), USAis a
revolutionary working class organization that fights for working class
power and the elimination of all human exploitation. Ray O’ Light Newsletter
is the regular publication of ROL, USA. We believe, with comrade Lenin,
that the working class “… needs the truth and there is nothing so
harmful to its cause as plausible, respectable petty bourgeois lies.”
In the spirit of Karl Marx who taught that “our theory is not a dogma
but a guide to action,” we welcome your comments.
Ray Light — Editor
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