Workers World EDITORIAL
Troops out now! Build a united front!
Stop the war at home
Published Sep 22, 2005 7:11 AM

The devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has revealed in stark terms that there must be two fronts in the anti-war movement: the fight to get the U.S. out of Iraq and the fight against poverty, racism and national oppression at home.

The criminal occupation/war in Iraq must be stopped. Each day it continues, more Iraqis die; more Iraqi cities and towns suffer raids, cordons, abuses and every form of brutality from the occupiers and their puppet troops.

And each day more U.S. troops kill and are killed for Washington’s now-fading dream of conquest in the Middle East. The ambition for has turned into the humiliation of quagmire.

The Iraqi people refused to play their assigned part in the Bush administration’s scenario. That scenario was clearly drawn before the war. It called for the Pentagon to march in and secure the vast oil reserves for U.S. oil companies; set up permanent military bases from which to dominate the region; privatize the country and turn it over to the transnational corporations.

But the Iraqi people had experienced that scenario before—under the Ottoman Empire and under British colonialism. They put an end to it with the revolution of 1958 and developed their country. They have decided they won’t go back. They tore up Wash ing ton’s criminal plans and created their own scenario instead—the scenario of resistance to occupation and colonial conquest.

The war at home

The $5 billion-plus spent each month for the occupation produces war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it also produces crimes right here in the U.S.: cutbacks in social services, the intensification of poverty, the decline in the health and wellbeing of tens of millions of people in order to pay for the occupation.

This is part of another war—a war at home. A war that includes tax cuts for the rich; giveaways to oil companies; wage cuts; layoffs; destruction of the environment to preserve profit. In short, a class war of the capitalists against the workers. In this war, as the crisis in New Orleans demonstrated, those who suffer the most are the tens of millions of African Americans, Latinos, especially immigrant workers, and other peoples who are enduring the same fate that Washington is trying to impose on Iraq.

New Orleans is 70 percent African American. One third of the families in New Orleans did not have cars. The city has a 40 percent illiteracy rate. Over 50 percent of Black ninth graders will not graduate in four years. Many Black men wind up in a former slave plantation—brutal Angola prison—where over 90 percent of the inmates die in jail. The New Orleans police are among the most brutal in the country.

But this is not an exception. This is the rule in the U.S., from the south side of Chicago to Watts and South Central Los Angeles, from East Cleveland and Harlem to Houston. Oppressed communities are flooded with drugs; youth are under-educated and over-incarcerated; brutal police forces are like armies of occupation, ready to “shoot to kill,” as Governor Blanco of Louisiana was so quick to demand during the Katrina crisis.

While racism is the ideological poison used to justify and perpetuate these conditions of super-exploitation that the African American and Latino people have to endure, it goes beyond racism. This is a question of national oppression.

The UN Human Development Report of 2005 revealed that African Americans in Washington, D.C., have an infant mortality rate the same as that of cities in Kerala, India. India remains underdeveloped as a result of centuries of British colonialism. The report showed that health care in the U.S. was at “third world” levels for African Americans and Latinos.

Health care is an indicator of the general condition of the population. These statistics can be extended to all areas of economic life. They demonstrate that there are oppressed nations imprisoned right here in the U.S. who are facing a war every day just to survive under the oppressive system of U.S. capitalism.

The only way to create a united struggle in this country against Washington’s wars and occupations abroad is to confront racism and national oppression and to defend the right of self-determination. This is the cutting edge of the struggle at home.

The anti-war movement must move quickly and deliberately to build united fronts with movements such as the Community Labor Unity Coalition in New Orleans, which is struggling on behalf of the survivors, the Million Worker March Movement, the Oct. 15 Millions More March, the call for a Dec. 1 strike against the war on the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott, and others.

Only concrete support in the struggle against national oppression can bring about a united, anti-war, anti-racist, working-class wide struggle, which is indispensable to pushing back the war makers in Washington.

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