Speak Out - Drive Out the Bush Regime

Statements from a wide array of individuals and organizations about why they are taking up the Call for November 2nd.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's defiant stand has unleashed a welcome storm

Larry Everest

Cindy Sheehan's defiant stand has unleashed a welcome storm - tapping into the deep hatred of millions for the Bush regime, re-energizing anti-war resistance, and re-ignited debate over the Iraq war. At last count "Cindy Sheehan" brought up 4,440,000 hits on google; Maureen Dowd calls the moment a "cultural shift that is turning 2005 into 1968."

Since Sheehan helped force the spotlight back on Iraq, political forces of many stripes (ultimately representing different classes) have felt compelled to respond and try to shape the raging debate. Bush was even forced to interrupt his five-week vacation to stump for the war. So, as Revolution recently pointed out, the question now "is where this anger will go and what it will really take to end the insane path of the Bush agenda."

Salon.com recently offered their answer: stuffing the genie of mass outrage and protest back into the suffocating bottle of "acceptable" mainstream politics - specifically the been-there/done-that, dead-end of relying on Congress and the Democrats to stop an agenda (of which the war is but one part) that they mainly support and helped launch.

In the guise of friendly advice to the anti-war struggle, Farhad Manjoo in "After Cindy Sheehan" argues that the anti-war movement's biggest problem is, well, the anti-war movement - especially those who are clearest about the illegal, immoral and unjust nature of the war and occupation, and consequently firmest in demanding the war end and the U.S. leave Iraq now. That includes Cindy Sheehan, who says, "We're over there and we need to come home.....We need to let the Iraqi people handle their own business."

To Majoo, immediately withdrawing from Iraq poses a "dilemma," because all the options "look bad," i.e., look bad to the U.S. establishment whose global power rests in significant part on control of the Middle East. Manjoo's solution: support "Homeward Bound" - a bill in the House that - if it ever passed and was implemented - would not even BEGIN withdrawing SOME - not all - troops until October 2006 - over a year from now! So the resistance is supposed to sit on its hands for another year, waiting on a bill that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing – much less forcing Bush out of Iraq? We'd like to ask - how many more Iraqis and how many more GI's will be dead or maimed by then to continue an illegitimate war and imperialist occupation? (See "World Tribunal in Istanbul - Iraqi Victims Expose U.S. War Crimes"

Manjoo's logic is that the war is not murderous and utterly illegitimate, but rather a mistake, or a legitimate idea poorly executed. He quotes MoveOn.org, who describes Sheehan as a symbol of "the administration's refusal to face the facts about Iraq." No! The real problem, as Sheehan and many others have pointed out, is NOT that the Bush regime hasn't "faced facts." The problem is they've lied about them from day one, that they occupied Iraq to reshape it in U.S. interests as part of a global war for greater empire, and they are still hell-bent on pursuing that agenda as Bush made clear in his most recent rant, "we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror."

(Norman Solomon points out that Move.on's Aug. 17 vigils "acknowledge the sacrifices made by Cindy Sheehan, her son Casey and the more than 1,800 brave American men and women who have given their lives in Iraq - and their moms and families" - but said nothing in opposition to the war itself.


Manjoo's titles his article "After Cindy Sheehan," not "WITH Cindy Sheehan." He labels her "impolitic" and a "hard-liner," and argues that her "rants" and "foul-mouthed tirades" - like criticizing Israel, calling the Bush gang "fucking hypocrites," and denouncing Bush as the "biggest terrorist in the world" - will "derail" the anti-war movement.

In other words, telling the truth will supposedly "derail" the struggle. In fact, it's Manjoo who is trying to "derail" the struggle because he doesn't really oppose the war, and he's trying to steer the opposition back into the pro-war Democratic Party fold.

In reality, the truth is precisely what people need to "derail" the whole U.S. juggernaut of war and repression, what millions are thirsting for, and why so many are rallying around Sheehan. "I have been known for sometime as a person who speaks the truth and speaks it strongly," Sheehan wrote in an August 20 letter, "Why do my friends at Camp Casey think they are there? Why did such a big movement occur from such a small action on August 6, 2005?...The people who supported me did so because they know that I uncompromisingly tell the truth about this war."

This war is NOT in people's interests. Millions and millions can be won to seeing this - and a crucial national debate fueled - by people boldly speaking the truth and standing in uncompromising opposition to the war and the Bush agenda.

The right-wing is desperately trying to outlaw this truth and suppress this debate. With anti-war protests gaining momentum, the American Legion condemned them as "visions of Jane Fonda."

No wonder they're worried.Jane Fonda, herself recently took an anti-Iraq war bus tour, and here's what she found: "I just spent five weeks traveling around the country, and except for one incident where a vet spit at me, what I'm seeing is that people are ready and hungry for statements like this. They really are. I'm talking in the heartland, in those red states."

(Manjoo tries revising the history of the 1960's to bolster his attack on the resistance: "Could Sheehan's rants derail the antiwar movement? It's conceivable, if what happened in Vietnam is a guide." Revisionist '60's historian-in-chief and pro-"war on terror" writer Todd Gitlin chimes in, "Nixon was able to score points off the protesters' theatrical condemnation of the war." Suffice it to say, war criminal Henry Kissinger was more accurate when he admitted that "the tiny indigenous radical movement" was "pivotal" in forcing the U.S. from Vietnam. (Years of Upheaval, p. 84) And let's not forget, the '60's were the 60's because both the anti-war and Black liberation struggles were, in large measures, revolts against the Democratic Party! That's precisely what Manjoo and Gitlin are terrified of.)Even Manjoo admits, "Many of the criticisms of the war in Iraq that were once heard only on the far left ... now echo across suburbia." Well, how in the f* do you think those criticisms spread to suburbia (and will spread even further), if not - in significant measure - because many of us have refused to take your advice and have continued to call this war out for what it is: naked, unjust aggression based on lies!


As protest explodes, the Democrats, who have voted for the war every time the issue has come up in Congress, continue to support the war and occupation. As Lucinda Marshall points out the crucial issue in the eyes of the Democratic Party is "how best to achieve success in Iraq" and how to "convince voters that they can do a better job of winning the war." Listen to Howard Dean, the National Democratic Party chair: "Now that we're there, we're there and we can't get out....I hope the president is incredibly successful with his policy now that he's there."

This is not the Democrats being stupid, short-sighted or cowardly, and if only we could persuade them to wake up. No, this is the Democrats being who they are - a party representing the reactionary interests of U.S. global capitalism, as Clark Kissinger succinctly details ("Getting Real About the Democrats") "We have already seen where the Manjoo/Move.on logic of supporting these war collaborators leads - to paralyzing and demoralizing resistance. What happened to the massive outpouring of 2002-2003 against the war, which the New York Times represented another "superpower"? It was derailed and demobilized when people put aside their convictions in the name of realism," held their noses, poured their time, energy and money into elections controlled by the system that bought us the war - and then voted for a pro-war candidate! Why should we do this again - in 2006, 2008, or whenever!? Talk about a deadly remake of Groundhog Day!

Today it's more urgent than ever that this confused "superpower" again find its voice. We need a new upsurge against the war - and against the whole Bush agenda. A more determined upsurge based on our greatest strength: those who are turning against Bush and the war by the millions - including in corners of society unimaginable a few short months ago.

This will only happen if people refuse to get roped into the killing confines of the political terms set by the Democrats, and limit their struggle to this or that particular outrage. None of these outrages will be stopped unless we stop the whole Bush agenda and drive out his hated regime.

Everyone is talking about "tipping points" and quagmires, but lets face facts about what it's really going to take to end the war and derail the Bush agenda. First, the quagmire in Vietnam (which was brought to you by the Democrats) was only ended by a revolt that shook society to its foundations on many fronts (giving rise to fears in the ruling class that they could lose much more than Vietnam): people were putting themselves on the line, changing their lives, and taking risks - troops were in open revolt in the military, students were closing down campuses and stopping troop trains (contemptuously rejecting the advice of the Todd Gitlins of the world), Black people were rising up in the inner cities and in the deep south, women were refusing to be submissive and subordinate, and a spirit of revolution against the entire system was in the air.

Today it will take that kind of clarity, courage, determination and massive upheaval - and more. The Bush regime is hell-bent on conquering the world and reshaping U.S. society along fascist lines. It has already killed 100,000 people in Iraq and is now threatening to attack other countries. With near-unanimous support from the Democrats, it has made permanent the fascist Patriot Act, and it's moving against all spheres of culture and life (again, with no opposition from the Democrats) - from women's right to choose, to the teaching of science, to the separation of church and state.

Jane Fonda is on target when she says, "I think this is the scariest time I've ever lived through. It's a dying beast, and they're always the scariest and most dangerous. Just below the crust of the surface there is a volcano ready to erupt. It's our job to create critical mass and ignite it."

As World Can't Wait puts it, "People who steal elections and believe they're on a 'mission from God' will not go without a fight."

There is a way out, something that can really make the difference. It is refusing to fight Bush's outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught, but instead, on November 2, launching a movement aimed at creating "a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed."

This vision represents what's urgently needed - and so it has the potential to galvanize millions and transform the political terrain. Come to a national rganizer's conference on September 3-4 in New York City and help make this vision a reality. "We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history." The world really cannot wait.